A Note on Group Exercise Classes


Hey guys,

I’ve been around the group exercise classes in the new Cal Poly Rec Center for about two and a half weeks now (not because it’s my job or anything….). I wanted to offer a fews words and answers to FAQ’s.

Breakaway and BodyPump require that you reserve a spot in advance.  This ensures enough equipment for all.

All other classes operate on a first come, first serve basis.

Zumba is by far the most popular class.  If you want to Zumba, show up outside Studio Three AT LEAST 30 minutes early.  The line fills up fast.  Studio Three can accommodate 50 people under the fire marshal code.  So if you’re in there, and you’re the 51st person, you’re a fire hazard.  The ASI peeps hate turning you away.  Really. But they will.

Cardio Kickboxing is the second most popular.  Ditto the 30 minute minimum.

You cannot take one fitness class, for instance, Cardio Kickboxing, and hold your spot in the next class by simply staying in the room.  This is unfair to other participants and makes you look like a fitness class hog.

You don’t have to bring your own yoga mat to yoga or pilates, you can use the ones already provided in the room. The Rec Center does not provide nice roll- up yoga mats.

You have to wear a shirt at all times, even during the fitness classes.
Rec Center Homepage

The line for 5:10 cardio kickboxing at 4:40

Have you been to any of the new fitness classes?  What do you think?  What classes would you like to see that aren’t currently offered?

Cal Poly Rec Center 2012 Opens This Week!

After four years of trails, tribulations and technical difficulties, the Cal Poly Rec Center is finally open to the  student population.

The two- story center has three fitness studios including one spin studio, an indoor track, two basketball courts that double as volleyball and badminton courts, ping- pong tables, racquetball courts, an Olympic- sized lap pool, a leisure pool, sand volleyball courts and outdoor barbecues, which is curious because students aren’t actually allowed to bring food in the gym.  All beverages except water are also banned.  There are Brita filters for students who chose to bring their own water bottles but, let’s face it:  if you’re bringing your own water bottle (and it’s not clear or translucent), you can pretty much put anything you like inside of it.

Also a new rule?  The no tank tops/ modified t- shirts rule is out, and now student can wear all the skimpy but appropriate workout gear they desire.  This has turned the second- level weightlifting and elliptical machine lineup into a fashion runway.

For those who prefer not to flaunt their sweaty bods, the exercise rooms are open to the public when not occupied by classes, and you can even rent a key to use the studio’s sound systems!  How fly is that?  There are enough the medicine balls and Pilates balls to play dodgeball with (which I do not recommend).  Almost every cardio machine comes with a TV; the sound gets a little fuzzy on cable channels, but you really don’t want to know what they’re saying on MTV anyways, right?

Overall, definitely the best place to work out in San Luis Obispo.  This thing is the whole enchilada and definitely lives up to the hype and is well worth the wait.  Fitness classes start next week.

ADMISSION:  Free with Poly ID.  Sign in with the waiver form at the front desk.  They’re implementing hand scans this week.

$48/ month

$135/ 3 months

$488/ year for community member

All paid in advance.

What was your college’s rec center like?  Did you have one?  Was it worth it? If you go to Cal Poly, what do you think of the new rec center?  Is it worth it? 

Palisades Bluff Park / Pismo Beach Run

If you’ve got cabin fever from burning calories indoors all year, take advantage of a nice day and get outside.

It was the Sunday after finals, two days after half the population of San Luis Obispo dispersed to their respective homes and three weeks before the much anticipated  Rec Center would open its doors.  My roommate and I were stuck in town for the Grand Unveiling (aka paid training days) preparing us to use said Rec Center, but in the meantime, the pre- rec had closed, the gym in our apartment complex still sucked and I’d used up all my freebies at every gym within a twelve mile radius.

My roommate told me about this pretty run off of Shell Beach she’d done with one of her friends last year. It took a bit of driving, and a bit of poking around Pismo Beach looking for the perfect launch point, but by the end of  our run I was raving about how great it felt to get out of a sticky gym and into the great wide open.

