Hot, but not a scorcher

Happy Sunday! How’s your weekend going?

Here’s what we’ve been up to over here:

-I had a little photoshoot- should be able to say what it was for later this week


-We went on our first real date in almost 4 months.


First time wearing TALL shoes in forever:


I usually stick to flats because I’m clumsy.

Livi went to bed at 7 per usual, and Kyle came over to hang out while she slept. I didn’t take my camera with me so I could fully enjoy the night with the Pilot, but we had an awesome sushi dinner at Ra. Sashimi, spicy salmon roll, lobster roll, the hot mess (fried rice topped with crab, pepper, cilantro and jalapeno!!!)), salad, soup and an amazing cucumberita.

-A Bikram and smoothie date with my friend Marisa.

bikram studio 

A little pre-yoga toast with almond butter and strawberries:

ab toast

I wore my heart rate monitor because I’ve been wondering for a while how many calories Bikram really burns. The online sources say up to 1000 for the 90-minute class, and I believed it had to be a pretty high number since I work hard and can feel my elevated heart rate throughout the practice.

The verdict:

heart rate monitor

Much lower than I expected, and the same amount I’d probably burn leisurely walking around the mall for 90 minutes.

My heart rate monitor is based on my age, weight and fitness level, so calorie burn will vary from person to person.

The reason why I feel like I’m working so hard during Bikram is because of the heat. The body is constantly attempting to cool down, and every time I’m on my stomach, I can feel my heart pounding. I’ve always considered it to be a type of interval training because you hold the challenging poses and rest in between, but when I felt like my heart rate was sky high, I looked down at my Polar and saw it was 102-105ish (about the same as if I were walking). Crazy, huh? I wouldn’t consider Bikram to be a cardio workout because my heart rate never reached my target range (60-75% of my maximum heart rate: 220 – my age) and now consider it to be a low key interval form of strength training. However, there are benefits of practicing Bikram (and other forms of yoga) that a heart rate monitor would never be able to measure.

Bikram yoga is frequently touted as a major calorie burner, but Bikram’s main purpose of the practice (like many other types of yoga) is health, not calorie burn. Bikram is supposed to help with spinal alignment, flexibility, improving blood circulation and detoxification. I always feel like a million bucks after practicing, enjoy the extra stretching and chance to clear my mind. It’s more of a mental workout than anything else and I LOVE the heat.

For the time commitment, I think it’s definitely worth practicing if it’s something you enjoy. Go for health and wellbeing- consider the calorie burn as a bonus. If you’re not a fan of Bikram, there are SO many yogas options- you just have to find the best choice for you. I also love vinyasa and anusara.

Do you train with your heart rate monitor? Have you ever been surprised by your calorie burn?

We’re off to a graduation party!

Enjoy your day <3



Something to think:


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  1. Christina on April 30, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Gina you look beautiful…you and the pilot make such a great couple! I hope that when the time comes for us to have little chickpeas I can look as fantastic as you both during pregnancy and after!

    • Fitnessista on April 30, 2012 at 11:29 am

      you’re a sweetheart- thank you 🙂

  2. Lisa on April 30, 2012 at 10:44 am

    I think about the whole heart rate thing a lot while I’m exercising and often wonder if it gets too high for the type of activity I’m doing. Using the formula of 60-75% max heart rate(220 – 28) I am pretty far over on every workout I do. If I’m on the elliptical I usually stay in the 160-170 range and if I’m doing something my body finds extreme, like running, it’ll go up even higher. I wonder if this is an indication that my cardiovascular system is out of shape or do other people experience this too?

    • Fitnessista on April 30, 2012 at 11:30 am

      mine gets up extremely high when i teach zumba, but it’s not for a sustained about of time. i think when it comes to that, it’s better to go by perceived exertion than heart rate. if you can talk and breathe with no probs, chances are that it’s ok. i like 60-75% as a target heart range for steady state, but for intense workouts and interval training mine will go 80-90%

    • mary on April 30, 2012 at 11:36 am

      That “220-age” formula is an est. and doesn’t work well for everyone, especially women. Try figuring out your actual max heart rate and use that instead (to plug in the percentages). Mine runs much higher than the est. says it should. I can get my HR up to 200 and I’m waaayyyy over 20 years old. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just different. Some people’s naturally runs lower instead. That’s the problem with using averages.

      • mary on April 30, 2012 at 11:37 am

        Or google “karvonen formula” for a different estimate that takes more into account than your age.

  3. Tracy on April 30, 2012 at 11:33 am

    We don’t have a bikram studio where I live (middle of nowhere) 🙁 But I have taken it once in DC and I loved it! Plus it was a cold & rainy day and the hot studio felt awesome. I do take power yoga regularly at my gym and it’s such a great addition to the running, spinning, and strength training that I regularly do. Calorie burn or not, I will never give it up. It makes me feel great and is such a stress reliever too.

