What It Is: The Brrrn
Who Tried It: Grace Gavilanes, PEOPLE.com associate editor
Level of Difficulty: 7/10 The workout moves themselves weren’t super difficult, but something tells me the class’ colder temps definitely had something to do with my ability to withstand the fatigue for so long.
I didn’t know what to expect when I got off the train and began walking toward N.Y.C.’s new Brrrn studio. I had received an invite the day before to try out one of their three class offerings: Yoga-inspired Strength and Mobility Series, Core and Cardio Slide Board Series, and Battle Rope Infused Hit Series. As someone who’s eager to get back into her regular workout schedule, I opted for the third, a 45-minute class designed to improve strength and conditioning with dumbbell circuit training and battle rope exercises. I was sure it would help jumpstart my fitness journey.
The only catch? Each workout takes place in a studio with below-average temps, depending on the level of activity the class requires. In fact, wearing beanies and gloves (which can be purchased at Brrrn) during class is encouraged. The class I was taking was set at 45°F, the coldest of the three. The others are set at 60°F and 55°F, respectively.
Naturally, I had a few questions beforehand: What do I wear? Will I catch a cold? Will this make me as uncomfortable as hot yoga had that one time?
I started doubting myself during my walk over. I questioned the thickness of my leggings, wondered if I should have opted for a cotton shirt (per the invite email’s recommendation) rather than the lycra one I was wearing, and asked myself if I was even ready to put my body through such an intense class when the most physical activity I had done over the past month was lightly sprinting to a table in our office, where cake was being served.
But it was too late. I had already made it to 20th street, and was just around the corner from the studio. I walked up the few stairs and made it inside, which was at a nice temperature. I was greeted by one of Brrrn’s cofounders, Johnny Adamic, who asked me if I was looking forward to the class. “I’m really nervous!” I said within seconds of being inside. He was understanding but also assured me that I would be “just fine.”
As I walked in to the class, I was a little taken aback. It wasn’t that cold. But to be fair, I do think my reaction went hand-in-hand with my initial freakout. I mentally prepared myself for freezing temps and was met with a super brisk fall day. I felt good as I switched between two stations: battle ropes and free weights.
With the benefits of burning more calories and delaying fatigue (and going even harder for the duration of your workout sesh!), exercising in a 45°F fitness studio has been a long time coming. “Cold has been the backdrop of the human experience for millennia,” Adamic has said. “But we’ve engineered cold out of our lives. Now we live in these climate-controlled environments of 72°F from the time we wake up until we go to bed, but routine exposure to cooler temperatures is actually good for us. We are reuniting the cold back with exercise — where it belongs.”
I wasn’t shivering in class. I felt the hairs on my arms slightly raise during short rest periods but since we were constantly moving, I was comfortable and motivated to complete the moves. I felt energized. I probably could have kept going an extra 15 minutes.
The studio also provides “dessert” in the form of a communal infrared sauna. It’s the same price and length of time as a workout class, but the only difference is you’re experiencing warmth. Its not suffocating, but a welcoming dry heat. “It’s a nice way to chill and make friends,” Adamic told me of the eight-seater sauna.
The Verdict: As someone who’s pretty paranoid about getting sick, I was initially nervous about doing countless jump squats and renegade rows in a cold room, voluntarily. Spoiler alert: It’s been three days and I’m feeling perfectly healthy. Just really sore all over, which is totally expected after all those bicep curls and lunges. While I felt cool throughout the class, I was still sweating. Mission accomplished.