Hotpod Yoga FAQs: What You Need To Know Before You Go

June 6, 2018

If you read this post, you’ll know how much I’m currently loving hot yoga. (And if you know me IRL,  you’re probably sick of me banging on about it whilst standing on one leg bellowing “look! I can do this pose now!”)

The type of hot yoga I’m doing is a specific “brand” called Hotpod Yoga. It’s not regular yoga, and it’s not Bikram. You might not have a hotpod in your town. But, if you do, and you fancy giving it a try, scroll down for my handy guide. Let’s om shanti this shiz.

PS If you’re in/near Folkestone and want to try a free class at Hotpod Folkestone, just click here. Select “single class pass” and enter code THEFITWRITER in the discount box – and your class with be totally free. You don’t have to have membership.

Hotpod Yoga: WTF Even Is That?

What is it?

Hot yoga is yoga in a heated room. I’ve been doing something called “Hotpod Yoga”, though, which is a specific style. If you want to actually do hotpod (which is what I’m going on about in these posts), you’ll need to find your local “pod” (here).

So… it’s yoga in a hot room?

No. It’s yoga, inside a heated up “pod”, which is itself inside a room. Basically: you go into the building from outside, get changed/hang your stuff up/check in, then enter the pod before the class.

How big are the pods?

Much as it would tickle me to tell you that they’re individual – like in the film Cocoon – this is not true. The pod is a big inflatable – room sized, really – but slightly dome shaped. It’s large enough for about 20 people to stand up straight, lay down flat, and stretch their limbs out without getting overly familiar.

How hot it is? And is the temperature consistent throughout the class?

Hotpod yoga is heated to 37*C (done via special heaters all around the inside of the pod), and it’s a humid atmosphere rather than dry. The 37*C is consistent, but the pod does warm up as the bodies do. The fuller the class, the hotter it tends to get.

Is it the same as Bikram?

I didn’t know the answer to this at first, because I’m a yoga dunce and don’t know what Bikram is. Turns out the answer is “no”. Bikram is a very specific system of yoga, which follows the same set poses every single class (and it’s heated to 40*C, not 37*C). No, this is not Bikram. 

What kind of yoga is it?

Hotpod calls itself a Vinyasa Flow style. Allow me to explain that in beginner newbie terms (for myself as much as for you). This means you do some warm up stuff to mobilise through the spine and get yourself calm and focused. Then you move into the main part of the class, which is a series of “flows”. You might recognise some bits of this: it involves things like Downward Dog, chaturangas, Warrior poses, and Triangle pose. Then there’s usually some kind of balance section, some forward folds and back bends, some ab/core focus work, and some seated stuff like forward folds and twists.

Why is it better than just regular yoga?

I’m not sure anyone is saying it’s better, just different. I’ll tell you why I find it better. First of all, it feels more like a workout (due to the heat, the sweat, and the fact that you can get deeper into the poses and work harder). The atmosphere is really special (the pod, the dim lighting, the music, and the nice aromatherapy smell). I know full well that sweating doesn’t burn fat or burn more calories (etc) but I do think that working in a hot environment enables you to get into the workout more quickly, work more deeply, and push a bit harder.

Do I have to be bendy to be able to do it?

Absolutely not. There are people of all ages, shapes, sizes, and yoga levels there. I’m not especially bendy, but I’ve got tons better.

I’ve never done any yoga, will I be OK? 

Yep. The teacher gives instructions throughout, and walks around the pod watching and making adjustments (if you don’t want to be touched, you always have the opportunity to say so before the class starts). If you get confused, drop back down to a basic pose (you’ll be shown this) as just watch or call the teacher over.

I have low blood pressure and get dizzy in the heat. 

Me too man. And I have had slightly dizzy spells – only when standing up straight from a forward fold (hardly surprising!) Just take it very slowly – you are encouraged to do this anyway, for the sake of your neck and spine. Keep sipping your drink, and drop down into a basic pose if you need a break. I have postural hypotension and haven’t had any dodgy moments in class.

