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Hot Yoga in Columbus: More and Better!

Nancy Alkire Nancy Alkire Hot Yoga in Columbus: More and Better!Hot Yoga heats up in Columbus in 2015! Thank Yoga shown here.
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2015 has lots of promise if you want hot yoga in Columbus! I have been visiting yoga studios around town, taking room temperatures, and meeting some awesome teachers. I found a few places barely as hot as billed and some unadvertised hot spots for good yoga-based workouts. Because I need regular exercise and I like my friends, I seek yoga places that will make me work hard and sweat a lot at least three times a week, plus I want studios pleasant enough to bring a pal. The skinny of my research and recommendations is in the grid below. For why I wish I could recommend L-Flow Yoga and why some other places don’t make my short list, see the following text for full details of Yoga A to Z — and 543.

My Recommendations for Hot Yoga in Columbus:
QuickHotYogaGuide

Ashtanga Yoga Columbus opened January 1!. They have self-paced (Mysore*) and instructor-led Ashtanga yoga classes under the guidance of Taylor Hunt who is regularly cited as one of the best yoga teachers in the city. The single-room studio is atop an industrial building near Morse and Indianola. The room is nice and has 3 good sized-windows. The laminated floor is pleasantly springy and swept well. They are waiting for radiant heat panels to be installed, so it is not as hot as it will be. When I went there January 1st and 2nd, my thermometer read 72 to 84, however, an Ashtanga practice is real work, so if you go you will sweat. I debated about putting such a new place on the short list, especially since the class menu and heat is so limited right now, but given the strong nature of Ashtanga yoga and the success of their crowdfunded opening, this place has potential. No music. Two single toilet restrooms. Free mat storage. New lululemon mats to lend. The website is not up yet, so they ask students to visit: www.taylorhuntyoga.com. Amenities: 8. Workout: 9. Overall score: 8.5. $20 drop-in fee.

Taylor Hunt in his new studio

Taylor Hunt in his new studio, Ashtanga Yoga Columbus.

Balanced Yoga is a casually elegant studio 2 miles north of OSU that offers the greatest variety of hot yoga classes in Columbus. The hot studio at Balanced Yoga has not only ceiling-mounted radiant heat panels but also a large lobby and “airlock” doors to keep the chill of the street out of the yoga room. Each week there are several classes based on the classic 26 Bikram yoga poses, and they have a much more relaxed attitude towards yoga and water breaks than an official Bikram studio. There is a nifty class called Expanded 26 that has inversions, too. If you prefer flow yoga, Balanced offers many different courses. Since 2011, Greg Fisher and Nicole Klasa have developed an extensive Baptiste Power Yoga program at Balanced and those classes are justifiably popular. There are also several other courses in the hot studio that are both really warm and good workouts. All the Balanced Yoga instructors I met were helpful and encouraging. The lighting is usually relaxed to a pleasant dimness, and there are no mirrors to make one self-conscious. Their bamboo floor is very clean and usually swept between classes. Temperatures are appropriate for hot yoga ranging from the eighties to over 90 degrees F depending on the program. There are two roomy single-toilet restrooms, a separate sink counter just for water bottle filling, and a small changing room. They allow you to store your own mat for free there and have both towel and mat rentals. Mix of street and off-street parking. Amenities: 9. Workout: 9-10. Overall score: 9. $15 drop in fee.

BalancedYoga

Columbus’ only official Bikram Yoga studio is so beautiful, clean, and welcoming! Encouraging teachers follow the Bikram yoga script accurately. The temperature is great, and there are large fans to keep the air moving. The facility is in line with Bikram requirements including the rule about no hands-on adjustments, no music, and having large mirrors to watch yourself in. The flotex® carpeting is nice, and it is advertised as antimicrobial and hypoallergenic. There are gorgeous separate men and women’s changing area/restrooms, and the high-end showers are worth a visit alone! Everything about this yoga studio is wonderfully done; kudos to Rebecca Hoffman for investing in it. By the way, the entrance is actually not on Third Avenue but on the rear of the building next to a decent-sized parking area. Also, if you ask in advance they are reasonable about cell phones (Cf. Wellness Forum below). Free loaner mats; towel rentals available. Amenities: 10. Workout: 8. Overall score: 9. $15 drop-in fee.

