Latosha Lovell is always willing to try something once. “That’s sort of my philosophy about life,” says the 45-year-old interior designer in Pasadena, California. So when a friend invited her to check out The Sweat Shoppe , a new heated spin studio in North Hollywood, last March, she saddled up. The workout, she thought, could be the perfect cardio substitution for her regular treadmill sessions that had begun to wear on her knees.
That first class was a fog. “I was totally exhausted and a little confused” afterward, Lovell recalls. But the prevailing memory is a positive one: “I felt completely amazing.” She soon began taking up to five classes at The Sweat Shoppe each week and now credits the studio with her 8-pound weight loss, strong lower body and core, reduced environmental allergies and mental grit. “It’s greatly improved my quality of life on the health level,” she says.
While The Sweat Shoppe is the country’s first heated spin studio, it’s not the only place taking a cue from Bikram yoga – a style of hot yoga that took off in the 1970s. Plenty of studios are turning up the heat during exercise classes, a practice that owners claim intensifies workouts, among other benefits. Gym-goers are eating it up: The Sweat Shoppe, for one, opened with both heated and non-heated classes, but switched to exclusively offering hot classes to keep up with the demand, says Mimi Benz, who founded the studio with her spin instructor husband in 2011 after a broken air conditioner in a spin class spurred the idea.
“People were really into the heated thing,” she says. The studio has since relocated to a larger space and has seen a relatively consistent 30 percent growth in revenue year over year, Benz says. The heated classes at Corepower Yoga, a studio chain that fuses the mindfulness of yoga with the intensity of other workouts, meanwhile, are the most popular and widely offered, says Heather Peterson, the company’s chief yoga officer. The chain opened its first studio in 2002 and now has 150. “A lot of people just love a really good sweat,” she says.