ColumnsHealth & WellnessThe Seeker

The Seeker: Double Dipping at Studio Fire and Mood House

Katie Grant looks ahead and smiles
Katie Grant, The Seeker. (Photo by Lauren Mazzella)

My most recent broke-bitch wellness adventures trailed an afternoon of heavy drinking at the Carolina Renaissance Festival, an annual guilty pleasure my husband and I endeavor with another couple. I desperately needed a self-care Sunday after our afternoon of beer-festing and people-watching.

While perusing Eventbrite (my current go-to source for wellness events that elbow me out of my comfort zone) from the comfort of my couch, I noticed that Studio Fire in SouthPark was hosting Free People Movement on a Sunday morning. I registered for a complimentary class called StudioFire: The Remix — a 50-minute lights-dimmed, music-bumping, sweat-pouring introduction to my morning. The cardio and dance class description clearly stated “no dance experience required,” which helped subdue my irrational they’re-all-going-to-laugh-at-you fear, which stems from watching Carrie too many times.

Speaking as someone who grew up swimming instead of dancing, I felt the Studio Fire instructor had the best energy and did not make me self-conscious. The lights were down, so no one could see my almost-40-year-old booty twerk. One of the most positive aspects of the workout was that the dance choreography was paired with weights and core work, which I am completely confident in. I can kickbox and crunch to Megan Thee Stallion ALL DAY! (Side note: I’m really feeling her “Bad Bitches Have Bad Days Too” sweatshirt, in case anyone feels generous. I wear a size small.)

Another distinguishing feature of Studio Fire is its focus on infrared fusion fitness.

According to the Studio Fire website, the benefits of infrared heat can vary depending on how the heat is distributed. Infrared radiant heat feels different from traditional forced air, which leaves you feeling “dried out.” Instead, “rays from infrared heaters penetrate deep into the skin’s surface to detox the body with sweat, relieve aches, and help the body melt deeper into poses for an invigorating and productive practice.”

Aside from the cardio and dance class I attended, Studio Fire also offers yoga, barre, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

A few hours later, I attended a meditation session at Mood House in Dilworth. As I am in the midst of a luxurious school break, I’ve been taking advantage of my time affluence. This often means a disparate workout and meditation within the same waking hours. 

Along with Studio Fire, Mood House has been high on my list of local places to check out for some time. I was elated to find they offer a beginner-friendly 45-minute meditation offering a break in the middle plus journaling on a Sunday evening. My husband even tagged along for a sober date night, focusing on recharging body and mind. He may loathe some of the workouts I drag him to but he understands and appreciates the concept of not being able to pour from an empty cup; it’s essential to balance a busy life with stillness.

I can’t imagine a more ataractic space for calming contemplation; the spacious meditation room in Mood House was flanked with diaphanous, white curtains and low lighting. Labeled on the website as modern with a “Palm Springs vibe,” the space felt minimalist and futuristic enough to make Ikea jealous.

We initiated our meditation with some big belly breaths with a handful of other meditation students. Full disclosure moment: I still breathe inefficiently despite having three nose surgeries. I am a mouth breather, especially when I work out. I’m doing it all wrong.

According to the American Lung Association, “Proper breathing starts in the nose and then moves to the stomach as your diaphragm contracts, the belly expands, and your lungs fill with air.” Our meditation guide directed our attention to our breath, asking us to draw in through the nose, allowing our bellies to expand and fill our lungs with air. This helps calm the nervous system and improves relaxation.

After a few rounds of belly breathing, we were invited to envision what we wanted more of in our lives. We were also gently reminded that to create space for more, we must let go of what no longer serves us — a metaphor for the coming winter months. Before we enjoy a bountiful spring and summer, we must rest and reflect.

My next visit to Mood House, which I am already planning, will include a visit to the infrared sauna and a massage (Yes, in addition to the meditation room and sauna are seven massage suites). When checking in for a signature massage, you can choose from moods such as calm, clear, abundant or awake, so “the aromatherapy and affirmations align to help you feel exactly how you want to when you leave.”

It’s important to note that abundance doesn’t necessarily mean more things (something I quickly forget during my hungover shopping excursions on the weekends). It means being satisfied with what I have and leading a purposeful life. So we’ll go with that.

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