The Test Drive: Contrast Therapy At Hana

By Julia Gessler
Hana spa in Grey Lynn. Photo / Jono Parker

The promise: Hana’s Contrast Therapy is a treatment of extremes. In the space of one hour, your body will experience temperatures as high as 70 degrees and as low as six degrees by way of a sauna and an ice bath a polarity designed to aid the body with detoxification, improve circulation, reduce inflammation and pain, help with post-workout muscle recovery and boost your immune system through the release of heat shock and cold shock proteins.

The Contrast Therapy room, complete with sauna, ice bath and shower. Photo / Jono Parker
The Contrast Therapy room, complete with sauna, ice bath and shower. Photo / Jono Parker

The practice: Hana is, on entry, everything you want in a spa. A blend of sinuous arches and soft minimalism make the space uncluttered without being clinical, modish but equally down to earth. Organic teas line its shelves, and Teddy, a sweet-faced poodle cross, is perched on a bench in the reception area.

Sara, who founded the spa in June last year, is warm and inviting, and runs through a few obligatory health questions before leading me to a private room complete with its own Clearlight infrared sauna, a box of tempered glass and red Canadian cedar wood that warms the body, not through clouds of steam but through a series of heaters in its walls and under its bench; an ice bath, gently bubbling; two towels; and a shower fitted with a range of Sansceuticals products with decadent-sounding ingredients, like lychee and sugar beet extract.

There’s a carafe of water infused with electrolytes by the doorway, just above a timer that Sara presses when she leaves the room, and that begins counting down an hour.

I disrobe into just my togs and step into the sauna for what the therapy’s manual aptly describes as a “deep sweat” for 15 to 20 minutes.

It’s a moment to disconnect and relax, and the gentle, slow-tempoed music controlled through an iPad in the sauna only helps this (you can also opt to listen to your favourite podcasts).

I follow the sauna with a quick shower to rinse away the sweat and salt from my skin, then make my way to the undulating tub, whose waters bely their severe temperature. There’s a timer above the bath, too, which I press before breathlessly dipping into the water, making sure it comes up to my neck. I've been told to practice slow breathing. It’s so cold that it hurts.

There is no minimum time you need to spend in the bath, simply emerge when ready. Some may dip for just 30 seconds (like my cold-averse self) while more steely bathers can last up to five minutes in the icy waters.

After a brief towel dry, it’s back into the sauna to repeat the process again. The bath is no easier the second time around.

I finish with a warm shower and the full range of sweet-smelling hair and body lotions before getting dressed and walking out, wake and invigorated.

The ice bath. Photo / Jono Parker
The ice bath. Photo / Jono Parker

The place: 18 Westmoreland St West, Grey Lynn. Hana sits at the centre of Grey Lynn's The Scrap Yard a salvage yard turned modish precinct comprising a set of carefully curated, stylish businesses.

The price: A single session for Contrast Therapy is $90, with the option to bring a friend for an additional $30. There’s also an introductory offer (three sessions in one month) for $169, or a membership of $72 per session per week. Concession fees range from five sessions for $420, 10 for $750 and 20 for $1300.

Hana's reception area. Photo / Hono Parker
Hana's reception area. Photo / Hono Parker

The verdict: A sauna-ice bath therapy is something I would have once only considered doing when I was rigorously training as a sprinter, as a salve for my muscles, but it goes beyond that. It is a therapy for athletes and non-athletes alike a shot of energy for your body and mind that you can work through at your own, pressureless pace.

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