Discovering Hot Pilates

Imagine doing mat Pilates in a room that is 95 degree and 40% humidity with blasting uptempo pop music, flashing lights and spinning disco ball.  Not exactly what you would call a mind and body exercise class. As a yogi, I never thought I would love it as much as I do. In fact, I was hooked after my first class!

With hot yoga, it is an easy transition from Hatha yoga but that’s not to say it isn’t intimating to do yoga in 100 degree temperature with a bunch of scantily cladded sweaty people. Nevertheless, it is still a mind and body exercise class where yoga poses are familiar and relaxing. But hot Pilates is not even in the same “mind and body” universe!

I first noticed this new trend of hot Pilates classes being offered at hot yoga studios when I was in Vancouver this past summer. Apparently this “new trend” has been around for the last decade but it’s just catching on worldwide recently. The hot Pilates craze led by Gabi Walters in Las Vegas started in 2009 and she later developed it into Inferno Hot Pilates. This new training system is a combination of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Pilates principles performed in a hot room on a yoga mat.

The High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) keeps your heart rate up, burns fat and calories, and increases fitness levels without the pounding of a high impact workout. The Pilates techniques improve body alignment, build strong core and long lean muscles. The hot temperature in the room increases blood circulation, metabolism and detoxification.

All these wonderful benefits do come with some risks. It is very easy to become dehydrated when exercising in such hot temperature and humidity. If you have high blood pressure, the heat and intensity of the workout can elevate your blood pressure to an unsafe level. The key to having a safe and fun workout is to be prepared. Hydrate your body at least 12 hours in advance; avoid eating 2-3 hours before class; and bring lots of cold water in an insulated water bottle to keep it cool during class.

At the end of my hot Pilates class at Hella Yoga in Berkeley, I came out of the studio with a rosy glow on my face, a relaxed body, a blissful feeling and a sense of accomplishment. I guess it was a mind and body class after all!

 


Urban Wellness Retreat in Vancouver

Ever faced with the dilemma of choosing between an in-and-out destination wellness retreat where location is secluded or a busy hectic exploratory sightseeing city trip? Here’s simple solution to have it all – create your own wellness retreat in a metropolitan city that is fitness minded.

Vancouver is an extremely walkable city full of wellness options! Follow my itinerary from my recent trip and enjoy a day filled with yummy food, exercise, and sightseeing. Staying in a central location of the city makes it easy to be active, find healthy restaurants and see local sites on foot. I highly recommend the Kitsilano area for all those reasons. This neighborhood is known for its yoga studios, natural food stores, and outdoor apparel shops. After all, it is the location of the corporate HQ of Lululemon and the first Whole Food store in Vancouver.

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Start you day with breakfast at The Naam Restaurant, located in the heart of Kitsilano on 4th Avenue. You can get anything from scrambled tofu to hardy egg omelettes. It has served organic and locally sourced vegetarian and vegan food for over 50 years. After all these years, I found them to remain true to that original vision, using fresh and pure ingredients while maintaining a warm, earthy and welcoming atmosphere.

After a wholesome meal, head east down 4th Avenue and browse through all the trendy boutiques. Along the way, you will come across some of the best bakeries and cafes in town. Try to resist the temptations until you get to your lunch spot. I recommend grabbing a quick bite at TurF – a fitness studio, shop, bistro + coffee bar – an urban wellness lifestyle destination. Their healthy food counter serves up creative vegan fare including bowls, salads, sandwiches and extraordinary smoothies. The “Three Point Oh Burger” below was one of the best vegan burgers I’ve ever tasted. The house-made patty features black bean, eggplant, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, walnuts, oat, tahini and spices. This little cafe is part of a gym so try a workout before you dine out!

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Once you are fueled with some local healthy food , continue walking westbound on 4th Avenue to check out the boutiques on the other side of the street. When you reach Vine street, turn right and head down to Kitsilano beach where you will see a gorgeous view of the ocean and the north shore mountains. To the left of the beach you will find the largest saltwater swimming pool in North America. The pool is open May to mid-September with extensive hours. For a few dollars, you can enjoy a swim in a 137 meter heated infinity pool with the view of the ocean. Talk about a wellness retreat vibe for cheap!

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The walking path from Kitsilano beach will lead you to the Vancouver Maritime Museum and Vanier Park. Walk across the Burrard Street bridge towards downtown Vancouver, known as City of Glass. You will see why as soon as you cross the bridge. Make a left turn on Pacific Street and walk along Beach Avenue towards English Bay. Before continuing your walk into Stanley Park, stop at The Catus Club Cafe on the shores of English Bay to fuel up for the 6 mile loop around the park. You can’t beat the scenery of this location and the variety of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options on their menu.

At this point, if this urban wellness day has provided enough exercise, good eats, and fun, just grab a taxi back to your pad. If you still have energy to burn, it’s only a 4 mile walk back to Kitsilano.