Bikram

Burn in Gahanna advertises hot yoga classes, but it never went over 79 when I was there recently. Teaching styles vary. There are some large mirrors on a sidewall if you like that sort of thing. The sound system is oddly brittle, and the music pretty loud. They do a good job of keeping the spinning section separate. There are two nice single toilet restrooms and lots of parking in the back. Amenities: 8. Workout: 8. Overall score: 8. $15 drop-in fee.

Go Yoga offers “heated” classes at 3 locations around Columbus. Two of them are good for hot classes. The expanded facility in Powell I would recommend for hot yoga as the new studio room there has big heaters that get the room over 80 degrees. The New Albany location has been thoroughly remodeled and is also much warmer than before. A lovely flow class I took there with Brooke got up to 83 degrees F. Their Upper Arlington space is quite charming, but it is difficult to heat. It feels a lot warmer than my last visit as they now have a set of infrared track lights, but even with those and space heaters it didn’t rise above 80 in my spot. I like to leave a hot yoga class dripping with sweat (very good for one’s skin, you know) but at Go Upper Arlington, I barely got my shorts moist. Two single toilet restrooms at all locations. Amenities: 8-8.5. Workout: 8-8.5. Overall score: 8.5. $9-15 drop-in fees; also a small number of $5 classes.

GoYoga

Grow Yoga in Grandview with its wooden floor and paper lanterns, is a very relaxing studio, but they can really work your body. Sally Roberts is a vastly experienced yoga teacher who always presents a great program that provides a challenging class to students at all levels. There are now 3 hot yoga classes a week at Grow, and each class features solid Vinyasa sequences that will really tone you up. There is a good amount of warmth, usually 78-84 F. Heard some great music. Also, there are expert adjustments and neck rubs by Sally. There are two single toilet restrooms and one has a shower. Amenities: 8.5. Workout: 8.5. Overall score: 8.5. Mat rental $1. $15 drop-in fee.

Harbor Yoga moved to spacious new digs in 2014! Owners Angie O’Brien and Heidi Bell made a nice lobby area and added other amenities that their historic Dublin place lacked. Their new studio is still plenty hot and features their rocket-speed flow classes that guarantee an aerobic workout and a good sweat. Teachers are super energetic and helpful. The music is upbeat and sometimes edgy. Clean, concrete floor. Two single toilet restrooms and also 2 small changing rooms. Free mat loans. Amenities: 8.5. Workout: 10. Overall score: 9. $15 drop-in fee

I so wish that I could wholeheartedly recommend hot yoga at L-Flow Yoga. It is such a nice suburban studio in Gahanna. The owner, Natalie Kristine, is one of those fantastic teachers who can lead a class that is both perfect for newcomers and also challenges experienced students as well. In my opinion, however, they fall short of my criteria for a hot yoga studio. They only have two classes a week and they are advertised as 80 degrees (most hot classes are 85+), and when we were there they started at 72 degrees and only barely hit 80 F by the end of the class. A charming, professional studio that I would certainly take a friend to but not very hot very often. One large single toilet restroom. Amenities: 8. Workout: 8.5. Overall score: 8.5. First class free; $18 drop-in fee.

PAI Yoga is a lovely studio at the back edge of Trader Joe’s mall in Dublin. Every class I attend at PAI is a well-taught flow course that combines yoga expertise and positive, relaxing messages. Their hot classes when monitored have been 76 degrees F to start and up to 90 degrees by my thermometer. Interestingly, I discovered that some classes not billed as hot, such as the classes Kara Lough teaches in the early morning, are not only fairly warm to start with (usually 75 degrees) but they are solid sweat-inducing workouts that get close to 85 F by the end of class. Two pleasant single-toilet restrooms. Lots of strip mall parking. (Note: at the time of this writing, PAI is soon to open a second facility in Gahanna.) Amenities: 8.5. Workout: 9. Overall score: 9. Current price is $13 for drop-in.

Seven Studios in downtown Columbus is located in the storefronts on the East side of the City Center parking garage near Rich and Third. The Seven Studios owner is quite inspirational, and many of the instructors are likewise upbeat. Classes monitored had a range of temperatures; some reached up to the high 70’s by the end of class, so it certainly was warm if not super hot. Some good music. Two nice single toilet restrooms. Metered street and pay lot parking nearby. Note: the street-level windows and glass door are not totally blocked from a passerby’s view. Amenities: 8. Workout: 8. Overall score: 8. $12 drop-in fee.

