I’m pretty much a sucker for anything that has “spa” in the title. Massages, facial treatments, acupuncture…if it’s supposed to be relaxing and good for you, sign me up. So when I had the chance to try an infrared sauna therapy session at Sunlight Day Spa—which is a part of the company Sunlighten that just happens to be headquartered within a 15-minute drive of my home—well, I had to. Right? Right.
Part showroom, part spa, I was ready to go inside and get sweaty and relaxed.
The lobby? Way chill and nice. In addition to the infrared spa treatments, this place also offers massages and other more traditional spa offerings.
Sunlighten makes a variety of infrared saunas that are said to do everything from help you detox to burn calories to beat stress, lower blood pressure and even promote wound healing and cell health. Now, I’m a very fair-skinned person, so hot sunny places? Well, we don’t always get along unless there are copious amounts of sunscreen or shade around. But I was assured that infrared saunas—while plenty hot (100 to 130 degrees)—don’t hit your skin with ultraviolet rays, so you’re safe from sunburn and other damage.
After a quick change into a robe in the spa’s locker room, I got myself some water and settled into my own personal infrared sauna that was set apart from the rest of the sauna with a full curtain. (This picture is from the showroom—I didn’t want to be a creeper and start snapping photos in a spa where other people are walking around in robes, but you can kind of get the idea. In the spa, all the lights were low, and it was a much more zen-like experience.)
Unfortunately, the touchscreen panel in my sauna wasn’t working, so I couldn’t track the temperature or track my heart rate during my session. (One of the cool features—you can normally track how many calories you’re burning via a heart-rate chest strap. The company says you can expect up to a 600-calorie burn in a session because your body is working harder in the heat.)
But in some ways, not having stats to watch allowed me to zen out more easily. Not to mention that my session included SO Sound Therapy, which uses sound waves to create a vibrational massage that harmonizes the body’s systems. That part was amazingly awesome and relaxing. If you ever try an infrared sauna session, spring for the SO Sound Therapy upgrade.
I sat up and meditated for the first 20 or so minutes of the 45-minute session, and then I ended up lying down for the rest. At first, the sauna just felt mildly hot—and dry; I wasn’t really sweating. But 30 minutes in, I was really starting to sweat and could feel my pulse increase. When the timer went off at 45 minutes, I was ready to hop out, down LOTS of water, shower and see the showroom. And so I did. Brooke from Sunlighten was kind enough to show me around and let me snap some pics after my treatment—her arm makes a cameo below.
For those who travel a lot or aren’t able to put a whole infrared sauna in their home (in addition to selling to spas, Sunlighten does a bunch of residential units), there’s even a portable system. Brooke said some health clubs and personal trainers use them to help with weight-loss and pain relief.
I’ve never been a big sauna girl in the past, but trying the infrared sauna was really quite pleasant, and I’d do it again. It’s funny, I didn’t feel like I had used that much energy by just sitting there, but I sure as heck was hungry after. And I left with that quintessential spa-like feeling after—relaxed and calm. Almost as good as getting a massage. Gotta love that!
Have you ever been in an infrared sauna? Ever had sound therapy Would you try it, too? —Jenn