What should I wear?

As little as possible without causing any consternation (to yourself or others). I started out in leggings, sports bra, and a vest top. I’ve since graduated (in confidence and IDGAF levels) to either sports bra and leggings, or little shorts and vest top.

Is it claustrophobic in the pod?

I don’t think so, but then again I don’t get claustrophobic. I guess you’d have to try it. It’s not small. It’s more like being in a dark marquee (?)

Is it stinky?

Not at all. In fact our hotpod uses aromatherapy oils in the pod (not sure if they all do this).

Do they play music or anything?

Yep. Not dance music obviously.

I’m a bit embarrassed, I don’t want people watching me.

They probably don’t want you watching them, either. The good news is that the pod has subdued lighting and no mirrors. Everyone will be focusing on themselves anyway. And you’re in downward dog a lot. I tend to have my eyes closed for much of the class – perhaps everyone else does, too?

Do I need a mat or do they provide them?

They provide them. 

Do I need a towel?

Yes. Take a big one (yoga mat sized) plus a smaller one (hand towel sized) for general moppage.

I’m a runner/bodybuilder/spin addict, do I really need yoga?

Check you out with your existential questions. Do any of us really NEED anything? I don’t know. I like to have more of a rounded, athletic approach to fitness. I think training should include some resistance/strength work, some cardio, some yoga or other restorative work. So – yes. But it’s up to you obviously. I will say that hotpod yoga has without a doubt helped my weights training (and recovery).

How sweaty will I get?

Very! Like you’ve been hiking in a rainforest.

Are there toilets and showers?

There are at Folkestone Hotpod but I guess each one differs – best to ask them directly. Probably though.

Should I bring water?

100% Bring a big bottle, and think about bringing some kind of electrolyte drink especially if you do other training or are planning another hotpod session the next day.

Hope that helps! If you decide to go, I really hope you love it as much as I do.

=

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 14 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.

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10 Hotpod Yoga Sessions In 11 Days: What I Learned

June 5, 2018

Do you yoga? It’s always been one of those things I “know I should do”. And – when I get round to it – I love it. But for various reasons, it’s never stuck. However, the older I get (especially since I still lift pretty heavy), the more I “should” do yoga.

So when a new hot yoga studio (Hotpod Yoga Folkestone) opened up a 5 minute walk from my house, I was excited!

And then I realised the owner was a schoolfriend of mine who I haven’t seen since the 90s (no, not the 1890s, although sometimes it does feel that long ago).

Done deal.

I booked myself in for a taster session, not knowing what to expect. Would it be too hot? Would I be able to do it? Would it actually hold my interest more than any of the gym studio/village hall yoga classes I’ve previously done?

Verdict: I loved it!  So I took Hotpod Yoga Folkestone up on their intro offer (a 10-day pass for £14)…. and challenged myself to going every day for 10 days. Because we all know I don’t do things by halves, and a 10-day pass is like a red rag to a bull. (A chilled out, zen bull, obvs.)

I didn’t end up making 10 classes in 10 days (but I’m totally chilled about it…!) However, if we count my taster session, I did 10 classes in 11 days.

(The day I missed was due to doing Stand-up Paddleboarding so….hopefully that’s a good enough excuse).

Here’s how I found it – and what I learned from doing 11 hot yoga sessions in 10 days.

(I’ll write a Hotpod Yoga FAQ type post soon – but if you have any specific questions, leave a comment and I’ll answer)

Day 1 (Sunday): taster session

Ooh, this is a bit different to yoga in a hall. The hot pod itself is like a big, room-sized inflatable inside the studio building. Intriguing. Inside, it’s warm – very warm, but lovely. The pod is dimly lit – which is nice because it means I can zone in and focus on myself without worrying what anyone else is doing. No mirrors – I like that. 10 minutes later: man this is hot! So sweaty! Note to self: bring a larger towel. 60 minutes later: I LOVE that. I could do it (it was challenging, but everything was explained well and lots of options given). I feel relaxed, energised, stretched, and like I’ve had a good workout. I haven’t been this sweaty in years. How is there sweat in my EARS?

