How To Touch Your Toes in 30 Days

By Tanner Garrity

Unless you’re a yoga instructor, Mrs. Incredible or Tom Brady, you should probably be stretching more.

It’s the best defense against aging, injury and your daily dose of eight hours in a desk chair ... yet few of us give our flexibility the time and thought it deserves.

So one of our editors set out on a quest — to touch his toes in 30 days.

The plan? A daily regimen of six simple stretches totaling no more than 15 minutes, as curated by the owner of a leading New York yoga studio.

The result: He’s not a “Japanese Ham Sandwich” yet, but his hammies feel better than ever.

An Honest Appraisal of Where I Started

Remember the sit and reach? That flexibility test with the little ruler-lined box you've probably come across in a stone-age gym class or the annual physical-education tests you took in junior high? Pretty straightforward: press your feet against the box, throw your arms forward on the measuring block. Someone reads a number. Mine was always lousy.

I am 6’3” and hit the gym three times a week, jog occasionally, enjoy playing tennis, hiking and longboarding … and up until 30 days ago, could not touch my toes. Seriously. Sitting or standing. The photos above are me at my most elastic.

More concerning, though, was a sort of lifelong apathy for my lack of flexibility. It never seemed like a big deal. But these days I sit in front of a screen for 8-9 hours a day. I experience tight, restless legs and a sore lower back, but never do anything about it.

So I decided to enlist the help of a pro and take on a 30-day challenge to see if a faithful daily regimen could break me out of my funk.

Enter: Kate Davies, generally flexible person and owner of YO BK, a hot yoga studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Kate devised a plan to help me open my lower back, loosen my hamstrings and reintroduce myself to my pups.  

The Perfect 6-Step Daily Stretch Routine
This routine should take about 12-15 minutes; it can be done in the morning, at night, after working out or after taking a bath/shower. Each exercise should be held for 10-15 slow breaths.

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All About Hot Pilates, Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber’s New Couples Workout

When the newly rekindled Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber were spotted leaving a Los Angeles fitness studio together earlier this week—all sweaty and glowy—the Internet had many questions. What does this mean? Are they officially back together? How does one manage to look so damn chic after a sweat session?

Also: what is heated Pilates, the workout that People reported the duo tackled together?

Shannon Nadj, founder of the West Hollywood studio Hot Pilates that Jelena attended, tells SELF that her 60-minute classes are essentially a classic Pilates mat workout—but in a 95-degree room with music. She founded the studio in 2014 after spontaneously doing a mini Pilates routine in the steam room one day and realizing that adding heat—and a killer playlist—could amp up the intensity and fun of classical Pilates.

“I never felt like a traditional Pilates mat class gave me my full workout for the day,” says Nadj. “I wanted to create a Pilates mat class that felt intense enough that you didn’t feel the need to do a separate cardio workout later.”

According to Nadj, Hot Pilates attracts a clientele of celebrities and models. Due to privacy policies, she can’t discuss specific clients, but “there are a lot of men, including retired professional athletes, that come in too.”

Thanks to a recent increase in demand, Nadj says she plans to open up additional Hot Pilates studios elsewhere in California and in NYC within the next year.

But Hot Pilates isn’t the first—or the only—place to offer the heated Pilates classes. And just like there are different styles of hot yoga (like Bikram and Moksha) and hot barre, there are different styles of hot pilates.

The Inferno Hot Pilates method, founded in Las Vegas in 2012 by Pilates guru Gabriella Walters, combines traditional Pilates moves with Tabata intervals (think: lunges, half burpees, mountain climbers and squats) for a 60-minute bootcamp-style class in a 95-degree room. Various yoga and Pilates studios across the country have adopted the method, including YO BK in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which began offering Inferno Hot Pilates classes in May 2016.

“We’re like the SoulCycle of Pilates,” says Kate Davies, founder of YO BK. “We create a total party environment with a disco ball, black out room, and hip hop music.” YO BK offers fifteen Inferno Hot Pilates classes a week, and with just 36 spots per class, spots quickly—and regularly—fill up.

There are a few reasons that these heated Pilates classes are gaining in popularity, say Nadj and Davies, and they center on the benefits that this particular type of workout may offer.

For starters, it gets you really sweaty, really fast. “The sweat element has become very popular,” says Nadj. “My clients used to hate getting so sweaty, but now it’s become something people want—they want to feel like they worked out intensely.”

