Suppose you hear people talking about doing Pilates in a hot sauna room and sweating bullets. In that case, chances are you are hearing about hot Pilates. It is rising in popularity and is said to help you lose weight, detoxify, and feel better. But how does hot Pilates compare to your regular, vanilla Pilates? Is hot Pilates better than regular Pilates?
Hot Pilates may be better if you intend to increase your metabolism and calorie burn, as it does burn more calories than regular Pilates. However, regular Pilates is much more relaxing and therapeutic in nature. Hot Pilates may cause dizziness to some due to exertion and high temperature.
In this article, I discuss hot Pilates and how it compares to regular Pilates. I also discuss if regular or hot Pilates is better and if hot Pilates is safe for everyone.
What Is Hot Pilates?
Hot Pilates is a variant of regular Pilates. You perform it in a hot room, usually heated up to 95°F (35°C), with humidity at 40%. The additional heat element helps sweat and burn more calories. Aside from Pilates exercises, you may also perform high-intensity interval training (HIIT) during hot Pilates.
If you’ve been to a normal class, you’ll know Pilates is a form of exercise that helps build your core strength using your own body weight. Hot Pilates is also a full-body workout that is a variant of regular Pilates. Hot Pilates is created to strengthen muscles without the physical pounding of high-impact workouts. As a result, hot Pilates is high intensity but low impact.
Hot Pilates is usually conducted in an enclosed room, traditionally heated up to 95°F (35°C.) The humidity level is set at 40%. As a result, you will break a lot of sweat when performing hot Pilates.
As for the workout itself, you may experience something less different from regular Pilates. The standard exercises such as One-Leg Circle, Rolling Like a Ball, and Saw are probably not in the repertoire list.
Instead, you will perform many lunges, squats, and mountain climbers. Aside from those, many hot Pilates exercises are designed to help strengthen your core and back muscles.
You may also be asked to perform high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to help you sweat and burn more calories.
How Different Are Hot and Regular Pilates?
Regular and hot Pilates generally differ in intensity, workout environment, calorie burn, and physical exertion required. The most significant difference is that hot Pilates is done in a heated-up room. In contrast, regular Pilates is done at room temperature, sometimes even in an air-conditioned space.
|Regular Pilates||Hot Pilates|
Done at room temperature
May not include HIIT Therapeutic
Less physical exertion
Done at a hot temperature
Higher calorie burn
Usually includes HIIT
More physical exertion
Intensity: Regular Pilates is a low-intensity, low-impact workout. You will primarily engage in stretches and exercises at a slow and controlled pace. The goal is to strengthen the core and increase the body’s flexibility.
However, hot Pilates is a high-intensity, low-impact workout. Hot Pilates is high-intensity, taking regular Pilates and adding additional elements. These additional elements help increase heart rates, such as a hot room and some HIIT workouts. However, it is still considered low-impact since your body does not suffer too much physical pounding.
Room Temperature: Regular Pilates is commonly done at room temperature. In fact, some Pilates sessions are done in an air-conditioned room for your comfort. Hot Pilates differs and is done in a specifically heated-up room.
The room is usually heated up to 95°F (35°C.) The humidity level is set at 40%. The goal is to make your heart pump faster without needing to move too much. You also will sweat more, burning more calories in the process.
Physical Exertion: Regular Pilates is usually done in a more relaxed setting. The exercises would consist of a series of slow, controlled movements. As such, you can say that regular Pilates requires only a low level of physical exertion.
With hot Pilates, you will first sweat and may notice your heart is pounding faster due to the heat. You will also be asked to execute movements at a faster pace. Some high-intensity interval training (HIIT) may also be included. As such, hot Pilates requires more physical exertion.
Calorie Burn: You will burn fewer calories performing regular Pilates than hot Pilates. The reason is that you are performing regular Pilates at room temperature, which means your body is not under pressure to cool itself down. Your movements are also slower and controlled, and you are asked to breathe slowly. All these are less likely to raise your heart rate. Hence, lower calorie burn.
But the opposite happens in hot Pilates. The high heat and humidity force your heart to pump faster to help you cool down. Your body will also start breaking out sweat to help you cool down. You then move more aggressively compared to regular Pilates. You also perform some HIIT to top it up. As a result, you will burn much more calories in hot Pilates than in regular Pilates.
