Like many women who don’t have an endless amount of time to work out, I tend to base my fitness schedule around classes that leave me drenched in sweat. If I’m not breaking a sweat, if my heart isn’t pounding, or if my mind is calm enough to wander, I don’t feel like I’m working hard enough. With that said, I don’t take many mind/body or barre classes – despite knowing full well that I need to work on stretching my muscles more than I do. Turns out there’s an easy solution to getting those classes to hold more appeal for people like myself: take them in a hot studio — one heated to 105-plus degrees — and choose classes taught by instructors that replace “om music” with more upbeat tracks that compel you to move. One such class, Figure 4 at Pure Yoga, was created by former ballerina Kate Albarelli and has unsurprisingly quickly attracted a cult-like following of devotees.
We chated with Albarelli about how she developed her class, how she selects her music, the benefits of working out in intense temperatures, and more.
The Fashion Spot: How did you transition from being a professional dancer to getting into the fitness world?
Kate Albarelli: I was very involved with fitness oriented programs in college. Once I had started dancing in New York, I auditioned for a barre studio and got the job thinking I would teach on the side while still dancing. It all evolved from there!
tFS: How have you worked to differentiate Figure 4 from Physique 57, Core Fusion, and the other popular barre classes?
KA: I have increased the cardio element, kept exercises more alignment based, and increased the pace and the energy level. Not to mention, I am the only true professional ballet dancer who has created a modern “ballet based” barre method!
tFS: Do you recommend people do workouts that are exclusively cardio or weight based or do you recommend yoga to complement Figure 4?
KA: I say whatever your body craves. We are all made differently. Some of us need that extra lengthening after Figure 4. Some of us find that our body works best by upping the cardio level. It varies depending on body type.
tFS: What is your weekly workout routine?
KA: Figure 4! 4-5 times a week.
tFS: Can you tell us about your music selection?
KA: I find music that makes me want to move. I know if I want to move, then others will too. I try to incorporate different genres while still appealing to the masses. I also sometimes like to throw in a song that makes me laugh: like one that takes me wayyyyy back, one that conjures up a funny memory, etc. Even if it’s an inside joke, I still try to have fun with it!
tFS: What should people who have never taken a barre class be prepared for?
KA: For their muscles to burn, for their body to quiver, to be pleasantly surprised by sweating, and to be introduced to muscles that they never knew existed.
tFS: Is there anyone who should NOT take a barre class?
KA: Actually I find it to be the “everybody workout”. There are such massive benefits for men, women, pregnant, elderly, etc. that I recommend everyone try it and see if it clicks.
tFS: How did the idea for doing Figure 4 in a hot studio come about?
KA: We are fortunate to be housed inside a yoga studio! We have the benefits of heat, so it was a no brainer. I love hot classes and I knew it would be a perfect marriage!
tFS: What are the benefits of doing the class in a hot setting?
KA: Intense release of deep toxic buildup in the blood, lungs, and pores. Deeper stretch effect, more strengthening by penetrating the muscles more deeply and hitting the intrinsic muscles more easily.
tFS: What do you recommend wearing to class?
KA: Tight fitting workout clothing. Socks if you need.
tFS: Is there an “optimal” heat level? Optimal humidity level?
KA: We keep the heat at 105 degrees and the humidity remains between 30%-40%.
tFS: Is there anyone that should NOT do a workout in a hot setting?
KA: Yes, pregnant women, those with any seizure disorder, and children under 13.
tFS: Do you see hot Figure 4 being an alternative or complement to hot yoga?
KA: The same people who love HOT Yoga seem to love HOT Figure 4, so it has turned out to be a complement. At its core, Figure 4 is still a toning and strengthening method, and yoga has more stretching quality, so I don’t think the two will ever compete.
tFS: Do you think that most people are able to push themselves less when doing Figure 4 in a hot setting?
KA: Actually, MORE! I find that because the body is already warm, the muscles are penetrated faster and students can last longer in positions and seem to be able to work even harder.
tFS: I personally found the heat to have an incredible zen effect despite how intense the workout was and I was in such a positive state after the class! Do you get that a lot? What has people's reaction been?
KA: YES! I hear that all the time. There is such an empowering and liberating feeling when you release so many toxins from the body and push yourself past certain limits.
tFS: How do you keep your skin clear teaching so many classes — especially when some are in hot studios?
KA: I get facials. Often. I also wash my face after every class. Whenever I sweat, I wash.
tFS: How do you keep your hair looking so great?
KA: Leave-in conditioner and air dry!
tFS: If we looked inside your gym bag what would we find?
KA: Cetaphil, extra workout clothes, almonds, 2 bottles of water, Figure 4 socks, mascara, moisturizer.