WHAT IT IS
A souped-up version of the ’90s-era-health-club staple. You get a similar dry heat—purported to reduce stress and improve heart health—with the added benefit of infrared light. The latter is said to help with muscle repair and boost your metabolic rate. Although proponents swear by the sauna’s detox effect, it’s our organs, like the kidneys and liver, that are responsible for detoxing, not sweat. (Sweat’s job is to regulate body temp.) Infrared saunas can be helpful in pain management: A 2009 study found a clinically relevant improvement in pain and stiffness in patients with arthritis after twice-weekly sessions for four weeks. Most infrared saunas also have chromotherapy LED lights—different colours have different wavelengths, and chromotherapy is based on the principle that these wavelengths have various health benefits when absorbed into the skin. (While chromotherapy has been used for centuries, its effect is hard to quantify.)
WHAT IT FEELS LIKE
I try the infrared sauna at Hoame, the new Toronto meditation centre, and after a few minutes inside my private room, I can almost convince myself that I’m lying on a beach in Tulum. While you will get sweaty, the heat is slightly lower than in your traditional sauna, so you don’t get that “I can’t breathe” feeling.
TBD. Hoame’s Carolyn Plater and Stephanie Kersta recommend one 45-minute session (from $55) a week for the above benefits. But if the goal was to feel a bit more relaxed on what was shaping up to be a busy Monday morning, then mission accomplished.
The infrared sauna at Hoame (top) and Dew Sweat House (above)