“You’re going to like it a lot. You’re going to feel amazing,” assistant Amanda Perry says as she leads me to my treatment at Shape House, a different kind of day spa that recently opened at 434 N. Larchmont Blvd.
Wrapped neck to toe in a sleeping blanket of infrared heat, I sip alkaline water and luxuriate for 55 minutes with a choice of movies and music to keep me company. While doing practically nothing at all, I’m told my body is hard at work releasing toxins and getting a workout at this urban sweat lodge.
And, you do sweat.
The day spa is loosely designed after an American Indian sweat lodge, says co-owner Sophie Chiche.
Once tipping the scales at 320 pounds, she tried everything over the years to lose weight… “I did Pilates in the morning and a cellulite wrap in the afternoon,” the Paris native says, looking chic in an argyle sweater vest and knee-high boots.
There were diets, of course. And yoga… it bored her. Gyms were also not her thing. She eventually lost the weight as she learned her battle with weight had more to do with her emotions than with food.
She also discovered a love for infrared heat. “It’s the same heat that comes from the sun,” explains Shape House co-founder Craig Winner. Based on a new technology, the treatment penetrates heat on a “deeper-than-normal” level. Skin stays cool as the body heats up (to 158 degrees) and works to regulate temperature.
The heart is pumping, you’re burning calories and getting a work out as if you were running or doing cardio, explains Winner. The icing on the cake is your metabolism stays speeded up for another 36 hours, he adds.
And your skin glows, says Sophie, who recalls a recent trip to France for a wedding. “They thought I had cosmetic surgery, or Botox or something,” she laughs.
But while she liked the results, she was mostly unimpressed with the surroundings of the tanning and other salons that offered the treatment. So… “I had this crazy idea,” she says, and within six weeks of an afternoon of brainstorming, the pair—in life and business—created the sweat lodge in the heart of Larchmont.
A Xeroscape-type garden greets guests to the site. Decorated in shades of orange and brown, doors have painted names like “relax” for an after-treatment, candle-lit space. In “strip” you can undress or shower. The “dream” room features collages and other art projects that help release inner desires or let go of fears, says Sophie, who has a background in psychology and is a life coach.
Mostly visitors come to lose weight, tone muscles and sweat in a cocoon of infrared heat. Ridding the body of toxicity also releases fat. As it turns out fat works like a shield, absorbing toxins to protect the body; the less toxins, the less need for your body to store fat, explains Sophie triumphantly.
Sleep improves, worries evaporate and sore muscles from lactic acid build-up from working out are soothed. Chronic aches and pains are also relieved on this road to beauty and healing.
Sweats are $45 per visit or 10 for $400. Membership packages are available. For more information on Shape House or the science behind infrared heat visit shapehousela.com