I went to the craziest fitness class ever yesterday. It was like Body Pump goes to a wedding, in 100 degree heat.
…Let me explain.
The class is called MadPower Training, and it’s held at the hot yoga studio I’ve been going to. But there was nothing yoga about this class. To be fair, the online description was very clear about that…
This is not a yoga class. This class is for men and women of all fitness levels who want to incinerate fat at an incredible rate while building lean, functional and aesthetic muscle. In any given session, you’ll experience a combination of standard resistance training, calisthenics, body-weight training and plyometrics in one integrated high intensity, heart pounding interval training session. The music and occasional flash mob make MadPower Training fast paced and fun.
Occasional flash mob? Tell me you wouldn’t be curious.
Squats, deadlifts, and dumbbell presses were dispersed between insane bursts of jumping jacks, running in place, and squat-jumping from one side of the mat to the other. Then there were the dances—last night, we did the YMCA and Solja Boy (which no one actually knew), but apparently the macarena and chicken dance have showed up in previous classes.
Basically, the instructor put her iPod on shuffle and planned the workout on the spot by reacting to whatever song came on next. She’d turn around and yell, “What should we do next? Triceps? Or are you guys ready for more legs?”
There was also lots of talking throughout the class, and people going off book to break into random dances per the music.
It was nuts. If we weren’t sober and pouring sweat, I’d swear we were at a wedding.
Squatting (?) at my actual wedding
I’m guessing this sounds pretty awesome, but to be honest, it wasn’t really my bag. I’m not a spontaneous person by nature, and I like my fitness classes well-organized and pre-planned just like everything else in my life. (Wow, don’t I sound cool and fun?)
I also didn’t feel like I was working that hard because I was constantly a step behind, trying to figure out what we were doing. I know that’s not an unusual feeling for a first-timer, but in this style class—where even the instructor is trying to figure out what we’re doing—I don’t think there’s any way to eventually graduate out of that.
Plus: plyometrics? Yeah, I still can’t really do that stuff (since having a bambino).
Tonight, I’m doing Fit yoga again, which might just be my favorite fitness class OF ALL TIME. Yes, it’s that good. I swear I gained a 4-pack from one class last week (which, erm, kind of softened up through a weekend of camping somehow). I’m planning to do a full write-up of it soon!
Now that I’ve been doing hot yoga for a few weeks (basic 95-degree hot yoga, not insane 105-degree Bikram—you remember how that went), I’ve started to wonder: am I really getting more out of these classes because the room is hotter?
In this ACE study, people’s heart rates and average core temperatures were only a hair higher when doing hot yoga vs. performing the same exact flow at room temp. In fact, because your heart rate should naturally increase anytime you’re in higher temps regardless of what you’re doing, the fact that the study participants’ heart rates went up so little suggested that they might have actually reduced their effort in the hot setting.
What’s even more alarming is that while they were technically working as hard (or possibly even slightly less hard) in the hot setting than the room-temp one, they all indicated much higher rates of perceived exertion (RPE) in hot yoga.
Well, of course: it’s easy to think you’re working your butt off when you can barely see through the sweat pouring into your eyes. And boy, do you feel like a rockstar walking out of that studio with your glistening bod. But is your body really “earning” all that sweat, or is it just reacting to the jacked-up temps?
And if you’re just working harder psychologically but not physically, is it worth it?
I’ve been meaning to do a whole post about sweat, so I’ll address the “sweating your toxins out” controversy (myth or fact??) then.
For now, I’ll say this: I do feel cleansed when I walk out of a hot yoga class, drenched in sweat. I do appreciate the extra focus it takes to get through class, with the added discomfort of heat. And I think challenge is an important confidence-builder. (If you’re not into heat, what about some cold shower therapy?)
There are also the benefits of deeper stretching due to warmed muscles, although: isn’t that the whole point of warming up? Are we just using heated rooms to bypass that annoying first step of any workout?
Anyway…my point is: I do think I’m getting something extra from hot yoga. And I’m even comfortable saying that I like it—as long as it’s not that hot.
I heard on the Today show this morning that, according to a British study, people’s happiest ages, in general, are 23 and 69. Hmm.
I’d actually say I’m happier now than I was at 23. And 69…I’m still trying to decide if that was a dirty joke…
Some things that make me happy:
Does the ideas of a wedding-like fitness class appeal to you?
Do you think people get more out of hot yoga, physically?