ColumnsHealth & WellnessThe Seeker

The Seeker: Building a Routine at an Infrared Sauna Studio in Charlotte

Let's get sweaty

Perspire Sauna Studio in Charlotte
For her latest column, Katie visits an infrared sauna studio in Charlotte. (Photo by Lauren Mazzella)

Sweating is a very normal, essential bodily function. Its primary purpose is to cool our human body down when threatened by the possibility of overheating. Each of us is equipped with an average of 3 million sweat glands, controlled by our autonomic nervous systems. This allows us to sweat without our conscious control. Sweat is released through ducts in our skin as temperatures rise, moistens the surface of our body, and cools us down as it evaporates.

OK, now before I continue on sounding like the kid in Jerry Maguire, let me explain where I’m going with this. As winter approaches, encouraging perspiration through a sauna routine can benefit our physical and mental state. Sauna — which can be used interchangeably as a noun or a verb — can have an extraordinary impact on our skin, body, and mood. According to Men’s Health, the benefits of sauna include helping preserve muscle mass, boosting heart health, improving skin strength, encouraging water weight loss, improving skin strength, and clearing pores.

Globally, folks sauna for different reasons. In Finland and other Scandinavian countries, sauna plays a culturally significant role. Coworkers may bond in a sauna the way colleagues in the United States do at happy hour. But because sauna is less prevalent in our country, adopting a sauna routine here in the States may take more persistence.

This fall, I visited Perspire Sauna Studio in Providence Park in south Charlotte with hopes of creating my own routine here in my home city. According to the website, Perspire strives to bring the benefits of infrared sauna studios to Charlotte and other communities in a friendly, comfortable, spa-like atmosphere.

Infrared saunas differ from traditional saunas in that they utilize infrared wavelengths to heat the body rather than steam. Traditional saunas use a heater — be it a box of hot rocks or a more contemporary version — that is heating the air and this hot air heats the user. In contrast, infrared saunas use advanced therapy to promote heat generation in the body with only a small percentage of the heat heating the air. Proponents say this results in a deeper sweat at a lower ambient air temperature.

I booked by first session at Perspire Sauna Studio through my ClassPass subscription. The staff was incredibly knowledgeable. Because I am a sauna novice, they took the time to explain the benefits of sauna, control amenities like temperature and Smart TV, and during and post-session care. Here are some tips I’ve picked up in my short time on this journey.

First and foremost, drink water to hydrate yourself. Staying hydrated is critical if you plan to step into an infrared sauna where sweating will undoubtedly occur. Always drink plenty of water before, during, and after your sauna session. It’s also important to enter the cedar sauna sans-makeup, which will allow your skin to receive the full benefits of the infrared heat.

For appropriate sauna attire, think athleisure — comfortable and lightweight. You may even consider rocking a bathing suit, or even better, your birthday suit like I did during my first visit. Something cozy is best to change into after your session’s shower.

Here’s what you can expect during your sauna session. Perspire Sauna Studio features private infrared saunas that emit far, mid, and near-infrared for maximum wellness benefits. Your experience includes medical-grade color light therapy to enhance your session, mood, and wellness benefits. Each private room consists of a large-screen Smart TV with access to apps like Netflix and YouTube. Each session includes a body, face, and floor towel, as well as their signature, chilled eucalyptus towel for refreshing yourself during or after the sauna session.

You may notice that it takes 10-20 minutes to break a sweat in your first session. That’s because of the aforementioned differences in how infrared saunas work. As your body becomes more accustomed to raising your core temperature regularly, your sweat will become more excessive and start sooner into your session.

Post-session, private showers are available. Based on personal experience, the more comfortable the outfit you can change into, the better. I was fortunate enough to wear my pajamas home and cuddle up in bed for the evening.

Pro tip: remember, if you’re like me and have been indulging in excess holiday cheer, your body just flushed out a lot of toxins. Be sure to replenish and rehydrate with alkaline water, coconut water, or other nutrient-dense beverages.

A key takeaway for me has been that saunas provide a relaxing experience along with many health benefits. Local franchise Perspire Sauna Studio has package rates available, ranging from four visits per month to unlimited. I can assure you I have added a Perspire Sauna Studio package to my holiday “wish list.”

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