For many of us, the pandemic turned our everyday routines on their heads. It also ironically became the perfect time for a company called MiHigh to launch its new Infrared Sauna Blanket—it debuted last May—which not only burns up to 600 calories in one session, but also promotes a feeling of Zen, which we could all use more of right now. “We didn’t intend to build this for lockdown or to have during coronavirus, but it has given people a way to sweat it out and calm their body at home, which is really special,” says cofounder Wyatt Westmoreland.
The idea for the blanket came to Westmoreland and his business partner, cofounder Ed Hodge, when they were regular visitors to their local wellness center where they frequently used the sauna, but became frustrated that they had to pay per session to gain access to it. “If we wanted to use a sauna in our own home, we’d have to spend thousands of dollars on a big box sauna that wasn’t realistic or convenient,” says Westmoreland. “We quickly realized this was a space we wanted to get into.”
After only six months of product development, the duo had created a super high-tech blanket—it’s more like a sleeping bag—that has several key benefits: “The far infrared heat can deeply penetrate skin up to three inches, so it’s the ultimate inside and outside detox,” says Westmoreland. “It flushes out toxins and opens up pores to flush them out too, leaving you with clean skin, and the blood flow gives you that ‘post-sauna glow.’” It also boosts metabolic rate and heart rate, which can burn up to 600 calories in one hour-long session. “You get to lay down and burn calories in your own home while watching a movie on Netflix, listening to your favorite podcast or just zoning out,” he adds. “It also helps calm muscles after a workout, and for this reason there’s been a lot of adoption from athletes around the world, including the NFL and the England rugby team—they use it all the time.” Another perk Westmoreland notes is that it boosts oxytocin—”the brain’s happy chemicals”—so many users hop out of the blanket feeling happier and more relaxed.
Celebrity trainer David Kirsch—he’s trained everyone from J.Lo to Victoria’s Secret models—is a fan, and says he’s tried just about everything of the sort throughout his 30-plus years in the business. “Since the pandemic, my training has been done virtually and my stress levels have been crazy high,” he says. “I was intrigued, yet skeptical at first, but the benefits go well beyond the sweating, and I was not disappointed. After 40 minutes in the blanket at 150 degrees, I’ve burned 300 calories and I’m not moving. Unlike a traditional sauna where it’s asphyxiating and you can’t breathe, this is much more comfortable.”
For Kirsch, the blanket ($424) provides what he calls “the 3Rs”: Rest, Restore and Relax. “At the end of a long day, it helps my muscles and tissues recover, and reduces inflammation. The nitric acid in your blood increases, which supports the oxygenation of your blood and its distribution throughout your body. It also cuts cortisol levels and boosts serotonin so you can sleep better.”
As far as what to wear, Westmoreland and Kirsch agree that sweat-wicking—not cotton—gym shorts and a T-shirt are the best option, and socks are a must because your feet do get hot. (Kirsch recommends keeping a water bottle close by too so you can keep hydrating.) To clean the blanket, the whole interior is waterproof, so it can be wiped down with antibacterial wipes or spray, and it dries quickly. “It’s easier to clean than a yoga mat,” says Westmoreland. “It’s also portable, so you can bring it anywhere as long as you have a power supply.”
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