Even though she was plenty busy managing a store at University Park Mall and working a side gig as a Pilates instructor in Niles, Jayme Barcus couldn’t shake the desire to eventually get back to running her own business.
After six years operating her own boutique shoe store in Granger and then her own soap business, she caught the entrepreneurial bug, and she just couldn’t shake it.
So the search began for her next enterprise, and about a year ago she came to the conclusion that the Michiana area would enjoy the benefits of the infrared saunas that were popping up in larger cities, some of which were chains.
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“I became familiar with the healing benefits of infrared saunas while attending college in Florida 20 years ago,” she says. “They’re great for inflammation, recovery after exercise, detoxification, healthier skin and just feeling better.”
And the benefits ― though not understood ― could go even further by helping with long-lasting health problems such as high blood pressure, heart failure, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, headaches, Type 2 diabetes, arthritis and more, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Earlier this year, Barcus settled on a spot for her new business ― called DRIP Infrared Sauna Studio ― in an empty storefront at the front of Toscana Park. She was attracted by the good traffic passing by the location at 7424 Gumwood Road next to Ziker Cleaners as well as the ability to finish the 1,880 square feet of space any way she liked.
With its open ceiling, finished concrete floors and light-and-dark industrial paint scheme, the business has the feel of a spa. And though it’s calming, it’s also practical for a business that aims to make people sweat.
DRIP provides everything needed to enjoy a dry sauna, including towels, robes and a water dispenser ― since hydration is key to breaking a sweat. There also is a bathroom with a shower for those who don’t want to return home after a visit.
A small retail space at the front of the new business offers customers a variety of hydrating beverages, logo apparel, water bottles that alkalize drinking water, products for skin and hair, and some exercise devices that can be used in the sauna.
DRIP currently has two small units ― called studios ― that are meant for one to two people and a larger unit called a retreat that can easily accommodate three people. By the end of the year, Barcus plans to add three more medium size units ― called cabins ― that can handle three people.
One of the units is ADA accessible because Barcus believes that some people who are confined to a wheelchair or have a sedentary lifestyle might be interested in trying the soothing and healing characteristics of the sauna, which also mimics 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise.
Customers will be limited to 45 minutes in a sauna, which provide health benefits at 130 degrees but can be set as high as 160, Barcus says, adding that customers can make adjustments or simply step out of the sauna enclosure if they need a break from the heat.
“The more skin that is exposed to the heat and light in the sauna, the better,” she says.
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Beyond the infrared light, the sauna booths also are equipped with chromotherapy LED lights ― red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet ― based on the belief that color can provide physical and mental health benefits.
“Some people will want to do moderate exercises or stretches while in the sauna to further increase the benefits,” Barcus says. “Others are going to just want to sit still and relax, absorbing the warmth.”
Because the ultimate goal of the sauna is to induce plenty of sweat, the rooms go through a three-step cleaning process between each visitor to ensure a hygienic and positive experience for every guest.
According to the Mayo Clinic, no harmful effects have been reported with infrared saunas. Protective eyewear isn’t needed, but some might opt to wear some sort of sunglasses if they have light sensitivities, especially if bathing under the red lights.
Having already had a taste of the winter weather that’s soon to come, Barcus believes there are many area residents who might benefit from the sauna experience because it also is known to help combat the blues ― especially the chromotherapy lights ― that can come with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
“I think there’s going to be a learning curve,” she says. “We really need to just get people in to give it a try.”
That why she’s offering an introductory rate of $25 for one person in the studio and $30 in the larger retreat. If those customers feel positive effects from a visit, they might want to purchase one of the monthly or longer-term packages that also are available.
DRIP is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Though walk-ins are welcome, Barcus recommends customers make an appointment to ensure a sauna is available.
Learn more by visiting DRIP Infrared at dripinfrared.com or www.facebook.com/dripinfrared.
Email Tribune staff writer Ed Semmler at firstname.lastname@example.org.