From the St. Louis Business Journal…
John LeFort has twisted and sweated his way to a 40-pound weight loss.
Instead of picking up dumbbells or jumping on the treadmill, LeFort decided to try hot yoga at Bikram Yoga of St. Louis last spring. The 54-year-old, six-foot-one sales director weighed about 258 pounds at the time and said he was starting to experience the tolls of old age. He said his wife was in excellent shape and looked 20 years younger than him, and that was just the motivation to get him started.
“I realized to be happy with myself and to live longer, I had to look as good as she did,” LeFort said.
Bikram Yoga or Hot Yoga, as it is commonly called, is the practice of flexibility, strength and balance in a studio heated to about 105 F with humidity hovering between 40 percent to 60 percent.
The exercise goes through a series of 26 postures and lasts about an hour and half. Hot yoga improves muscle and respiratory organs and has a cleansing aspect too.
“You’re getting rid of a lot of fluids,” LeFort said. “It’s kind of like defrosting your freezer, it works better afterwards, and I think that’s how I feel.”
LeFort now weighs 218 pounds and his blood pressure has seen a dip as well, going from 128/80 to 119/69. “They claim an hour and half burns 1,000 calories,” he said. “I bet I burn more than that.”
As sales director for Pizza Wholesale, a nationwide distributor of Hunt Brother’s Pizza, LeFort travels four to five times a week. Yet even though he is out of town, he still manages to fit a short yoga session in.
“I try to practice on the road,” he said. “I try to find a studio wherever I am. I usually get pretty lucky.”
Yoga not only strengthens his core muscles, but also his decisions about healthy eating. Prior to yoga, he would indulge on a baked potato and steak when he was traveling. Now, he buys fruit and a salad and prepares it back at his hotel.
LeFort attends both the Clayton and Chesterfield St. Louis Bikram locations. An introductory pass for two weeks unlimited yoga costs $39. LeFort pays $1,500 for an annual pass and plans to practice 150-250 times during the year. While on the road, he spends $12-$15 to satisfy his yoga habit.
LeFort said “Hot Yoga” is not for the weak and requires practice to achieve results. He said he saw results after three sessions. “A lot of people are going to panic the first time. The key is to go right back and do it again.”
Perseverance is a common theme in the exercise, which starts with simple breathing exercises and evolves into more intense postures. The moves utilize the body itself to increase strength, forcing LeFort to use all he’s got.
“I think all yoga is good for you,” he said. “In my mind, it allows you to go further, push yourself further without getting hurt.”