Cold workouts are cool now

April 29, 2019

Looking for a way to beat the heat this summer—and get in shape at the same time? Sure, you could dive into a pool or run up the stairs at your air-conditioned office. But those are so yesterday. Instead, you might want to think about patronizing a place that claims to be “the world’s first cool-temperature fitness studio.”

Opened in May 2018 in Manhattan’s Flatiron Chelsea neighborhood, Brrrn offers core and cardio workouts to a “chill” crowd of enthusiasts. Sessions are held for 50 minutes in a 50 ̊ (F) studio. Thus the “brrr.”

The new, nippy workout is based on the theory of “mild cold stress,” which posits that, when the temperature is low, your body relies on its own metabolism—by “brrrning” calories and fat—to get back up to 98.6 ̊ F.

To test it out, Founders Jimmy Martin and Johnny Adamic  pulled rowing machines into fridges at Sixpoint Brewery in Brooklyn and set up sessions at an ice factory in Martin’s Pennsylvania hometown. They eventually won investor backing to finance their first location in New York City.

Jason Kelly, a Bloomberg reporter, decided to test the theory out last summer. “I was intrigued by studies saying cold-temperature workouts are less fatiguing,” he commented, adding, “And on a steamy … day, the thought of walking into a chilly room sounded refreshing.”

Still, he commented, “When I arrive, 55 ̊ feels colder than I expect. The door to the actual studio resembles a walk-in freezer.”

The company’s website describes its ethos as its “Coldture” and promises to “give heat the cold shoulder.” The workouts, too, come in three “degrees”: First degree is a low-impact, yoga-inspired class that’s held at 60 ̊. Second degree classes are held at 55 ̊. Third degree, the most intense, drops the temperature to 45 ̊  and uses battle ropes and dumbbells as well as sandbells.

Kelly chose the middle option, which offers “total body conditioning” and still felt himself sweating buckets in the cool air by the end of the session.

Still, he asked himself when it was over, Is a cold studio enough, in a city with more boutique fitness concepts than cupcake stores, to build the kind of loyal mega-success achieved by those brands? Surprisingly, the answer was “yes.”

“One area where Brrrn has an edge,” Kelly said, “is enthusiasm, from both its instructors and founders. And the workout, even without the cold, is different in a good way. My inner quads and lower glutes were sore for days afterward, and the attention to largely unused muscles evoked the best barre workouts.”

And the science? “I want to believe it,” he says, “ If dropping the temperature a few degrees can make a workout more effective and addictive, all the better. But check back with me in winter.”

Each class costs $34.

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