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What’s the deal with infrared saunas?

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I walked into Enliven Infrared Saunas without the slightest idea of what to expect.

It was my first infrared sauna experience. Albeit (and I am ashamed to admit) my first sauna experience ever.

What do I wear? Do I have to get naked? Will other people be in the sauna with me? Was my perfectly straightened hair going to frizz to Hagrid-status? I had no idea and to be honest, I was a little nervous.

It’s a quiet Friday afternoon when I pull up to Enliven Infrared Saunas in Phillip, with my backpack full of alternative underwear, swimmers and a change of clothes–I was prepared for all scenarios.

I’m greeted by owner and director Jill Gray. Her presence is as calming as ever, as is the soothing music playing over the speakers, and I immediately feel at ease (although I will admit, the nakedness was still playing on my mind). I pull my backpack strap a little tighter.

Jill takes me over to the saunas–deep breath, here we go– I think to myself.

To my surprise and delight, the first sauna isn’t like a sauna at all. In fact, it’s more a bed or cocoon than anything. It’s not steaming, it’s not glass, and it’s certainly not for more than one person. But best of all, it’s situated in a private room, shut off from the rest of the space with a big dark curtain.

“This is our solo bed sauna,” explains Jill. “It’s perfect if you just want to get super cosy, chill out and reap all the benefits of an infrared sauna. It’s also highly likely that it will put you to sleep–it happens all the time.”

Solo bed sauna.

“And so, like, do I wear clothes or…how does it work?” I tried to casually pass off.

“I recommend you get completely naked,” responds Jill. Duly noted. I put my bag of clothes down. I will not be needing them today.

We walk over to the second sauna–this time an enormous wooden and glass box, kind of like a regular sauna but again minus the steam and definitely big enough for two people.

Jill opens the glass door and I walked in. It was warm, really warm.

“How does it work?” I ask.

“A traditional sauna uses convection and conduction to heat the surface of your skin,” says Jill.

“In contrast, infrared saunas use infrared heating panels which emit light, helping your body to detoxify, giving you a deeper cleansing experience.”

“When using an infrared sauna, the goal is not to heat the skin or ambient air. The goal is to penetrate the body for a purifying sweat. Deeper infrared penetration allows your core body temperature to rise, allowing you to sweat out harmful toxins.”

“Unlike traditional saunas, the air in an infrared sauna is a lot drier making it easier to breathe. This form of slow heating makes infrared saunas a much more comfortable experience than a traditional one,” she explains.

“I also have naturally curly hair–will it frizz up?” (I like to ask the most highbrow of questions).

“Maybe a little, but definitely not as much as a traditional sauna,” says Jill.


We make our way over to the third and final three-person sauna.

“Sometimes people book this sauna just for themselves, so they have enough space to do some yoga poses while enjoying their session,” says Jill. I step inside and look around. Yes, it’s definitely big enough, although I will not be partaking in any sauna-yoga today.

“Most people who I’ve talked to have heard about infrared saunas, but no one has actually tried one,” explains Jill. “When I was living in Melbourne I would go and have an infrared sauna session the moment I felt like I was coming down with something. I realised there’s a need for a dedicated infrared sauna studio in Canberra.”

Jill and I decide I’ll try 15-minutes in the solo sauna and another 15-minutes in the double. She grabs me a couple of towels, closes the curtain behind me and turns out the lights. It’s extremely ambient and all of a sudden, I’m very excited. I undress comfortably, slide into the “bed” and pull the dome-shaped cover up to my neck. It’s warm, snug and super delightful. I close my eyes.

15-minutes absolutely flies. I hop out, wrap a towel around me and open the curtain.

“Incredible,” I say to Jill.

She takes me over to the double sauna and we select one of the sessions. This one goes for half-an-hour, and Jill is more than happy for me to take the entire time. She lays a plush towel down and closes the curtain once more. I take my towel off, hop inside and get comfortable.

It’s really not that hot, I think to myself. That was until beads of sweat start dripping down my back. But even though I’m sweating, it’s still extremely comfortable. Better yet my hair, while a little wet at the scalp, is essentially frizz-free.

Again, 30-minutes pass by in a flash and while I’m reluctant to get out, I also realise it’s starting to get late. I pop my original clothes back on (my backpack was a total waste) and head back out to meet Jill.

According to Jill the results vary, with some people leaving relaxed, calm and ready for a good nights’ sleep. On the contrary, others can feel really energised and ready to take on the world. I certainly felt the latter and am starting to understand they’re so popular.

“I just love the warmth, that feeling of lying out in the sun, soaking up the heat,” Jill tells me.

“Sometimes when I’m in the solo lie down sauna, I shut my eyes and imagine that I’m out, lying in the sun at the beach. It’s such a great feeling, especially in the middle of winter in Canberra. I love the deep, restful sleep I get when I’ve had a sauna and all the health benefits too.”

“I also love the fact that I can burn 600 calories just sitting there sweating,” she adds.

Other benefits include promoting better sleep, healing joint pain and inflammation of the muscles, removing toxins from the body and increasing circulation, promoting healthy skin and a healthy glow, relieving stress and anxiety and so much more.

Why not make it a double? September is ‘bring a friend for free’ month. Call Enliven Infrared Saunas on 0404 073 618 or visit their website for more information.

This is a sponsored editorial. For more information on sponsored editorials, click here

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