The added heat also decreases the amount of warm-up time needed—“When you walk into a heated room, your muscles warm up [quickly],” says Nadj.

While there are no studies just yet on the benefits of heated Pilates (and studies about hot yoga are still preliminary and limited), the benefits of heat exposure in general (from a sauna or a hot bath, for example) are well documented, says Hirofumi Tanaka, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education at The University of Texas at Austin. “Heat exposure can increase your muscle and joint function, which can increase your flexibility—and it can also lower your blood pressure.” (This is also part of the reason you're told to do a warm-up before exercise—it literally warms up your body to prepare your muscles and joints for activity.)

Since we know that exercise is good—and heat exposure is good—could we gain additional benefits by combining them? “In theory, yes,” says Tanaka. “But there’s not any evidence just yet that supports that.”

Both exercise and heat exposure stress your heart, Tanaka explains. When you’re hot, your heart has to work harder to produce the sweat that cools you off. “So in theory, doing heated exercise—like hot Pilates—could help you get fit faster,” he says, because your heart is forced to work harder and faster.

But we can’t prove this just yet—and it comes with one big caveat: “If you have a compromised cardiovascular system (i.e. any existing or underlying heart conditions), doing heated exercise could potentially be harmful,” says Tanaka.

The bottom line: Selena and Justin’s trendy new couples workout may soon be available near you, and and as long as you keep the potential health risks in mind, it’s probably worth an (extremely sweaty) try.



Sculpt Your Bod in a Pleasurable Hell of Inferno Hot Pilates at YO BK, Williamsburg

by Katarina Hybenova

“This is not your mama’s pilates,” young woman shouts over the club music, which is pumping from the speakers, while the disco ball is twirling above our heads. The jam-packed room is dark except for the lights, which are enthusiastically dancing on the walls and on our bodies. I am lying on my back, my heels are pulled close to my butt, as I was instructed, and a trickle of sweat rolls from my forehead onto to the yoga mat where, in the next hour, it will be joined by a lot more sweat.

I am taking Inferno Pilates at YO BK studio in Williamsburg, which is the latest craze on the New York fitness scene, and a subject to a recent New York Times trend piece, which dubbed it as the class for “alpha-exercisers” who “aren’t satisfied until they have sweat through their clothes and feel like passing out.” This single piece of information makes me more nervous than the 95 degrees in the room. What if it turns out that I am a beta-exerciser, or worse a tetra-exerciser, and this class will be way too hard for me? And what is "alpha-exerciser" anyway? It feels like a dated idea of a person who works out through dead bodies--whether they belong to him or her, or somebody else completely.

I know that I won’t kill myself or anybody else tonight, but I do have an intention to give the class my best, and enjoy it in the process.

“It’s really challenging, but it’s really fun,” the owner of YO BK, Kate Davies tells So Williamsburg. “It’s similar to Bikram Yoga in the way that it’s challenging but also very accessible. You can have someone who is 60 years old, overweight and who has never exercised in their life next to someone who is 25 and has been fit for their entire life. It works, because there are a million different ways to modify.”

Inferno Pilates is a distant cousin of Bikram Yoga, Crossfit, and of course, Pilates. The exercise is performed in a hot room, which is only slightly colder than regular Bikram Yoga room (95 vs. 104 degrees); and is really hellishly hard, but in a great way that makes you fully present in the room, and aware of your own body in a refreshing way, especially after a long day spent in the office.

The exercise has been created in 2012 in Las Vegas by Gabriella Walters who does certification for teachers all over the world. According to Davies, Walters came to YO BK in the past to do a teacher training and will be coming back in July.

Davies points out that it’s the ambience during Inferno Pilates, which makes a lot of people comfortable. “There is no super, super bright unflattering light,” she says. “And students get be a little bit louder, they can clap and scream, and enjoy themselves.”

The class maintains its clubby vibe even at 6:30 a.m., so if you’re one of the very many people who enjoy the ever-popular morning rave, this class is for you. “[Inferno Pilates] creates an ambience that feels almost like you had a night out,” Davies explains. “We find that our students are really social with one another after the class, specifically because of this fun atmosphere.”   

