Recently I was introduced to Higher Dose, an infrared sauna based in New York City that boasts a laundry list of health benefits; like, body detoxing, calorie burning, skin glowing benefits. I learned that while regular saunas use steam to heat you up, Higher Dose’s sauna uses infrared, which penetrates and heats the skin, warming the body from the inside out. The result: detoxing up to 7x more than a traditional sauna, burning the equivalent of running 3-4 miles, and a feeling of euphoria and relaxation. If that wasn’t enough to get me in, Higher Dose provides private rooms for each of their clients equipped with chromotherapy lighting and an auxiliary cord so you can play whatever you want (dance party anyone?). Needless to say – I tried it once and haven’t been able to stay away. I sat down with the two founders, Lauren Berlingeri and Katie Kaps, to find out more about the experience and their own approaches to wellness.
Friend of a Friend: Where are you both from?
Lauren Berlingeri: I’m from Canada. I also lived in South Africa, in England, and in Australia—I’m a hybrid of all of them, so I just get confused [Laughs].
Katie Kaps: I’m actually from Ohio but I went to school in DC at Georgetown. Then I moved to New York, where I actually worked in investment banking.
I was on Wall Street doing consumer products investment banking. It was crazy at times to be in that industry—I started in ‘07 like right when things were booming. Then I was there right in the middle of the crash. That ended up being very serendipitous. After that, I just went out to San Francisco and that’s when I started to get the entrepreneurial bug. And, you know, all’s well that ends well.
FOAF: What’s your fitness career path been like?
Lauren: It’s about wellness for us—Wellness is bigger than fitness. I think I started off with my passion for exercise and health… That’s what really sparked everything. I think that when you want to perform at a certain level, you would become more conscious of what you’re eating, how you’re sleeping, how much water you’re drinking, how you’re recovering. I think that was the gateway to my whole journey.
But then as you become older, your goals change a little bit. Your goal is just to become healthy and have more energy and feel good for the rest of the day, as opposed to trying to slim down your thighs or be the best in your workout class. I used to be a lot more competitive and a lot harder on myself. Then as my journey has continued, I feel like I’ve let go a lot more and actually learned to enjoy it. It’s certainly become much more of a lifestyle.
That introduced us to the concept of the infrared sauna because I couldn’t keep up with six days [of training] a week. I couldn’t keep up with that amount of work. I was referred to infrared by a really high-end doctor and nutritionist, that whole community was talking about it. I would go in there and it was exactly what I needed. It was that recovery. I still was burning calories and my skin came out looking amazing.
FOAF: So what are the actual health benefits to infrared?
Lauren: I could actually probably write you a whole essay on all the benefits. It’s amazing for your skin because it increases circulation and blood flow and gives you this glow. There is a weight loss cardio aspect to it because it speeds up your heart rate to the pace of a light jog, so you get that workout. And then I think the biggest one that New Yorkers don't even realize is that it distresses you.
It's a solution for people because sometimes working out can actually take from you and leave you tired. Infrared almost charges you—it doesn't matter if you just came from a crazy, hardcore workout and you're about to die, and you're thinking, "How do I have any more energy to go into the infrared sauna?" You go in there and you come out like a brand new baby. I just feel content and happy.
Katie: I remember I was just doing a juice cleanse—I tried the sauna but I wasn’t prepared properly. I went and did a full sauna session and I was honestly like, “Oh my God, it feels like I just ran six miles, l I feel amazing.” And all I had to do was sit there. That was a year and a half ago, and I’ve been doing it ever since.
FOAF: Have any other health tips, besides infrared?
Katie: I started using a treadmill desk when I worked in San Francisco and that was such a game changer, because you get this flow of oxygen to your brain, and you're just in focus, you're in flow, and you're active, but you're also producing better work. It's a dopamine and endorphin release at the same time, because you’re accomplishing goals, which releases dopamine, and then you're moving your body, which releases endorphins. That's my favorite thing to do, whenever I'm working on my creative work or website, or email stuff, I always work on my treadmill desk.
Lauren: I think yoga is great. But there’s also a disconnect there—you’re chanting in another language that you don’t understand. And then they have all these different mantras that they live by. It’s all great and there’s a time and a place for it, but we really want Higher Dose to be a part of everybody’s lifestyle and we want people to enjoy it. We want it to be inclusive. And, really, wherever you’re at in your spirituality, we really provide an experience that’s just about you. There’s no judgement; you can just do whatever. I think what’s more important than fitness, than your diet, is really your life mentality, and how you handle stress and how you treat people and if you’re grateful. Being mindful is so much healthier than trying to control your diet or how many times you went to the gym down to the detail.
Visit Higher Dose at 21 East 1st St.
Book your first appointment here.