Yoga Fever: Exercise class turns up the heat on fitness

News-DemocratJanuary 12, 2014 

Some Like it Hot is the perfect name for a class offered at an O'Fallon yoga studio.

Not everyone wants to work on balance, strength and flexibility in a room where a special thermostat is turned up to 108 degrees. But more and more people are including "hot yoga" in their exercise routines.

"It feels so good," said Therese Blomberg, 42, of O'Fallon, instructor and co-owner of Yoga Core and More. "You come out of there so sweaty."

Instructor Joe McKay, 50, of O'Fallon, calls the experience "detoxing." He enjoys regular yoga but feels the extra warmth allows him to better stretch his muscles with less risk of injury and gives him a sharper mind.

"You would think that spending an hour in 100-plus temperatures would drain you, but you walk out with much more energy," he said. "You feel good throughout the day. You sleep well at night."

Celebrities have boosted the popularity of hot yoga in recent years, but opinions vary on whether it's better than regular yoga for health or weight loss. Few metro-east studios offer it.

O'Fallon student Sally Brown, 55, sees the heat as an additional challenge the body and mind can be trained to overcome.

"It increases the fitness level," she said. "It's similar to learning how to breathe in the midst of stress, whether it be physical or emotional."

Therese opened Yoga Core and More two years ago with partners Kellie Moreland and Michele Taylor. Therese and Kellie are breast-cancer survivors who believe yoga has helped with their healing.

The studio offers a variety of classes for adults and children, including two types of hot yoga. Hot Yoga Flow takes place in a cooler room (98 degrees) than Some Like it Hot with no set sequence.

"It changes with the instructor," said Kellie, 41, of Belleville. "There are different postures and more flow. It's faster paced. It's vinyasa-based. That means one breath per movement."

On a recent Sunday morning, 12 students showed up for Kellie's Some Like it Hot class, carrying mats, towels and water bottles.

Kellie also was ready for the heat, dressed in a plum-colored polyester yoga outfit that could double as a bikini.

"We don't recommend cotton," she said. "It holds the sweat, whereas this releases it."

The classroom is lime green except for a wall of mirrors, allowing students to get a full view of their body postures. The owners splurged for a loofah-like, anti-bacterial rubber floor covering.

"Most of the places that offer hot yoga are carpeted, and the smell is atrocious," Therese said.

Yoga Core instructors add personality to classes by choosing their own music, sometimes also revealing a sense of humor.

Kellie's recent song list included Nelly ("It's Gettin' Hot in Here"), Guns N' Roses ("Welcome to the Jungle") and Kelly Clarkson ("What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger").

Students stayed quiet and meditative while stretching and balancing, except for the occasional laugh or groan. But they applauded student Christine Jones, 49, of Belleville, when she demonstrated a "wild thing going into a wheel" (back bend).

"One of the things I like about this studio is that it's not humorless," Sally said. "I think that makes it easier to take the mindfulness that you learn here and incorporate it in the rest of your life, to take it on the street."

Everyone was sweating by the end of the 75-minute class. Kellie turned down the lights and left students in a savasana pose (lying on their backs), listening to "Let It Be."

"Take a moment of gratitude," Kellie said. "To be thankful that you had everything you needed today to be here, delivering health and wellness to your mind, body and spirit."

Yoga Core and More offers hot-yoga classes seven days a week for $11 each or $99 for a 10-class package. The address is 772 Wall St., Suite A, in O'Fallon. For more information, call 618-632-5377 or visit yogacoreandmore.com.

"It's walk-in, but we encourage people to register online," Therese said. "We have a really easy process, and it allows people to secure a spot."

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