My friend works at a very popular spa in New York City that always has the latest in luxury and technology. Recently, she told me that they were ordering these special saunas that everyone is talking about with something called far-infrared technology. Proponents like Dr. Richard Reiner of Reiner Chiropractic (5768 Okeechobee Blvd, West Palm Beach; 561/689-4700; says that “these saunas emit waves which penetrate up to 2 inches below the skin, stimulating the cellular metabolism and breaking up water molecules which hold toxins, thus allowing the body to void these toxins through perspiration.”

Good, old-fashioned regular saunas have been used for thousands of years. The Finnish people are such fans that supposedly there is one sauna for every three people (rumor, but could be true). In my research of far-infrared technology, I read claims of major weight loss for frequent users because one session supposedly burns the same amount of calories as a 2-3 miles run. (I don’t care how many calories something claims to burn, nothing replaces working out, my friends.) Other claims include improvements in skin conditions, heart disease and arthritis. One major difference between a regular sauna and an infrared one is that a regular sauna heats the air, while infrared saunas heat an object. In the one I tried, it was ceramic plates.

I didn’t have to go far to find a far-infrared sauna. It turns out that The Maui Spa (2100 N.W. Boca Raton Blvd.; 800/768-6259; has had the sauna for five years and spa director Sasha Connolly says that interest in the sauna is increasing. “It’s a state of the art sauna that detoxifies you from the inside out and it’s not as hot as a typical sauna. It’s become really popular recently even though we’ve had it for some time.”

I only tried a 10 minute session since I never use saunas and it’s smart to start with a shorter time and work your way up if you like the treatment. I felt a warming session for five or so minutes before I broke a sweat. And then the sweat came pouring out. It was a nice, relaxing time and left feeling refreshing and detoxified. My skin was noticeably tighter when I got home and my pores were smaller (although when I woke up the next day, they were back to their regular size). I’m planning on going a few more times to see if the skin benefits continue to improve.

The far-infrared sauna at Maui Spa is available as part of the Hana Hydrotherapy Room which offers a Swiss and deluge shower, the infrared sauna, a stream room and a cold-plunge pool. You can use the sauna as part of the entire experience or use it alone. (With another service 25 minutes for $20; 50 minutes for $35; or alone, 25 minutes for $30; 50 minutes for $45.)