Hana spa in Grey Lynn. Photo / Jono Parker

The Test Drive: Contrast Therapy At Hana

The Grey Lynn spa’s new hot-cold treatment moves from a sauna to an ice bath, repeatedly

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 ice bath. 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.

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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.

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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.

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

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 spa in Grey Lynn. Photo / Jono 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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