Studio 543 Yoga Inferno at 543 South High is not only an attractive addition to the downtown yoga scene, and it is hot!! Temperatures topped 93 twice when I was there. The classes that I took were nice slow-to-medium flows, and the teachers super nice. The décor is above average, and the floors are a pleasant, thick wood. There are interesting mirrors scattered around but they are not large enough to make one self-conscious, and the studio is pretty dark. By the way, they place really cold towels on your head at the end of class; caution brain freeze! Two single toilet restrooms and two very clean showers in a separate area. Amenities: 9. Workout: 8-9. Overall score: 9. Mat rentals $2. $15 drop-in fee.

Thank Yoga is so cool it’s hot! Thank is one of the most fun places for yoga in Columbus, and it deserves the many votes it received from fans in the recent poll of yoga studios by Columbus Underground readers. Josie Schweitzer and her teachers bring a young, hip vibe to the yoga scene, and although they do not promote their courses as hot yoga, they are warmer than some advertised in this town as heated. The studio is cozy, and with 20 plus students in a class regularly, it heats to near 90 easily. Also, the yang-rich power flow yoga will certainly make you sweat. Good music played on an above average audio system. Deliciously springy wood floor. Natural light from 3 windows facing the parking area. Two small restrooms. Street and limited off-street parking. Amenities: 8.5. Workout: 9.5. Overall score: 9. Free loaner mats. $15 drop-in. Online registration highly recommended.

Thanksmall

V-Power Yoga also does a vigorous flow yoga program, and they have a good hot room usually 75-90 F. Their Warehouse District studio has large, arched windows that let in natural light through a hazy covering. The wood-patterned floor is clean and the white walls give the room a pleasant art-gallery feel. The schedule lists classes at several levels but the programs are all rather similar. The music is always upbeat. Two single-toilet restrooms; one has a nice, clean shower. Also, there’s a large upstairs space for changing and mat storage. Street parking. Mat storage free; rental $3. Amenities: 8.5. Workout: 10. Overall score: 9. $15 drop-in fee.

Wellness Forum was the closest thing to Bikram studio in Columbus for years, and they present those 26 postures consistently. There are radiant heat panels that give plenty of heat, so classes do start at 105 degrees. The heat can build there, too; one class I took it hit 113! The studio room has very large mirrors on the front and both sidewalls, and I believe that they largely follow an older version of Bikram’s script that directs students’ attention to side mirrors as well as the front ones. Unlike the modern Bikram studio, they do hands-on adjustments. There is a carpeted floor, and I just have to say this: if they are not following the official Bikram dictates why not switch that carpet for some Pergo? Separate, clean men’s and women’s changing room/bathrooms with a shower in each. Lots of strip mall parking. Strict no cell phone policy -curiously, the official Bikram people are more relaxed about this. Amenities: 8. Workout: 8. Overall score: 8. Loaner mats and towel rental available. $15 drop-in fee.

Yoga on High has multiple classes with “hot” in the title and while the quality of instructors at YoHi is always excellent the heat in hot classes can really vary. Most of the classes taught by power flow king Michael Murphy get over 82 thanks to his legions of sweating students. Other hot flow classes, such as those with Lara Falberg, usually have good enough Vinyasa flow to generate a sweat even if the rooms don’t start overly warm. YoHi also has interesting classes that are cooler variations on hot flow, such as Slow Burn and Hot Fusion, which have great toning poses. Also, although not labeled “hot”, I found many of the classes in the Ashtanga category at YoHi were not only toasty and but very good workouts. The morning Mysore* classes, thanks to Taylor Hunt’s diligent work to get the room over 78 degrees before class began, and Tom Griffith’s Mysore class, which is held in a ludicrously small room, certainly equaled hot yoga in my book. I was in one Mysore class at 99 degrees! Note: there is a new teacher for morning Mysore, an accomplished gymnast and physician, Linda Chun. The co-owners of the studio are very committed to maintaining the quality of that program at this time, and they are offering special discounts on Mysore classes (90 days for $90) for a limited time. Separate men and women’s multi-toilet restrooms. Some off-street parking. Amenities: 8. Workout: 8-10. Overall score: 8.5. Mat rentals $2. $16 drop-in.

A pose from a Mysore class. Photo via Yoga on High.

A pose from a Mysore class. Photo via Yoga on High.

