If you’re a fan of hot yoga classes where you get to bend and stretch in the haze of 100-degree heat, then you might be interested in hot Pilates. This workout is just what it sounds like: a Pilates class that takes place in a hot room. And with it comes a whole host of benefits.
Step into a heated Pilates studio and you’ll stretch, sweat — and get a serious workout. “Hot Pilates offers the benefits of traditional Pilates, but the heat adds the element of more sweat and heated muscles for better flexibility,” says Andrea Metcalf, CPT, LREA, a fitness instructor and owner of Heat 3.0 Pilates Reformer and Hot Yoga studios in Chicago.
Typically, a hot Pilates studio heats the room to between 75-95 degrees, with about 40-50% humidity. “It is pretty humid, but not necessarily steamy,” says Heather Carroll, a personal trainer, Pilates instructor, and founder of A Balanced Life Training. If you’ve taken a hot yoga class, she says it’ll feel very similar to that.
Like other Pilates classes, a hot Pilates session typically lasts anywhere from 45 to 55 minutes, adds Victoria Popoff, a Pilates instructor and owner of Studio V Pilates & Fitness. Some classes are slower, some are fast, and others are set to fun music. But most focus on high-intensity, low-impact moves. “Think full-body movements performed with control and precision,” Popoff says.
Hot Pilates started in 2009 and is now catching on and gaining footing across the U.S., Carroll says, so you might notice a studio or two popping up near you. Here, the benefits of hot Pilates, as well as what to know before taking a class, in case you want to give it a try.
The Benefits Of Hot Pilates
Depending on what type of class your studio offers, you might do hot Pilates on a mat — with classic moves like lunges, planks, squats, and leg lifts that work the entire body, Popoff says — or you might hop on a Reformer machine for a slightly different type of workout.
Either way, the heat and humidity will help loosen tight muscles faster than a typical Pilates class. “When your body is warm, muscles are more ready to work,” says Popoff. “Your circulation and blood flow to the muscle is a higher rate.”
That’s also why hot Pilates offers such great cardio training. “Your heart immediately ramps up to produce a cardio state, which can be beneficial for endurance,” says Carroll. Of course, that stems from the moves you do and depends on how much effort you expend. As with any exercise, what you put in is what you get out when boosting cardio and strengthening muscles.
What To Know Before A Hot Pilates Class
Just like hot yoga, you’ll definitely want to bring a water bottle with you so you can hydrate before, during, and after class, MetCalf says. She also recommends going slow and giving yourself permission to take breaks, if need be.
Wearing clothes you can sweat in is also key. “You may want layers,” says Popoff. “Many people end up in shorts and a sports bra on their mat with a towel. Think about how you feel after a good sauna session and dress accordingly.”
As a side note, working out in a hot environment is a lot more taxing on the body, so this type of class might take some getting used to. “People who have any sort of heart condition should not take a hot Pilates class,” Carroll adds, since the heat will make your heart work harder.
That said, it’s a great choice if you want to take your Pilates routine to the next level, or try something new. Once you do your last pose and roll up your mat, wipe that sweat, sip some water, and revel in all the benefits of hot Pilates.
Hewett, ZL. 2015. The Effects of Bikram Yoga on Health: Critical Review and Clinical Trial Recommendations. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. doi: 10.1155/2015/428427.