At the end of my session at LA’s Shape House, I was drenched in sweat, head to toe. My heart was pumping and I felt energized and clear-headed. I craved a clean, healthy lunch.
I’d also watched an episode of Scandal. And spent the whole time on my back. Completely still.
The workout at Shape House, an “urban sweat lodge,” is unconventional even by today’s unconventional fitness studio standards. Though its premise is simple, it’s further outside the box than aerial yoga, running backward, and underwater spinning in that it directly opposes the cliches that power exercise. No pain no gain! No easy way out! No shortcuts!
At Shape House, you arrive in a long sleeve tee and pants, sign a waiver, and drink a tall glass of alkaline water before getting zipped into what looks like a metallic sleeping bag. A warm and lovely staff show you how to work the TV directly in front of you and make sure your head is propped up at a comfortable angle. They make sure you know where the “come here NOW!” button is, and then they leave you and your headphones to enjoy a 150-degree 55-minute session in which you burn at least 800 calories and get a cardio workout equivalent to a 10-mile run.
At the end of the workout you can use their shower, or head to the relaxation room where you’re served orange slices and tea. The entire studio, which resembles a modern, zen-like home, is remarkably clean and calming — with none of the holier-than-thou vibe that usually comes with those adjectives, thanks to a funny and welcoming staff.
The answers to the obvious questions: No, it wasn’t uncomfortable. No, it wasn’t too hot, or too long. Yes, I kept sweating even after the session was over, like I do after a traditional workout. It only seems fair that I include a disclaimer that this is the perfect activity for me, someone who loves TV, saunas, and sleeping bags. My sister, who joined me, and can’t sleep unless her home air conditioner is set to arctic-mode, enjoyed it less. I’d advise considering your own feelings on saunas and jacuzzis before heading in, but after checking out their Yelp reviews, it seems like I’m in the majority.
It’s one of the most relaxing and interesting ways to get in a good sweat, especially on a rough day, or a cross-training day, or a terrible-weather day. And while I can’t imagine anyone using it to replace their regular workout routine, I think it’s an incredibly fun and lovely thing to supplement it. Not to mention, pretty excellent for shaking up cocktail party chatter. “You’ll never believe my last workout…”
You’ll never see pay-for-play posts here about companies we don’t fully support. While Shape House was kind enough to provide us with two free sessions, they did not require SSA to write this blog post. We’re writing about Shape House because we loved it and whole-heartedly recommend it to our friends and readers.