HIIT: In regular Pilates, you are unlikely to perform any HIIT exercises, whereas, in hot Pilates, you may. This is because HIIT is designed to increase heart rate, help burn calories and raise metabolism.
As a result, HIIT is unsuitable for a more slow, relaxed exercise such as regular Pilates. But HIIT makes a lot of sense for hot Pilates since it is originally designed to raise heart rate and help break a sweat.
Therapeutic: You may say regular Pilates is more therapeutic compared to hot Pilates. Regular Pilates is usually executed in a slow, controlled movement. You are also asked to monitor your breathing. As a result, you feel less tension and may have a more therapeutic experience.
Hot Pilates will be less likely to give you the same experience. The intensity will raise your heart rate and make you sweat more. You will also be performing more physical exercises such as HIIT. This means you will probably feel more stressed and less therapeutic over the whole experience.
Is Hot Pilates Better Than Regular Pilates?
Hot Pilates may be better if you aim to increase metabolism, lose weight and break more sweat. Regular Pilates may be better if you seek a more relaxed, less intensive experience. Regular Pilates may also be better if you prefer a more therapeutic experience.
There may not be a straight answer when comparing hot and regular Pilates. It all boils down to what you are looking for, and I know plenty of clients who enjoy both.
Hot Pilates is better if you seek a high-intensity yet low-impact workout. You will rely on the hot room temperature to help raise your heart rate instead of moving around aggressively.
It may also be a better option for you if you want to increase your metabolism and lose some weight. The increased heart rate and higher intensity workout will help you break more sweat and burn more calories.
Due to the intensity of the workout, I often find clients only like to do one or two sessions a week, whereas they’re happy to do regular Pilates every day.
That’s because normal mat Pilates will be a better option if you seek a low-intensity, low-impact workout. It’s slower, controlled exercises are easy and can be performed by almost everyone, even seniors and persons recovering from injury.
Regular Pilates will also be better if you seek a more therapeutic rather than intensive experience. Pilates may just be the next most relaxing exercise after Yoga, so you can imagine the relaxing and therapeutic experience it may be.
Is Hot Pilates Safe For Everybody?
Hot Pilates may not be safe for everybody, as it can be too intense for some people. Those with heart conditions or blood-pressure issues may not want to try hot Pilates without checking with their doctors first. Hot Pilates also may not be suitable for pregnant people and those with heat sensitivities.
Hot Pilates can be an intensive experience since your heart rate is consistently elevated. This means your heart is pumping hard to get your blood running in your system to cool your body down. You also sweat much more.
On top of that, you add in some exercises and HIIT moves that may make your body exert more effort. As such, hot Pilates may not be everybody’s cup of tea.
If you have experience with things such as heat strokes or have fainted due to prolonged exposure to the sun, you may want to stay away from hot Pilates.
Those with heart conditions or blood pressure issues may not want to try hot Pilates. This is because your heart will work hard throughout the session and may cause your blood pressure to increase as your heart pumps the blood hard.
Pregnant ladies also may not want to try hot Pilates. This is because when you are pregnant, your blood volume increases, meaning your heart works harder than usual. If you add on additional strain from hot Pilates, it may be too taxing for your heart.
Even if you do not have any of the conditions above, you still want to ensure that you are adequately hydrated throughout the session. You will be sweating profusely, so hydration is critical. Dehydration during a hot Pilates session can easily cause you to feel dizzy and may cause you to faint.
If you prefer the idea of a gentler stretching session you’ll be pleased to know there are also yoga classes, unsurprisingly called hot yoga, that take a similar approach to a hot Pilates class.
As you gain confidence and experience with your workout routine, it’s natural to want to try out new things. You’ll want to experiment with your range of movement or challenge your improved strength and the best way to do that is to build on the knowledge you have.
While some will choose to tack on the Pilates reformer, others will combine their practice with a different type of workout, for example running or weight lifting.
Doing the traditional exercises in an abnormal environment is certainly one way to add challenge! It won’t be to everyone’s liking, but given the increase in hot Pilates studios and hot yoga studios, it’s clear this approach is gaining a lot of fans.