Turning Up the Heat: A Beginner's Guide to Hot Pilates

New sports activities or a combination of old ones is trending — Hot Pilates being one of them. With the huge variety of activities, it is difficult to choose the proper one according to your health goals. This article will navigate and enlighten you with the pros and cons of Hot Pilates and how to prepare for your first class.

What is Hot Pilates?

Hot Pilates is a challenging, full-body, and high-intensity workout. It is different from regular Pilates classes since during Hot Pilates, the room temperature increases to 95 F° and 40% humidity, which means that you are really going to sweat.

Hot Pilates and regular Pilates are based on Pilates principles (breathing, centering, concentration, control, and others) and core (trunk muscles) strengthening. Hot Pilates is similar to high-intensity interval training (HIIT), both focusing on full-body movement and cardiovascular fitness.

A question may arise: what is the difference between hot yoga and Hot Pilates? The answer is that there are several. First, in Hot Pilates, people focus more on strengthening core muscles and higher intensity workouts, while in hot yoga, people exercise meditation and stretching. However, both of them focus on the demands of the cardiovascular system and its adaptation.

What can you expect in a Hot Pilates class?

Hot Pilates class first focuses on your breathing and control of your body. The second important thing is trunk muscle engagement during training sessions. There are a lot of exercises that focus on your trunk muscle activation, including exercises for abdominal and back muscles. The third thing is to change your cardiovascular system. The heat increases your heart rate, which challenges your cardiovascular system and increases adaptation to load and heat.

The class structure is very similar to a regular Pilates class. Hot Pilates takes up to 60 minutes, but you can always take a break, if needed, according to your personal feelings, so listen to your body.

The session starts by laying on your back, focusing on the core muscles. Then, transferring to the side position, which also focuses on the core muscles, and the prone position for the back muscles, continuing with standing exercises that are the main cardio element. Moreover, Hot Pilates classes can be performed with weights or other small equipment, such as a Pilates ring, small ball, or others.

What are the benefits of Hot Pilates?

Exercise in the heat has potential benefits that affect cardiovascular adaptation, improve performance during maximal aerobic capacity, and support thermal comfort in the heat.

The main things contributing to cardiovascular adaptation and exercise performance in the heat are lowered metabolic rate, enhanced sweating, fluid balance, and cutaneous blood flow.

You must exercise in the heat for several days in order to adapt to the heat and for your heart rate to decrease. Continuous practice in the heat is the key to keeping cardiovascular adaptation.

Is Hot Pilates good for weight loss?

There were no specific studies that focused on Hot Pilates and weight loss. Research that analyzes heat and body fat loss is mainly focused on exercise and heat overall. If you are sweating a lot, it does not mean that you lost more calories. The sweating is about losing water.

As mentioned previously, Hot Pilates has similarities to the HIIT approach. Limited studies show that HIIT improves cardiorespiratory fitness and supports weight loss in individuals with obesity. However, further research in Hot Pilates settings is needed to substantiate this health claim.

What are the downsides of Hot Pilates?

Heat itself may have a negative effect on your health, especially in vulnerable populations like pregnant women. If you decide to start exercising in the heat, start slow and do not push yourself over the limits because it is necessary to acclimatize your body to exercising in the heat.

Moreover, the heat increases cardiac demand — the heart needs to work harder and faster to pump more blood. Therefore, if you have cardiovascular issues, consult your doctor. Low and high blood pressure, respiratory conditions, and similar are not optimal with heat workouts as well.

Before starting Hot Pilates, it is essential to understand your health status and any potential conditions. So, consult a healthcare professional to make sure that it is safe to start this type of exercise.

Preparing for your first Hot Pilates class

During Hot Pilates, it is very important to stay hydrated. Make sure that you drink enough water before, during, and after class.

Before going to class for the first time, take a look at the studio website and what to bring to the session, as every studio has its own rules. Sometimes, you need to bring your own mat. To feel more comfortable, take a small towel to dry your sweat and a bottle of water to rehydrate yourself.

If you've never tried Hot Pilates, see if the Pilates studio offers classes for beginners. Because of the high intensity of the training, it is always recommended to start with beginners to gradually increase your cardiovascular adaptation. This way, the workout will be easier mentally and physically. If you are a beginner and will come to an advanced Hot Pilates class, it could be too difficult to handle the heat and intensity. This can down your motivation to continue.

What do you wear to Hot Pilates?

In most Pilates classes, people do not wear sports shoes. They only wear socks or do Pilates barefoot to increase proprioception and proper biomechanics of the feet.

Moreover, it is important to wear something you feel comfortable sweating in. It is recommended to use a comfortable sports bra, shorts, or leggings of good fabric. In most cases, men choose running-style shorts. Ensure your clothing is comfortable and softly fits to the body to avoid rubbing while you are sweating.

Before starting Hot Pilates, consult your doctor and ask about exercising in the heat and how it is compatible with your health. If you're new to the world of Pilates, choose a beginner's class first to incrementally adapt your body systems to heat stress and load.

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