I’m all about weird aesthetic treatments these days. Freezing myself to better skin? Sign the tf up. Laser hair removal? Sure. So when I was asked to check out Shape House, an urban sweat lodge, to sweat my way to calorie loss and glowing skin, I was in. I’ll put my body through all sorts of things in the pursuit of
vanity journalism. I’m dedicated like that.
First off, Shape House isn’t like the sauna in your gym, as I originally thought. It’s a sweat lodge that uses FAR infrared technology to heat you “from the inside out”. Shape House boasts benefits of their sweats including stress relief, improved sleep, clearer skin, and weight loss—they claim you can burn up to 800-1,600 calories in one sweat.
Basically the way it works is you book an appointment for a sweat at Shape House, and you are instructed to come in loose-fitted cotton clothing. It has to be 100% cotton, and I learned the hard way that I do not own a single pair of 100% cotton pants. But that was fine because they can also provide you with clothes that you can wear during the sweat. The added bonus is that you don’t have to do more laundry after you basically sweat your entire body weight onto these clothes—truly a blessing.
You walk into Shape House and you’re immediately relaxed. It smells amazing—somebody please DM me what fragrance they use—and the dim lighting is calming. They’ll take you back to the rooms where you sweat, and this is the fun part. I was pretty scared going into it and didn’t know what to expect—for a person who’s such a hypochondriac, perhaps I shouldn’t be so willing to subject my body to extremes. Whatever.
I expected Shape House to basically be a sauna, and I thought my friend and I would just chill there in towels for an hour and shoot the shit. I was very wrong. It’s not like that at all. First of all, you get your own individual room with an individual bed an a TV that’s hooked up to Hulu, Netflix, HBO, the works. This place treats you better than you treat yourself when it comes to streaming options. They wrap you in this infrared blanket, and the blanket heats up over the period of an hour. The blanket sort of feels like when you go to the dentist and get an X-ray even though you just got one the last time you were there and you are starting to think your dentist is ordering too many X-rays just to bill you extra money for it and…. no wait, I’m getting carried away. It’s like when you get an X-ray and they put that lead blanket on you—it felt kind of heavy.
As I mentioned, you basically lie there for 55 minutes while wrapped in this blanket like a burrito, and you get to
cook chill there and watch Netflix. Sounds tight, is tight. I decided to watch Big Little Lies, a show I had attempted to start at least three times prior but just couldn’t get into. I eventually did get hooked and finished the show, but that’s neither here nor there. So you’re lying there, watching your program of choice, and the blanket heats up. The first 20 minutes feel warm, like you just put your blanket in the dryer. You could almost take a nap; it’s very relaxing and cuddly. It’s at this point, about 15-20 minutes in, that someone from Shape House will come to check on you to make sure you’re feeling okay and see if you need anything. Also, they give you a bottle of water to drink throughout the sweat, which you can refill at any time. (You think you’ll have to pee, but you won’t. Trust me.)
Then, just when you think you could take a nice, soothing nap, things heat up—literally. The next 15 minutes or so were slightly uncomfortable, but the last 20 were nearly unbearable. That’s because the blanket is the hottest, and subsequently, your body is working the hardest. I kid you not when I say my heart was pumping harder and faster than it ever has in any workout (which is probably a different issue to address at a later date, but whatever). I’m not going to lie, there were definitely points I considered breaking my arms free of the blanket to cool myself off (you’re totally allowed to do that, BTW), but somehow I persevered. Probably the power of vanity and the desire to burn the most calories possible, IDK. What can I say, I’m a warrior.
Just when I thought I couldn’t hold on any longer, the session was over and someone came to bring me to the relaxation room, where I drank more water, had some tea, ate orange slices, and contemplated my life and my choices. As you can probably guess, I was sweaty. I was so sweaty I looked like I’d run a mile through the desert and then taken a shower in sweat. I was so sweaty, I did not think it was humanly possible to be that drenched in my own bodily fluids. And the worst part was, it was not recommended I shower for at least another few hours, so my body would continue to burn calories. I had a brunch reservation immediately after my sweat, and let’s just say I probably offended the sensibilities of everyone in that restaurant. In retrospect, maybe that’s why they took 35 minutes to seat my party even though there was supposedly a “10 minute wait.” *Whispers* those bastards.
All in all, I enjoyed the experience a lot and weight myself the next day (even after gorging myself on brunch) and I lost about one and a half pounds. That’s not life-changing, but also not insignificant. I felt smaller, but the results were not permanent. Nothing gold can stay. Would I make this a part of my regular weight loss regimen? No, I’m not made of money and I doubt they’d let me continue to go there for free (you can only write so many articles). And also, not to sound like a narc, but although I left the class sweaty and relaxed and I did lose weight, I didn’t get the same sense of accomplishment I would get by killing myself at a workout class. But if I had an event to go to, maybe I’d book a sweat the day before, just to look a little less bloated and feel lighter.
Follow Shape House on Instagram @shapehouse
Images: shapehouse / Instagram