Over the past few months I have been in gym limbo. I was a Gold’s Gym member, but since we moved the closest Gold’s is not that convenient. Since most of my workouts consist of running outside I have not rushed to join another gym. We also have a community gym that is included in our HOA, so really I am only looking to join a gym for group exercise classes. Last month I had a trial membership at LA Fitness. It was a way nicer gym than I had anticipated and I really enjoyed the spin classes they offer. This month I found a Groupon for a Bikram Yoga studio nearby that was offering an unlimited 30-day membership for $39 (a $150 value). So I went for it.
I basically knew nothing about Bikram Yoga when I bought the Groupon. The only thing I knew was that it was a form of hot yoga. Turns out it is the hottest form of hot yoga, ha. I have done lots and lots of group exercise classes, but yoga has never been my thing. I get really bored and often find myself thinking, this is a waste of time. My thoughts during yoga usually consist of “This is so slow, I’m not sweating, I’m going to have to go work out after this”… So why, you might ask ,did I choose to sign myself up for this? Well… I think I need yoga or some form of strutted stretching in order to continue running races. Last year when I was training for the Boston Marathon I would go for an 18 mile run and stretch for 1-2 minutes after if I stretched at all… that is not very nice to my body and it broke because of it. This forced me to stop running for about 4 months and I had to go to physical therapy. I really don’t want to have to stop running altogether so, before I start really training again, I am trying to figure out what I can do to prevent future injuries. So, for right now, I am testing out Bikram Yoga.
Three of my friends that live together in NYC recently started a blog (everyone I know if turning into a blogger – trendsetter 🙂 ) called SweatFreeNYC, the premise of the blog is that they find free classes/workouts in NYC, attend them, and then blog about them to let you know which ones are worth it and which ones aren’t. Even if you don’t live in NYC you should give it a read because it is quite entertaining. Right after I had purchased the Groupon and before I started my membership they posted a review of Bikram Yoga. The review made me feel good about my choice, they seemed to like it, thought it was a fairly good workout and they even ended up signing up for a 30-day membership! Well… 2 of them did, then the 3rd one posted her review… she hated it! All of the things she disliked were what I feared about the class. I read this the day before I went to my first class… needless to say I was a little worried.
Bikram yoga, by standard definition, is a 90 minute class of 26 poses, held in a room at 105 degrees fahrenheit and 40% humidity. Yoga began in India, so setting the class at this temperature and humidity is supposed to mimic the climate in India.
Since the yoga studio I joined is normally $150/month I just assumed that it was going to be really nice and clean… I was wrong! The studio is in what seems like an industrial park and the inside makes you feel like you are in a dark, dingy basement. The actual yoga “studio” feels more like something you would find in a prison… there are no windows, just a wall of mirrors and carpeting on the floor. The carpeting is what really got me, people are in and out of that room all day sweating buckets and it is carpeted?! Anyway… this seemed to bother no one else, everyone was scampering about in their yoga apparel, or lack there of, barefoot. I kept my socks on until I was safely on my mat and towel and laid down in the dark waiting for the class to begin.
The instructor came in, turned on the lights and we got started. We started moving though the poses when I realized that the lights were going to stay on, the instructor was going to talk the ENTIRE time, there was no music and it was HOT. I thought, wow this is going to be the longest 90 minutes of my life. But then, all of a sudden we were doing the last breathing exercise and it was over. I could not believe 90 minutes had passed by SO fast! They really do keep you moving nearly the whole time and you are concentrating so hard on trying to do whatever balance or body contortion they are asking of you that time passes without you noticing. I also found myself not noticing how hot I was or how much I was sweating.
I went back 2 more times this week, meeting my goal of going 3-times per week for the next 4 weeks. Overall, I find myself looking forward to going. The heat does not bother me the way I thought it might nor does the length of the class. I like that I sweat during the class because it makes me at least feel like I am getting a good work out. I have so much to improve on, but in just 3 classes I can feel myself getting more limber. It has also humbled me and made me realize how inflexible I am and that it is something I need to work on, whether or not I continue this yoga practice when my 30 days are up. I will check back in with you about my experience at the end of my 30 days!
Since I could not bring a camera into the studio, nor would you want to see me sweating my face off in a dirty dungeon, I give you a picture of puppy Layla. She sort of, kind of, looks like she’s doing yoga and this may or may not be my favorite picture of her. I miss that little nugget – she’s nearly 40 pounds now!
Have you tried Bikram Yoga? I would love to hear your thoughts!
Happy Weekending 🙂