Joy in Movement gym uses infared saunas for workouts

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Welcome to You Got This,’s weekly fitness series featuring stories and ideas from real women who’ve experienced it all.

Infared saunas are all the rage right now thanks to its benefits for your skin and muscles – but would you try working out in one?

Joy In Movement, also known as J. I. M, is one of the newest fitness spaces to open up in Sydney. There are three locations with rapid expansion planned in the new 12 months.

J.I.M., founded by Jarad Hobbs, has three style of classes: functional training, Pilates and stretch and mobility.

I went along to their studio in Ramsgate, southern Sydney, to try out a class. I was beyond excited as I love an infared sauna but wasn’t quite sure what to expect doing a workout inside one.

I’d done hot yoga before but this was likely to be entirely different.

The boutique studio, which has no mirrors and is completely dark, was filled with television screens showing an instructor demonstrating the moves for you to follow.

A coach did join in the class with us and didn’t go around to correct any movements; something which its founder explained is part of the design.

“Something’s not quite right with the fitness industry as a whole,” he said.

When it comes to trainers, he believes some people find it intimidating as they worry about being yelled at or exposed in class.

“Being able to follow it on the screen and watch someone demonstrate the moment is easier”, he said.

“We just tried to remove all the things that might be barriers for people to come to a gym [like the mirrors].”

And, it worked. I felt like I could make alterations to moves without anyone thinking I was lazy, and I watched many others do the same. It was fun and completely judgement-free. I liked not constantly catching sight of myself in a mirror and being distracted from the workout because I am second-guessing everything about my form.

However, coming from a background of more traditional gym classes I will admit the lack of trainer input was a bit of a culture-shock, but one that I quickly learned to appreciate.

Unlike hot yoga classes I’d done in the past, I didn’t tire quickly.

I felt like I could breathe a little bit easier as there was no humidity.

The benefits on infrared saunas are claimed to be flushing out toxins, weight loss, wound healing, blood circulation and improving skin tone.

After the workout, I was completely exhausted. The movements weren’t incredibly difficult but I felt like I’d done a beach run on a 45C day. I was absolutely dripping in sweat, and highly rated the class.

Jarad, who has been a personal trainer since he was 18 before opening up a series of boutique PT studios, got the idea when he began testing out recovery and stretch techniques in heated rooms.

“If you think about Pilates, it’s corrective exercises, and really good for your posture and whatnot, but it’s typically really boring, slow, and you don’t burn enough calories,” he said.

“People often think they have to do another workout. But, if you add heat, you can literally burn like up to 500 calories, walk out dripping in sweat and feel like you’ve really accomplished something.

“It’s a smarter way to do it.”

While many of the classes are attended by women, Jarad said the number of men joining is increasing. He said when he first started doing Pilates, he felt out-of-place as classes were often filled with women. But, he designed these classes based around himself and hopes more men will feel comfortable in this space.