Day 2: Monday morning

I’m legit excited to get to yoga. I haven’t fallen in love with a new form of exercise like this for ages. Monday morning session is an incredible way to start the week. No phone, no notifications, no chance to check anything or be distracted. Time for me, to focus on myself, and to start the week with a calm, clear mindset.

Day 3: Tuesday lunchtime

Today’s session seemed slightly easier, and I didn’t sweat nearly as much. Is my body getting used to it? Will I eventually stop sweating altogether during class? (This saddens me – I like the sweat).

Day 4: Wednesday morning

Lovely session today, these classes are already becoming a highlight. Part social, part switch-off, part exercise. We did some balances – and I managed to stand on one leg holding onto my outstretched foot. No mean feat for me!

Day 5: Friday evening

I’ve only missed one day but I can really feel it! Physically, but mentally/emotionally too. Hotpod yoga really is such a lovely short escape from the outside world, my to-do list, phone, noise, and stimulation. I’m having the most stressful work week in living memory, and I actually don’t know that I would have coped without hotpod. Today’s class was wonderful – the teacher is obviously trained in mindfulness and the emotional side of yoga, too, and her words really resonated with me.

Day 6: Saturday morning

A very hot and sweaty class (my theory from the other day was completely unfounded!) The flow (the main section of the class) was a lot faster than usual. Each teacher does things slightly differently, although the structure of the class and the core poses are the same. Note to self: bring a second towel (big one to lay on the mat, small one to actually mop self with). I went to the gym later in the day and the session felt very hard. Must drink more if I’m training and doing hotpod on the same day.

Day 7: Sunday morning

Finally – a class with my friend Ruth, owner of Hotpod Yoga Folkestone. Bought a proper yoga towel (little rubber dots on the underside so it doesn’t move around on the mat). Shit’s getting serious!

Day 8: Monday morning

Ahhh my favourite class. I really like this teacher’s style and the way she adds some mindfulness in, plus the Monday morning timing means this class is pure me-time, a pause to set the week up properly before life rushes in. It’s calming and grounding. Back at home, my work stress continues apace but I actually took time out to lie down for 5 minutes in a yoga pose, and do nothing. I would normally have carried on stressing (and wasted more than those 5 minutes just being stressed).

Day 9: Tuesday morning

At yoga for 7am, who even am I? I don’t get up for 7am anything unless it involves an overseas flight or perhaps a good breakfast. This class was very sweaty. So a) my body isn’t getting used to it and b) first class of the morning sessions can be hot! My body is looking and feeling different – leaner? I know the heat doesn’t sweat fat away or anything like that (!) But I can notice subtle changes since starting yoga and doing slightly less gym work.

Day 10: Wednesday morning

Feeling slightly bereft at reaching my final day of the 10-day pass. Hotpod yoga has me hooked. I love it. LOVE it. It’s changed the game for me: physically (more flexible, that persistent bit of my back which always needs cracking has GONE, even my “arthritic” toe is amazingly better), strength wise (I’m doing body weight moves I haven’t tried in years), peace, calmness, focus, clarity.

7 Lessons From 10 Hotpod Yoga Classes

1 Yoga is not a cop-out.

Yes, yoga is relaxing, quiet, and tranquil. But it’s doesn’t have to be easy (unless you want it to be). My 10 sessions of yoga worked me hard. Some days, my triceps still hurt from the day before (all those chaturangas!) After day 2, my abs hurt in new and interesting ways (serratus?) My hamstrings, shoulders, glutes all felt the benefit.

2 Sweating is lovely

I might not be able to convince you on this one if you’re squeamish about sweatiness. But I love it (as long as I can get a shower and a change of clothes reasonably quickly). The intense sweatiness of the 37*C heat (plus humidity from a steam machine thingy) leads to unbelievable sweatiness. This helps you get deeper into the poses, wasting less time on warming up. As a bonus, my skin was really lovely after just a couple of sessions!

