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As a fitness blogger and Instagrammer, I’ve made it a point to try just about every fitness class in NYC: the bizarre combination of cycling underwater, a dizzying aerial yoga class, and over a dozen different barre classes throughout the city.
But the truth is, I never loved barre. The moves felt awkward in my body—I’m not very flexible despite being a yoga teacher. I always felt unsure about my form and worried I was going to hurt myself as a result. I figured barre classes and I were just not meant to be.
All of that changed after I took my first class at The Bar Method two summers ago. At the time, my body was craving low-impact movement. I had run the NYC Marathon a few months prior. Before the marathon, I was all about the high-intensity fitness classes and thought if I didn’t sweat (or feel like I was going to puke) it wasn’t a real workout. After the marathon I had no desire to push my body like that anymore, nor did I want to force myself to.
A friend of mine was obsessed with The Bar Method and raved about it all the time. I decided, why not try it and see what the fuss is about?
During that first class, I noticed a few key differences that separated The Bar Method from all the other barre classes I had taken over the years:
Within the first 5-minutes of my first class, I learned that The Bar Method is all about hands-on and verbal adjustments. Throughout class, my instructor came over to correct my posture. She’d call me out by name to both praise me when I had good form and also correct things I was doing wrong. Which let’s be honest was a lot of things in my first class.
I was impressed with the attention to detail and had never experienced something like that before in a group fitness class. Nothing got past her hawkeyes and there was no room for poor form, slacking or giving up in the middle of a set.
I left feeling confident and safe that, with the helpful adjustments from the instructor, my form was spot-on.
Before my first class, the instructor really took the time to learn my name and if I had any injuries. This level of interaction isn’t just for newbies though. Whenever I take a class with a new-to-me instructor, they take the time to learn my name (and will use it in class!) and learn if I have any injuries. The most amazing thing: the instructors are incredible at remembering your name. Seriously, how do they do it?
After taking a number of classes with the same instructors, they’ve really gotten to know me. And they’re not afraid to call me out when I drop to my knees during push-ups because they know I’m strong enough to do them on my feet!
Despite being a low-impact workout (no burpees or jumping jacks here!), I was shocked by what a thorough total body workout the class was. We worked every major muscle group to fatigue (and then some!) leaving me just the right amount of sore. I realized then that you don’t need to be sweating buckets or doing burpees in order to get a full-body workout.
Whether you’re pregnant, dealing with an injury or a newbie to the class, The Bar Method offers a ton of modifications. I learned firsthand just how many modifications and variations there are for injuries when I was dealing with my own injury — a hip impingement thanks to something I tweaked while teaching my own fitness class. The instructors took such good care of me during this time and checked in throughout the class to offer modifications for my hip.
After taking my first class, I was hooked and started going to class once a week. As time went on, I craved more and decided to join Club Bar at the Williamsburg studio. I really mean this when I say I never thought I’d be the kind of person that takes barre classes 3-5 times a week—I was previously the queen of bootcamp and cycling after all. But now, I’m all about The Bar Method and it’s the class I look forward to taking each and every time I go.
If you’ve ever taken a hot yoga class, you know it’s always going to be one thing—outrageously hot. Not the “let’s hang by the pool and get that sun-kissed glow” kind of hot either. I’m talking that “I can't believe I have this much sweat in my body” and “I may or may not pass out” kind of hot. It’s nothing to mess around with, and after a year or so of not being able to go, it’s easy to forget just how serious that heat can be.
To get the maximum enjoyment and benefits out of your heated yoga classes, you need to prepare yourself before and take care of yourself afterward. Luckily, I’ve been taking some classes (sweating enough for the both of us) and I’ve listed my five favorite must-dos to help you readjust to your heated classes and get back to the hot yoga summer that we all want.
Heated classes are difficult in nature. The normal difficulty of regular poses is mixed in with the added challenges of sweating and dealing with the humidity and the heat (at times, I’ve seen the thermostat climb to 108 degrees—yikes!). Depending on what type of yoga class you’re taking (sculpt, Bikram, power vinyasa), the difficulty level and temperature are going to vary. It’s also important to remember that each person in the room is going to practice in a way that’s unique to them. Hours slept, hydration levels, food intake, and different lifestyles are all contributing factors that make our practices different. What you practice on your mat is your own––trust your body and only do what feels right to you. And remember, it’s okay to take breaks!
The rise in temperature mixed in with the humidity that we all know and love creates the perfect recipe for sweating—like A LOT. You go into a heated class dry and come out feeling like you just took a dip in the pool. Before heated classes, I had no idea it was physically possible to sweat that much. If you’re going to a heated class, especially after a long break, it’s easy to forget just how much you might sweat. Is it possible to lose that much water if you haven’t consumed it first? Trust me, going into your heated class super hydrated is going to make a world of difference and help you feel good throughout your practice. And don’t forget to take some sips of H2O while you’re practicing!
Heated classes are challenging, but I can’t stop going. Nothing quite compares to overcoming the challenge— and experiencing the cleanse my body feels after I’m done. It’s the perfect blend of hard and rewarding, but I couldn’t do it if my body wasn’t properly nourished. On the days I know I have a heated class booked; I like to make sure I am eating right. I make sure to take my vitamins and fuel my body with fruits, vegetables, and my favorite superfood shake. I hold off on food about an hour before my practice, so I feel comfortable. After the class, I like to replenish with a big protein shake (boosted with collagen to aid with muscle recovery and skin elasticity). There is no one-way path for properly nourishing your body but making sure you’re fueled for the challenge of a heated class is essential for getting the most out of your practice and feeling good on and off your mat.
Increasing and maintaining your water intake on the days you take a heated class is important, but sometimes you need something a little extra. If you’re sweating that much, you’re basically an athlete (at least in my book) and if you’re performing like a rockstar yogi, you need to hydrate like one as well. That means replenishing those lost electrolytes. Reward yourself and your body for the hard work and treat yourself to your favorite drink. I switch off between electrolyte-boosting drinks and coconut water depending on what I’m in the mood for that day. Adding these to my post-practice self-care routine has helped me feel more hydrated after and ready to take on the world again after especially sweaty classes.
Usually, a yoga mat is all you need for your practice––but heated classes are a different ballgame. I’ve gone with just a mat, and I’ve slipped all over the place. Let me tell you, there’s nothing worse than having sweat drip all over the place while you’re trying to hold a pose that makes you grip your mat for dear life (never again). Make sure you bring a towel to place over your mat, this will help with support and grip. Bringing a smaller towel is also a good idea. You can use the smaller towel to dry yourself off during water breaks or whenever you’re feeling just a bit too sweaty. This is a small step that makes a world of difference during those super-hot classes.
So, there you have it. Five of my favorite tips (more like lifesavers) that have helped me readjust to those heated classes I love so much. Getting back into it is a challenge for us all, so know you’re not alone. No matter where you’re at in your practice, remember to be kind and gentle to yourself––celebrating your health and your body’s ability to do what you love. We’re all just getting back out there, together.
Ready to jump back into your hot yoga routine? Browse Mindbody to find the perfect class for you.
While you’re at it, check out some Intro Offers near you that can help you get back to your cadence of hot yoga classes.