Saunas are nothing new. I think the first time I ever heard of a sauna was when my dad used to sit in them after a rigorous workout on the stair stepper at the “Nautilus” (how 90’s is that). Saunas are characterized as dark, wooden rooms where dry heat is blasting, heating the air around you and subsequently your body temp. They are touted for reducing oxidative stress, chronic pain and fatigue, which makes it pair well with exercise.


I never pass up a chance to sit in one. I prefer saunas to steams because… for one… you don’t get completely drenched from the humidity.. And for two… my hair and humidity…. No need to explain.


Just last week, I was traveling through Texas and a friend suggested we try this new workout called HotWorx. The concept is sweeping through the South, and it involves working out in a sauna like environment, but with infrared lights.


The two of us stepped into a small wooden room that looked like a sauna, but wasn’t quite as hot. All the lights were all red, and there was a gal on a TV that lead us through a pilates class. It was a quick 30 minute session and wasn’t too intense. The heat built throughout class, but overall, it was manageable, unlike an regular sauna where sometimes just breathing can be difficult.


What I came to learn was that it wasn’t the wooden room, or really even the intensity of the workout, that were putting me through a calorie torching class. It was these red lights, aka “infrared lights”.


Infrared saunas are different than a traditional sauna in that they don’t just heat the air around you. They use infrared lamps with electromagnetic radiation to warm your body directly at its core, penetrating human tissue to hear your body up before heating the air.  80 percent of the heat produced directly heats your body, and only 20 percent heats the air. Which means you get a more intense sweat at a lower temp.


So, why do we heat our bodies? For one, your skin is your largest organ, and sweating is a great way to release toxins. Heating your internal temperature has a laundry list of benefits, namely an increase in circulation, blood flow, and ultimately cell regeneration by pushing fresh new oxygenated blood through your system. Infrared heat creates waves of heat and light that penetrate deep into your body (up to 3 inches) to heal deep tissue, versus the traditional sauna that only heats the surface. These waves of heat and light pulsate water molecules in your body, which separates water molecule clusters and allows them to easily enter and regenerate cells. This deep penetration helps mobilize and burn fat, helping with weight loss AND detoxification, as many toxins absorbed into our bodies are trapped by fat cells. Manufacturers also claim that you can burn 200-600 calories in a 30 minute session, and that’s without the workout (say what?!)


Gwyneth Paltrow and Lady Gaga are supporters…. So I’m a supporter. Lady Gaga claims that it has helped her dramatically with her chronic body pain. There are preliminary studies out there that support this claim, including improvement of cardiac issues such as high blood pressure, chronic heart failure, rheumatoid arthritis, and stress reduction. If you suffer from any of this, consult your doc, but it might be worth looking into.


So why workout in one? According to the HOTWORX website, “As the infrared heat penetrates your body causing you to sweat, the isometric postures further accelerate detoxification by physically removing the toxins from your organs through muscle contraction.” So cool.


There are numerous locations for where you can experience an Infrared sauna, including Tao Float Loft,  Mason Skin Clinic and Float Center, and Inner Peace Organic Spa, to name a few. You can also purchase them for at home use, and they shockingly aren’t terribly expensive (we’re talkin $150). 


Could infrared sauna workouts be the latest trend to hit Cincinnati?


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