The 3+ mile route includes a fair smattering of hills and hiking (built- in incline and resistance!). The end result is a gorgeous private sea cove where you can do crunches and ab workouts on the sand or rocks among the Boy Scouts and the elderly. For us, finding the “trailhead” was kind of a crapshoot after “Take the 101 South and exit Shell Beach”. Here’s a Google map so you can avoid looking like a lost lunatic.

So if you’ve got cabin fever from burning calories indoors all year, take advantage of a nice day and get outside for welcome change of pace. After all, vacation days are prime time for doing those things you’ve always meant to do, but haven’t had time for, right?  I would probably swap my gym membership for cross- country running this break, except it’s two degrees outside.  Merry Christmas!

DanceSport: Dance or Sport?

Okay, so dance sport (read:  competitive ballroom dancing club) isn’t really a gym.  I’ve seen Strictly Ballroom at least once a year since I was eight and let me tell you, nothing makes me want to get off my butt more than watching ballroom dancers.  Cal Poly DanceSport meets most Thursdays of the quarter either in Chumash auditorium or a disclosed room in the architecture building; check out their Facebook page for updates. Anyone can join!  Serious dancers attend extra practices on Tuesdays and compete in  regional competitions at San Jose State, Stanford, and UC San Diego.  Even sweeter?  Cal Poly’s annual Mustang Ball, usually held spring quarter in our very own Chumash Auditorium.  The Ball is a community dance competition and showcase for DanceSport; last year’s special guests were professional competitive dancers Steve Vasco & Joanna Siekierska.

Rev SLO Revs Up

Rev SLO is an in- the- works niche business with a future as bright as its eye- catching exterior.

755 Alphonso St

San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

(805) 264-4531

http://revslo.com/

Membership Required: No

Membership Price:

  • 10 Class Pass w/ a 3 month expiration date: $120
  • 20 Class Pass w/ a 4 month expiration date $210
  • 5 Class Pass w/ a 1 month expiration date $65
  • One Class Pass $15
  • Unlimited Monthly Class Pass $109
  • Zumba Pass $10

Cal Poly Student Special:  Buy one month at $109, get the second month for $1

Distance from Cal Poly: 4.0 Miles

Pool: No

Studios: Spin, Dance, Weights

Showers: Yes

I passed a flyer for Rev’s 2- for- one special on my way to Journalism 285, so I felt like I’d be the world’s worst fitness blogger if I didn’t follow up.  I couldn’t tell from Rev’s tagline (spin*pilates*fitness*personal training) if it was an actual gym or not. Furthermore, none of my friends or classmates seemed to know anything about it.  That’s because it’s a company in the startup stages.  The flyer was just one way of getting the word out.

“I can tell you what it looks like,” offered Daren Connor, assistant director for programs of Associated Students Inc.  “It looks like two bright green car garages smashed together.”

I entered the curious- looking Alphonso Street studio not quite knowing what to make of the lime green paint job, chandelier light fixtures or fat bottomed Harley in the window.

“All the buildings around here are kind of this gray color, so I wanted something to make [RevSLO] stand out.  That’s definitely why I did it: The wow factor,” says owner Darik Stollmeyer as he stands next to a half- painted exterior wall.  “What’s neat is, my clients all helped.”

When I dropped in to investigate, I’m afraid I may have interrupted Stollmeyer in the middle of a personal training session.  Regardless, he dropped what he was doing, flipped his iPod from “Moondance” to Flo Rida’s “Good Feeling” and proceeded to give me a full- scale tour.  Rev SLO might look like two neon garages from the outside, but on the inside, it looks like your hip neighbor’s loft; there’s a reception area, hardwood floor studio, weight space and spin studio, with an outdoor “turf” area in the works. I asked the question on everyone’s mind.

“So… what is this?”

Derik confirmed his “all class- based fitness studio”.  No cardio equipment.  Studio, not gym.  He explained that he build the class schedule around his clients needs; the classes are usually offered during a working professional’s down time:  early in the morning, lunch breaks, after six. “They’re mostly professionals who don’t have time to, you know, go to mixers,” he jokes.

Cal Poly Grad: Derik got an academic scholarship to Cal Poly but was unable to play sports, so he dropped out, became a student athlete at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, worked hard and received a full ride athletic scholarship back at Cal Poly.

Like Julian Varela from Equilibrium, Derik fights the megagym model.

