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There’s something undeniably satisfying about leaving a fitness class dripping in sweat. When it comes to yoga, though, new research suggests there’s little reason to crank up the heat.
Bikram yoga has attracted a loyal following due to its steamy classes, which involve 26 specific postures and breathing exercises, typically performed in a room heated to about 105 degrees. Proponents swear by the style’s ability to work up a sweat and promote flexibility, and past research has shown that it’s good for your vascular health — but a small study published Thursday in Experimental Physiology suggests it’s the physical practice of Bikram, not the sweltering heat, that’s good for you.
“It’s definitely showing benefits to the 26-posture sequence,” says study author Stacy Hunter, an assistant professor in the department of health and human performance at Texas State University. “It just doesn’t seem like the heat is necessary in terms of improving heart health.”
Hunter, who is also the research director for Pure Action, a nonprofit that provides grant funding for yoga research and financed this study, says that conclusion doesn’t mean traditional Bikram isn’t healthy. Both hot and room-temperature yoga were found in the study to boost vascular health and possibly delay the progression of risk factors for heart disease and stroke. But the heat may not be responsible for those benefits.
In the study, 52 healthy but previously sedentary adults were assigned to a group: 19 people went to three hot Bikram yoga classes per week, while 14 took the exact same classes in a 73-degree room. A control group of 19 people didn’t do any yoga at all. After 12 weeks, the researchers assessed everyone’s vascular health by looking at changes in endothelial function, or the ability of blood vessels to dilate in response to increased blood flow. Both yoga groups saw changes that indicated a lower risk of heart disease, while the control group did not.
Hunter notes that the hot yoga group did see a small but statistically significant reduction in body fat percentage, compared to the room-temperature group — a surprising finding, given that past studies have shown that Bikram isn’t a particularly effective workout for weight loss. (Other research has even suggested that the high heat and humidity may raise the body’s internal temperature and heart rate to unsafe levels.)
All in all, the results should be encouraging to would-be yogis who may be intimidated by Bikram’s typically scorching temperatures, Hunter says.
“This is good news for people who might want to do it but can’t tolerate the heat or maybe want to do it at home, or for people who don’t even live near a yoga studio,” Hunter says.

[brightcove:5532322486001 default]
There’s something undeniably satisfying about leaving a fitness class dripping in sweat. When it comes to yoga, though, new research suggests there’s little reason to crank up the heat.
Bikram yoga has attracted a loyal following due to its steamy classes, which involve 26 specific postures and breathing exercises, typically performed in a room heated to about 105 degrees. Proponents swear by the style’s ability to work up a sweat and promote flexibility, and past research has shown that it’s good for your vascular health — but a small study published Thursday in Experimental Physiology suggests it’s the physical practice of Bikram, not the sweltering heat, that’s good for you.
“It’s definitely showing benefits to the 26-posture sequence,” says study author Stacy Hunter, an assistant professor in the department of health and human performance at Texas State University. “It just doesn’t seem like the heat is necessary in terms of improving heart health.”
Hunter, who is also the research director for Pure Action, a nonprofit that provides grant funding for yoga research and financed this study, says that conclusion doesn’t mean traditional Bikram isn’t healthy. Both hot and room-temperature yoga were found in the study to boost vascular health and possibly delay the progression of risk factors for heart disease and stroke. But the heat may not be responsible for those benefits.
In the study, 52 healthy but previously sedentary adults were assigned to a group: 19 people went to three hot Bikram yoga classes per week, while 14 took the exact same classes in a 73-degree room. A control group of 19 people didn’t do any yoga at all. After 12 weeks, the researchers assessed everyone’s vascular health by looking at changes in endothelial function, or the ability of blood vessels to dilate in response to increased blood flow. Both yoga groups saw changes that indicated a lower risk of heart disease, while the control group did not.
Hunter notes that the hot yoga group did see a small but statistically significant reduction in body fat percentage, compared to the room-temperature group — a surprising finding, given that past studies have shown that Bikram isn’t a particularly effective workout for weight loss. (Other research has even suggested that the high heat and humidity may raise the body’s internal temperature and heart rate to unsafe levels.)
All in all, the results should be encouraging to would-be yogis who may be intimidated by Bikram’s typically scorching temperatures, Hunter says.
“This is good news for people who might want to do it but can’t tolerate the heat or maybe want to do it at home, or for people who don’t even live near a yoga studio,” Hunter says.

