It’s no secret that yoga comes with a slew of health benefits for those who practice it regularly. From improving balance to attaining a peaceful state of mind, yoga has become a popular workout for people from all walks of life.
A new offering at Buena Health Fitness aims to turn up the heat on those benefits by bringing Sierra Vista a new, state-of-the-art space for hot yoga — the first of its kind to utilize a special technology.
The Hot Yoga Club, located inside Buena Health Fitness, 255 W. Wilcox Drive, celebrated its grand opening last month and has several different types of sessions throughout the week.
Hot yoga is done in a room that is 90-105 degrees Fahrenheit with a humidity of 70-80 percent in order to make people sweat.
Yoga has been a part of instructor Mary Beth Medley’s life for the past 30 years and hot yoga is her preferred variety. When she moved to Sierra Vista, Medley found herself driving to Tucson each week to get her hot yoga fix.
She started teaching hot yoga in Sierra Vista in 2017 in a room at West End Wellness, though it took hours to get the room to the right temperature and humidity. She moved to a space in a friend’s house to teach hot yoga but it was not ideal either. Getting the room to proper conditions and being able to fit the number of sessions she wanted to instruct were inconvenient for both her and her friend.
“It was difficult to get the equipment in and humidity right — I aim for the mid-70s and I’m a stickler for it. If it’s not 100 degrees, what’s the point? Either do it right or don’t do it,” she said. “Finally, I went into Buena and the owner said ‘I want hot yoga.’
“It took months and months of him researching — months and months of stress, sweat and money, but he finally got that room to be amazing.”
Buena Health Fitness Owner Danny Diaz saw the potential challenges in setting up a room for hot yoga inside his gym, but said Medley’s passion and experience pushed him to find a creative solution.
“I wouldn’t have done it for anyone else and would have just said, ‘This is impossible, it’s too hard.’ It’s never been done but I checked her situation out and saw she had a decent following and she’s got 35 years in this business,” he said. “We decided against using steam because the problems with steam are mold, fungus, mildew, condensation.
“Every other hot yoga room is essentially a pressure cooker and we have a microwave ... the steam is pressurized and the water is untreated and mixes with everyone’s body vapor, that’s what’s happening in a typical hot yoga room.”
He turned to his older brother, a heating and cooling expert, to find a system to get the room to the right temperature.
“We got the heat (figured out), a recipe of a number of different things, because we need to not do damage and it needs to be economical,” he said. “We finally came across a system from his experience back east to warm three-story buildings, and we are talking about New York.
“We worked through some obstacles to figure it out and got the heat up to 110 on the first day.”
Finding a system to heat the room was just one part of the process and Diaz would need to find a way to get the humidity right.
“We do another search and came across equipment from a manufacturer that has been in business 30 years,” he said. “It’s not typically used in a fitness environment, it’s used in high-end labs like lens polishing labs of telescopes, high-end wood manufacturers that make violins, grand pianos ... high-end ripening rooms for, like, tobacco.”
The end result is a system and “recipe” proprietary to them, a reversal of what has been done in the past with hot yoga.
Instead of using steam like most hot yoga rooms, their system uses a cold fog at 40 degrees that, when mixed with the thermal unit, produces the right temperature, humidity and also purifies the air in the room.
“You end up going into a class and the vapor is therapeutic, but also antiseptic in nature,” Diaz said.
Medley said she was impressed with the technology Diaz found, and is excited to grow her business and introduce more people in town to the benefits of hot yoga.
“It’s changing a lot of people’s lives who are doing it on a consistent basis,” she said. “It’s good for mental stability, weight loss, anxiety, generally being healthier and all you have to do is schedule two hours a week; it’s way to rethink.
”I’m making no claims, but I feel for many people it’s been lifesaver.”
Benefits of hot yoga include increased blood flood, detoxification, weight loss, improved balance and focus, as well as improved breathing.
Typically, sessions run for 90 minutes, which includes warm ups and standing traditional postures, four cardio flow sections and floor work focusing on the spine and abs.
Medley also does a 60-minute, shortened version of the session, something she recommends for beginners or those new to hot yoga.
”If someone feels intimidated, like you don’t know if you can do it, try 60 minutes,” she said. “A lot of newbies try it and lot of regulars get what they need in 60 minutes.
”I tell everyone that they are beginner postures, we’re not judgy and you can stop if you are winded — I’ve been doing hot yoga seven years but I have to stop to catch my breath; even the best of us have to stop.”
Medley has breaks built into the sessions and said people sometimes fall asleep at the end of a session because they are so relaxed. Just being in the room with the humidifier is beneficial.
Many of Medley’s previous clients have followed her to Buena Health Fitness and she said she hopes to see the classes grow.
Diaz said he is proud of the unique system they have created, one of which he thinks could be in every gym out there. He is most excited to see what this new technology can open up, in terms of new classes.
”Any gym has a vision for this sort of thing, a reason to do it and to make that investment, take those risks,” he said. “Our vision is you can do both — do hot with humid or not humid and just hot.
”The person has a choice and we could do hot Pilates, hot Zumba, the technology opens it all up and goes on and on.”