One New York City studio is seeing just how low athletes will go. Brrrn’s cold-temperature classes are shaking things up in what until recently has been a world of warming fitness workouts.
Shocking the body while working out in cold temperatures is a “biohack” of sorts.
Last year, investigative journalist Scott Carney brought such cold theories to the masses in his book “What Doesn’t Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude, and Environmental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Strength.”
The book examined Dutch fitness phenom Wim Hof’s ability to control his body temperature in extreme cold. It called out related studies on the “metabolic winter” and “cold stress,” terms coined to describe how the human body conserves or expends energy differently during the various seasons (and therefore temperature fluctuations).
In the book, Carney considers the potential for humans to use the environment — cold temperatures in this case — to hack biology. Brrrn, a new fitness studio designed around cold-temperature classes, replicates that “environment” in a gym.
Brrrn: Benefits of Cold-Temp Training
Now, NYC-based Brrrn is applying the concept to fitness classes by specializing in chilly workouts. The cold-temperature classes are based on several studies showing that, when exposed an environment between 40 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit, the body expends more energy (calories), essentially trying to get back to ideal human core temperature (98.6 degrees F).
One study concluded, “Obesity and chronic disease are seen most often in people and the animals (pets) they keep warm and overnourished. Similar to the circadian cycle and like most other living organisms, it is reasonable to believe we also respond to the seasons and carry with us the survival genes for winter. Maybe our problem is that winter never comes.”
The Brrrn website suggests the cold environment can help participants burn more calories, potentially use more fat as fuel to stay warm, and increase future cold tolerance. These all also carry interesting ramifications for winter-sports athletes.
As yet, however, these claims are somewhat like nutritional supplement labels. They have promise but no hard scientific vetting.
But even if you don’t buy it, there’s no harm in trying it.
3 Ways to ‘Feel the Brrrn’
Currently, Brrrn runs three varied workouts in rooms cooled to different temperatures. Yoga is offered at 60 degrees F. A core and cardio class using slide boards to increase the burn comes in at 55 degrees F. And strength training with battle ropes, dumbbells, and handbells is a frigid 45 degrees F.
Still, if you’re on the fence, Brrrn’s founders have collected a bunch of info to address burning questions like “Won’t I pull a muscle in the cold?” and “What is brown fat?”
Plus, there’s a searing infrared sauna for thawing out after an arctic workout.
If the idea of hot yoga makes you nauseous, a cold-temperature class could be for you. So far, the only location is in New York City. But if the hot yoga trend is any indicator, cold yoga could quickly catch on elsewhere.