“For them it’s all about numbers- how many clients can we get.” Says Darik. “I want it to feel more homey- not like a business.”

He adds, “I kept hearing from clients, ‘I can’t handle not getting in a class!’, or showing up and getting on a wait list.”  That said, Rev prefers to keep classes down to 15 or 16 people and offer more classes if needed.

“It started out with just me teaching 15- 16 spin classes a week.  I lost like 20 lbs.” The bill has since expanded to include spin & abs, spin & pump, Pilates, Boot Camp, and Zumba.

The spin studio, home to Rev’s original and most popular class, looks a little unconventional.  Blacklights and a disco ball fleck the floor- to ceiling black interior, with  stationary bikes smattered around the Instructor Bike, which is highlighted by the green glow of tube lights. “Lack of windows & ventilation make it a no go for me,” says a client, who comes back to the studio for other classes.

I came right before 12:15 spin, and chatted a bit with spin instructor Alyse Meza.

“So how do you like teaching spin in the discotechque?” I asked her.

“It’s great, especially early in the morning.  You can’t really tell who’s really awake.”

“It gets really loud,” adds Derik. “I play music [the clients] like. It can be anything from Van Morrison to David Guetta.”

Alyse and Derik are big on music, citing house, dance, hip- hop and techno as spin class staples and discussing mashup artists like Mochi Beats and GirlTalk.  The clientele might lean more towards the middle- aged as of now, but Rev SLO’s staff and image reflects the young and hip. Alyse studies Psychology at Cal Poly and one of the wrestlers at Cuesta teaches Boot Camp.

Though fully operational, Derik sees Rev as a work in progress. The space currently houses

Studio Owner and personal trainer Derik Stollmeyer with his favorite color

a massage therapist, and future planned tenants include a chiropractor, nutritionist, and acupuncturist. Derek hopes to outfit the outdoor area with turf, weight machines, hot and cold tubs and an ice machine by the first of January.

“It’s gonna be a full- on wellness center.”

I think Rev had a ton of potential.  They actually offered me a free class, but its current schedule conflicts almost entirely with mine as a student.  Its design doesn’t cater specifically to students, but in the future it might.  They are having a two for one deal, after all.  I’m excited to see the future of Rev.

Class Schedule & Registration System

Equilibrium Fitness for Women: a San Luis Obispo enterprise with a flair for personal training

Where the Women At?

Equilibrium Fitness for Women

3930 Broad Street, Marigold Center

San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

805.541.1100

http://www.eqclubs.com/

 Membership Required: Yes

Membership Price: Generally, a monthly rate $44 a month with a $29 administration fee + $199 (which can be paid up front or dispersed over a period) (Students only) or $289 for six months

Membership price is discussed on a person to person basis; startup costs and membership fees can vary based on the member’s individual needs, and prices vary from season to season. Membership price does not include personal training. Call ahead to sign up for a free week (7- day pass) or to schedule a personal training session.

Distance from Cal Poly: 5.6 Miles

Pool: No

Courts: They have two studios, one for spin and another for most of the other classes; some classes are held on the main gym floor.  Equilibrium offers a ton of classes including BODYPUMP, BODYFLOW, BODYCOMBAT, BODYJAM, BODYSTEP, yoga, abs, circuit cardio and more.  Get the full schedule here.

 Showers: Yes

April Trussler and Nicole Ervin let their hair down for a photo.

Let me just start by saying that Equilibrium was by far the most helpful in this project.

“We love Poly students!” says co- owner Julian Varela, and they really do. Some of Equilibrium’s staff is made up of Poly kinesiology majors looking to continue a career in physical fitness.   If you’re looking to try it out, you can opt for a free 7- day pass complete with access to classes, or you can go for a free personal training session.  Since I’ve never been personally trained before, I set up an appointment with April Trussler, one of Equlibrium’s personal trainers (all are female except one).

We started out with a questionnaire to assess my fitness goals and find out what I’d be able to handle.  This blog has been really useful for breaking out of my 20/20/20 routine (20 minutes cardio, strength training, and elliptical), but I wanted to know what other strength training activities I could do when I can’t work a fancy class into my schedule.  Since I’m kind of shy when it comes to resistance training equipment, I decided to ask for exercises that would help me utilize more of my gym’s equipment (ie weights, machines, balls, etc).
“I’m tired of relying on the same old standbys:  squats for gluts, push- ups for arms, crunches for abs,” I told April.

