Spa Junkie at… Hot Pod Yoga

Our reporter heads to a pop-up hot yoga class in an inflatable, portable studio

HotPod, an inflatable, portable yoga studio, is the hottest new trend to hit the workout scene – the brainchild of yoga instructor Nick Higgins and management consultant Max Henderson. The pod itself is a design masterpiece created by Nick Crosbie, who’s won more D&AD Yellow Pencil awards than I care to mention. They can be used for both public and private workplace classes (Harrods, LinkedIn and Quintessentially are among the first businesses in London to offer the service to their employees), and take a mere 10 minutes to set up, and 10 to deflate. Inside, energy efficient fans, lights and heating systems can be set up.

I head to Notting Hill Prep for my pop-up class, and am ushered into a faintly illuminated, large purple pod. I take my place on a mat – regretting not bringing a towel or water bottle. Nick Higgins assures me I will be OK as “girls don't sweat as much”. I’m not convinced.

A Muji aroma diffuser bubbles gently in the corner as we lie for 10 minutes acclimatising to the temperature – 37ºC – which is regulated by two heaters (it’s a little cooler than Bikram, which is usually around 40.6ºC). The ribbed permeable skin of the pod provides constant airflow, meaning it doesn’t get too smelly.

Our class of 10 begins with some simple stretching before starting a dynamic vinyasa flow – I am thankful for the dim lighting, as I start to sweat rather uncontrollably within minutes.

The sun salutations are pretty straightforward but the tree pose (balancing on one foot, with hands pointed to the ceiling) is a little more challenging and slippery with so much sweat to contend with. But the upside is that, muscles warmed, I am able to push and hold the stretches for longer than usual. I can feel my heart beating faster, and the sweat pouring from every pore – all good detoxing effects!

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I curl up my sodden mat, and emerge into the daylight. I feel like I have burned a lot of calories, my body feels stretched out, supple and more flexible than when I started, and my mind is calm.

Into the mix, Nick introduces advanced moves of each pose – for the more experienced among us – such as headstands. I’m pleased to be able to push myself further and as I bend forward, and the sweat drips and pools beside me, I think of the calories – supposedly 700 are burnt in an hour-long class.

After some core abdominal stretching I am ready for the savasana (corpse pose) but Nick teasingly takes us through one more sun salutation sequence at a speedier pace so that by the end of the class I am well and truly finished – all I can think about is peeling off my damp clothes and getting into a shower.

The bottom line:

With locations popping up all over the country (Brixton, Hackney, South Birmingham, Swansea and Milton Keynes to name a few), Hotpod appears to be moving from strength to strength. Little wonder really: it is great for those who are looking for a yoga class that’s more workout than spiritual. It completely dispenses with any chanting and gongs and is a dynamic cardio/aerobic class. At 60 minutes, it’s a little less punishing than a 90-minute Bikram session, but it’s so full-on, I don’t think I could handle more than one class a week.

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Spa Junkie is the founder of FaceGym. She pays for all her own travel, accommodation and therapies.

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