When you mention to your friends that you’re going off to a sweat lodge, the first scenario that pops into most people’s minds is a bunch of people packed into a heat-trapped teepee for hours in the middle of the desert hallucinating and searching for life-altering epiphanies.
Though, the founder and CEO of Shape House in Los Angeles, Sophie Chiche, has something a little bit different to offer. She’s urbanized the old sweat process in a way that’s drawn attention and praise from many high profile clients like Selena Gomez and LL Cool J. It’s known for its trifecta of health-boosting benefits for the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of any human body and psyche.
We tried it ourselves and spoke with Sophie to find out what all the hype was about, how this trend got started, and where it’s headed next. Here’s what you need to know…
- It’s amazing and it’s affordable.
- Try it.
That, and the more specific details about the process, benefits, results, safety and all of that jazzy, juicy, sweaty goodness…
What is an urban sweat lodge?
It’s a building, not a teepee, where clients go to spend 55-minutes in a bed tucked under a FAR Infrared wrap that boosts the body’s temperature to reach a deep, intense, wet sweat. You can even watch movies, or a couple of TED Talks while you do it too… mostly to distract you from the last 15-minutes which can get pretty intense.
Wait… but why?
Sweating has incredible physical, mental, and emotional benefits to the body. The team at Shape House has narrowed the benefits down into 6 main categories:
We’ll get into those details after we answer this question.
How did this process go from a 6-hour teepee session in the desert to a luxurious and relaxing bed with a television, lavender scented cooling towels, and alkaline filtered water on hand?
During her personal journey of seeking a new level of wellness for herself, Sophie walked into a hole-in-the-wall type place that also had sweat beds in Calabasas, California. Being a person that’s always on some kind of a mission to help others, she thought to herself, “this could be made into a much better experience for people.”
She remembered a powerful, spiritual instance she experienced when she was around 20 years old. She was doing a story on a young boy who was suffering from many physical ailments, including seizures, that medical professionals couldn’t seem to mend. His mother began bringing him to sweat lodges and slowly, he got better.
Sophie was invited to take part in a 6 hour sweat session in a teepee where she actually had to pee on herself because she couldn’t leave. But, despite that, in those 6 hours, she was deeply and profoundly affected for the better.
“I wanted to give it that depth.” Sophie said. “I didn’t want it to be a Hollywood spot where people come to look younger and lose 2 pounds in an hour and all that… It’s nice and it’s fun to feel good about your appearance, but there was this whole dimension of getting in touch with myself that I derived from sweating that I never found anywhere else and I wanted to add that aspect.”
She also wanted to create a much better availability for the experience.
“I was excited to have found something that had such depth and proven track record. It was just such a desire of mine to make it available for the person that’s never going to go to the desert and sweat for 6 hours and pee on herself.”
And that she did. The Shape House experience feels a bit like a mini-vacation. About 15 minutes before the sweat ends, you’re given a cool, lavender scented towel. After the sweat is over, you’re taken into the relaxation room where you’re served slices of cool oranges to boost your vitamin c and some hot tea to relax you even further, and help the body adjust back to the cooler temperatures of the room. You’ll feel very taken care of.
Back to the benefits you’ll get…
In one sweat session and the hours following your body burns 800-1,600 calories. The infrared heat pushes the body to maintain a normal body temperature which gets the system working, burning calories, and boosting metabolism so calories continue to burn hours after the sweat.
The detoxification that takes place during the sweat helps the body naturally rid of stored fat cells, and even can release addictive substances like unhealthy junk food.
One regular client suffers from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome whose common symptom is obesity. To help with her weight, she began coming to Shape House and lost 14 pounds in one month of regular daily sessions.
The founder and CEO herself had a personal journey of dropping 180 pounds and preaches the mental, physical and emotional ways sweating has helped her lose that.
“You don’t get to 320 pounds eating just a little bit too much. I had very unhealthy behavior.” Sophie told us, “there are a lot of emotional and psychological complexities that come with that.”
The mental release that also comes with the sweat sessions is something she loves seeing clients benefit from as she did herself.
You’ll leave with a glow. The precise reason many celeb clients come in for a sweat just before a red carpet appearance. According to their website:
“Sweat also contains small amounts of antibiotics that combat dermal bacteria, which helps reinforce the cleansing process. Meanwhile, nutrient-rich blood is brought to the surface by increased circulation, which allows essential vitamins and minerals to help fill in the gaps between skin cells and plump up tiny wrinkles, while deterring future collagen breakdown.”
Toxic build up in the body can hinder it from being properly able to fully rest at night. Sweating out the toxins in your body while the muscles remain relaxed gives the perfect combo for the mind and body to maintain rest.
According to the website:
“During a 55-minute sweat, your heart receives a workout similar to that of a ten-mile run…The heart rate rises in order to circulate blood at a faster pace and facilitate sweat production, which helps train and strengthen the cardiac muscles.”
However, Sophie tells us that sweat sessions are not suggested to become a replacement for exercise but rather an addition to it.
“We have people that are like ‘well I’m a real athlete. What am I going to do just lay there and sweat like a lazy bum?’ and then they do it and they’re like ‘oh my gosh it’s a completely different kind of sweat and it gives your body a completely different kind of experience’” Sophie told us, “So, we like to say that we’re not replacing anything, we’re just another avenue to help people achieve complete wellness.”
For me, I am 6 weeks post knee surgery and the cardio I am used to getting is not really an option for me right now, and won’t be for another 2 months or so. Sweat sessions are the perfect way for me to keep my heart active.
People have used sweat rituals for thousands of years for physical, mental and emotional well-being. As noted previously, Sophie herself knows first-hand how sweating benefits more than just the physical body.
“I went and it changed my life. I was really inspiring to see the changes and really gave me the deep trust in the process of sweating and allowing the body to release the noise.” Sophie said. “For me, it’s more that I get to quiet myself so I get to hear a deeper understanding of others and myself and it often leads to a deeper human.”
The body maintains stress as muscle tension. According to their website:
“By relieving muscle strain, and releasing built-up lactic acid, infrared also helps to ease the associated fatigue and stress.”
Where can I take part?
Shape House has been open on Larchmont St. in Los Angeles for the past 3 years, and in that time, word got around fast and demand quickly led to an expansion of two more studios in Santa Monica and Pasadena. Being that there are no urban sweat lodges like this nationwide. Sophie has her sights on a nationwide expansion in the future.
How can I get this party started?
Visit shapehouse.com to book your sweat for $45 per session, or save by booking in bulk.