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The owner of a North Carolina CrossFit gym is being criticized for posting videos of female members’ butts with sexually suggestive captions.
Blue Ridge CrossFit owner Tom Tomlo took videos of several female members as they were bending over during their workouts, later posting them to the gym’s Instagram Story with the captions “Dayum” and “#humpday.”
One member saw the images last Friday and shared them on the gym’s Facebook page in outrage, writing, “This is not okay.” The post and the gym’s Facebook page quickly filled with angry comments and reviews, which prompted Tomlo to respond with an expletive-filled post demonishing people for calling him out publicly.
“It has been brought to my attention that some people chose to get butt hurt today and make a public post in this group,” he wrote. “You must have lost your f—— mind if your one moment you think this is a platform or community for you to create some bulls— like that.”
PEOPLE has reached out to Blue Ridge CrossFit for comment.
Several members said they have since quit after seeing Tomlo’s post, including Dalton Buchanan, who had been a member for three years.
“I know that a lot of people have left at this point. A lot of the coaches have left, because they just don’t want to be associated with that mindset,” Buchanan told WLOS.
Amanda Turlington, who was the lead membership administrator at the gym and one of the women in the videos, says she quit after she and other staff members asked Tomlo to take the videos down. She adds that she was not aware that he was filming them.
“Over half of our team, our staff, had reached out to him. ‘Tom, I don’t feel comfortable with this, it isn’t OK.’ And he wouldn’t hear any of it,” Turlington told WLOS. “He was very defensive.”
In an interview with WLOS, Tomlo says that the videos were misconstrued, and he doesn’t apologize for posting them — but he wishes he had more control over the narrative.
“We do pictures of guys’ butts around here, we have an informal loving family and it’s not a negative thing,” he said. “We were having fun. We were videoing, talking about booties that day.”
“I can’t control the way this is being portrayed, and I’m regretful for it. Someone took offense to it. They took a picture of it and put it in a way, I can see how it would be misunderstood.”
Tomlo told the Citizen Times that the incident has hurt his business.
“We may be shutting this business now because of a false narrative,” he said.
Turlington said that the gym environment was not one that she wanted to be a part of.
“We come to the gym to work out and to be surrounded by people we care about and they care about our success,” Turlington said. “I don’t come to the gym to be sexualized. I don’t come to the gym to have my body on display.”

[brightcove:5686667785001 default]
The owner of a North Carolina CrossFit gym is being criticized for posting videos of female members’ butts with sexually suggestive captions.
Blue Ridge CrossFit owner Tom Tomlo took videos of several female members as they were bending over during their workouts, later posting them to the gym’s Instagram Story with the captions “Dayum” and “#humpday.”
One member saw the images last Friday and shared them on the gym’s Facebook page in outrage, writing, “This is not okay.” The post and the gym’s Facebook page quickly filled with angry comments and reviews, which prompted Tomlo to respond with an expletive-filled post demonishing people for calling him out publicly.
“It has been brought to my attention that some people chose to get butt hurt today and make a public post in this group,” he wrote. “You must have lost your f—— mind if your one moment you think this is a platform or community for you to create some bulls— like that.”
PEOPLE has reached out to Blue Ridge CrossFit for comment.
Several members said they have since quit after seeing Tomlo’s post, including Dalton Buchanan, who had been a member for three years.
“I know that a lot of people have left at this point. A lot of the coaches have left, because they just don’t want to be associated with that mindset,” Buchanan told WLOS.
Amanda Turlington, who was the lead membership administrator at the gym and one of the women in the videos, says she quit after she and other staff members asked Tomlo to take the videos down. She adds that she was not aware that he was filming them.
“Over half of our team, our staff, had reached out to him. ‘Tom, I don’t feel comfortable with this, it isn’t OK.’ And he wouldn’t hear any of it,” Turlington told WLOS. “He was very defensive.”
In an interview with WLOS, Tomlo says that the videos were misconstrued, and he doesn’t apologize for posting them — but he wishes he had more control over the narrative.
“We do pictures of guys’ butts around here, we have an informal loving family and it’s not a negative thing,” he said. “We were having fun. We were videoing, talking about booties that day.”
“I can’t control the way this is being portrayed, and I’m regretful for it. Someone took offense to it. They took a picture of it and put it in a way, I can see how it would be misunderstood.”
Tomlo told the Citizen Times that the incident has hurt his business.
“We may be shutting this business now because of a false narrative,” he said.
Turlington said that the gym environment was not one that she wanted to be a part of.
“We come to the gym to work out and to be surrounded by people we care about and they care about our success,” Turlington said. “I don’t come to the gym to be sexualized. I don’t come to the gym to have my body on display.”