“Hi Hol, I tried a new class the other day which was a bit different and I think is right up your street…” I LOVE it when I receive messages like this!
That’s how this week’s find came about when my friend Kim told me about “Inferno Hot Pilates”. The name alone had me intrigued, and this class was right on my doorstep in Richmond.
What They Say:
You’re probably thinking ‘what is Inferno Hot Pilates?!’ Well, it’s a training system which combines Pilates principles with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and is performed in a room that is heated to 95 degrees Farenheit and 40% humidity. It’s an intense, full body workout designed to strengthen muscles, increase flexibility and improve overall health.
I’d heard of hot HIIT classes in LA, but hadn’t come across any in London until now. The City and East London seem to be at the forefront when it comes to the latest fitness fads, so I was thrilled to find this new take on high intensity training just down the road in Richmond.
The Yoga Loft is nestled down a narrow alley just off the high street in Richmond. I went there once several years ago and didn’t have a great experience (my lasting memory being severe hip pain, a scary man in very small shorts, and being denied a sip of water throughout the 90 minute class) so hadn’t thought to go back, but it’s now under new management, offering a wide range of classes.
As soon as I stepped through the door, I felt far away from the busy high street. I headed up a few flights of narrow stairs, bedecked with shoe shelves, into a light and airy space with windows overlooking a nearby clock tower and rooftops. I was warmly welcomed by Liz, who would be taking our class.
We gathered in the heated studio, a small class of six with plenty of space to spread out. The heat was pleasant, not stifling, and I felt immediately relaxed… not that this was going to be a relaxing hour by any stretch!
Liz started off by explaining how the class would run. The first half would be Pilates based, with a focus on core strength and alignment. The second half would be a series of tabata movements, designed to send our heart rates skyward. Tabata training (aka the “four minute miracle”) is a sequence of eight 20 second intervals of all-out effort, with short 10 second recoveries between each interval. It’s classic high intensity interval training (HIIT) designed to improve aerobic and anaerobic capacity and send your metabolic rate rocketing.
We started on our backs with some glute bridges, and Liz clearly demonstrated and explained how we should be moving before we started a sequence of small pulses in time to the upbeat music. Within just a couple of minutes I realised this was not going to be a breeze! No sooner had we finished the sequence than we repeated it – twice – with slightly different foot positions. Holy glutes. I shut my eyes and tried to think zen thoughts as my face grimaced!
Next, we moved onto a series of plank holds. Abtastic. Liz provided scales for every movement, and focused on form throughout. The planks were just fine, then we were instructed to hold a superman position on the floor with our hands interlinked behind our backs, heels of the hands pressed together and held away from the body… sound easy? I found it physically impossible. “Press your hands together and move them away from your bum” Liz said encouragingly. Ummmm… Nope. I don’t know if it was shoulder tightness or my lats getting in the way, but this was simply not happening. I glanced around the room and no-one else seemed to be having this problem; every yoga based class I go makes me feel like an elephant amongst lithe gazelles! Not that there’s anything wrong with being an elephant, at least I was trying.
Half an hour in, we prepared to move on to the tabata intervals. We’d already done a great ass’n’abs workout and the HIIT element hadn’t even begun!
There were four tabata movements, with a short rest between each 4 minute set. First up was a hollow body pulse. Collapsing on the floor between intervals, that 10 seconds rest went so fast! Next up: burpees. I like these, and they were the low-impact variety (no jump). Third we had partial push-ups, where you don’t fully lock out or touch the floor (i.e. triceps under tension the entire time). I sailed through the first 20 seconds, and then quickly scaled the remaining seven intervals when I nearly fell onto my face in round two. Finally mountain climbers, which I clung on for, and then we were done.
Or so I thought.
The ‘cool down’ was, for me, the hardest part of the entire class: a sequence of clam pulses on our sides. As everyone else in the room seemed to sail through this, I managed to part my knees approximately 2 inches and had to take regular breaks. It was far from graceful.
Once that was done, we finished by lying down on our backs for a couple of minutes, breathing deeply. Aaaaaand, relax.
I left the studio feeling a little spaced out and tired in a wonderful way. I hopped on my bike and felt like it was downhill all the way with a lovely breeze in my face. Over the course of the day I drank over 4 litres of water and it barely touched the sides.
Super sweaty workout that will leave you feeling like you’ve worked every muscle in your body. For me, the Pilates holds were the toughest part but it was great to get the heart rate up in the heat too. Scalable for everyone, even if you have a stiff body like mine! I really enjoyed this and was very tempted to stay on for a yin class afterwards – these limbs could definitely do with some passive stretching.
Cost: £17 drop in. 20 day intro trial (unlimited classes) £40
How to book: http://www.yogaloftrichmond.com