Sophie Chiche encourages you to get sweaty, then tackle the meaning of life.
The French American, living in LA, was transformed by her first sweat lodge experience and later decided she had to share what was, for her, a stress-reducing, healthful and enjoyable practice. First, she launched her website, LifeByMe.com, which promotes discourse on what matters most and existential topics that can get lost in the minutia of daily life. Then, she founded Shape House LA, a modernized spa take on the sweating tradition.
Here, Chiche—a self-proclaimed entrepreneur and dreamer—describes why thinking big and striving for purpose every day is the root of her happiness:
Live The Process: What first inspired your interest in sweating?
Sophie Chiche: I had my first experience in a traditional sweat lodge when I was 24, as part of the research I was doing for an article I was writing at the time on sweat lodges for a French magazine. That original sweat was transformative for me. I was present in the lodge with multiple other people, and being part of that community of healthy healing was truly amazing.
Oddly enough, I found my way back to sweating when I was looking for quick and easy weight-loss tactics, so that I could fit into a dress for a wedding. I was willing to do anything and everything, and I did: My days were chock full of appointments for all kinds of treatments and activities that were designed to melt excess fat away, but I found myself gravitating again towards the sweating sessions. Unlike most of the other methods, sweating was actually enjoyable. I looked forward to the hour of peace and “me”-time, and I always came out feeling calm, energized and ready to take on the world. On top of that, sweating actually worked. I lost the weight, looked fabulous in my dress and knew that I had to find a way to integrate sweating into my life and make it accessible to others.
LTP: What exactly is infrared sweat therapy and how did you come to establish Shape House? Why is it important to sweat?
SC: Infrared sweat therapy is the practice of using targeted FAR infrared light to heat subcutaneous fat, encouraging the body to sweat out toxins, speed metabolic processes and increase heart rate. On a more basic level, infrared sweat therapy means getting tucked into a cozy bed and relaxing for an hour, while the bed gradually warms your body, leading you to sweat.
Shape House was born out of a conversation I was having over lunch with my man, Craig. We were talking about the kind of place that we would love to go to together, a place where we could sweat, relax and recharge in a healthy way. Craig and I are both big thinkers, but we’re also doers, so an imaginary place became a reality in Shape House.
Sweating is a way to help your body reach its natural best. Through sweating, your body eliminates the toxins that everyone accumulates in daily life and cleans its system in a natural way, so that it can operate optimally. Afterward, people frequently have more energy, better skin, improved quality of sleep and reduced stress. And, of course, there’s weight-loss, cardio health, endorphin boosts. I could list benefits all day, but I’ll leave it at this: Sweating is important because taking care of yourself is important. When you take the time to sweat, you are investing in yourself, and your body gives your investment back ten times over.
LTP: What moved you to launch LifeByMe.com?
SC: I’ve always been fascinated by meaning, by what’s important to people and why. Lifebyme.com was a way for me to explore meaning by asking anyone and everyone what matters most to them. Even though I have been asking that question all my life, I hadn’t been able to feel the full reward that can only come with scale and community. I wanted to ask more people, and I wanted to share the answers with anyone who might be interested.
So, lifebyme.com has two real functions: First, it allows that question to be asked and answered all over the world. Second, it creates an inspiring online community that explores and helps to close the gap between what matters and what we do with our lives.
LTP: With what must be a very busy schedule, what is your personal wellness routine?
SC: It is a busy schedule and, actually, although I do try to incorporate wellness into each day, I’m not perfect. Sometimes, I fall off the wagon and away from my most self-loving routines. Those are the times when I’m actually reminded most of the importance of what I believe in.
When I’m in my self-loving mindframe, I sweat every other day. I take my vitamins, I eat carefully and I spend time doing what I love to do, whether that’s motorcycling with Craig or cooking dinner with my daughter, Leah. I take the time to do what is important to me, and I also spend time appreciating that I am able to do those things.
When I drift away from that, I will go a week or so without sweating. I’ll get wrapped up in stress and I can really notice how much my perspective changes: my energy drops, I have less patience and I get filled with road rage. Times like that really reinforce my knowledge that sweating—and wellness in general—can dramatically change your quality of life.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
SC: Happiness is, for me, the result of constant cultivation. I’m always asking myself: Am I loving what I am doing right now? Am I loving who I am doing it with? Am I able to do what I’m doing fully, well and with all of my heart engaged? I ask these questions so that I can keep my life full of meaning and purpose, which is happiness for me.
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how do you do that every day?
SC: I’m always trying to discover myself more fully, and I’m always trying to stay current with my passions and my direction in life. This includes a lot of trial and error, a lot of times when I have to step back and say, “No, this isn’t working for me right now; I need to try another way.”
It also means that I’m always surrounding myself with people who bring joy and light into the room, who contribute positive energy to my life, and am always trying to think of more ways I can contribute to their lives, as well.
I am an optimist and a dreamer, so I see the big picture a lot. Living the process means taking time for the little things too, and waking up each day with the intent to be grateful for every little thing that helps me grow during this crazy journey.