I Tried An Infrared Sauna So You Don't Have To

I'll "treat" myself for my birthday, I thought. I deserve a little "pampering", I thought. What a nice opportunity for "self-care", I thought.

I thought wrong.

As a self-admitted wellness junkie, I am the first to hop on any trend that claims to give my complexion a sans-pregnancy-pregnancy-glow or clear-my-chakras-by-sniffing-this-leaf. Do I know it's ridiculous? Yup. Is it fun AF? Hell yes.

Last week, I stumbled upon a GOOP article about infrared saunas, in which Queen Gwyneth espouses her daily routine of simply sitting in her in-home infrared sauna until she breaks a sweat – she recommends a session of 35 minutes or longer an easy peasy 4 times per week. The article is accompanied by an adorable little pic of her comfortably smiling in her glowing GOOP-y wonderland.

And, so, an idea was born. After about 30 seconds of Googling, I found a "spa" in my area that offered mineral wrap infrared treatments. Ding ding ding! I signed up immediately.


The day my "pampering" was scheduled was potentially the hottest day of the year. I work from an air conditioning-less home and spent the morning laying on the carpet in my underwear under the ceiling fan, eating popsicles and sweating (a poor man's infrared sauna in and of itself). Around 4 pm, I hopped in my car, BLASTED the AC and made my trek.

When I arrived, the woman instructed me to strip down. GLADLY, I thought, peeling off layers of sweaty cotton. The (very kind, very sweet) wrap woman and I chatted about Tindr and our weekend plans while she took intricate measurements of everything from my chin to my "luv handles" (yes, it was spelled this way on the chart). The more she measured, the more sweaty and anxious I became.

What a huge relief it was to then be wrapped like a mummy in ACE bandages soaked in a hot solution, pulled out of a steaming crockpot. The only greater joy was to then be put into a fiery hot infrared tube and told to lay still for 45 minutes.

Immediately, I started freaking out.

"Oh god, I can't move my hands. I think I'm on fire. Is my flesh supposed to be burning?"

Followed by:

"Come on, you're a yoga teacher. It's just like a really intense savasana after a hot class. Just breath, sister. Just breath."

Again, immediately, followed by:

"No really, I'm actually on fire."

And then:

"If Gwyneth can do this, so can you. Ujjayi breathe."

The mental olympics I put myself through, surprisingly, didn't help the time pass. After ten minutes (although I'm convinced it was more like 3 hours), I needed to make contact with a human.

"How long has it been?" I quiet-screamed from my torture chamber. The sweet woman came back to make sure I was okay. I tried to keep my chill... but expressed that I was "really struggling" and that "my thighs are literally on fire".

She threw some towels on me, "turned down the heat", and promised to check back in a few minutes.

Basically, set this soundtrack on repeat five times and you've got me just barely making it to the 35 minute finish line. Upon getting out and finding sweet sweet freedom, all polite chatter and attempts to cover up went out the window.

She retook my measurements, quicker this time, as I tried to calculate how many inches of shrinkage would make the torture chamber worth it (... and settled on none. The answer is none. Nothing is worth this.) as she measured and scribbled down numbers on her secret notepad.

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"Huh." she said, as she explained I had gained a half inch on my wrists, calves, and ankles. This, however, made perfect sense to me. I'm no scientist, but I know that if you squeeze a stuffed animal, the stuffing just goes somewhere else.

"Drink A LOT of water", the kind woman told me as I fight-or-flight made my dash for the door, now free of my desire for polite chatter or anything besides air conditioning.

The good news? My chin lost .75 inches (what?).

Bottom line: guys, don't do it. If you want to sweat, go lay on the beach in your bikini. Where you can then JUMP in a lake and cool your scorching flesh.

Leave this one for the Gwyneth's of the world.

Now excuse me while my newly-svelte chin and freshly-plumped cankles never, ever do that again.

What weird practices have you tried in the name of wellness (or GOOP)? Sound off in the comments!