Owner Kate Davies opened YO BK on the stretch of Broadway close to the waterfront on Halloween 2015. When they opened they were offering only the traditional 90-minute Bikram Yoga. “There was a void in the neighborhood, there wasn’t any Bikram Yoga anywhere in North Brooklyn,” Davies tells me. Davies explains that in May of 2016 she was approached by a couple of teachers who were going to do a Hot Pilates training. She decided to give the new class a try and put two classes a week on the schedule. The classes immediately started selling out, and they had to keep adding them. Currently Yo BK offers 12 classes a week starting as early as 6:30 a.m. and as late as 8:30 p.m.

You will be also pleased to hear that YO BK offers some of the best membership prices in the city. Intro month, which gives you unlimited Inferno Pilates and Bikram Yoga, is only $49, and regular monthly membership is $109. Drop-in class is $27. Davies highly recommends you reserve a class online--especially if you’re going for Inferno Pilates--and come 15 minutes early.

NY Times: New at the Yoga Studio: A Hot Winter Workout With a Party Vibe

by Tatiana Boncompagni

Hot yoga and Pilates have been around for a while. But recently, a few owners of boutique studios decided to add some spice to the heat. They had noticed that for many busy type-A New Yorkers, achieving mindfulness while stretching or building strength in a heated room was simply not enough.

“People want to get everything in one class,” said Bethany Lyons, a yoga instructor and a founder of Lyons Den Power Yoga, a heated studio in TriBeCa that teaches an athletic style of yoga. “They want to relieve tension, be physically challenged and get spiritually rinsed.”

Inferno Hot Pilates, a grueling and popular class at YO BK in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, seems to be the perfect example of the new wellness/extreme-workout hybrid trend. Described as a “bridge between yoga and CrossFit” by Gabriella Walters, its creator, the 60-minute Inferno class includes classic Pilates core work — in addition to squats, burpees, mountain climbers or push-ups, all in a 95-degree studio. Ms. Walters also encourages displaying disco balls and playing pop music to create a nightclublike atmosphere.

The party vibe is also part of the draw at Tangerine Hot Power Yoga in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. The studio’s front-desk area features a bar with stools where, on some event nights, wine and Champagne are poured. Tamara Behar, the studio’s founder, said she wanted to create a “social atmosphere” with the décor.

The Inferno Hot Pilates class at YO BK has become so popular that 10 additional hours have been added to the weekly schedule to meet the demand, said Kate Davies, the studio’s owner. “We can fit 30 in a room, and we’re regularly at capacity,” she said.

And when temperatures drop, she said, classes are even more packed. In other words, the hot classes are particularly hot these days.

Eric Cahan of Brooklyn is not a big fan of winter. So when he can’t escape to his second home in Miami, he settles for the Inferno class, which he said had contributed to his recent stellar health record.

“The days when I don’t work out in a hot room, I feel sluggish,” said Mr. Cahan, an artist, who originally started taking Bikram yoga to improve his flexibility and deepen his meditation. Then he discovered that hot Pilates complemented his hot yoga practice. Most mornings he does one or the other.

“My body craves it,” he said. “It gives me energy. And I haven’t been sick since I’ve started a year and a half ago.”

It’s certainly the heat that keeps Ginger Kearns, a Brooklyn actress, coming back for more. “In the winter, I just can’t seem to warm up,” said Ms. Kearns, who takes classes at YO BK up to three times a week. “You get a little bit of a high being in a hot room. It is such a great mood enhancer.”

Dr. Gregory Galano, an orthopedic surgeon affiliated with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, pointed out that there are potential benefits to doing intense workouts in a hot room. “It facilitates flexibility and may help prevent muscle strain injuries,” Dr. Galano said, citing a higher incidence of leg injuries among professional football players during colder games.

But on the flip side, he said, doing extreme exercise in the heat places more cardiovascular stress on the body, which can lead to heat exhaustion. “Take baby steps,” he said.

Try telling that to the alpha-exercisers who aren’t satisfied until they have sweat through their clothes and feel like passing out. For them, the hot Pilates-type classes seem more like a solution than a problem.


Feel the Burn: Inferno Hot Pilates is Your Newest—and Sweatiest—Fitness Obsession

Feel the Burn: Inferno Hot Pilates is Your Newest—and Sweatiest—Fitness Obsession

While the hot pilates trend has taken off around the country, YO BK is the only New York City studio to offer it. Currently, eight classes are held weekly, and YO BK founder Kate Davies keeps adding more. “We’ve had yoga students who are not excited that it is not yoga all the time,” says Davies. “But, honestly, it’s so incredibly popular that we have to keep doing it.”

