Hot workouts are becoming very popular, with the humidity in gyms reaching record levels – on purpose. Heated fitness classes where temperatures may exceed 29 degrees Celsius are all the rage in the States and are becoming a huge trend.
History of Hot Workouts
Bikram Yoga is probably the best known ‘hot workout’ as the room in which it’s practised needs to be at least 40 degrees Celsius but the hot work out trend doesn’t stop there. In the States there are heated cycling studios, hot suspension training classes and there are bound to be replicas across the UK.
It was over three decades ago that Bikram Choudhury had the idea of heating up the practice room when teaching yoga. There are thousands of Bikram studios worldwide and although yoga was the beginning the idea of working out in the heat has branched out.
Do hot workouts make any difference? We naturally believe that if we sweat more we’re getting a better workout. Research also suggests that most people will feel like their workout is more effective when taking place in a hot room. It shows that your perceived level of exertion increases in hotter temperatures but the actual level of intensity of your workout is likely to be lower. Your body is utilising so much energy in trying to cool down it can’t dedicate as much to your exercise so your intensity level is likely to drop.
Your heart rate will increase due to the heat but because it’s working to cool you down it is no longer a reliable indicator of the intensity of your workout and therefore working out how many calories you’ve burned. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not burning more calories but more research is needed to ascertain how to measure the calorie burn in these hot environments.
Research has shown that doing Bikram yoga in a room that reaches temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius with a humidity level of up to 40% is safe as long as you maintain your hydration levels throughout.
Carrying out cardio-based exercises in hot temperatures should be done with caution. Your core temperature getting too high can result in dangerous heat stroke so cardio based hot workouts are really for those very much used to this type of experience. Your body is generating a huge amount of heat on its own and adding in the extra pressure of more heat can be dangerous. Heat index warnings exist to warn people when it’s safe and unsafe to exercise outside so similar rules should be followed indoors.
Why Try Hot Yoga?
As the most popular hot workout we thought we’d focus on five reasons why it’s worth giving Bikram yoga a chance:
The combination of the heat and the workout will help boost circulation throughout your body. This is especially true if you have a sedentary job. The stretches and positions in yoga encourage you to move your body in new ways and the blood flowing throughout your body changes direction and positions such as the downward facing dog will result in a blood flow rush known as the ‘yoga high’
90-minutes of Bikram yoga is a veritable sweat session. Spending 90 minutes focusing solely on your body and your breathing can be hugely invigorating and relaxing. Although you’re working hard your body is being opened up to new experiences and you can relax your mind in a way which allows you to release the stresses of the working week.
All that sweat definitely is worth it! Rather than investing in expensive detoxifying diets simply sweat out those toxins. Once you’ve worked out in a hot yoga studio you’ll feel your skin glowing and your body is encouraged to naturally detox throughout the session.
Much like traditional yoga your body gets the chance to improve its flexibility. This is enhanced by the humidity in the hot room as it encourages your joints and muscles to loosen up before you even get started. Your muscles are predisposed to being worked hard throughout the session and your body will be able to flex like never before.
The heat in the class does force you to work harder or at least push through the perception that you simply can’t keep going. This ability to push on is fantastic for helping to build your endurance and stamina and although yoga is low impact the exercises strengthen your core and help your body feel better and stronger all around.
Hot workouts aren’t for everyone and as many of the newer developments haven’t been studied in depth should be approached with caution. If you’re committed to trying a hot workout then we recommend you start with Bikram Yoga and then consider the other options on the market if the yoga goes down well.
by Kath Webb
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