By Lisa Sigell

LOS ANGELES ( — How would you like to burn calories, cleanse your body of toxins and increase your energy? Then it’s time to lie down.

The Shapehouse in the heart of Larchmont calls itself an urban sweat lodge, based on the principles of an Indian sweat lodge. Lying down and sweating is no workout, but clients say you still get some of the same results.

“Your skin is glowing,” Stephanie Nelson said. “I had a friend walk up to me and say, ‘you look skinny’ and I was like, ‘my gosh, I’m gonna keep doing this.’”

Nelson believes that she is sweating away toxins, stress, even calories, as she lays wrapped in a blanket of heat up to 158 degrees. Clients can watch TV, a movie, even mediate as they sweat. Some studies show you can lose between 800 to 1,200 calories in a 55-minute session with infrared heat.

“It feels like someone put you in a warm sleeping bag and it progressively gets warmer,” Nelson said.

Sophie Chiche is not only a believer in sweating, she’s the owner of the Shapehouse.

“I’m an activist. A sweat activist,” Chiche said.

Chiche once weighed 320 pounds, but has since lost 160 pounds. She believes 40 of those pounds melted away by sweating.

“This helps you with weight, this helps you with your skin,” Chiche said. “This helps you with stress, it helps you with your sleep. It helps you with your digestion, because the toxins are out of the body.”

Medical studies say there is a science to the idea of sweating away not just calories, but pain. Cardiologist Santo Polito, head of cardiovascular services at Glendale Memorial Hospital, says this is not like the typical Indian sweat lodge you hear about — this is controlled heat, in a controlled environment.

“It may make you lose water weight, you may look better, feel better but you must talk to your doctor first,” Polito said.

Shannon Bindler admits she was a little skeptical at first, but now comes in at least twice a week just to get clear her mind, a little “me time” as she calls it. She even uses the dream room to get inspired and write down fears she want to get rid of.

“To me this is unlike anything I’ve ever done,” Bindler said. “To be able to detox, relax, and actually burn calories — all in one hour.”

Each session costs between $20 and $45. Dr. Polito says this is not for people with heart problems, high blood pressure or conditions affected by heat.

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