InfraSweat owner Kelly Dorsey sits in one of her shop’s six infrared sauna chambers.
By Paula Detwiller
There’s a new sweatshop in town.
No, not a factory where workers toil for long hours and low pay. A place where people go to sweat. For a fee.
It’s a “sauna studio” in downtown Delray Beach called InfraSweat (tag line: Thermal solutions for body, mind and spirit). Open since December in the city’s Pineapple Grove Arts District, the shop claims to be the first of its kind in South Florida.
As you relax inside one of InfraSweat’s six private wooden stalls, you are radiated with infrared heat — part of the sun’s invisible spectrum of light that can penetrate human tissue. Your core body temperature rises 3 or 4 degrees, and very soon you are perspiring. After a 30- to 40-minute session, you are dripping.
If it strikes you as odd that anyone would pay money to sweat in South Florida, where you can schvitz for free most of the year, InfraSweat’s owner Kelly Dorsey can explain the attraction.
“It’s a cellular sweat, not a skin sweat,” she says. “It’s an extra way of maintaining health. In other words, we take supplements, we go the gym, we juice — and this is one more way of detoxifying the body.”
Dorsey says infrared heat waves can cause clusters of toxic material stored in our fat cells to vibrate and break apart, allowing them to be flushed out in sweat. In this way, she says, infrared saunas are more effective detoxifiers than traditional “hot rocks” saunas.
While the detox theory is questioned by environmental scientists, many infrared sauna users are believers. Mike Garreaud, 42, a former Marine living in Jupiter, believes in it so much, he travels to Delray to use the InfraSweat facilities regularly.
“I know I have a lot of toxins in my body,” Garreaud says, “from four tours with the Marine Corps in Iraq and Afghanistan.” He was based in Camp Fallujah, Iraq, downwind from a burn pit where, he says, the military incinerated everything, including hazardous materials. He also was constantly breathing diesel fumes as part of his work in the mechanized infantry. “This helps me detox from those things,” he says.
But that’s not the only reason people are clamoring to get clammy. Infrared therapy is said to relieve back, neck and arthritis pain; help with weight loss (a 30-minute session can burn 200-600 calories due to an increase in heart and metabolic rate); lower blood pressure with repeated use; improve circulation; and purify your skin.
Lori Powers, a 42-year-old personal trainer from Boynton Beach, says the infrared sauna improves her sinusitis and has kept her Crohn’s disease symptoms at bay. Marisa Pruzan, 31, of Delray Beach, says she’s been getting compliments on how clear and fresh her skin looks after visiting InfraSweat. Garreaud says it helps with the osteoarthritis he’s developed after seven knee surgeries.
Personally, I love a good sweat. And if something can ease joint pain, I’m there. So I gave InfraSweat a try — three sessions within one week, as recommended by owner Dorsey.
It was a sensual experience: 40 minutes in a private chamber with 145-degree infrared heat radiating from behind black screens.
Colored light beaming down (I could change the hue with a small remote control). Soft, meditative harmonies flowing from concealed speakers. At 30 minutes in, the sound of a waterfall mingled with the harmonies, refreshing my heated-up brain. Completely relaxed, pores pouring, I chuckled to myself about the T-shirt I’d seen in the lobby: Sweat is fat crying.
Leaving the sweatshop, I carried with me a luxurious inner warmth that seemed to lubricate my joints and leave my muscles loose and happy. I felt energized and peaceful.
If you need a therapeutic sweat — and not the kind that soaks your underclothes as you search for your car at the mall in July — this is the place.
InfraSweat is at 200 N.E. Second Avenue, Suite 106, Delray Beach. The cost of a single session is $35, but the cost-per-sweat is lower if you buy a package or a membership. For more information, visit www.infrasweat.com.
Paula Detwiller is a freelance writer and lifelong fitness junkie. Find her at www.pdwrites.com.