    I found your blog about 2 weeks ago and am totally addicted! I love all your posts and workout/food ideas. I am a marathoner (just ran my 8th last month) but totally believe that “change creates change” so that is what I’ll be working on these next few months while I take a little break from running. So, thanks for everything you share! I love all of the new ideas and, even though I consider myself to be in shape, boy are these things challenging! 🙂

    What kind of almond butter do you buy? And, do you keep it in the refrigerator? I am still eating regular peanut butter because I’m turned off by the oil and refrigeration requirements of the more natural butters. :\ How did you make the switch?

    • Fitnessista on April 30, 2012 at 11:38 am

      hi tracy!
      thank you so much for reading 🙂
      i like quite a few almond butter brands, especially justin’s and woodstock farms. the taste is what helped me make the switch- i always say, “once you go almond, you never go back” 😉
      and yup, i just store it in the refigerator

  4. Bee @ thebusybeewrites on April 30, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Is that dress from Ann Taylor Loft? It is SO cute!

  5. Liz @ Southern Charm on April 30, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    I’m shocked at how little calories it burns just because, like you, I feel like a million bucks after I’m done with class! Now that I know the calories though, I may add a little cardio to my bikram days since I’m currently trying to lose, but it def won’t stop me from practicing 🙂

    ps you look amazing! LOVE the dress and wedges too!

  6. Kelli on April 30, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    I was also surprised at how low the calorie burn is for a yoga practice – an hour barely reaches 150 calories. But it does wonders for strength training. I don’t need weights when I’m working on lifting and holding my own body weight 🙂

    I was surprised at the difference in cardio though – I have recently started back on cardio machines after doing little structured cardio in a loooong time, and headed by default to the stairmaster. I got adventurous last week and tried the elliptical, and was so surprised that I could easily burn 450 calories on the elliptical in the same time that I was struggling to get to 250 on the stairmaster. It was like a dream come true LOL

  7. Tabby on April 30, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    I love your shoes! They are exactly what I have been looking for, and I have been unsuccessful! Please tell us where you got them 🙂 Thanks!

    • Fitnessista on April 30, 2012 at 2:31 pm

      aldo 🙂

  8. Lisa on April 30, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    You look incredible! I hope I look as good as you if I ever have a baby! And yay for rocking the wedges, I have been obsessed with them as of late! They look great with your dress as well. I’m not too surprised that the bikram burned so little. I thought that people got a little too caught up in the heat and that it seemed to get the heart rate up. Maybe it feels like your heart rate is increasing because your blood pressure drops in the extreme heat? I’m not sure I’m not doctor haha. I love your nails by the way!!! Are those sparkles on the tip?!

  9. eryka@This is My Happily Every After on April 30, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    I often wear my heartrate monitor. I guess the most surprising thing for me was when I wore my heartrate monitor to do the p90x plyometrics workout. I was sure I would burn upwards of 500-600 calories like everyone else online boasts about. I popped the DVD in, pushed extra hard, just to make sure I was giving it my all, and the results after 56 minutes was only 349 calories + whatever post workout burn I had. I was bummed. Guess that’s what happens when you’re short and not very heavy.

  10. Anne on May 1, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    Hi Gina,
    I know you said your HR monitor is a polar ft40- I can’t seem to find it anywhere. Is that the only brand that allows you to enter your weight for accurate calorie burn? I just returned a New Balance brand because it calculates calories without an option to enter y our height and weight so it seems like it would be incorrect. If the polar is the one, I will just order online. Thanks!

    • Fitnessista on May 1, 2012 at 6:42 pm

      i’m pretty sure my garmin let me input my data, too. polar is my favorite, though

      • Anne on May 1, 2012 at 7:17 pm

        thank you! just went ahead and bought the polar. i just hate wondering if the calorie display is even close to correct or not!

        • Vivian on February 26, 2013 at 3:57 pm


          I came across your blog when I looked up whether or not it was safe for me to use my polar FT7 heart rate monitor and watch to hot yoga. It’s not Bikram yoga (though I love that class) hot yoga offered at my local gym. It’s a 60 minute class. Do you think it’ll be okay? I’m worried it could get damaged by the humidity.

          Hope to hear from you soon! Nice blog!


  11. Mandi on October 24, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    I came across your blog Googling heart rate monitors and hot yoga… I just thought I would inform you from my research and talking to other fellow yogis that heart rate montiors can not track your calories from hot yoga. The heat messes up the calculation. You get most of your calories burning from the heat you are producing from within and there is no way a monitor can read that…anyways just thought I would let you know that even though your monitor read this way you more than likely burned double that and it just didnt know it. Keep practicing and namaste!

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