YO BK now offers Hot Pilates!

YO BK is excited to announce that starting May 3 we are offering a Hot Pilates class twice a week taught by our talented teachers Natalie and Katia.

Hot Pilates is a 60 minute chal­leng­ing, full body, low impact, high inten­sity work­out, using mat Pilates prin­ci­ples. The room is heated to 95 degrees. It is designed for all fit­ness lev­els. It helps tone and strengthen mus­cles with­out the pound­ing of a high impact workout. 

Bikram Comes Back to Brooklyn

South Williamsburg just got a lot hotter. One hundred and four degrees with 40% humidity — to be precise as that’s the regulated temperature in YO BK, a Bikram yoga studio that recently opened on Broadway.

Traditionally, a Bikram studio offers 26 postures and two breathing exercises in a 90-minute structure. At YO BK, they do things a little differently.

Amazing 17 New Fitness and Yoga Spots Open in New York City

Amazing 17 New Fitness and Yoga Spots Open in New York City

Good Sweat

By Lisa Elaine Held

Grab a natural deodorant, 2016 is shaping up to be a seriously sweaty year in New York City. Soon, Brooklyn cult favorite The DogPound will arrive in Manhattan, while Shadowbox will reverse-commute its way to Brooklyn. Tone House will move to a giant new space, and Barry’s Bootcamp will finally open uptown.

But hold up. Before their doors even open, we’ve got these 17 (yes, 17!) new spots for pull ups and pulsing. This crop of studios all opened (or will open) in December 2015 and January 2016 ALONE (with a few small exceptions on timeline), leaving Gotham dwellers with few reasons to reneg on your fitness resolutions.

Check out these 17 new workout spots made for the new year (and listed in alphabetical order) now. Scoff at the idea of January gym crowds later.

17. Yo Bk
Bikram is the yoga style of choice (although they’re not purists—they offer both 60- and 90-minute classes) at this new hot studio in South Williamsburg, which has a loft feel and opened a little earlier this fall in the former Brooklyn Crew space. 

YO BK: Inside North Brooklyn’s Only Bikram Hot Yoga Practice

YO BK: Inside North Brooklyn’s Only Bikram Hot Yoga Practice

By Natalie Rinn

Last Wednesday evening, I entered Williamsburg’s YO BK—the only Bikram yoga studio in North Brooklyn. Bikram is maybe better known as hot yoga, which means what it sounds like: yoga poses executed in a very hot space. But the original and eponymous practice was developed by Bikram Choudhury in the 1970s, and is immutable: There are 26 poses, employed in a set order, and practiced at 105 degrees and 40 percent humidity in 90 minutes. At YO BK, opened by Kate Davies last October, the Bikram style is followed closely, except Davies also offers 60 minute classes, wherein select postures are struck once, rather than twice consecutively.

Yoga studio holds Valentine's class for couples

Yoga studio holds Valentine's class for couples

News12 Brooklyn

Kate Davies, the owner of YO BK hot yoga studio, held a special Valentine's Day-inspired class.

The class encouraged couples to come and spend an hour together exercising.

Resident KC Schimt says she motivated her boyfriend to give yoga a second chance and that they have both been practicing together for a few...

Bikram Yoga

By Craig Villani

Making the practice of hatha yoga accessible to six billion people worldwide is the primary philosophy underlying the development and growth of Bikram Yoga. Created by Yogi Raj Bikram Choudhury as a practical distillation of the classical eighty-four postures as set forth by oral transmission and recorded by the Vedic sage Patanjali, Bikram’s method of Hatha Yoga stands as a structured and foundational approach towards balancing the modern bodymind.

Hit The Mat

Hit The Mat

Think yoga has nothing to offer men? Think again.

By Elise Diamantini

There’s a reason athletes like David Beckham, Kobe Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Andy Murray moonlight as Bikram yogis. Murray, a pro-tennis player who’s currently ranked third in the world and is the reigning Olympic Singles Champion, credits Bikram Yoga for increasing his mental and physical endurance during matches. And Abdul-Jabbar has said that if it weren’t for Bikram Yoga, he could never have played NBA basketball for as long as he did with so few injuries.