Hot Exercise: A Great New Kid on the Fitness Block
By: Leah O’Gwynn Kackley
Let’s get something out of the way here. Don’t do a web search for “hot exercise”. Trust me on this. The results are not good. I got curious and had to find out for myself…
Hot Exercise is a quickly growing phenomenon where one completes a workout in a small, super heated room. Right now in our area it can only be found at HotWorx in Madison. HotWorx General Manager, Kiersten Bullock, showed me to one of the 14 saunas where I would try out this workout in temps around 123 degrees. (That’s not a typo.) So, why the heat? Bullock explained that the infrared heat has several purposes. First, one must understand that infrared heat is a radiant heat that warms objects, not the air. The body’s muscles get warmed up effectively, but breathing is still very easy. The heat also encourages better circulation and relaxation of muscles. Bullock said that the heat also promotes a sense of relaxation. I found it reminded me of ‘laying out’ and feeling the deep warmth of a sunny summer day. ‘Some of our members have even said they’re sleeping better or have been able to quit going to the chiropractor’, shared Bullock.
Exercising in this level of heat isn’t to be taken on without checking with your personal physician first. I discussed this form of exercise with Dr. Adam Isbell, a hospitalist at Baptist Hospital, whose board certification is in Internal Medicine. His concerns include the risk of dehydration and internal thermal regulation. Check with your GP first, and make sure your doctor is aware of all the medications you are taking. Dr. Isbell said, ‘for example, simple diet supplements or an OTC cold medication could alter your ability to regulate body temperature’. He also stressed that staying hydrated was important. Dr. Isbell said that pregnant women, someone with an active infection, or someone who is suffering from dizziness should not exercise in this type of heat. But, otherwise, with a doctor’s approval, he recommends starting slow and listening to your body’s cues.
Of course, after learning about all the benefits of a hot workout, I had to give it a try. At HotWorx, each sauna can hold up to 3 people, and the instruction is delivered via videos that are updated quarterly. Everything was clearly explained, and I was able to work at my own best pace throughout the session. No one else was booked during that time slot for that sauna, so I had 45 quiet minutes all to myself during my isometric class. I worked hard, and I was sore two days later, make no mistake! But I found the whole thing to be incredibly unique and remarkably relaxing. My muscles were noticeably more supple, even after only 30 minutes with the video. And the mental therapy of that quiet time for a busy mom of three was beautifully restorative. What an awesome workout!
In a world of so many different workout choices, this new way of burning calories and toning muscles is a must-try. It was definitely one of the best workouts I’ve ever had!
Leah O’Gwynn Kackley lives and homeschools in the Reservoir/Fannin area with her husband, Jason, and their three kids. She thanks HotWorx in Madison for the chance to try out Hot Exercise! Bring your water, folks. You will not believe how much you’ll sweat.