Sweat lodges, saunas, Jacuzzis, steam rooms, mineral hot springs … heat therapy has been used for centuries to promote wellness, healing and cleanse the body of toxins. One of the drawbacks, however, is that we can only tolerate high heat for short periods of time before risking getting overheated. Or the heat surrounds our bodies, but doesn’t necessarily penetrate deep enough to cause healing on a cellular level.
Enter infrared sauna technology, which can provide the deep-level healing benefits of heat without warming the air around you and sending you running for cooler temps. As most people know from middle-school science class, infrared and ultraviolet are the rays that exist outside the visible color-light spectrum of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet (ROYGBIV).
Costa Mesa-based Perspire Sauna Studios uses full-spectrum infrared saunas that combine the benefit of infrared rays with the added enhancement of color light therapy (CLT) and red-light therapy (RLT) with every sauna session. You get the benefits of heat and red light without exposure to harmful UV rays. The spas operate on a membership structure and although the locations are franchised, you can go to any location with your membership. Additionally, an introductory session is only $20.
“Our infrared saunas use near-, mid-, and far-infrared waves to heat the body from within, which deeply penetrates the skin, tissues muscles, and joints to improve circulation, the flow of oxygen, and removes toxins at a cellular level,” says founder and CEO Lee Braun. “The treatment penetrates two or three centimeters to your core so it can really hit that soft tissue and nerves and help decrease inflammation. Ninety percent of disease is inflammation, so the beauty of this is it really works to bring down chronic inflammation and promote wellness.”
The cooler surrounding temperatures allow for longer sessions, making it ideal for those who can’t tolerate high heat and even for those who can, most can’t tolerate it for long enough to reap the benefits a 40-minute session can provide.
“It can absolutely benefit chronic pain and nerve pain,” says Braun. “For example, Lady Gaga uses infrared sauna for her pain issues. We like infrared specifically because it has a few different properties compared to other types of heat treatments. First, it’s penetrating. It warms your core temperature rather than the air around you, like in a typical sauna, so you can stay in longer to maximize the benefits. Secondly, it helps you detox and is excellent for your skin, especially in combination with red light therapy.”
Indeed, Lady Gaga has posted about using infrared sauna for pain management on her Instagram as early as 2015.
How does red-light therapy and color-light therapy complement the infrared sauna?
“It is a treatment that exposes people to the visible color spectrum you’re familiar with — ROYGBIV,” says Braun. “It’s a centuries old concept based on using light and its benefits to stimulate different emotions within the brain.
There’s a lot centered around helping with lower blood pressure, and red light and blue light are being used in a lot of beauty applications right now to improve skin health. The bulk of the research being done around red-light therapy, which is really coming into clarity not only at our studios but a whole industry showing promise for optimizing cognitive function, spinal elasticity, restoring muscle tissue, accelerating recovery, improving sleep, etc.”
The stimulating and therapeutic effects of each color in the spectrum can be found here.
The saunas at Perspire Sauna Studios are private and made of cedar and glass, allowing for light to come in so individuals will feel comfortable in them. You can set your own temperature and light color in addition to watching TV or playing music. Perspire provides towel service and patrons can wear whatever they’re most comfortable with, either loose-fitting clothes, a bathing suit or nothing at all.
“After you check in, we give you a studio tour and show you to your room,” says Braun.
“We recommend staying in the sauna for up to 40-minute sessions. The first 20 minutes feels like a warm, sunny day. Once you’ve had a session or two, your body acclimates, and you start to sweat early on. The last 20 minutes you will pour sweat, ridding your body of toxins and impurities. Part of our service includes cold, eucalyptus towels for the completion of your treatment.”
Because the sessions also burn between 200 and 400 calorie, some use them in lieu of a workout.
The company had a banner year in 2022 and is keeping the momentum going into 2023. It opened its 30th studio. Though it was founded in 2010, it only had six locations pre-pandemic but now it has 30 in 14 states.
“We awarded our hundredth territory for franchising recently,” says Braun. “Soon, there will be more than 100 studios coming to the U.S. We debuted on the franchise 500 list at #400 this year, so that was very exciting for the brand. There are other exciting announcements on the horizon as well.”
The company is structured with a “customer-centric” approach, meaning service is the primary driver for all interactions, and staff are encouraged to familiarize themselves with each member’s unique needs.
“We believe it’s everyone’s ancient human desire to be remembered, so we stress the forgotten art of getting to know people’s names, using them, asking how they feel after their session and getting to know why they’re coming to Perspire,” says Braun. “Are they hoping to relieve everyday stress or are they dealing with something more serious, such as pain management, whether short or long term? I think most of us have experienced back problems or other injuries but others have chronic conditions that need constant care. Our customer-centric approach is great because we learn what our members need and can make recommendations for them.”
Currently, Perspire has multiple locations in Orange County, California, and will be expanding from 14 to 18 or 19 states very soon. Santa Monica and Torrance are now open, with Brentwood, West Hollywood, Studio City, Manhattan Beach, San Diego, Berkeley and San Jose coming soon.
There are unique benefits for those considering franchising including having a spa/wellness business without requiring a full-time staff of licensed therapists.