What would you say if told you that you could lie down in a bed for an hour, watch your favourite TV show and emerge trimmer, glowing and with an endorphin high like you wouldn’t believe?
Well, that’s exactly what happens in a session at Shape House, the newest workout craze taking Los Angeles by storm.
Billed as an urban sweat lodge, Shape House works with FAR infrared technology to increase your core body temperature, working up a serious sweat in the process.
FAR infrared is a radiant form of natural energy that safely penetrates the skin to increase core-body temperature. This results in an intense, detoxifying, health-boosting sweat that helps you look and feel healthier, happier, and brighter.
“Our bodies need to detox in order to eliminate elements that are not good for us, so that our systems can function optimally. When you sweat using FAR infrared technology, you enhance your body’s ability to free itself from toxic chemicals, pathogens, and heavy metals by cleansing from the inside out,” say the founders.
The Kardashians are fans, as is Selena Gomez. But what’s it actually like to sweat that much? I took one of their 55-minute sessions to find out.
Walking into their place in West Hollywood feels like walking into a swanky gym or meditation space – everyone speaks in hushed voices and incense scents the air.
This is the workout that’s keeping Cheryl and Jourdan Dunn in shape
The sweet girl behind the desk talks to me about what will happen in the session before handing me a box filled with my Shape House clothes: a long sleeved dark grey cotton top, cotton trousers and socks. I change into them and am led to a dark room with beds hidden behind curtains. Lying open on top of my bed is a sort of silver sleeping bag, which is lined with infrared blankets that emit special heat waves. I lie down and get zipped into the bag, which is just slightly warm at this point, like a heated car seat.
There’s a little flap of Velcro on my right side so I can slip my arm out if I want to change the channel on the TV at the foot of the bed or take a swig from my bottle of alkaline water. There’s also a button you can press to call someone’s attention in case you need anything.
I’m told someone will come and check on me after 20 minutes and again 20 minutes later to put a cold, lavender-infused towel on my forehead. And with that I pop on a pair of headphones and the curtain is closed, leaving me alone in the dark booth.
The TV is equipped with Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu, so there’s plenty to choose from. I am told that most of their clients have been watching The Handmaid’s Tale during their sessions, but that seems a bit intense, so I opt for a light-hearted episode of Jane the Virgin instead. I can feel my muscles start to relax as the bed heats up and I snuggle further into the sleeping bag. Who knew burning between 800-1,600 calories could be this easy? A few minutes later, I feel the first bead of sweat trickle down my side. The sweat is on.
At my first 20-minute check, I was still enjoying my Netflix and sweat, though I had by now learnt how difficult it was to manoeuvre my hand out to grab the bottle of water – I narrowly avoided pouring it all over myself. By the time she returned with the cold flannel 20 minutes later I was starting to feel it – sweat was pooling in areas I didn’t even know could sweat. I’d been warned the last 15 minutes were the most intense, and they weren’t wrong – I had to sneakily flap open the right side of the sleeping bag a few times just to keep from burning up.
By the last five minutes, I was ready to get out of there – my episode had finished and all I could think about was how hot and sticky I was. So I was very happy when I was told my session was up and I was escorted to the relaxation room, where I was brought cold orange segments (to replenish your Vitamin C post-sweat), herbal tea and more water.
The room was dark and peaceful, with more incense burning (all the better to cover up my sweat stink – apparently it’s most intense the first time you try it, as that’s when you achieve the strongest detox). My clothes were soaked through but I felt great – relaxed and loose but also buzzing with energy, like after a great workout. One of Shape House’s mottos is, ‘Sweat like a pig to look like a fox.’ Well, if it’s good enough for the Kardashians…