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Fitness: hot yoga

Kevin Michelini lost 35 pounds with hot yoga, and then became an instructor.
Photograph: Martha Williams Kevin Michelini

Kevin Michelini, 31, Irving Park
Fifth-grade teacher, yoga instructor
Lost 35 pounds, wants to lose 10 more

I always felt kind of lost working out in big gyms. Even in the classes, everybody seemed more advanced than me, and I was always the only man. Last winter, a friend and I bought Groupons for CorePower Yoga. It was the first time I felt success in working out. I wasn’t able to do all the poses to the full extent, but I felt I got a great workout. I started in March: In the first month, I lost 15 pounds. I’m feeling better, eating better—you’re in a room heated to 90–100 degrees, so you don’t want a lot of food in your stomach—and I have more confidence now. I’ve since lost about 35 pounds. It was shocking seeing that number. In September, I started teacher training; by February I’ll be an instructor. I was so inspired by the instructors I had who changed my life, I’d like to help other people make that change. I started hot yoga to lose weight, but it also ups your flexibility and strength, and it helps your mental practice: It lets me take an hour out of my life to focus on myself, not on what’s going on outside, because you have to focus so much on breathing, on your pose. A lot of people ask, How can you stand that heat or sweating that much? You just accept it. For me, the biggest challenge is getting my butt to the studio when life gets in the way.—As told to Martina Sheehan

The trainer says Yoga will do many wonderful things—improve flexibility, lower resting heart rate, chill you the heck out. But unless you’re in an intense class, it’s not much of a calorie scorcher. (Research has shown that some gentle yoga classes burn fewer calories than walking!) For weight loss, Scott Lewandowski, regional fitness director for Fitness Formula Clubs, recommends adding some oomph to your om in the form of a spinning class here, and a brisk walk there. Also, when you sweat during a hot yoga class, you get Sahara-desert dehydrated, Lewandowski says. Always bring a full water bottle and sip from it often.—Liz Plosser

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