I’ve been hearing about HigherDOSE left and right from my most trendy, health-inclined friends in New York. HigherDOSE is a high-end infrared sauna center that’s taking the world by storm. Friends pitched it to me as unapologetically as ABC is teasing the upcoming season of The Bachelor. “You leave literally glowing. This is nothing like a basic sauna.” And if you don’t believe them, just ask Vogue or The New York Times.
Don’t get me wrong: I love a good sauna. But as a moderate germaphobe, I dread sweating half naked with strangers. So you’d be remiss if you didn’t think that pretty soon, I’d be calling HigherDOSE myself.
To tell the story of how my session went, I’ll let these comparisons do the talking:
At HigherDOSE, I was not sandwiched between sweat-soaked gym-goers, proudly celebrating their birthday suits in much-too-close proximity. Rather, I was alone in a personalized suite all to myself, complete with a walk-in shower, a king-sized changing area, and of course, the infrared sauna. This is the Ritz Presidential Suite of saunas… plus customizable lighting. This was, how you say, total… princess… treatment.
TIME TO SPARE:
My session at HigherDOSE was not limited to a quick thirty-minutes, as they often are at gyms. Nope. I was encouraged to enjoy a full hour in silence — or, if I felt like it, I could hook up my bluetooth to blast my own playlist. (Sorry not sorry to my spa neighbors who got an unsolicited earful of the A Star Is Born soundtrack.)
I wasn’t sheepishly wrapped in a one-size-fits-none gym towel, accidentally teasing total strangers with body parts that should never see the light of day. Instead, I was free to chill in total privacy. I could ditch the towel, go au natural, or dawn a bathing suit if it suited me. This space was mine — it belonged to me, and only me. “Ta-ta” to the moments in which somebody opens the sauna door and lets all the hot air out. “Sayonara” to germ-infested coughs and sneeze all up in your face.
DETOX, DETOX, DETOX:
This is what makes HigherDOSE special: It blows traditional saunas out of the water when it comes to detoxifying sweat therapy. Traditional saunas use high heat and steam to cue sweat. But get this: With lower heat and without steam, HigherDOSE can detox your body up to 7 times more than a traditional sauna. Infrared light heats you from your core, out, which cues the sweat and serious detox. The idea is that one can stay in them much longer, and sweat all the more. A quick list of what you might excrete over the course of the treatment: pollutants found in nasty city air, small amounts of heavy metals and toxins, and, yes, if you’re coming off the heels of a long night drinking, you’ll sweat that out, too.
IT’S GLOW TIME:
Put it this way. Your body is like a New York apartment, every inch is precious and there’s no room (I repeat: no room!) for junk. You gotta get the bad stuff out to let the good stuff in! So we’ve covered detox. Now let’s talk restoration. HigherDOSE saunas activate the brain’s happy chemicals: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, endorphins. (Most of us are running low on ‘happy’ during the winter time, because we’re low on vitamin D.) The release of these chemicals meant a boost in my mood, big time. I’m telling you, I left this place on a natural high, like I’d just finished a great run. It was the feeling of soaking up the summer sun and having a margarita all in one… minus the UV rays, alcohol, and sugar.
Cristina Gallotto is a masters candidate at The Fletcher School at Tufts University. Previously, she was an Associate Producer with CBS News' award-winning news show, “60 Minutes” and a writer for WCVB-TV in Boston.