3 Hydrate properly

Don’t underestimate how much you need to rehydrate after hotpod yoga. I took a 1.5 litre bottle to every session and got through it easily. I started just taking my traditional “weak apple squash”, but soon graduated to an electrolyte drink or coconut water (I used this from Project E2 – full disclosure, they’re a client so I got it sent free, but it is very good! – and this coconut water powder from Bulkpowders). Fluid isn’t enough – use electrolytes, especially if you need to do anything else active that day.

4 Your appetite will be affected

Well, mine was anyway. I lost a bit of weight over the couple of weeks I did hotpod yoga, but it wasn’t to do with the yoga itself (and definitely not to do with the heat/sweating – you can’t sweat body fat away!) It was to do with a bit of extra walking (I walk there and back), plus the fact that my appetite was noticeably reduced. I don’t know if this due to the heat and sweating (ever noticed how you want to eat less on hot days?) Whatever the reason – the circumstances and knock-on effects of adding yoga into my routine meant I ate less.

5 Two towels

I really advise two towels. A big one to lay on your mat (hotpod provide the mats btw). But a smaller one (hand towel size) to use as and when during class. You’ll probably want to wipe your face, and dry off your knee/shin before you try to hold on for balances!

6 Hotpod compliments other training

During my 10-day stint, I did significantly less gym training and cardio. But I didn’t lose any strength, size, muscle tone (and nor did I suddenly pile on 20 stone). If you think yoga is “just stretching”, think again. It’s essentially a series of bodyweight exercises done over and over again. I ached from it. I felt it in my triceps, shoulders, upper back, quads, hamstrings, glutes, abs, core. But it’s also wonderfully restorative and healing. My 10-day run of yoga cured an annoying “click” I’ve had for years in my thoracic spine (and it hasn’t come back!) My arthritic/whatever is wrong with it toe has more range of movement and hurts much much less than before. I can turn my neck further than before. I can move my spine more easily than before. I just feel… more athletic.

7 You might “have a release”

Not like that! Like this. OK, so this is weird, but apparently not uncommon so I don’t mind sharing.

In one class early on in my 10 day stint, the teacher was doing a bit of mindfulness chat with us. Out of nowhere, a word came into my head. An emotion. It’s not something I’ve ever associated with myself before. It’s not something I was aware that I was feeling. But it was a very strong feeling and made me… not upset, exactly, but definitely thoughtful. Luckily, the pod is a very calm and safe feeling place to have a “moment” – a bit dark, quiet, enclosed, and private. On the way home, I rang my yoga-loving friend and told her about my odd experience. Ooh, she said. You had a release! (It’s a thing)

I have since had another release (not that – stop it). This was in a Friday evening class, at the end of a full-on week, and before a significant weekend. The teacher was saying a few lovely words which really resonated with me. Suddenly, as I lay there on my back in savasana, I started to cry. Not out-loud “boo hoo” type wailing. Just tears coming out of my eyes and trickling down my face. It felt fine. I just let it happen. And there was so much sweat all over my face and neck anyway that it hardly mattered. Afterwards I felt calm and as if my brain had sorted a few things out.

So – there you have it. Hotpod yoga UK is an amazing new addition to my life. It’s helping me maintain strength (in different ways to weight training). It chills me out on stressful days. It gives me an escape from the bleeps and bloops of phones and outside distractions. I love it!

If you’re local to Folkestone and want to try a free class, click here. Select single class pass and enter code THEFITWRITER in the discount box – and your class with be totally free.

Stay tuned for a hotpod yoga FAQ. If you have any questions about the classes, how it works, what to expect – leave a comment or message me.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 14 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


A New Sport Every Month: Aerial Hoop

October 31, 2017


October’s “A New Sport Every Month” was Aerial Hoop: a sport epitomised by strength, grace, and flexibility. Well, I decided that possessing one of those three things was good enough, so booked myself on a taster session.

