Some people are made for mornings, and some people are not. I’m one of the latter, and that’s why I was nervous about attending the 6 a.m. Sumits Yoga SCULPT class at Sumits Hot Yoga (2690 S. Glenstone Ave, Springfield; 417-881-9642, sumitshotyogasgf.com). You see, I typically don’t roll out of bed until around 6:45 a.m., so struggling my way into a sloppy version of downward dog before the sun was even up sounded far from thrilling. But, as you probably know by now if you’re a regular reader of 417 Magazine, trying these classes is a part of my job, and I do it with a smile on my face. I popped out of bed, pulled on my 417 Fit shirt and headed to the studio.
While I was still a bit groggy when I walked into Sumits Hot Yoga, the team there was not. I was greeted by both bright and cheery owners, Nikki Love-Adkins and Stephanie Lewis, plus instructor Megan Ellis. There were also several clients buzzing around, chatting, removing their shoes and heading back to the actual studio where the classes take place. If I hadn’t just wiped the sleep out of my eyes, I’d have no idea that it was 5:55 a.m. These people were alive, awake and ready to work out! This was great, because it helped
motivate me to put on my game face and prepare to get sweaty.
Sumits Hot Yoga offers a variety of hot yoga classes, including Sumits Yoga, Hour Flow, Group Meditation and even Sumits Gentle Stretch by Candle Light. But I wasn’t there for any of that. I was there for the 60-minute Sumits Yoga SCULPT class that combines power yoga and strength training. And did I mention it all happens in their heated studio? Yeah, all of the classes here are in a heated room, so you’re sure to get sweaty.
Thankfully, Ellis started our class off with slower, gentle stretches. “This is a time to set your intentions and focus for the class,” she said. But after a couple of songs and easy movements, playtime was over, and Ellis picked up the pace. (Secret: I was already sweating at this point, and it was only the warm up. The room is 102°F!)
It quickly became obvious why Ellis is the one who instructs the 6 a.m. class. She started things off with pep in her step, and she got even more energetic as the minutes passed. Before I knew it, we were working our way through warrior poses. At the same time we were working in
cardio movements and weight training, and Ellis was cheering us on the entire time. One minute we were performing a basic yoga flow, then we were doing push-ups and jumping jacks. A few seconds later we were working our biceps and triceps, then we went back to working on our balance with a variety of long, elegant movements and poses. The class was filled with variety and energy, and it made the minutes pass fast.
And unlike most yoga classes, this Sumits Yoga SCULPT actually encourages talking, and Ellis had us join in on the fun. While she would count our exercises out loud, she’d occasionally ask us to join in. “I can’t hear you, what number are we on?” she would say. Sometimes I would throw on a smile, look her in the eye and join in on the counting, but there were also times I simply could not. Have you ever tried to yell out loud the same time you’re doing mountain climbers? It’s hard, and for me on that morning, it simply wasn’t possible. I wanted to yell, but my energy was all being used up with our movements. For a while I kind of mouthed the numbers at an attempt of trickery, but I soon figured out that it didn’t matter. More than anything else, this class was about being comfortable in your own skin, and it became obvious. No one was looking directly at me, and everyone was likely fighting their own battles. “It’s not a competition here,” Ellis says. “It’s about showing up and doing your best. When you get in the zone, you are supposed to tune in and do the best you can do. That’s what matters the most.”
Although I’ve only tried it once so far, I noticed an immediate benefit of the class: It made me super-awake and alert, and I was able to get my Friday started off much earlier than usual. Since it’s always offered on Friday mornings, I think it’s a great way to start off a weekend. And there are several other benefits in addition to mental alertness, including the fact that you get a full body workout in those 60 sweat-drenched minutes. Since it works in strength training, it’s a great
class for those who regularly practice yoga and may not get in much weight training, and
because it’s heated, it’s also great for anyone looking to gain flexibility. All in all, it’s a fun class where you can move at your own pace and challenge yourself on a regular basis, and I was more than pleased. I want to do it again, even if it means getting up before 6 a.m.