How did Shape House come to fruition?
Craig: “The first location, Larchmont, was actually our office for an internet business we were winding down. We had tried the infrared technology before, but it was in a dirty spa and it was a bad experience, but we really saw the benefit of it. We were sitting across the street at a coffee shop and Sophie was like, I have this crazy idea to use the infrared technology in a meaningful way and put it in a zen-like environment. And I said, ‘Oh, you mean like an urban sweat lodge?’ And that was it. In two months, we had a POS system, staff, beds and within a couple of months we were beta testing it with friends. Two months after we opened, we had one outlet feature us and after that we have been booked ever since.”
What is a sweat lodge?
Sophie: “It comes from the American Indian tradition. They used sweat lodges for spiritual healing. It has to do with quieting the noise, tapping into the intuition, and releasing toxins while you sweat. It’s a release. It kicks up your endorphins, while you release whatever it is you need to, whether that be extra weight, stress, or pain.”
With launching Shape House, what was the hardest part ?
Sophie: “I would say it was difficult getting people to understand the benefits of sweating. Now detoxing is everywhere, but three years ago people were like – why do I need to sweat?”
Craig: “Sweating is seen as dirty and an unfortunate thing that happens when you workout. When we started that was the understanding of sweat. We had to convince people that sweating is good.”
Could you share any stories of Shape House clients who have had transformative experiences?
Craig: “There really are so many, but one of our clients, Mary, she came in with severe psoriasis. She’s had it for years and years. After her first session her skin rashes went down by fifty percent. She kept coming and it went down to twenty percent and now it’s almost gone. She comes in pretty consistently. Other people who have been using Ambien to sleep at night, no longer need to use sleeping pills after their first session.”
Sophie: “There’s another woman who comes here who is in the middle of a terrible nasty divorce. She walked out of here recently and said to me ‘If it wasn’t for Shape House, I don’t know how I would get through this.’ She says that coming here keeps her afloat. But it happens, people walk out of their beds and they feel lifted. They are able to meditate, relax, release fear and calm their past in their heads. We can move the needle for people.”
Could you share your personal transformative story and how Shape House played a role?
Sophie: “I used to weigh 320lbs. I’ve lost about 190lbs. But that journey of reconnecting with myself is related to sweating. You get to 300lbs by being disconnected with yourself. There was a moment when I opened my fridge at two in the morning and pulled up a chair. I was going to eat everything in the fridge; that was my thing. Then one night I said, you can do this, but you have to feel whatever it is you feel first. The sadness, anger, fear, loathing, it just came out. The moment of actually feeling what I felt inside was what I needed. After I felt what I was feeling, it was over and I never went back. I think sweating is related to that type of release. It takes out of your body all the stress you hold onto and keeps you present. You can let go of the past you’re holding onto when you sweat.”
Craig: “My whole life was about avoiding people, but through Shape House I’ve made a major shift. I love people and heart felt connections and making those connections is really meaningful to me. I sit in the relaxation room after a sweat session and my mind is quiet, my mind is relaxed. To me the relaxation room is where I feel the benefits and I get to have connecting moments and conversations with the clients that come here.”
What are the skin benefits of sweating at Shape House?
Sophie: “You’re gonna see your skin like you’ve never seen. When you remove what makes you unhealthy, all the toxins, it shows. A lot of celebrities come here because they want to have that healthy glow.”
Craig: “The sweat forces out dirt and old makeup from your pores. Sweating is great for you, however you do it, even if you do a hot bath and sweat, that’s beneficial. But when we created this space we wanted it to be meaningful – not just about the weight-loss or beauty benefits. When people come here it’s something deeper. We hear this all the time from our clients, that Shape House saved their life. It’s amazing. We have had over 17,000 people come to Shape House through our three locations (Larchmont, Santa Monica and Pasadena) in the last three and a half years. People are recognizing the value.”
-as told to BOND EN AVANT
Image source: Shape House