Nouvolution is a new multi fitness studio in Folkestone, offering all sorts of aerial skills classes including Hoop. I like the idea of that strength/grace combo (even though I’m built like a….well, like a bodybuilder…), so I went along to their open day.

(The first person I saw when I got there was a lady from Roller Derby (last month’s A New Sport…) – apparently we are destined to bump into each other at niche sports which lead to bruising!)

After a brief cardio warm up and some mobilisation work, we paired up and headed to a hoop. There were super-high up ones, and ones a bit lower to the floor. We opted to start with the lower ones – a wise decision!

We learned a “basic seat”, “stag seat” and a “scissor seat” with both legs extended – all of these poses with no hands. There was a lot to think about: how to position yourself in relation to the anchor point, hands/grip, balance, and controlling the hoop as you get into the move.

The final move we learned on the low hoop was the “man in the moon” which looks very pretty and relaxed, but feels painful at first. The hoop is a lot harder and thinner than I imagined (I don’t know what I was expecting!) For some of the sitting poses, you need your coccyx and spine aligned with the hoop, your arms tucked behind the hoop, and at least one of your legs hooked around it.

Apparently the pain gets less as you train more (when I did a couple of terms of Pole lessons, I did find that I got used to the pain plus I just managed to ignore it a bit!)

Halfway through the class, we left the low hoop behind – and with it any hopes of looking serene and graceful. The higher hoop was all about inversions, upper body strength, and attempting to hook our legs around a swaying hoop.

The main challenge on the high hoop was using upper body strength and core strength to pull yourself up, let alone actually get into the pose! We did a straddle (an inverted move where you hang from the hoop, then put both your legs up and over your head…) and a few variations of the “Delilah”, including the one in that photo…. The high hoop moves were easier than I imagined – once I stopped over thinking it and just gave it a go, it actually worked. But it was difficult to keep going – my strength and grip gave out!

The taster session was just long enough to get a feel for hoop without running out of energy or hurting too much!

Before I left, I asked our aerial hoop instructor Lucy Shaw at Nouvolution in Folkestone all about Aerial Hoop so you’ll know what to expect if you give it a go. (This is her in the picture!)

Lucy, how did you get into Hoop?

“I discovered Aerial Hoop 4 and a half years ago. My sister and I wanted to try a new fun form of fitness that we could do together. We were instantly hooked, and over the years have performed in art exhibitions and wedding fairs. There are lots of exciting opportunities you can work towards in Hoop, including various competitions and showcases around the country.

“I’m really interested in the circus side of hoop, and that is another route people could go down with this sport. The next step would be to join a circus school (like The National Centre For Circus Arts in London). But you can take it as far as you want – it’s fundamentally a great hobby to enjoy at your own level.”

Do people need any specific level of fitness or strength to start aerial hoop?

“Not at all! You can start aerial with no experience or fitness background. We follow a syllabus to ensure you learn all of the foundations to be able to progress, and always work to your level.”

What can people expect from training in Aerial Hoop?

“A really good cardiovascular workout and increased strength and flexibility. It’s very rewarding, because people tend to notice results and progression very quickly – especially as a complete beginner. Hoop is really addictive!”

Is it all about upper body strength?

“There is a lot of upper body strength, but hoop is about much more than that. And it’s surprising how quickly you build it up. I would say it is predominantly a core focused sport, and we do lots of conditioning exercises to help with this in our classes. So you’ll get stronger, more flexible, and fitter.”

Thank you, Lucy!

A quick mention for Lucy’s next aerial event – The Night Circus at Sutton Valence in Kent, where she’ll be performing aerial arts at a circus-themed pop up restaurant for two nights only (16th & 17th February 2018). It sold out last year, so grab your tickets!

Go and visit Nouvolution’s website and Facebook if you’re in Folkestone – or find your local Aerial Hoop classes wherever you are! It’s a fun and challenging workout. Thank you Lucy & Nouvolution for the taster session 🙂

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


A New Sport Every Month: Roller Derby

September 29, 2017

What’s got 8 wheels, a gum shield, and a witty pseudonym?
A Roller Derby athlete!

