Pittsburgh is known for its hospitals and world-class medical innovation. But it’s also home to a range of holistic practitioners and health spas offering treatments perfect for battling stress and muscle aches, recovering from sports injuries and even warming up during the cold weather.
Here are four we love — some offer a wide range of services under one roof, while others specialize in just one or a few modes of treatment.
Revitalize – A Sewickley Wellness Centre
432 Green Street, Sewickley
What they offer: LED Light Stimulation Bed, sensory deprivation flotation suite and a Himalayan salt therapy room for halotherapy.
Nurse practitioner Lisa Srnka and her partner Fred Jezzi have created a wellness studio that will relax you upon arrival. The sound of bubbling water and a hint of aromatherapy create a calming vibe in the waiting area, and Srnka and Jezzi are happy to teach a bit about their treatments and discuss the scientific research behind them.
Their Himalayan salt treatment room, designed to resemble a (very upscale) salt mine, is good for treating respiratory issues and moisturizing for your skin. The salt chamber is also a great spot for relaxing by fully unplugging (no cell phones allowed) and clearing your mind.
The flotation tank, rather than being the smaller, egg-shaped float pod some spas use, is as large as a hot tub and has a high ceiling. It’s located in a private suite and is available for couples or single floaters seeking serious relaxation. It’s popular with pregnant women who get a safe break from muscle aches while floating on the surface of salt-infused water, and the treatment is also helpful for children with sensory processing challenges.
But the marquee attraction at Revitalize is the LED Light Stimulation Bed — currently the only one available in Pittsburgh. Potential health benefits include rapid recovery from muscle injuries and increased muscle regeneration after exercise (making the bed popular with professional athletes in town), reduced inflammation and relief from chronic pain, plus potential protection against cardiovascular disease, heart attack and strokes. It’s also beneficial for skin health.
The treatment involves simply lying down to relax on a smooth bed with infrared lights underneath you, a thin blanket over you and a pillow for your head. I tried a 20-minute session and emerged feeling relaxed and energized. Although you’ll feel warm during the treatment, you won’t get too sweaty to return to work afterward. So a 20-minute session on the LightStim can be squeezed in during a lunch hour or done on your way to dinner.
The cost for a LightStim bed session is $50 for 20 minutes or $100 for 40 minutes, though prices drop if you buy a package of visits. There is also an anti-aging face treatment that costs $50 for 20 minutes. Visits to the salt mine cost $40 for 45 minutes with discounts for groups. And the flotation tank costs $70 per hour for one person and $125 per hour for two.
Haute Sauna Studio
5410 Centre Ave., Shadyside and 8350 Perry Highway, McCandless
What they offer: Infrared Sauna
I was freezing cold as I entered Haute Sauna Studios in McCandless. The Pittsburgh sky was a solid wall of gray and wet snow was falling. But within 10 minutes, I was settled inside an infrared sauna bed in a private treatment suite feeling warmer and cozier than I had in days.
Totally immersive and relaxing, the treatment involves lying on a soft bed with a curved lid over you and a soft curtain coming down over your shoulders to hold in the heat that surrounds your body. Your head remains outside the treatment pod and a little basket of cool, wet face towels sits within arms reach.
The temperature within the pod begins at 135 degrees Fahrenheit and reaches 165 by the end of your half-hour session. So you sweat a whole lot, but that’s the point. “Good things come to those who sweat” is Haute Sauna’s tag line, and they point out to visitors that the sweat you’ll create during an infrared treatment draws out 17 percent more toxins that normal sweating on a hot day.
There is science to back up the value of infrared saunas: According to the Mayo Clinic, studies have shown that infrared therapy offers potential help with health issues including high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, dementia, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
There are also weight loss benefits because infrared saunas mimic some of the effects of a cardio workout — you sweat and your heart rate increases. But you get these benefits while lying down and relaxing. Another bonus: Your skin is moisturized in the process.
It also felt to me like the best, coziest nap of my life. I did get thirsty by the end (owners Lori Walker and Kelly Miller suggest clients drink plenty of water prior to their treatment and I’d had nothing but coffee prior to mine) and it was a little jarring to feel my heart rate increase while I was lying still. But I’d been told in advance to expect that feeling, so I didn’t really worry.
After the treatment, I felt warmed and relaxed. And that good feeling lingered throughout the day.
The cost is $45 for a 30-minute session, but prices drop if you buy a monthly membership or a package of treatments.