If you’re one of the many people considering a health reboot during the new year but you’re feeling uninspired by seasonally discounted gym memberships and promises of a new you using tired, old methods, you may want to dive a little further into the offerings of the New Orleans wellness scene. From infrared-heated workouts to plunge baths and oxygen therapies, a variety of boutique and specialty fitness clubs, spas and studios are changing the ways we think about healing and strengthening our bodies. As new research and technologies evolve, so do the options for maximizing the power of an elevated heart rate or the body’s reaction to sounds and temperatures.
Hot, Cold & Vibrant
DROP Sauna Studio opened in New Orleans in 2020, and in less than a year doubled its infrared saunas due to demand. Providing that post-workout euphoria without the workout, these 40-minute sessions in private, 140-degree infrared saunas can reportedly burn up to 600 calories while helping the body detoxify, boost immunity, relieve pain and increase blood flow. According to DROP Owner Amanda Martiny, DROP’s full-spectrum saunas incorporate near-, mid- and far-infrared energy with penetration of skin tissue, joints and muscles that allows up to seven times more detoxification than typical sweating.
“With all that we come in contact within our daily lives, there’s no doubt we’re all in need of consistent, quality detox, and the list of reported health benefits is astounding,” says Martiny.
Customers choose how to spend their private sessions – some relax or meditate while others watch their favorite shows or lift light weights. Sessions end with a frozen, essential oil towelette. New to DROP is a Lymphatic Foam Rolling Class + Infrared Sauna: a combination of 20 minutes of foam rolling and a 30-minute sauna session.
On the other end of the spectrum is NOLA Chill, a cryotherapy and wellness studio that offers cold therapies to reduce pain and inflammation and other services aimed at body contouring and anti-aging.
“Our whole-body cryotherapy is targeting inflammation throughout the body but also assists in burning calories and giving our clients a metabolism boost,” says Owner Walt Marcus. While whole body cryotherapy is great for athletes and people with injuries, the energy boost, skin tightening and added collagen production can benefit anyone, he says.
NOLA Chill’s CryoSlim service targets fat in the body by using carbon dioxide to freeze and break down fat cells. The CryoFacial applies cold therapy via mask to the face, which is reported to reduce wrinkles, tighten pores and firm the skin. In addition to its cold services, NOLA Chill also offers infrared sauna, HydroMassage, NormaTec compression and NuCalm.
Another way to experience the health benefits of cold is through a plunge bath, such as the Hot + Cold Plunge Hydrotherapy treatment at newly opened Spyre Center. Spyre Center’s plunge tanks are set in the back of its courtyard in a discrete annex lit by natural light by day and candles at night. According to Co-Owner and Director Diana Fisher, cold therapy activates the autonomic nervous system and encourages deep, full breathing. Hot + Cold Plunge Hydrotherapy treatments at Spyre are bookable in 15- and 30-minute intervals.
“Our hydrotherapy clients report increased focus, elevated mood, pain relief, increased focus and stress reduction,” says Fisher. “Being in the 55-degree water really forces you to be present and breathe through the external stressor, which can be of great benefit in other stressful areas of life. We’re really excited to provide an exciting way for people to expand their comfort zones and show themselves what they’re capable of.”
One of the newest additions to the New Orleans wellness scene, Spyre Center centralizes a host of healing resources all under one roof. Its first-floor Soul Center features therapeutic modalities such as infrared sauna, hydrotherapy and meditation. Upstairs, the Health Collective consists of physical and mental health practitioners. The Zone features a gym, group fitness studio and heated pool, while The Well Café offers up mindfully crafted foods.
Founder of Vibrant Market, Lauren Trostorff is focused on increasing vibrancy through clean beauty and wellness. Vibrant Market offers clean beauty products and “biohack” services like its Cold Plunge, Infrared Sauna Sessions, Red Light Therapy, BallancerPro Lymphatic Drainage, and – coming soon – Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.
“The first time I did Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, I brought my computer in with me to do some work and it was like a light turned on,” says Trostorff. “My brain function was totally switched on, and my inflammation also drastically went down.” Hyperbaric oxygen therapy creates a high pressure, high oxygen environment to increase blood and tissue oxygenation, lower inflammation, increase blood flow and speed healing – it’s a favorite of professional athletes both before and after games.
According to Trostorff, Vibrant Market’s BallancerPro Lymphatic Drainage machine – the “Rolls Royce of Lymphatic Drainage” – is more effective than manual lymphatic drainage and activates the lymphatic system to push out toxins, increase circulation, reduce cellulite, relieve pain and much more.