“Perfect.” she said. “I’m going to make you try all the exercises that are too hard for everyone else.”

We jumped right into the workout without stretching, so I asked why.

“It’s better to warm up a little bit on the treadmill first.  Believe it or not, it’s better to stretch after the workout than before.  It helps prevent injuries and muscle strains late on in the day.”

News to me, since I’d been hearing since second grade PE that if I didn’t stretch before physical activity, I’d break my spinal chord and get picked last for softball the rest of my life.   Here’s what we worked out:

 Legs: We started off with some classic lunges plus weights.  “The most important thing to remember about lunges is to make both of your legs into 90 degree angles,” says April.  “You want to keep all of the weight above your knees and never let the front knee go past your toes.  It’s all about distribution of weight.”  Go down for a lunge, then simultaneously bring the weights up for a curl, making sure to keep your shoulders square and your elbows close to your sides.  Travel from one end of the room to the other three times, or do three sets of sixteen.

I was introduced to something I had seen many times, but never fully understood:  the Bosu ball.  It looks like a decapitated Pilates ball on a platter.  Continuing with legs, April designed this modified squat to get the most out of one’s butt muscles.  Start with one foot on the Bosu ball, hips shoulder width apart, toes forward, and both legs relaxed by straight (the leg with the foot on the ball can be slightly bent to keep your hips level).  Squat, making sure to keep your back straight and your knees over your ankles.  It took me forever to learn how to do a proper squat.  The easiest way to remember is just to stick your butt way out and bend your legs.  When you start to come out of the bend, switch feet on the Bosu ball so you have the other foot on the ball but are still facing the same direction.  Repeat two sets of fourteen on each side. For extra fun, grab a medicine ball (mine was 8 lbs) and twist to the side opposite the Bosu- ball foot, bringing both hands the middle for the leap.  Keep your shoulders square and back straight, and really move your core to get the ball around, don’t rely on your arms or your back to move that ball.

Arms:  For the arm version of the above workout, get in pushup position (you can use your knees if staying on your toes is too tough) with one hand on the ball.  Do one, then switch hands so the opposite hand rests on the ball. Do three sets of fourteen.

Abs:  When we started this one out, April tried doing a basic crunch with a medicine ball but then decided it would be too easy for me (!)  She modified it to a stretch/ ab workout that focuses on the obliques.  Lay on your back with a pilates ball just below your shoulder blades and hold the medicine ball square above your chest.  Twist to one side and bring your arms out in front of you, so your upper body is on its side and parallel to the floor.  Come back to center with your arms out, bring the ball back to your chest in the center and repeat on the other side.  Do three sets of fourteen.  This one was my favorite!

Back:  In most gyms, there is a thing that looks like this:

Get on it with your stomach on the upper pads and you knees bent around the bottom ones.  Grab a medicine ball (and a partner) and hold the ball close to your chest.  Bend forward, being careful to keep your back straight, and come back up so your body makes a diagonal- do not arch your back.  On your way up, toss the medicine ball to the person standing across from you, and catch it when they toss it back.  I asked April how to do this without a buddy, and she suggested just keep the ball in your hands, and bring it out then in when you come to the top of the pose.

“Usually when we do ab workouts, we focus so much on the front and our backs get neglected and become weak,” says April. “This really works your lower back.”  It totally did.  That neglected muscle hurt all weekend.

Leg Raise/ Dips: Also in the gym there is a thing called the Roman chair.

“I have no idea why they call it that,” said April when I asked her.

I think it’s probably because it looks like a Roman torture device.

This machine can be approached in a number of ways, but its main purpose is to work the lower abdominals and leg muscles.  Push your back up against the back of the machine and bend your arms so that your forearms rest on the arms of the machine and your upper arms are as parallel as possible to the rest of your body.  You can start each lift with your feet on the bars, but for a harder workout, don’t let your legs touch those things.  A leg lift is exactly what it sounds like: bring your legs together, let them hang so they line up with the rest of your body, and lift them straight up into the air so they form a 90 degree angle with your waist.  Do not bend your knees. Do not bring your upper body forward.  Keep it plastered to the back of the chair.  When you bring you legs down, don’t let them go back behind your hips as this tempts you to use momentum to get them back to the 90 degrees instead of using your abs.  Take time to readjust your arms as needed.  Do as many as you can- these are intense.

