A new class started a few months ago at the hot yoga studio I teach at called Inferno Hot Pilates. To be honest, I was never really a fan of Pilates, but my friend Jessica Child was the instructor and she assured me I'd like it based on my love of CrossFit and HIIT-style workouts.
Inferno Hot Pilates (IHP) was created by Gabriella (Gabi) Walters, a certified yoga and pilates instructor. Jess explained that it's a training system that combines the Pilates principles with HIIT and is performed in a heated room set to 95 degrees and 40 percent humidity. It's a full-body workout designed to strengthen muscles, increase flexibility, and improve overall health. She added that's it's high-intensity, but low-impact, which helps protect the joints and muscles.
Pilates principles sculpt your body, creating long lean muscle mass. Inferno Hot Pilates is different in that the heat keeps your heart rate up, and since it's a HIIT-style workout, Jess said, it may help boost your metabolism. IHP increases core strength, flexibility, and circulation.
IHP classes follow the structure or order where you start with bridgework, then move to core, side body work (planking, clamshell, leg lifts, etc.), back extensions, and then legs/cardio/upper body (burpees, mountain climbers, pushups, etc.). You sometimes use booty bands, and some studios have weights, but it's mostly bodyweight exercises.
There's such a variety of moves that of the three 45-minute classes I took, they were all very different. Since the structure of the workout is the same every class, you know what to expect, but not specifically what exercises you'll do in the workout.
A Tabata timer is always used, where you do exercises for 20 seconds with a 10-second rest, or 30 seconds of work with a five-second rest. The instructor lets you know when to start, when to stop, and when to switch to a new exercise. I loved that is was so fast-paced (although the video above is sped up!) and I was completely drenched in sweat - I'm glad I brought a huge water bottle, a towel for my face and arms, and a change of clothes!
I'll add that I've been doing CrossFit three to five days a week for over three years. I consider myself pretty strong and fit, but this class kicked my butt. It was such a different workout than I'm used to, challenging my body and mind in a new way, and I want to try to make it to at least one class a week.
One thing I noticed right away in class is that everyone was exhaling very loudly, making a hissing sound. Jess said the Pilates breath is an "exhale out of the mouth between the teeth engaging the pelvic floor and strengthening the core muscles." To be honest, I'm used to a quieter yoga breath, so I felt a little weird doing it during my first two classes, but started to do it a little during my third.
New students should let the instructor know, Jess said. For her IHP newbies, she always gives a quick one-on-one intro so they know what to expect. But don't worry! The class is easy to follow because the instructor calls everything out. She added, "the class is also designed to remind the students over and over again to use the breath, focus on alignment, do the best they can, and that it is quality over quantity." Focus on doing the exercises correctly and you can pick up the pace as you're ready.
Two to three times a week is ideal for building strength and increasing flexibility, Jess said, but more if there is a goal of greater fat loss. Both new and seasoned students can expect to feel empowered and proud of what they are capable of doing in the class. Jess said, "we work hard on the mat in IHP so that we can take on life outside of the studio."
The IHP community is about empowerment and community, Jess said. In every one of the three classes I took, towards the end of class when we were all exhausted but pushing through those last few sets of reps, Jess encouraged us to high-five our neighbor, and it really amped up my energy levels, made me feel like we were all in this together, and inspired me to go harder. "Last set, best set," Jess would say, and I was so pumped to do my best.
Jess said she's seen the growth in her regular students, physically and mentally. She sees people talking to one another before and after class, looking forward to seeing each other each week.
She added, "I have purposefully strayed away from the focus of IHP being about physical appearance and more about being proud of what our bodies are capable of doing, what we get to do and choose to do with our bodies. It's a gift. And any body can do it since modifications are offered."
I love how the class ends with a quick Savasana enjoying a much-appreciated cold towel on our faces, and then we give ourselves a round of applause. The class is incredibly physically challenging, and the applause feels almost like crossing a finish line, cheering each other on for our hard work and the commitment we've made to take the time to better ourselves.