By Sarah Jio
I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for the easy button. Robot vacuums? Yes, please! Lotions and potions that hint at speedy results? Um, sign me up! So, when I heard about my favorite spa’s new offering—a pod that harnesses the power of infrared light and heat to melt away fat while you lounge—I was immediately intrigued, and in the name of wellness due diligence, naturally, I made an appointment.
I’m no virgin to red light therapy and infrared wavelengths, in fact, I’ve tried it all—from the hilarious, but weirdly awesome, personal infrared sauna “sleeping bag” that I bought on Amazon last year to my beloved (albeit embarrassingly expensive) Celluma light panel that may or may not drive my husband bonkers when I power it on in bed at 6 a.m. And, yet, somehow (oh, miracle of miracles), I managed to convince him that we needed an infrared sauna in our home. So yes, infrared light is my jam.
Think of an old-school tanning bed (which, I pray, you haven’t stepped foot in since 1993), the top opens up and you slide on in (preferably in the nude to maximize the light exposure on your bod). Alone in the treatment room, you can control the intensity level, then press the start button as the red lights fire up and you’re slowly bathed in a swath of warm, red light.
While I listened to a podcast, it was easy to relax during the 30-minute session, and for this tired mama, who tends to run cold, I loved the bone-deep warming effect. I’d been pre-warned that sweating is normal (and what you want!), so when I felt the first few beads of sweat rolling off my body, I was encouraged (the spa lines the pods with lots of fresh towels to make the whole experience less icky).
By the end of the session, I felt relaxed and invigorated—like I’d just finished a three-mile run, without the actual running part (winning!). And, like a good workout tends to do, the effect continued through the rest of the day. My energy level was high, and yet I felt a distinct sense of calm, and slept like a baby that night.
The next day, I woke up refreshed and also, so curious: What in the world is this magical machine? I called the spa to purchase a package of pod treatments and then set out to research the science behind what I’d just experienced.
The list of health benefits associated with infrared light isn’t breaking news. Research has linked it with some impressive wins such as detoxification, weight loss, improved sleep and circulation, skin improvements, anti-aging, even better sleep.
But what makes the infrared pod so interesting is the speed at which it works—the intense heat and light in close proximity to your body is like an infrared sauna on steroids.
And, while it’s only anecdotal, the girls at my local spa swear that, from a metabolic standpoint, one session in the pod is roughly the equivalent of an hour and a half or more of hardcore cardio. Um, amen to that!
So, would I recommend an infrared pod treatment to my girlfriends, sister, mom—you? Absolutely! But don’t expect to see results in just one session. Just like exercise and any other wellness practice, you’ll need to keep up with regular treatments—and possibly do a few double sessions—to reap the rewards.
Sarah Jio is a journalist and the New York Times bestselling author of 10 novels published with Penguin and Random House Books. (www.sarahjio.com)