Maybe you ~can~ do crow after all.
I’m a total sucker for trends in all areas of my life except for one: fitness. Whereas most of my friends are perfectly willing to sign up for a class at a new spin studio or a one-on-one with a celebrity trainer, I’ve stayed loyal to my no-frills, tried-and-true routine involving a treadmill and an early ’00s playlist, for years.
It partially has to do with cost: I cannot justify spending $150/month on a gym membership—even if there are chilled, eucalyptus-infused towels involved (my weakness). But mostly it has to do with laziness: After a long day at work, I’m not in the mood for anything more mentally or physically demanding than a 30-minute run.
All that changed when I fell into a recent exercise slump and couldn’t even muster the willpower to get out and walk around the block, much less put on a sports bra and run. Figuring I could benefit from a change of scenery, I signed up for a class at YogaSpark, a new studio specializing in blacklight hot yoga.
At first, I was dubious. Hot yoga + blacklight? It seemed gimmicky—the workout equivalent of a guy you go on a date with once only to never think of again. But whatever preconceived notions I had about the place were quickly dispelled after walking into the Tribeca location (a clean and beautiful but not overly tricked-out space) and meeting the instructor of the class. Unlike the perky, Instagram fitness model type I’d envisioned, she was down-to-earth and natural—and not in the contrived, “I’m wearing $200 mala bracelet” kind of way.
She led an athletic class that combined poses, balances, core strengthening and stretching. And by “athletic,” I mean that I was wiping my brow constantly, visibly shaking in most postures, and taking long swigs of water every chance I got. But what surprised me most about the experience was the way the blacklight supported and improved my practice. Glancing in the mirror, the light picked up the bright colors in my clothing, drawing attention to asymmetries in my form and posture. Feedback I regularly received in yoga class (“Stop arching your back,” “Extend your neck,”) suddenly made way more sense when I could ~see~ these misalignments clearly reflected in the mirror. As a result, I was able to get into challenging positions, like camel and crow, that were previously off-limits to me because of discomfort or limited mobility.
But more than just being great from a physical standpoint, the workout was also really regenerating from a mind-body perspective. In fact, everything about the hour-long sweat sesh, from the instruction to the community-like atmosphere and the music (a feel-good mix of pop and soft rock), felt accessible and fun, and surprisingly conducive to zoning out.
Lying on the floor in savasana, I toyed with the idea of incorporating the class into my weekly workout rotation. And then—as if answered by the gods—the instructor came by and placed a chilled, eucalyptus-infused towel on my sweaty forehead.
Maybe the whole boutique fitness thing was for me after all.