RSVP Montgomery

Bringing The Heat


Catherine O'Connor

If you’re anything like me, then going to the gym isn’t an easy sell. A big open room filled with mirrors, and machines and other people reminds me of being made to play sports in P.E. It’s not necessarily my scene.

Treating my body well and exploring means of both keeping it strong and connected to a clear mind is something that’s important to me. My fitness routine is lacking for sure and could use an energetic jolt, shall I say some heat. The less equipment and more privacy, the better.

I didn’t know what to expect when entering Hotworx, located east near the intersection of Vaughn and Taylor Road. I was intrigued by the rows of cabin-like saunas lining the hallway and by a woman walking in from the parking lot with a smile, Cara O’Toole, recognized by both franchise owner, Angela Burgess, and general manager, Claudia Parker Barbee. Clara discovered Hotworx after her sister asked, “Do you want to try that hot thing with me?” She’s converted ever since, spreading the recommendation to her husband and son, and now, me. Hotworx brings her to Montgomery every week from nearby Auburn. “It’s the best workout I’ve ever had,” she raves.

Before we got set up, having arrived in time for her favorite session, Hot Barre None, she urged me to drink up the water. Temperatures inside the sauna start rising slowly, but heat up to 120 degrees. A word to those who want to give this thing a go -- hydrate (and my personal advice, eat breakfast and maybe skip the coffee). I had to step out for a moment just to catch my breath. It’s not your mama’s midday sun or typical summer sweat. In fact, infrared technology, unlike the sun, heats your body from the inside out, giving you a burn that lasts. It’s almost like a cast iron skillet that builds its power gradually but retains and radiates heat.

The internal temperature your body reaches during the work out is credited with improved blood circulation, lower blood pressure and muscle recovery, all regenerative processes for the body, while the afterburn when the session is over is said to triple the calories you shed in the room. (For this reason, it’s recommended that you refrain from sudden A.C inoculation after the session to reap all the benefits…. Burn, baby, burn!)

A variety of timed activities are offered, from Hot Yoga, Pilates, Warrior, Cycle and more. Each room and workout offers 3 seats (or mats, if you will) with a timed, digital instructor. Victoria, Amee and April were our on-screen guides for the day, whose much needed cheerleading support (I’m fairly out of shape) assured me it’s not just okay for my muscles to be shaking and the sweat to be dripping, but exactly what this is all about.

To me, a perk of these virtual instructors, versus self taught methods or other in-person classes, is that services are offered 24-hours/7 days a week so you can be there day or night to best suit your schedule. Plus there is something for everyone to try, whether for a regenerative, relaxing experience, or a more intense, muscle building workout. Cara tells me this is the kind of exercise she can see herself doing for a lifetime as she gets older.

Although there is an FX zone in the very back of the facility for open-air workouts with bands, weights and ropes, the main attraction is to be found within the warmth of the infrared saunas.

Hotworx is available to Montgomerians as a franchise, thanks to its local head, Angela. She works full time at the Hyundai plant, but wanted something that better aligned with her interests and passion for fitness. She found her way to the Hotworx website, and after correspondence with the company and a few attempts at funding before the doors finally opened, here she is today with another location in the works (or worx I should say) to open in Opelika. Cara’s commute for her workout will become a little more convenient in the near future.

Hotworx can be found across the nation in a variety of states. Memberships are offered for Montgomery, but also for any location that you may be near you.

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