sweat lodge

The 158-Degree Detox

The modern-day sweat lodge is the latest and, yes, hottest, way to rid the body of toxins.

Forget rhythmic chanting, ritualistic dance, and the cramped confines of a desert-bound teepee. Shape House brings the idea of the sweat lodge firmly into the 21st century. Detox devotees and fitness fans are booking sessions at the quaint Larchmont Boulevard bungalow in LA to release toxins, boost metabolism, and catch up on their Netflix all in one efficient hour.

Shape House, as founder Sophie Chiche is quick to point out, is not a spa. “Here it’s all about the sweat.”

A longtime fan of the healing benefits of far-infrared heat, Chiche has translated the technology and concept into a pristine outpost where you can release everything from toxic chemicals to toxic thoughts. A vision-board room enhances the latter. “Fitness-oriented people really understand the benefits. It draws lactic acid out of the muscles, it can help with injury recovery, and your metabolism speeds up as your body tries to cool itself through sweating,” she says.

What to know: You can’t see far-infrared energy (part of the natural light spectrum), but you can feel it as radiant heat. It penetrates to the subcutaneous fat level where absorbed chemicals are often stashed. “It’s clinically proven. As your body heats up, the blood vessels open up and that improves oxygenation in all the interstitial spaces between the cells, so you start releasing fat-soluble toxins like parabens, phthalates, and pesticides,” explains Dr. Jeffrey Morrison. “It also promotes intracellular metabolism because whenever you have more oxygen going to the cells, they burn calories more efficiently, just like with exercise.”

What you’ll do: Step inside the charcoal-grey Craftsman with the hot-orange door and the color scheme continues in Swedish-meets-mod decor. Staff in neat, grey dresses steward you (yes, flight-crew style) into your own infrared sweat “pod”, where you’ll get toasty to the tune of 158° as you kick back and sip pH-balanced Kangen water. Nap, watch a little “Arrested Development,” and feel free to buzz for a cool towel on your brow. 

What to bring: A loose, long-sleeved cotton top and pants are recommended to protect skin and retain heat as you sweat (if you show up unprepared, they’re provided), and a change of clothes for after you hit the shower. 

How you’ll benefit: Consistent sessions could up your game. “When those blood vessels open up, more blood is circulating all over the body so cardiac output improves,” says Morrison. You might lose weight, too. Chiche credits detox sweats for a 40-lb loss, but stresses that physical and mental detoxification are the focus. “I’m more interested in the holistic piece of it than in having people lose 3 to 5 pounds,” she says. Even spirit gurus like Marianne Williamson and Gabby Bernstein have come in for mind-body tune-ups. “I need to bottle that energy and keep it here,” chuckles Chiche.

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Photography by John Balsom/ Trunkarchive.com