Yep, I did Roller Derby.

I’ve decided to try one new sporty thing every month. Partly to stop my training from getting stale, partly to meet new folk, and partly for the LOL factor.

Because we all know I’m no good with:

– falling down (or prospect thereof)
– jumping/moving both feet off the ground at the same time
– any form of agility

September’s A New Sport Every Month was pretty funny (…mostly for the instructors…)

What Is Roller Derby?

Just about the further thing from my comfort zone that you can imagine.

No But Really, What IS Roller Derby?

Roller Derby is a contact team sport on roller skates. Two teams of five players skate counter-clockwise around a track, during “jams” (point-scoring bouts) that last up to 2 minutes.

One of each team’s five players is the “jammer” who can score points. The other four are “blockers” – defensive/offensive players whose role is to block the other team’s jammer, and to protect their own jammer so she can lap the other team to score.

Two things really appealed to me about Roller Derby.

1) It originated as a female-only sport, and men’s teams are a much more recent thing. Roller Derby is closely tied up with themes of feminism and body positivity and, at entry level, it’s an amazingly encouraging, empowering sport for women of all shapes, sizes, ages, and fitness levels.

2) The names. I mean, come on. At my trial session I met Demi Lition, Hellen Degenerate, and Brute 66. In teams around the world, you’ll find Brazilian Whacks, Tess of the Derbywheels, and Nancy Raygun.

Roller Derby has been around since the 1940s, but fell off the radar until recent years. It’s enjoying a massive surge in interest now, so when I realised we have a local team, I signed up for the Open Day.

I didn’t get to actually play (that would have been asking way too much of my first hour on skates!) But I learned some of the basic skills: how to fall (various ways!), stop, speed up, and turn. We got to watch the Rec League in training, and then saw the main competitive team practising.

I asked Demi Lition, Founder of Kent Roller Girls, to tell you more. about Roller Derby.

Who is Roller Derby suitable for?

Pretty much everyone. You don’t need any experience or fitness level to start, and there’s no particular shape or size of person it suits best. You just need to be prepared to fall over a lot!

What does basic, entry-level Roller Derby consist of?

Most teams run a variation of beginners sessions. These can be a course over a set number of weeks, or continual drop-in sessions. My team – Kent Roller Girls – runs a recreational league. Skaters can join at any time with any level of experience, and we will teach you everything you need to know. You can take as long as you want/need to learn the skills, before getting to the level of playing games. Our rec league needs absolutely no experience whatsoever to join! Just the willingness to learn something completely new

Can you do Roller Derby as exercise/training and never compete (if you want)?

You can indeed! Recreational teams are great for this. There’s no pressure on skaters to compete, and you can focus on the fun side of the sport and of skating. There’s a place for everyone in the sport.

What does Roller Derby do for a body?

Roller Derby is all about the bum and thighs! (Nic: I concur! I “do legs” twice a week but the day after trying Roller Derby, my adductors, abductors, and glutes were sore!) You spend the majority of your skating time in a stance known as “Derby stance” – a slight squat position – which you definitely feel when you start skating! You build a lot of power in your legs to get yourself around that track. And as you make your way towards actually competing you need to be able to skate at a certain speed for a length of time which really helps with improving cardio.

Roller Derby has done more for my body confidence than anything else ever has. And a lot of people will say the same. It’s a sport for everyone, no matter what body shape, and we’re all as valuable to the team as each other. We all have our strengths based on our sizes and we all learn how to use them to our advantage. I’ve gone from hiding in baggy shirts and tracksuit bottoms, to wearing shorts in front of crowds of people. I hadn’t worn shorts in public for 15 years!

Thanks, Demi! :)

Go and visit Kent Roller Girls’s website or KRG on Facebook. Where is your local Roller Derby team? Why not look out for an open day, or pop along to their Rec League to give it a go.

Do you do Roller Derby? I’d love to hear about it!

Thanks to Kent Roller Girls for the open day 🙂

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


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