Sophie Chiche is the dynamic mama-with-the-mostest behind our latest wellness obsession, Shape House LA. From the moment you step into the charming, colorful day spa – centered around the deeply detoxifying infrared sauna experience – you’ll be pampered, nurtured and completely relaxed. As though you’ve been welcomed into her own home, Sophie and her brightly clad attendants serve alkaline water, equip you with cozy sauna gear (yes, gear – infrared is not a bear-all sauna experience!) and prepare you for one of the most comfortable wellness experiences ever!
After dressing head-to-toe in cozy cotton, the ladies of Shape House tuck each spa-goer into private suites with infrared beds and sauna ‘sleeping bags’. We’re pretty sure this is what space-age wellness feels like! Each suite is equipped with a flat-screen television, private headsets, alkaline water service and a fully reclined spa bed, more like a first-class seat on an exotic airline than a sauna! Now you’re ready for the easiest cardio workout of your life. Cozied up with remote control in hand, you’ll make your way through a few missed episodes of Eat Drink Love or a TEDtalk or two, while the infrared heat penetrates deep within your core, dissolving toxins into sweat and getting your heart rate pumping.
Shape House‘s treatments are as effective as they are relaxing and the secret is quickly getting out as everyone from over-worked studio execs to A-list actresses are getting their sweat on at this hidden Larchmont gem. There is good news for Westsiders too! Sophie and team are soon to open a Santa Monica location that will have the rest of LA sweating it out by the beach! Here is Sophie on infrared, its’ benefits and the transformative results her clients are experiencing.
The Chalkboard Mag: First off, for those who don’t know, what in the world is infrared?
Sophie CHICHE: Infrared saunas are a really efficient, safe and comfortable way to heat your body. The purpose of the sauna experience is to bring your body to a higher temperature so it naturally breaks a sweat to cool itself down. Infrared is the best technology to do that. When you are here for your treatment, we wrap you in a kind of a sleeping bag that is filled with ceramic plates that generate infrared energy. The bed heats you up and your body works hard to cool, causing you to break a sweat (and burn calories and release toxins, and relax and kick up endorphins).
TCM: What are the biggest benefits of infrared treatments?
Sophie: Regular infrared sauna treatments improves pretty much everything. I know it sounds shady to say it that way, but frankly we have seen more than 2,000 people since we opened Shape House and it continues to prove to be true. By sweating you are removing toxins. By removing toxins, you allow your body to be at its maximum performance ability. When you sweat regularly, you sleep better. You digest better. It helps with cravings and stress. It improves your mood and your skin. It releases aches and pains. It increases your metabolism. It helps you restore after a good workout.
Imagine, we are made of 75% water. Water is how our body flushes the system of toxins. Our internal system is almost like a river and can become stagnant like one too. With a good deep sweat from infrared you are atually stirring those stagnant waters and flushing out those stagnant toxins.
TCM: What inspired you to create what is now Hollywoods’ most popular sauna experience?
Sophie: I think it was meant to be. It wanted it to come into existence. Infrared is somewhat of a magical technology, and I wanted to create a space that made it easy for people to experience it. Easy, affordable and fitting to every lifestyle. When you find something that works and that you love, you bring your friends and their mothers. It happened by word of mouth, as health solutions that work often do.
TCM: Would you touch on a little bit of your own transformation story?
Sophie: I have lost 150 pounds. Loving my body has been a long journey. I have learned more about myself losing all this weight than anything else I have done in my life. Sweating is my daily self-care routine to stay close to myself. A moment where I touch base with me. A moment where I get to give me to me.
TCM: Would you share a transformation story or two about Shape House clients?
Josephine came to us with insomnia. She had been taking sleeping pills for the past nine years. The first time she sweated, she was so relaxed, she forgot to take her pill. She fell asleep on her couch and slept through the night. She comes regularly now, and has not taken a pill since.
Lucy in the middle of an ugly divorce. A friend bought her multiple sessions as a gift to help her through. She comes every other day. She walked out yesterday saying, “You guys are getting me through this divorce, I do not know how I would have done without Shape House.”
Carla has had psoriasis for most of her adult life. She describes it as being one of the element that affects her life the most. When it flares up, she literally avoids going out and showing her skin. After six sweats, she reported being 90% done with it. After seven sweats, she is done all the way.
TCM: The Shape House experience is so lovely! Why was it important to you to create an experience that is so enjoyable?
Sophie: That was our intention (obsession?) from the start. We wanted people to be cared for from the second they walked in until the moment of their departure. We wanted to create an oasis, in every sense of the term. A place where people could recharge, restore, be loved. We used ourselves as guinea pigs. What would feel wonderful right now? A wet towel with a lovely lavender smell? Or a slice of juicy orange when you just finished sweating? We kept adding to the experience as we were developing it. We still do. When someone comes up with a cool idea, we consider it and often implement it.
TCM: You’ve created a really unique environment at Shape House, what’s the goal?
Sophie: I wanted it to feel like home, like my home. A place where great people have great conversations. A place where people could have an holistic experience. Every dimension of themselves could be tended to and cared for. They could feel better physically, emotionally, mentally and even spiritually.
TCM: What is the best way to use infrared? Is there an ideal time of day or quantity of visits per month?
Sophie: I could tell you my opinion, but more interestingly, we invite people to develop a sense of what is best for them. There is a way that you feel when you sweat regularly, clean from the inside out, that becomes many folks’ standard of well-being. It’s similar to knowing when to brush your teeth. How do you know it is time to brush your teeth? Well, you have an instinctive answer: When they don’t feel clean. It depends on your goal, really. Once a week is great for people that are just looking to use Shape House as a relaxing place. For people who are interested in losing weight, it is a good idea to keep the metabolism running these folks tend to have the best results when they come in every few days.
TCM: Do you have a favorite post-sweat snack?
Sophie: We recommend light and salty, so nuts or seaweed are wonderful. Nothing too heavy. We don’t recommend coming in on an empty stomach either. Minerals in general and salt in particular are eliminated through the sweating process. We add a few drops of minerals to the water we serve while people sweat. We also add chlorophyll to the water as it is a natural blood cleanser that increases the detoxifying experience.
TCM: Alkaline water is a big part of the sweat off. Tell us a little about why this is so important?
Sophie: Science speaks to the idea that disease has a hard time developing in an alkaline terrain. We took that seriously and are helping people develop a more alkaline pH. It increases the ability of the body to heal itself. It is also the best way we have found to rehydrate people. Sweating allows for the toxins to come out. Alkaline water refills you with all that is good in water.
TCM: Do you have an alkaline filter or brand that you recommend?
Sophie: We use Kangen water and we love it.
Get in on the Larchmont Day of Wellness!
Our brand new Pressed Juicery Larchmont location is partnering with new neighbors Healing Hands and Shape House LA to offer the perfect day of wellness! Purchase the Larchmont Day of Wellness package at Pressed Juicery Larchmont for a one day juice cleanse, 1 infrared sauna treatment and 1 Healing Hands treatment all in one day! Sounds like the perfect way to spend an afternoon to us…