“Your lymphatic system is what’s responsible flushing toxins and pathogens from your body, so it’s hugely important for detoxification and your immune function. This treatment is perfect before an event or to recover from a workout or an injury,” she says.
Sweat It Out
When it’s time to raise the heart rate and burn calories the old-fashioned way, there are several fitness clubs and studios that shake up the routine, whether with added heat, specially curated playlists or innovative workout methods.
Romney offers a diverse array of fitness classes that aim to improve strength, alignment and balance. Owner and Operator Erin Romney has grown the original 1,000-square-foot space to two locations and a booming online streaming program. Today, Romney offers music-fueled cycling, boxing, rebounding cardio, BOSU cardio, Pilates, infrared-heated yoga, Megaformer (Lagree Fitness), PULSE heated cardio + sculpt and now SHRD HIIT (high intensity interval training).
According to Romney, her studio is the only licensed facility in Orleans and Jefferson parishes to offer Megaformer (utilizing the Lagree Method), a full-body, high-intensity and low-impact program that targets every muscle in the body. Romney’s heated studios used for yoga and PULSE use infrared to not only sculpt and trim fat but also improve flexibility.
When it’s time to relax and be renewed, Romney offers crystal sound baths from trained sound healers. Conducted privately or in groups, these baths allow participants to lie in a comfortable, meditative state while being engulfed in various healing and aligning sound frequencies specific to each chakra.
Combining heated workouts with an inclusive, feel-good fitness community, Founder Kelsey Greenfield opened Body Shoppe in 2019. For people of all levels and abilities, Body Shoppe offers five signature infrared-heated classes, an infrared sauna and a superfood smoothie bar called Shake Shoppe.
“Our heated – not hot – classes feel like a big hug the moment you walk into the studio,” says Greenfield. “All of our classes emphasize the importance of listening to your body and making adjustments to make class work for you, which makes it a super welcoming environment for first timers.”
Body Shoppe’s 80-to-85-degree classes help muscles warm up quicker and give an extra bump to the heart rate. Greenfield describes Tempo Dance Cardio as a “sweat-fest dance party” that spikes both your heart rate and confidence with easy-to-learn choreographed dances and spicy sculpting work. Flex + Flow features mobility work, Pilates, strength training, breath work and mindfulness. Intervals of strength training and cardio feature prominently in Body Shoppe’s HIIT and HIIT + Flow classes. The Hardcore class focuses on the core from the inside out.
“Many of our members describe this class as a moving meditation because it facilitates such a deep connection to the powerhouse of the body through movement and education,” says Greenfield.
For some people, a fitness club or studio with a singular focus can be the way to go. Located in Uptown, Metairie, Lakeview and Downtown, Hour Blast originally opened on Maple Street in 2010 to fill the void of high intensity interval training classes at the time. Hour Blast classes combine cardio and strength/resistance training using various equipment and intervals. Class sizes are intentionally kept small, and a traditional class includes about 30 minutes of cardio on the treadmill and 30 minutes of strength on the floor.
Hour Blast offers a variety of levels to fit clients of all ages and fitness levels with some new strength-based classes and low-intensity classes. While some would-be participants speculate that HIIT is “too hard,” Uptown Co-Owner & Founder Karen Eastman contends that Hour Blast classes are only as hard as you want them to be.
“You are your only competition in Hour Blast,” she says. With the option to walk, jog or run in every class, classes can accommodate a wide age range.
Another studio with a singular focus is Club Pilates, which operates with the belief that Pilates provides the path to a fuller, more satisfying physical existence.
“We believe that being in control of your body helps you to be in control of your life,” says Owner and Franchisee Denise LeBrun, who opened the Metairie Road studio in 2017. Benefits of a consistent Pilates practice include increased balance, strength, mobility, and flexibility.
Club Pilates offers group classes with Balanced Body equipment and private, one-on-one training from comprehensively trained instructors.
“Our classes are all Pilates-based and include contemporary Reformer Flow, CP Control (a barre fusion class), Cardio Sculpt, Suspend – TRX suspension training and our Center and Balance, which takes stretching to a whole new level,” says LeBrun.
Club Pilates offers a free introductory class to anyone new to Pilates to familiarize them with the Reformer, the cues used in class and the know-how to feel comfortable going into a group class. According to LeBrun, members are like family, and the studio sets a high bar for cleanliness.
Many of the clubs and studios named are offering low or free introductory rates and discounted packages for January, so if you’re looking for a new path to a new you, now may be the time to hop on the boutique wellness train and see where it takes you.