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Beat the heat? More like embrace it. Mother-daughter duo Samantha and Sandy Albano opened Purify, an “urban sweat lodge,” in Burns Court earlier this month to give clients the opportunity to sweat—and, they say, to improve health, detox the body and promote relaxation.

Samantha and Sandy Albano at their Purify - An Urban Sweat Lodge.

We’ve all been there—you go to the gym, have killer workout and then afterwards want to step into a hot sauna to decompress. Purify is similar to that sauna experience, but the heat is way more intense. Whether you’re after a sweat-induced detox or just want to clear your mind, Purify offers 50 minute far infrared radiation (FIR) heat treatments that penetrate the layers of your skin, rather than simply radiating in the air around you. FIR’s heat energy is invisible—similar to heat of the sun, but without the UV radiation. The energy waves are able to push through layers of fatty tissue in the bloodstream to activate water molecules, raise your body temperature and make you sweat—temps reach a sweltering 140 degrees.

The Albanos say the treatments have many other benefits in addition to relaxation and detoxification, including speeding up metabolism, accelerating weight loss, clearing skin breakouts, improving blood circulation, suppressing joint pain, relieving headaches, and mending poor sleeping habits and high stress levels. They say clients can sweat out between 800-1,500 calories per session.

Recently, I decided to see what all the hype was about. When I arrived, I was supplied with sweat pants, a long-sleeved shirt and socks to wear during my session. Once I was in my “sweat outfit," I laid down on an adjustable therapeutic mattress between two heated compression wraps, adjusted my head and feet, and immediately began to feel relaxed as the temperature started to rise.

During a sweat sesh, you can choose a program to watch on Netflix (I picked a movie I’d been wanting to watch), or you can listen to music or a podcast on your own device. Once I zoned out (with Purify-provided Bluetooth headphones), I was able to let my thoughts go and immerse myself in the experience. It was hard to not fall asleep; which Sandy Albano says that's a common response and happens often.

I also that the 140-degree temps would be almost unbearably hot, but instead I felt like I had a heating pad everywhere on my body except my head. My muscles, body and mind were totally relaxed throughout the session, and I was oblivious to everything else that was going on around me. One of the best parts happened about 40 minutes into the session, just when I was starting to feel like I (literally) couldn’t take the heat. A Purify staffer came in and laid an ice-cold towel across my forehead, giving me the push I needed for the final 10 minutes of the session. Afterward, the Albanos encouraged me to recuperate in Purify’s relaxation room, and to drink plenty of water to rehydrate.

So, did I reap the benefits of sweat therapy?

Well, after the session was over, I felt like all the thoughts swirling around in my mind and any tension I’d been holding in my body had waned, and I was reminded that I should always make time for myself, no matter how busy life gets. I can’t say for sure if the long-time benefits work for me personally after one session, but it definitely felt good in the moment.

Purify is located at 533 S. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota, and sessions are $50 apiece; packages can be purchased in a range of prices, and monthly memberships are available. For more information, visit purifysweatlodge.com. Purify advises avoiding a treatment like this if you are pregnant, have recently sustained an injury and/or undergone surgery, have hemophilia, take certain medications, have any heart condition, are 16 or younger or if you have a chronic condition that makes you sensitive to temperature.

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