CHICAGO – April 2, 2014 -- Pilates patrons are getting something extra at Harmony Mind Body Fitness in Chicago. For the last 20 minutes of each session, Harmony instructors flip on several “HappyLight” energy lamps. They’re intended to improve mood and energy by providing supplemental light to replace the natural light that everyone misses during the winter months and for individuals who, for myriad reasons, don’t get enough natural light at whatever time of year. HappyLights are manufactured by Verilux, Inc., of Waitsfield, Vt.
From initial indications, the lamps are perfectly named.
“After I took an ‘Illuminated’ class at Harmony in the middle of January, when the weather was gray and dreary, I found myself smiling all day,” said Harmony client Cathy Stix. “I ordered a Verilux energy lamp that day, and my daughter and I continue to use it on days the sun isn't out. And I love it when the instructor brings out the energy lamps at the end of a Pilates class. It has made all the difference during this very long winter, and I look forward to using it again next year!”
Harmony owner Tara Gillespie is happy, too.
“My clients absolutely love them,” she said. “At Harmony, we are all about improving people’s physical as well as mental well-being, and these lamps add something very positive and completely natural to the mix. They’ve been especially beneficial throughout this brutal Chicago winter when there has been so little natural light. Many of our clients spend all day stuck in an office at their desk. Adding the lamps to class has helped them keep their energy going throughout the day.”
It’s not uncommon for people to feel low, distracted and lethargic when they can’t get enough natural light. Known generally as “the winter blues,” in extreme cases, this malaise can be diagnosed as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. In fact, according to the Mood Disorders Society of Canada – a country whose residents know a bit about diminished daylight in the wintertime, 15 percent of Canadians experience lower energy, difficulty sleeping and waking, or an increase in cravings during the winter months – or anytime they have limited exposure to natural daylight.
Energy lamps vary in size, but they generally provide 2,500 to 10,000 LUX. LUX is simply a measure of the intensity of a light at a given distance from its source. Especially on the high end of that range, the light can be fairly intense, so the lamps have lenses to filter the light and relax the eye to keep the light therapy comfortable. Better models also have different lenses and options for light intensity, so the user can adjust the lamp to emit the light intensity best for them. Cost varies from about $80 to up to $250, depending on the model.
Like any good business owner, Gillespie is always looking for ways to retain her existing customers and bring in new ones.
“HappyLights have differentiated Harmony from other studios because we’re offering customers a way to get even more from their workouts,” she said. “The decision to invest in HappyLights was an easy one. Finding time to work out is hard enough. We try to do everything we can to make our clients’ time with us as positive and productive as possible. HappyLights gave us another way to accomplish this goal.”