What Is It: Shape House is the “first and only urban sweat lodge,” offering 55-minute sweat sessions that promise to burn calories, make you sleep better, brighten your skin and even make you feel better emotionally.
Who Tried It: Gabrielle Olya, PEOPLE writer and reporter
Level of Difficulty: 1 (on a scale of 1 to 10). If you are able to lie down and hold a remote, you can do this.
Selena Gomez recently raved to Elle about how much she loves sweating in a sweat bed – she credits it with changing her skin and her body – and when I found out that all that was required of me was to get into a sleeping bag device and watch Netflix to achieve Gomez-like results, I was more than happy to give Shape House a try.
When you arrive at Shape House, you are given clothes to change into that fully cover your body – a long-sleeved T-shirt, sweatpants and sweat socks. Then you are taken to a small curtained-off room that contains a bed with what appears to be a silver sleeping bag on top.
You are tucked in by one of the attendants, so your body is fully covered, minus your head and your right hand, which stays out so you can hold a TV remote control and sip water, which is placed right on the side of the bed. Each bed has its own TV and Roku, so I put on an episode of The Office once my sweat session began.
At first, the heated sleeping bag just feels warm and cozy, but as the minutes progress, the bag gets hotter and you start to really, really sweat. By the end of an episode, I was drenched.
About 40 minutes into the session, the attendant returns with a cool lavender towel for your face, which seemed heavenly. But soon the cool-down affect of the towel wears off, and the intense heat becomes just shy of overwhelming.
Before my session, the receptionist warned that my heart rate would speed up towards the end, and I definitely became aware of my heart beat during the last few minutes of the sweat. About 10 minutes before the end, I was getting so hot that I removed both of my arms from the sleeping bag. (You are in total control of your sweat session – you can remove any body part from the bag to cool down, or get yourself out and leave early.)
While the last seven minutes of my sweat were almost unbearable, it was worth it for the feeling you get afterwards. Even though I was incredibly sweaty, I felt cleansed, and could feel a glow in my cheeks that wasn’t there before the sweat.
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After your sweat, you’re invited to spend some time in a designated relaxation room, where you can have hot tea (which had no appeal to me in my overheated state) and/or orange slices. The orange slices were incredibly refreshing, and by the time I was finished eating I felt cooled down enough to change back into my normal clothes.
“In one hour you feel better emotionally, physically, you sleep better, you eat better, your skin looks beautiful,” Shape House founder Sophie Chiche tells PEOPLE. “The sweating itself allows for toxins to get out of your body. It’s a good use of an hour!”
Chiche recommends sweating as often as “what feels good to someone.”
“I don’t think people realize how unwell they feel until they start doing it,” she says. “When people start doing this regularly, they discover what feeling well actually feels like. There is something that sweat does that brings you to a baseline of feeling healthy.”
The Verdict: I really couldn’t believe how refreshed I felt after my sweat session. Yes, the last few minutes were pretty miserable, but for the most part I enjoyed the luxury of just laying down and watching Netflix, uninterrupted by the outside world. I will definitely be back!