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.