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The Hottest New Exercise Trend Could Be Dangerous To Health

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — One of the hottest fitness trends in the country has instructors turning up the heat, leaving gym-goers drenched.

The trend puts participants in rooms that range from a toasty 82-degrees to a nearly oppressive 95-degrees, more than 20-degrees warmer than recommended.

It started with hot yoga and then it spread. People like Jen Ellenberg swear by classes like hot cycling.

"When you take a heated spinning class you feel like you get so much more out of it. You sweat, your blood is pumping, it's amazing," said Ellenburg.

Advocates, like 'The Sweat Shoppe' owner Mimi Benz, claim the higher temperatures lead to a better workout.

"Obviously your heart rate's going to increase because it's a heated environment which yields more of a caloric burn," said Benz.

However, experts from the American College of Sports Medicine caution that turning up the heat may not be a good idea.

"Taking exercise programs and putting them into a gym in a hot environment to me is kind of a scary proposition," explained Dr. Walter Thompson, PHD.

Thompson helped develop the college's guidelines for fitness centers. Those guidelines recommend that fitness room temperatures be kept at 72-degrees.

"Well, the interesting question is, what kind of physiological reaction do people have in the heat?" said Thompson. "And that is an increased body temperature, an increased heart rate, and increased blood pressure."

Those reactions can lead to medical emergencies and dangerous complications but supporters argued that preparation is the key to any athletic endeavor.

"You put on a pair of shoes and run 26-miles and you're out of shape, you put yourself into danger, don't you? You've got to be in shape whenever you do any kind of exercise and you need to control your own personal effort," said Hot Yoga And Pilates, owner King Rollings.

Some gyms do train instructors to watch for the signs of heat related problems but Dr. Thompson said that isn't enough.

"The question is whether or not the average gym goer, the average client in a gym should participate in these heated environments, and my answer still is no," said Dr. Thompson.

Ellenberg said that the heat does take some getting used to, but she has no plans to cool down.

"I'm addicted to the feeling of sweating. It makes you feel so pure," she said.

Doctors said that anybody with a heart condition should get the okay from their physician before starting a hot exercise regimen.

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