Sweating It Out: Tales of an Urban Sweat Lodge

It’s not what you think. If you’re picturing a yurt-like circular dome with a cowhide on top, you’d be wrong.

The “urban sweat lodge” I attended over the weekend was neither primitive nor spiritual—it was located in an adorable bungalow in one of Los Angeles’ cutest neighborhoods. I was invited to “sweat” by my best friend, a cross-fit enthusiast who starts each day with green juice and has been known to get regular colonics. Still, neither of us knew what to expect from our 50-minute infrared sweat session. I imagined that afterward I would be dehydrated, pissy and weak, so I cleared my schedule for the rest of the day, outside of watching a few episodes of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.”


We were told to wear a long-sleeve shirt, pants and socks, to eat light and to drink 2-3 glasses of water pre-sweat. When we arrived, we were given “Kangen Alkaline” water (which hydrates the body more efficiently), and we had to sign a waiver promising we were neither pregnant nor hungover.

The attendant explained some of the benefits of the sweat—glowing skin, relaxation, detoxification, regulation of hormones and increased stamina. An infrared sweat burns the same amount of calories as an eight-mile run, an ideal solution for people who hate working out, or people that love working out that are just feeling lazy (me). She advised that the heat would start out low and gradually get hotter as the session progressed. Not to worry though, she and another attendant would be in to check on us and give us cold washcloths.

It was time to sweat.

The Sweat

We entered a tiny dark room with mood lighting similar to a Virgin America flight, and zipped ourselves into what can only be described as an electric sleeping bag lined in Saran wrap. It was warm, but not uncomfortable. My alkaline water was within reach, and I had my very own flatscreen TV to watch Netflix, Hulu or a meditative DVD. My girlfriend and I opted to chat the for the entirety of the sweat, which was basically just a back-and-forth conversation about our degree of hotness—things like “I just felt a sweat droplet fall down my butt,” “I should have pinned back my bangs,” and “Are we allowed to take our arms out?” Needless to say, we were pretty excited about those cold washcloths.

By the end of the session, we were totally uncomfortable. My heels and lower back were on fire (“pressure points,” the attendant told me), my clothes were soaked through and I was absolutely starving. We were escorted to the Relaxation Room and given water, green tea and orange slices.

But then something weird happened. About halfway through my second orange slice, I started to feel amazing. I felt euphoric, like my body had inner lightness and soft glow. My mind felt clear, like I could solve a Rubik’s Cube in less than one minute or finally understand the plot to Mulholland Drive. My body felt thinner and healthier, but not like I’d suffered through a 48-hour stomach flu.

The Verdict

This fabulous feeling lasted for the rest of the day. I continued to drink water, but wasn’t tired, pissy or weak. I didn’t even need to watch “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” I went for a walk with my boyfriend!

If there is a sweat lodge near you, run, don’t walk to give it a try. If you don’t like working out, sweating can be a relaxing and efficient way to burn calories and get your heart rate up. If you do like working out, go with your girlfriend and give each other a blow-by-blow of your respective bodily functions. It’s like a day at the spa, but with Saran wrap.

To book a session at Shape House in Los Angeles, visit ShapeHouseLA.


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