The corner room was serene with the walls coated in the cool calming colors of gray, white, and a muted blue. Near the four white chairs aligned against a grey brick wallpaper, laid a table of detoxifying water, infused with fruits to replenish the body.
After she takes a sip of the water, her aura begins to exert energy similar to the tranquility and serenity of the room. She takes her last sip; her mouth opens and outpours positive energy to the room.
“Obstacles are only temporary. They all shall pass.”
Alyza Brevard-Rodriguez is an active duty police officer in the United States Navy and the proud owner of SW3AT Sauna Studio in the Downtown neighborhood of Jersey City, New Jersey.
Originally from Spanish Harlem, Brevard-Rodriguez is Afro-Latina. During her middle school years, Brevard-Rodriguez’s mother moved the family to Connecticut searching for a quality education.
After graduation, Brevard-Rodriguez enlisted in the Navy to become a law enforcement officer, fueled by her endearing love for fitness.
The NAVY’s requirement for physical fitness, coupled with her role as an active duty officer, prepared her for a healthy lifestyle. To Brevard-Rodriguez, her mission is about helping the underserved and educating them about health and wellness, especially in the black and Latino communities.
According to the American College of Cardiology, black adults are twice as likely to develop high blood pressure, compared to white Americans. In the United States, among adults age 20 and older, 42.6% of African American men and 47% of African American women live with high blood pressure. In Hispanic and Latino communities, cardiovascular diseases such as; diabetes and high blood pressure (hypertension), are the leading causes of death than all cancers combined.
“Typically, in the black and Latino communities, we don’t really take care of ourselves or eat well,” she said. “Our cultural food just is not prescribed to be cooked in a manner that’s healthy. I just want to offer some knowledge on something that’s good for us.”
In Hudson County, more than 99% of residents have opportunities to exercise, whether it be at local fitness facilities or public parks. Despite their overwhelming opportunities to engage in physical activity, 25.4 % of adults are physically inactive, and nearly 1 in 4 adults face obesity. In Jersey City, New Jersey, there are over 11 gym facilities for residents that enjoy exercising. However, for physically inactive residents Alyza provides an alternative solution to health wellness.
On a mission to serve physically inactive residents, Brevard-Rodriguez introduced her Infrared Sauna Studio. At her studio, people can burn 600 calories in 30 minutes by only doing two things: sitting and sweating.
In 2013, she discovered the popularity and benefits of infrared heat therapy during her trip to California.
Infrared heat therapy uses the heat generated by waves of energy to remove toxins through perspiration, boost immune systems, relieve tension and stress, and promote weight loss. This method allows clients to burn calories and detoxify their bodies from damaging toxins simultaneously.
Sauna studios powered by infrared light compared to traditional hot air saunas help penetrate heat directly to the body. Traditional saunas cause extreme sweating and an increased heart rate. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Brent Bauer states, “An infrared sauna produces these results at lower temperatures than does a regular sauna, which makes it accessible to people who can’t tolerate the heat of a conventional sauna.”
Bauer further states, “Several studies have looked at using infrared saunas in the treatment of chronic health problems, such as high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, headaches, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and found some evidence of benefit.”
In an interview with Healthline, holistic healthcare practitioner, Dr. Debra Rose Wilson says, “In the war on chronic pain without the use of narcotics, the infrared heat approach is another tool in the arsenal to fight chronic pain and reduce dependence on medication. In combination with other approaches, this treatment can add to the quality of life, range of motion, reduced pain, and increased mobility. “
Following her newfound health discovery, Brevard-Rodriguez decided to conduct further research about the heat therapy. She discovered in the American Journal of Medical Mental Health that one of the most attractive things to people on weight loss missions is burning 600 calories in 30 minutes. She says, “Traditionally, you’ll have to run for an hour to burn that many calories but here [at SW3AT Sauna Studio] you can sit for 30 minutes in a comfortable, relaxing environment and burn calories at the same time.”
At the studio, there are several rooms with private saunas. While sweating, customers can choose their heat therapy light based on the healing properties of chromotherapy. The red ray strengthens kidneys, hearts, muscles, and bones. The green ray that abides in the heart chakra center, is good for the liver, promotes healthy bones, heals painful joints, and washes out endotoxins. At SW3AT there are seven healing properties to choose from.
In each room, there are Turkish aromatherapy towels immersed in refreshing lavender, Bluetooth speakers that you connect to your phone and complimentary water for all of your sweat.
This method of intense sweating can benefit people who aren’t fans of cardio and those with muscle stiffness. Brevard-Rodriguez says, “My wife hates cardio, and my grandparents are suffering from stiffness in their joints. This is a thing that can help people both young and old. There is no one that can walk through that door that this doesn’t benefit.”
Loyal customer, Trinidad Pena describes her experience at SW3AT “I really like it! I find it relaxing to relieve stress. I love that the infrared sauna studio is good for sweat, detox, and recovery. Instead of working out, I do this instead. I like that I’m just burning calories while just lying there. I’ll always come back.”
Customer, Krystal Brooks says, ” The ambiance in the place is very cool, and the customer service was great. I never tried an infrared sauna studio before encountering this one. I walked in with joint pains and left all of my problems there, along with a ton of sweat. It definitely helped me feel better.”
Undeterred by financial hardships in self-supporting her own business Brevard-Rodriguez continues to lead in the Navy, SW3AT Sauna Studio as the owner, and in the Jersey City community as a great minority business owner.
Manager of SW3AT, Alexias Brasfield, says “As a leader, she [Brevard-Rodriguez] is very attentive and straightforward. When she has a goal in mind, she shoots for it. She’s very goal oriented, and when she has a goal, she’s not going to stop until it’s a success.”
Influenced by her community and passion for promoting change, Brevard-Rodriguez says, “I hope to continue to educate people not only on wellness and health but I’d also like to be a face for the youth that doesn’t believe that they can do this. I didn’t come from a family that could’ve helped me seek a loan. I literally had this idea, struggled, and I did it all by myself. I want people who have a dream or an idea that look like me or come from a similar background to say, ‘she did it, so can I.”