Personal trainer April Trussler demostrates a pull up on one of the resistance machines.

The gym’s website claims that “what truly sets [Equilibrium Fitness] apart is our team”, and it’s true:  personal training, group classes, and other instructor- lead activities are definitely Equilibrium’s strong points. Equilibrium is pretty small- it occupies a small grocery store sized space in the Marigold shopping center, contains two workout studios (one filled with stationary bikes for spin class) and a locker room with a couple stalls and a few showers.  Since it’s an all- girls gym, customers feel pretty comfortable-the windows are frosted so nosy outsiders can’t peer into the gym.
“It’s nice that it’s all women because sometimes I don’t feel like dressing up to go to the gym!” exclaims Courtney, a Sigma Kappa third year. “I’m working out!  I’m sweaty and gross!  I can’t think about looking hot at the gym!”

Each year, EQ hosts the Sorority Fitness Challenge, a point- based workout competition 2-3 weeks before Greek Week. “We designed it as a way for us as an all- women’s gym to reach out to some of the young women on the Cal Poly campus,” says Member Services Director Renee Brian.  “We try to introduce some of the other sorority girls to each other and to a healthier alternative to some of the diets or other ways to lose weight.  We feel like the sorority challenge exposes those girls to how fun health and fitness can be and how energized they can feel after a workout.”  Rennee says Equilibrium singled out sorority girls because they were the easiest way to target diverse groups of young women on the Cal Poly campus. “I was literally at Equilibrium eight times a day,” says Malori Comer, winner of 2010’s Sorority Fitness Challenge.   “During the last week, you got double points for bringing a friend.  So I literally dragged anyone who was willing.”

“We try to take a couple girls out of each sorority who really stand out and give them a free three- month membership,” says Renee.  “We know not everyone can afford a gym membership, so this is our small way of giving back.”

Though she says Equilibrium will never offer a membership without a startup fee, she says the gym works with individuals on a personal basis to try and decide how to make membership to the club the most financially possible. “We promote to any of our members that are canceling their membership to gift their rate to another girl, especially if that rate is lower than the one we’re currently offering,” says Renee. She prefers payment options be discussed on a person- by- person basis. Indeed, most of what Equilibrium does is pretty one- on- one.  The smaller space and more intimate setting makes the gym especially good for personal training, so staff members will be up in your space no matter what.  Not exactly for people who want to show up, get dirty and leave without talking to anyone, which, admittedly, I do want sometimes. However, co- owner Julian Varela, former Fitness Director at Kennedy, says he wants a more closely- knit community. “I never appreciated big- box models,” says Varela.   “[Equilibrium] is smaller and the energy here is different. The members notice each other.  If you haven’t shown up, the members wonder about it.  We’re just better able to know our demographic.  It’s a positive culture, a little more supportive.”

Though he says the clientele splits between Poly women and the 55 and older crowd, Equilibrium is actively campaigning to bring more clients from campus.  Besides the Sorority Fitness Challenge, Varela is also working with a trained martial artist and SAFER to develop programs “more practical and applicable for self- defense” and preventing rape, an issue especially important to women.

For men who are interested in the personalized training that Equilibrium provides, club owners Dave Pomfret and Julian Varela also operate an appointment- only Performance Center for both men and women at 3140 Lirio Court, San Luis Obispo.  Eventually, both business partners hope to expand Equilibrium into a co- ed club (they inherited the all- women clientele from The Fitness Club for Women, whose owners retired around 2007). It’s an enterprise on the rise.  Though strictly sisterly now, we can expect the EQ brand to expand in the coming years, providing Cal Poly with yet another option for exercise.

Equilibrium has a blog too! EQ BLOG is packed full of motivation and information.

Would you attend a gym that isn’t unisex?  How do you feel about personal training?  Would you ever do it?  Have you ever had to do personal therapy for a sports injury?  Have you ever tried an unsuccessful approach to losing weight? 

