** Note, I am not an affiliate blogger. This blog is not monetized. If it sounds like I love something, feel confident that I really do love it. **
Inside, the little room is lined with wooden floor slats. They covered the walls and the ceiling as well as the floor. And it’s warm. Fine, it’s hot. The temp is set to 117 degrees because I’m a newbie. Embedded into the wall is a screen that counts down to my session … three, two, one,
“Hi. I’m Ashley B.!”
Ashley B. chases me around this studio. She’s in Thunder, she’s in Barre, she’s in Yoga … Ashley is everywhere. I suggested to the young woman who often mans the front desk that I was worried Ashley B. was going to follow me home. And she did. Ashley B.'s face appeared on a Reddit thread I was reading about the virtual trainer awards.
How did I come to be haunted by Ashley B.? Because of my hairstylist.
My colorist is an artist, and also easy to talk to. We were chatting about fitness and she asked if I had ever done HotWorx. I told her I’d seen the website and that I wasn’t comfortable getting that sweaty in a small room with strangers.
“Oh no, gurl! You’re in that room alone.”
I am not someone who is scared of fitness, I am just not consistent with it. I love yoga. I like pilates. I loved being a runner, but an issue with my knee has put me out of commission. What I don’t like is going to the gym.
I have gone to gyms; I still have my Planet Fitness membership. But I don’t like walking around a space where I am not comfortable where three of the six televisions are set to news channels.
Also, a gym is an air-conditioned, climate-controlled space where you get sweaty. My friends have told me I am crazy and being too sensitive, but there is something unsettling to me about sweating in a place that is chilly. It reminds me of being nervous and sweaty when about to give a presentation or have a difficult conversation with my boss. It feels odd.
I also don’t really enjoy classes. Gymtimindation is a real thing, and attending a class doesn’t give me that sense of community that others get. I’m envious of those who have been able to not only join classes but make friends and develop these great support systems. Roy Kent and his Yoga Moms is a lucky son of a gun. I never feel that open to making friends with gym people. The second a person seeks out my friendship, I feel seen and am ready to run. Last February I tried going to Planet Fitness again, and a lovely woman who meant well was encouraging me on the rowing machine … and that’s the last time I went.
But at Hotworx, I get the room to myself. I don’t have to fret about anyone seeing me sweat, anyone offering me advice, or anyone eyeballing any accommodations.
I could do these courses at home. YouTube is full of fitness people promoting their videos. I could just do it all at home. And I have. And it’s been fine. I love rolling out my yoga mat and downward dogging away a half an hour.
But then there wouldn’t be the heat.
The Hot in Hotworx is the little room I’m in is literally a sauna. Ideally, it’s exercise at 125 degrees. And it is definitely warm. I have worked my way up to consistently 120 degrees when I am there. Any temp lower feels drafty.
Honestly, it’s become the best of both worlds – I get all the hot yoga I want without the feeling of others watching me.
Some people do not always appreciate the heat. One day while storing my gear, I heard a woman shout from the room with the stationary bikes, “Open the door!” and then once the door was opened, she called out, “Not today! It’s too hot!” Another day, I walked through to see two women had taken a room (which is allowed if you want to work out with a friend) and they were lying on the floor chatting; the door was cracked.
Other people love the heat so much that it seems like they don’t leave. I watched one woman hop from room to room: Cycle, Barre, Row, Core, Pilates. Once you get in and your body becomes acclimated to the heat, you just want to get back in it. It’s a difficult place to walk out of. I find myself torn at the end of my sessions. The first 10 minutes, I'm checking my watch begging to leave, and then when it's over, I don't want to leave.
The problem is that Ashley B keeps telling me to smile. Don’t tell me to smile. I know why they do it. What’s unsaid is that by even faking smiling, you can trick yourself into believing what you are doing is a fun activity. It keeps people coming back. But Ashley B.’s speech explains that people make exercise out to be so serious and we forget that it’s supposed to be fun.
Fun and work often contradict people’s core beliefs. So many people have been told to take things seriously, to hunker down, to grind, hustle, or push. All the fit-spiration quotes are designed to motivate while also making the reader feel guilty for not focusing more on fitness. And then fitness becomes a chore or an obligation.
A real smile did emerge on my face during a barre session when Ashley B. asked to lift and push. “Push like you are pushing me away!” And I did, and I smiled.
I’ll be back at Hotworx soon. I’ll schedule my time and key into the studio. I’ll nod to those I pass and enter the warm, quiet, and private space, feeling confident that I can do the moves without feeling like I am being watched.