Sweat it out
Joanie Waller bought the Bentwood and Bead Gallery around the same time she was let go from her city job. The change pushed her to go into massage and bodywork full-time.
Since opening Northern Oasis Wellness Spa in 2013, she’s renovated, upgraded and begun offering new services that emphasize the “wellness” aspect of her business’s name.
While a massage or a sauna isn’t hard to find in town, Waller’s offerings are a little different.
She opened NOW offering an infrared sauna. Instead of steam heat, this dry sauna emits invisible but warming infrared light. They’ve been growing in popularity in the last few years, Waller said.
“I think of it as the wavelength of warmth that emanates through all living things,” Waller said. “It’s kind of like sitting under a tree in New Orleans … or I think of it as more like in Arizona, where it’s dry.”
The dry sauna is often used as the segue between a busy day and one of Waller’s massages.
Waller works frequently with Emily Kane, a naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist. Kane hosts seasonal cleanses and recently brought a steam sauna and ozone machine to the wellness spa.
The steam sauna is a white plastic cabinet that the user closes around her body with only her head visible. It has a reservoir of water at the foot that can be heated to induce hyperthermia, with the goal of detoxifying and killing harmful bacteria and viruses. The steam sauna looks odd against the natural woods, warm colors and raw crystals that surround it.
“There are lots of benefits to us sweating things out,” Waller said.
The ozone machine is another element. It super-oxygenates the air, also with the goal of detoxification. Waller said it’s the only one in Southeast Alaska, though the technology isn’t particularly new.
Waller said she has clients who have reported health benefits and healing after using the sauna, but if asked “Am I gonna get better,” Waller said: “I don’t know. Did you also change your diet and do your exercise and start taking your supplements and doing this too?”