Walking in, I was expecting it to be a bit more...L.A. My only concept of a modern a sweat lodge (i.e. one not situated in the desert and involving a vision quest) stemmed from reality TV, so I prepped myself to be greeted by a "Lose 10 Pounds in 45 Minutes!" poster and a vial of Botox.
Instead, the new City Sweats in Madison Park has a serene, spa-lit lobby where an ethereal hostess presents you with a shot of cayenne-pepper tonic and your personal jug of water before escorting you to a plush, private sweat room.
All zen aside, the actual process went something like this:
I was wrapped in a million-degree blanket cocoon and watched Orange Is the New Black on their Roku device for 45 minutes while every ounce of water streamed out of my body into a hot, damp puddle.
The sweat system uses infrared heat to warm the surface of the skin, causing you to sweat (a lot) and aid in detoxification, weight loss, relaxation, relief from anxiety, etc.
When it was over, after zoning out in their lounge for 20 minutes with some fresh blueberries and a house-brewed tea, I felt okay. Slightly light-headed and certainly relaxed, but nothing dramatic. I lost exactly zero pounds, by the way.
Mostly I found myself dwelling on this one question that probably should have occurred to me before that moment:
"Is my body actually toxic?"
See, I'm a good, holistic Seattleite: I eat organic as often as possible. I get acupuncture. I take vitamins. I shun parabens. Two days a week I consume nothing but juice that I spend hours preparing the previous day. (Ugh.) But what I've only recently considered is that this idea that my body is toxic and that I need to do everything possible—from cleanses to sweat sessions—to rid myself of these toxins might just be, I don't know, a product of all the blogs I read? (I later Googled "is my body toxic" and found an online quiz, but the results were inconclusive.)
All this is to say, what I actually got out of my appointment was a realization that it's great to sweat and float and juice the poison out if it calls to you, but that it's most important to pay attention to your body and take care of it in a way that feels best for you, not necessarily one that fits in with the latest holistic craze.
Next time I'm feeling the need to sweat it all out without suffering through a hot yoga class, I'll head back to City Sweats. After all, I've got 12 more episodes of OITNB to catch up on.