My favourite winter pastime is throwing a towel, swimsuit, and book into a calico bag and hightailing it to the Icebergs’ pool and sauna at Sydney’s Bondi Beach. Alternating between jumping in the arctic waters and thawing out in the sauna, smushed between greasy old men and acai-obsessed beach babes, is enough to cure even the most mediocre of mind frames or crippling of hangovers. Given that I love a good shvitz, when the idea of giving the much-hyped infrared sauna trend a whirl was raised in our editorial meeting, I put my sweat-loving hand up for the task.
I often (half) joke that my love of saunas stems from my general distaste for high-intensity exercise. Why work for your sweat, when sitting in a wooden room with strangers can yield the same results? Traditional saunas use wet or dry heat to warm the air around you, inducing sweat. This can help with weight loss, but it’s been shown that this weight loss is due to a loss of water via heavy sweating. An infrared sauna, on the other hand, will heat your bod from the inside out, allowing you to schvitz for longer, while increasing your heart rate at the same time.
This was the low level of information I was equipped with before I headed to Vrai Health for a 50-minute sweat sesh in their infrared sauna. The friendly staff led me past the Body Mind Life studios into a room kitted out with bath robes, infusers, water, and a small two-person wooden box in the corner, radiating a purple glow. I cried with joy (internally).
My iPhone notes were brimming with podcast recommendations. I decided to give one of them a whirl while I eased into my sweat bender. I covered my birthday suit in a towel, hooked my iPhone up to the speaker system, threw on S-Town, and got ready to feel the most relaxed I’ve felt all year. I kept the door ajar, as per staff recommendations, and eased my way into the experience, waiting for the room heat to drop from 65 to 50 degrees (celsius) before closing it. As someone who sorta struggles with spending time by themselves, I was surprised at how much I was vibing sitting in a purple room on my own. One episode into S-Town (which I also recommend, while we’re in the business of advising), I decided to kick it up a notch, subbing the podcast out for some gentle rainforest sounds. How mindful! The most fun part of an infrared sauna is switching up the chromotherapy lights while you sweat. The light technology penetrates deep into the body, cleansing your tissues and aiding with detoxification.
I felt like an absolute angel afterwards. Every ill thought I’d had that week melted away, and I walked all the way home with a loopy grin on my glowing face. My skin was popping, my soul was woke, and I followed it up with one of most deep naps of my young-ish life. Bondi Icebergs will always hold a special place in my heart, but infrared saunas are my new (albeit a touch more expensive) jam.
Words, Madeleine Woon. With thanks to Vrai Health.