The Rat Traps

This Blog in Googlemaps

A nifty thrifty Google map showing the locations of six recreational/ activity facilities in relation to the Cal Poly Rec Center (blue placemarker).  Click on each marker for a photo, synopsis and link to the post where I’ve covered the gym/ studio in full detail.  Stay tuned!  This map will be updated as I explore new options.

What other active things do you do in Cal Poly?  Got a favorite gym that I’m missing?  Are there any activities you use to stay fit that aren’t so obvious?

What Are Your Fitness Goals?

How To Be A Human Waterfall

Bikram Yoga will make you sweat.

Bikram Yoga SLO

570 Higuera Street, Suite 195

San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

805.545.5951

http://www.bikramyogaslo.com

Membership Required: No

 Price: First- Time members get a special introductory offer of 30 days for $30.  If you go twice, it pays for itself; one class by itself costs $16 (happy hour classes vary from week to week, but they’re usually on Friday afternoons and cost $10).  Devotees can pay by time frame or number of classes:

  • 1 week for $50
  • 1 month for students/ seniors:  $70 ($135 for others)
  • 3 months for students/ seniors: $195 ($330 for others)
  • 6 Months:  $99 per month on a direct debit plan
  • 1 Year: $1000
  • 8 classes: $108
  • 20 classes: $220

All time- based payment plans are all you can yoga.

Distance from Cal Poly: 2.5 Miles

Pool: No

Courts: None; 2nd– floor studio studio

Showers: No.  There is a changing room.

Bikram Yoga SLO in downtown San Luis Obispo.

“Bikram yoga makes me pass out.” -Rachel Bitter

“It’s painful.  I’d rather have a baby.” – Monica Rowker

“It’s different…” -Kelly Edwards

“The room gets so humid because there is a giant pot of boiling water in the center of the room.  After class we must sacrifice one person to the pot.” – anonymous gentleman at the local Lutheran Church.

I’d heard many rumours about Bikram yoga, but none of them prepared me for the real deal.  Bikram (pronounced bee- krahm) Yoga is a series of 26 hatha yoga postures and two breathing exercises practiced over 90 minutes in a 105°F room.  I hit up Bikram Yoga SLO one afternoon with Cal Poly second year Jacky Berracasa.

“When I first got here, I was going every other day.  It made me feel so much healthier,” says Jacky. Before coming to SLO, she practiced express hot yoga at home in San Deigo.  Express Hot Yoga is kind of like the 50 minute version of Bikram yoga, designed  “to allow more people to practice hot yoga more often”, according to a Texas company that offers the class.

“You know how people say, drink 8 glasses of water every day?” asks Jacky.  “It’s really hard to do!  Bikram yoga really helped me pay attention to how much water I drank.”

“This is gonna sound really gross, but it really regulates your bowel movements,” she adds.

Most people, like Jacky, have reported positive changes to their bodies following a healthy diet of Bikram yoga; celebrity devotees include Jennifer Aniston, George Clooney, and Lady Gaga. But no celebrity in the yoga community is as enigmatic or  controversial as  Bikram himself.

The Story of Bikram

Bikram is an actual dude.  His full name is Bikram Choudhury, born 1946 in Calcutta, India.  After a weightlifting accident at age 20 destroyed his knees, Bikram and his yoga guru, Bushnu Ghosh, developed the 26- posture series as a form of physical therapy. According to legend, the crippled Bikram was able to walk again after six months to the disbelief of local doctors.  Soon after he opened schools in India and Japan; in 1972, he opened his first US studio in San Francisco, followed by one in Beverly Hills, where the celebrity residents quickly adopted the fitness regime.  According to media, he is ruthless when it comes to protecting the copyrighted 26 posture series, prosecuting studios, books, and exercise tapes that violate the copyright or present  “thinly veiled” versions of Bikram yoga. The official Bikram Yoga website states that “No one may teach or certify others to become Bikram Yoga teachers other than Bikram Choudhury”. He hosts Teacher Training in a different exotic locale once each year; 2012’s edition takes place April 15th– June 17th at the Los Angeles Raddison.  He currently resides in Beverly Hills.