*Mysore is a “self-paced” yoga program. What does that mean? I thought that it meant an easier class for a beginner that would be good because I wouldn’t have to keep up with a class. Ha! The first Mysore class I attended some guy dropped into 20 backbends as his warm up. Fortunately, the teacher – the amazing Joannie Delph – was very kind and broke things down to coach me through some basics and reminded me that everyone starts as a beginner. A Mysore class is a chance to practice a set series of poses of increasing difficulty under the guidance of an experienced teacher. I can say that after trying it for 6 months, three days a week, it has really improved my yoga practice. If you go to a Mysore class, you will see some very advanced students at work, but don’t let them scare you away; developing an Ashtanga practice is a great physical and mental discipline.

Not Hot Yoga, But …
Melt Hot Fitness has two yoga/Pilates-based workouts designed by Kelly Sodegren that are fiendishly hard and done in a generously heated studio. There are lots of lunges, pushups and twists on top of Bosu balls. Wobbling on the ball combined with an exceptionally dark room really challenges one’s balance, which creates huge amounts of core work with either class. The Sodegren Method has more cardio than Slow Burn. Good, hot room: 83-92 degrees F. Very clear instruction provided by a well-miked instructor and a fun playlist. Clean, Pergo floor that is mopped between classes. Frozen washcloths are handed out at the end of classes. Two nice single toilet restrooms. Strip mall parking. Note: at the time of this writing, plans are underway to move Melt to a larger space in the same area of Westerville. Amenities: 8.5. Workout: 10. Overall score: 9. First class free then $18 drop-in fee.

Tracey Gardner Method offers several variations of her “anti-yoga” workout that mix isometric motions with plenty of lunges and pushups in a bouncy, toning flow. Every muscle and joint group is thoroughly worked in whatever class you take. The heat (over 90 easy), high humidity, dark room and loud music make her workouts a night-club-like experience. The very dark room makes it a little hard to follow the instructor (especially if not miked) which is a bit of a drawback because so many of the moves are unique, however, there are lots of regulars who know the routines. Also, Tracey and all her teachers are usually helpful to newbies. Clean, concrete floor. Two large, spa-nice restrooms as one expects in New Albany. Strip mall parking. Amenities: 8.5. Workout: 9. Overall score: 8.5. Mat rental $5. $15 drop-in fee.

Tracey

Merrelli.com comes up on some internet searches for hot yoga but Jimmy Merrelli terms his workout “tribal calisthenics” and the studio is not well-heated. He basically mashes up power yoga, dance and parkour moves on the fly while pattering on various topics. Single-toilet restroom in the hall. Metered street and pay lot parking. Amenities: 7. Workout: 7-9. Overall score: 7.5. $5 a class and cash only. He currently schedules classes by appointment; call 614-506-8970.

In summary, if you want the official Bikram hot yoga program, Bikram Hot Yoga Columbus does the job well and has amazing bathrooms. For a more relaxed experience that’s plenty hot, the Classic and Expanded 26 classes at Balanced Yoga are excellent. If you love Power yoga or Vinyasa hot flow, Balanced Yoga’s many classes are reliable hot yoga as are the progams at Harbor and V-Power Yoga. Thank, Grow and PAI Yoga have excellent classes in pleasant studios. Yoga on High has tons of classes and some are hot; if you want a mental and physical challenge, check out Mysore there. If you want something non-traditional, do visit Melt and Tracey Gardner.

I wanted a yoga studio with at least 3 hot classes a week that had great flow and awesome heat. Either I or an accomplice took my own thermometer to places that came up on Internet searches for “hot yoga Columbus Ohio” as well as a few others that seemed promising. Scores were given in categories important to me. Amenities include quality of the heat (preferably over 85 degrees F), studio ambience, parking and restrooms. Workout combines the intensity I felt during the class and how my back and thighs felt when climbing stairs the next day. Workout scores may have a range since some studios have multiple classes and instructors themselves vary intensity from class to class.

From January 5 – 11, Columbus Underground is featuring our Health & Wellness Week series, brought to you by the The Fitness Loft. The Fitness Loft is more than just a gym – it’s a visionary approach to developing a sustainable community and creating an atmosphere that encourages people to lead a healthier life. Our holistic concept includes biometric wellness screening, Technogym exercise equipment that records progress, free group fitness and nutrition classes, an on-site Registered Dietitian, and much more to give you a truly unique wellness experience. Located at 625 Parsons Avenue, Columbus, OH 43206.

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