Tippi Clark, a 24-year-old nutritionist who lives in Manhattan was describing a mission that tested her endurance. “You reach the peak,” she said, “And it’s like, ‘Oh, my gosh, can I make it through the last 20 minutes?’” She was not talking about scaling the summit of a mountain but withstanding a 60-minute session of heat hovering around 157 degrees at HigherDOSE, an infrared sauna center that opened in May on the Bowery. HigherDOSE uses heaters that emit infrared light waves that create heat in the body rather than heating the air. The idea is that one can stay in them much longer, and sweat all the more.
Infrared heating was pioneered in the mid-20th century for use in hospitals, mostly in Europe and Japan, to speed the healing of wounds and to warm premature babies. Units for personal use gradually gained a following, with adherents crediting time spent sweating with everything from weight loss and glowing skin to better sleep and detoxification.