Mind over Matter

 Most proof of Bikram Yoga’s health benefits come from personal testimonials, not actual studies.  Theoretically, contorting the body for the different poses cuts off circulation in certain parts of the body while increasing blood flow in others; releasing results in the delivery of “fresh, oxygenated” blood to the organs.  Additionally, the poses twist internal organs and help aid in lymphatic drainage.  For those of you who forgot 9th grade biology, the lymphatic system is the part of the immune system that delivers white blood cells to bones and helps flush toxins out of the body.  I entered the studio expecting the 90 minute session to cure my body of every mental and physical ailment imaginable.  After all, I could expect nothing less from all the hype, right?

Wrong.

10 THINGS PEOPLE DON’T TELL YOU ABOUT BIKRAM YOGA:

  1. It’s 90 minutes of naked people sweating in a really hot room. It smells.
  2. Okay, so they’re not naked.  They’re just really scantily clad.  Give your skin as much room to breathe as you possible can; bathing suits are totally permissible.
  3. The males sometimes wear speedos. Be prepared.
  4. All participants must have a yoga mat, a towel to place over the yoga mat (to prevent you from slipping on your own sweat), and a water bottle.  Bikram Yoga SLO offers each for a $2 rental fee (you can keep the water).
  5. Bring a towel you wish to part ways with. “I’ve washed my towel a billion times and I’ve never gotten the smell out of it,” says Jacky.
  6. The class practices intense deep breathing exercises at the start of each class to expand the lungs and make the the yoga more effective.  It sounds like a room full of Darth Vaders.  It kind of made me feel like I was about to be sacrificed to a bubbling pot of yoga.
  7. You have to stay for the full 90 minutes.  If you leave early it’s like telling foreign villagers you don’t want to eat the pet chicken they cooked for your dinner.
  8. If you feel like your instructor is reciting a script, that’s because they are.  Each Bikram Yoga class uses the same postures, and instructors recite the same words.  Instructors may personalize the script with their own individual style; Maggi, our instructor, called us out in class if a particular student was doing something particularly well.
  9. Change out of your clothes.  Immediately.  I made the mistake of throwing on a t- shirt and going out to dinner afterwards.  It’s exactly like going out into the freezing cold wearing a wet bathing suit.
  10. 105 degrees isn’t as hot as it sounds.  The temp didn’t phase me, but I’m used to exercising in hot weather.  It seems like a nice, warm place to go and relax in the cold winter months, especially if your house doesn’t have a heater.

Needless to say, I did not emerge from the studio looking and feeling like a Yoga god. As with any workout, results take time. Eva Klembarova, one of the studio’s instructors, advises that new students “stick with it”.

“Even if you didn’t enjoy your first class, come back and give it another try. The benefits you receive from Bikram Yoga are worth working hard for.”

I purchased 30 days for $30, but the mandatory 90 minutes plus transit takes an unaffordable chunk of time out of my schedule.  Additionally, parking is, for lack of better terms, a bitch.  If you don’t know where The Creamery is downtown, look for the super small opening between Spike’s Bar and another restricted parking lot.  It will probably be full.  I parked on the metered street, which during the day costs upwards of three bucks.

Bikram Yoga SLO is hardly convenient, but some people will stop at nothing to reap the health benefits and reach that inner peace. Director and owner Lori Logan loves Bikram yoga because it has “enhanced [her] overall well-being and coping skills for life.”

“It’s rewarding to watch students grow to appreciate what I am so enthusiastic about,” says Logan.  Maggi, my Saturday afternoon instructor, says, “Believe this yoga can work for you because I know it can.”

It’s something everyone should try at least once.  And possibly only once.

Other Resources:

 Bikram Poses Index

Bikram Yoga:  Hot or Not?  Yogis and civilians alike give their honest opinions.

Moshka Yoga, developed in the US by Ted Grand and Jessica Robertson, is another hot alternative to Bikram yoga with a “green” emphasis.

Bikram Yoga SLO sells supplies, like Mika Yoga Wear designed by Laura Costa, one of the studio's instructors.

Have you ever done a workout that made you sick?  What’s the most you’ve ever sweat?  Would you try Bikram Yoga?

VOX POP!

Cal Poly students sound off on the Rec Center Expansion Project