Skip to main content

San Clemente Journal

The Sweat Sanctuary - San Clemente’s Little Known Gem

Jul 20, 2020 10:59AM ● By Anne Batty

Shellie Thomas, owner, inside the Pilates Studio.

by Anne Batty

Sanctuary … a place of refuge or rest, 
a place where one can feel at peace … 

Tucked snugly on the backside of the medical office buildings on Camino de los Mares in north San Clemente is a little-known place called the Sweat Sanctuary. It is a space filled with peace, one where practitioners of Yoga and Pilates can go to enjoy their practices in a small, cozy environment, free from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.


Owned and operated by longtime local, Shellie Thomas, this hidden gem celebrated its one year anniversary at this location in February of this year; previously occupying space on the opposite side of the freeway on Camino de Estrella.

“A few years ago, I took a Pilates mat class on the floor above what was formerly the Body Shapers Exercise Studio on Camino de Estrella,” Shellie shared. “On a handshake, I eventually rented that space below to start my own business. Little did I know it would become the Sweat Sanctuary’s home for the next ten years.”

A student of BASI training (Body Arts and Science International), NASM training (National Academy of Sports Medicine), and Prana Vinyasa Flow Yoga training, Shellie created her business by first teaching all the classes herself. As her clientele and exercise offerings grew to include Reformer Pilates and Yoga, properly certified instructors were added; many, like Lizzie Smith and Wendy fox who brought specialty backgrounds in kinesiology, trigger point therapy and massage to the table. But aside from requiring proper certifications and educational backgrounds, one of the most important attributes Shellie looks for in an employee is a passion for helping people. 

 “It is important that my instructors share my passion for creating a haven, one with something for everyone, affordable and with lots of options. Whether a client wants to get healthy, or stay healthy, the goal of the Sweat Sanctuary is to help people reach their highest level of fitness, and to enjoy a pain-free quality of life. We strive to be a place where people can become friends and know that we are there for them, to be a support system in any and every way we can.”
To that end, the Sweat Sanctuary offers fitness options in all levels of Yoga (heated/non-heated, stretch and restore, gentle, essential, restorative), and Pilates (mat, circuit, reformer), as well as infra red saunas for relaxation and healing, and Cryoskin sessions for slimming, toning, and facial rejuvenation.

Out of the Ordinary 
True to its name, upon entering this studio one senses they have come into a special place. Soft, varietal-grayed walls, accompanied by minimal accoutrements, create a space that exudes simplicity, quiet and calm. There is intimacy there, and its smaller classes produce an atmosphere of connectedness not often found in the larger more highly-populated studios. 
Soft-spoken and gentle-spirited, either Shellie, her mother and best friend, Diana, or manager, Charlie Sjoholm, greet prospective clients warmly, explaining the studio’s offerings of single sessions, packages, monthly unlimited memberships, donation Yoga classes, infra-red saunas and Cryoskin treatments. And having always been intrigued by the “wellness without medication” benefits that plant based products offer, Shellie’s Sanctuary also makes available - to nonmembers as well as members - CBD products (topicals, liquid drops, capsules, creams), essential oils, and Kambucha on tap. 

 Pilates room

A self-proclaimed “island girl,” born and raised in Southern California, Shellie has named the studio’s five infra-red saunas after her favorite island places; Bora Bora, Tahiti, Bali, Kauai, and Antiqua. Various heat degrees and lengths of stay can be set at the user’s discretion, and each Sauna is equipped with a chart to explain the benefits of the various infra-red lights that can be changed via remote control at the user’s discretion. Embossed towels are also provided for modesty and comfort, with eucalyptus-infused, hand-sized towels available for cooling down at the end of the session. 

“Unlike many studios using radiant heat for their hot classes and/or saunas, I opted for the inside-out rather than outside-in benefits that infra-red heating offers,” Shellie explained. “Its health benefits … reduced inflammation, improved circulation, body detoxation, to name a few … are endless.”

By all appearances, the Sweat Sanctuary has a little bit of everything for those seeking the road to well-being. To create that opportunity Shellie spends seven days a week in her studio, teaching and administrating. Between work and mothering her three boys - Christian, who attends San Marcos College, and Brady and Max students at San Clemente High School – with the help of her mother and best friend, she has found the time to pursue her passion. 
In that pursuit the Sweat Sanctuary has been created, a space that  definitely lives up to its name … a place of refuge and peace, 

one that offers endless opportunity to those whose goal is to escape the maddening crowd, on their quest to becoming the best they can possibly be. 

The Sweat Sanctuary 
657 Camino de los Mares, SC