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Why I’m Purchasing a Hot Pilates Subscription Over a Gym Membership This Fall

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

I have long appreciated physical activity in my everyday life, but my attitude towards the gym cycles between obsession and abhorrence. I have chronic anxiety and a history of anorexia that manifests most frequently as body dysmorphia, and while one might think that working out would be a logical move to counteract dysmorphic thought, the latter often prevents me from doing so. I don’t know if it is the skin-tight clothes, seemingly all-knowing mirrors, or the competitive atmosphere of the place, but I am better able to make it to the gym when I feel confident in my appearance and comfortable with the idea that I could possibly be seen.

Between my undergraduate coursework and extracurricular writing engagements, I barely have enough time to socialize with friends let alone stay up to date with the latest activewear trends, and the time that I am able to allot to exercise does not allow for copious amounts of pre-gym primping. Me, my unkempt hair, and I could do without scornful looks – let the three of us dry heave over the treadmill in peace. 

It seems counterintuitive. The gym should be a place where one can go to improve her physical and mental state, but for many people (myself included) it is a breeding ground for insecurities and maladaptive evaluative judgments. I could have opted for home workouts, but societal messaging associates physical fitness with the gym setting (except in the case of sports, although my sub-optimal hand-eye coordination rules out the possibility), and so I assumed home workouts to be a waste of time and energy. 

“It wasn’t until COVID forced the fitness industry to rethink its product offerings and reconceptualize the standard processes of obtaining physical fitness that I realized just how wrong I was.”

Enter @hotpilates, a Los Angeles-based fitness studio frequented by celebrities Selena Gomez, Hailey Bieber and Sofia Richie, whose product offers the detoxifying benefits of hot yoga with traditional Pilates sequences. The circuit-style class structure and incorporation of cardiovascular exercises, booty bands (optional), and light weights (also optional) ensures a low-impact, high-intensity workout that will leave you with the characteristic Pilates core burn and an abnormally large puddle of sweat on your mat. Seriously, I had no idea that I could sweat so much.

I woke up the morning after my first class with an ache in my thighs and a lightness in my heart. For the first time in a long time, I looked at myself in the mirror and smiled. I am not naïve, I do not believe that one workout visibly altered my physique. However, I am positive that the movement was conducive to a temporarily improved perception of self. We could play semantics, arguing that my elevated sense of self led me to my mat rather than the other way around, but in an effort to not kick a gift horse in the mouth, I relished in the emotional levity and returned to my mat the next day, and most days thereafter. 

“Two months and upwards of 40 @hotpilates workouts later, my legs are lean and toned, my obliques defined, and my backside perkier than it has been since quitting ballet at age 15.”

I think of every workout plan that I adopted and abandoned soon thereafter, and I can’t help but wonder, why this? The platform offers three distinct class styles – Arms Abs A$$, Pilates Sculpt, and Booty Band Burn – and a variety of instructors who rarely teach the same class twice, but I am not inclined to cite variability as the answer. If that were true, I would prefer a platform akin to Peloton, where I could choose between strength, yoga, running, stretching, cycling (although I lack the bike to make this possible), and bootcamp.

I actually appreciate the repetitive elements of the workout. Each class is different from the last in muscular emphasis and exercise order, but there exists the common thread of classical Pilates exercises that allows a more conscious participant to gauge her progress. Each class is more challenging than the last, but only because I am constantly abandoning modifications in favor of the real thing. What was once teaser prep became half teaser, and then full. I am able to take my squats a little deeper, my upper ab curl a little higher, and (sometimes) my tricep pushups on my feet as opposed to on my knees. 

The previous is not limited to the Hot Pilates platform. Most exercise regimens could produce such results if adhered to in a similar manner, I just happened to have connected with this one in particular. For me, working out from home makes all the difference. In my living room, I am the participant, bystander, coach, and cheerleader; I could quit halfway through and the world would be none the wiser, but I could also stay the course and feel the satisfaction that accompanies completing a self-initiated task. 

Perhaps the lack of oversight is what I find most enticing. Professional ballet training instilled in me a deep-seated need for external validation, and without mirrors to judge the aesthetics of my outward appearance or every move, I am forced to be more mindful in my practice.

Independent exercise places an emphasis on the self rather than the surrounding stimuli, which bodes well for those who are similarly susceptible to outside influence. 

At the beginning of quarantine, the studio offered three (free!) livestream classes per day, seven days a week. Of course, while free is convenient for the consumer, it is not conducive to surviving the pandemic-induced economic downturn. It was only a matter of time before the company discontinued its Instagram Live classes, leaving in their wake a workout streaming platform titled GET HOT.™ ON THE GO: a virtual studio with daily classes, fitness tips, and nutritional advice for $29.99/month or $10/class. The cost is substantially less than the streaming services of cult favorites Barry’s Bootcamp and Tracy Anderson, amounting to $20/class and $90/month, respectively. 

For obvious reasons any online streaming platform will be less expensive than a physical gym membership, and during a pandemic the opportunity cost of becoming infected with or transmitting COVID-19 only further increases the price tag of the latter. So stay home, build the butt of your dreams, and reimagine your relationship with exercise. Trust me, the $30 will be well worth it. 

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