There's a new sweat lodge in the Gaslamp called iSweat Lodge, and the owner recently invited our editorial team to go try it.
Essentially, it's a 10-minute warm-up on a vibrating platform and then an hour of watching Netflix in a heated sleeping bag.
First, the vibrating platform gets your circulation going and works every muscle in your body—although you don't really feel it. Then you jump into what looks like a papery hazmat suit—it's disposable—and you lie down in a heated sleeping bag (an infrared body wrap). You watch Netflix with headphones on for 50 minutes. Elisa in our art department said, "A hot nap? I'm in!"
The benefits are supposedly wide-ranging. When your body heats up, and your heart is pumping, you can burn up to 1,200 calories in a single sesh, claims iSweat. You also improve circulation and it's supposed to be good for all kinds of things like diabetes, getting rid of toxins, boosting the immune system, minimizing cellulite, reducing inflammation and soreness, relieving skin disorders, speeding up weight loss, etc.
iSweat's concept is modeled after Shape House in LA (as seen on Keeping up with the Kardashians and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills). Owner Kat couldn't believe San Diego didn't have a place to go and sweat.
The nice thing about the heat is that the air isn’t heated, so you’re not claustrophobic like you might be in a Bikram Yoga studio. Instead, it’s just the sleeping bag that’s hot, and you could escape that easily, should you want to. I did okay. (As a mom of an infant and toddler, I don't get many uninterrupted hours to watch TV, so I quite enjoyed the experience. I watched the first episode of Netflix's Wild, Wild Country.)
The day after our session, I felt a little sore in a good way—as though I had done a good cardio Zumba class. Kat, the owner, has done loads of research and is a huge heat therapy evangelist. It's helpful for a wide range of ailments, from arthritis to soreness from marathon training. I suspect the cosmetic (cough, weight loss) benefits will be the hook that gets most people. Although it's also an affordable option for people who can't pay for expensive spa or medical treatments involving heat therapy, and they need to go often for health reasons (iSweat is about $99 for three sessions).
Sweat lodges have been around for millennia—stretching as far back as the Romans and Greeks (although I doubt Socrates was concerned with cellulite). For me, the term "sweat lodge," unfortunately, makes me think of those people who died in the desert. Still, I was willing to try it! I mean, 1,200 calories?!
I did think the Gaslamp was a curious location for iSweat. As we know, only 34,000 people live downtown. It was handy for me, except I had to go back to work all sweaty (it's best to let your body cool down, so you don't want to shower right after). It's also a different, cleaner sweat. The first location is in Bird Rock—ideal, I imagine, for the stay-at-home crowd. The owner is also looking at locations in the Del Mar area—also smart.
Anyhoo, I plan to go back. I liked feeling a little bit tighter. I think it would be a good complement to my, er, (inconsistent) exercise regimen. Also: it was a nice TV break in the middle of the day!
P.S. If you're a germophobe, well, there's lots of sweat. Might not be for you.