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When Heat Is On, Keep Your Cool

One last thought about rising temperatures. Although the heat of summer has faded and fall's cooler temperatures are settling in, heat waves can hit at any time of year, especially in a poorly run facility.

A health club I used to frequent (for its business' sake, the facility shall remain nameless) is notorious for having less-than-ideal conditions. At any given time, one-third of its cardio equipment is broken, free weights are scattered about the facility and the front desk staff is less than enthusiastic. I continued to visit this facility because it always gave me good material for the magazine (and a good source for rage).

No matter what time of year, this club is warm. It's muggy. It's dank. It's so bad that the windows fog up. If you're preparing for a competition in a swamp, this is your ideal training facility. In fact, I wish our local weatherman did two forecasts — one for outside the club and one for inside the club — so that I could know how to dress for my workouts.

In my time working out at this club, I scouted out the coolest places in the joint. The rooms by the front desk aren't too bad, and the weight room has a nice breeze. In the winter, the first few cardio machines near the front door are ideal, as the cold from outside helps keep you cool as members come and go. However, the true sanctuary from the sweltering heat — no matter what time of year it is — is the group exercise room. It's always cool, crisp and refreshing. I believe it's the only room in the entire facility that actually has a functioning thermostat that adheres to industry guidelines.

So you'll see why I was so shocked when I attended a Latin-based dance class and almost died from heat exhaustion. Maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but I certainly felt as though someone could have died or at least passed out from heat exhaustion, especially if they shook their hips to full exertion, which I believe all 22 of us in that room didn't have the good sense to try. (If you think doing the salsa is hard on dry land, try it at 85 degrees on a slick, sweat-spotted wood floor.)

In the club's defense, I later learned that this scenario was not solely the management's fault. A new instructor subbing a mind/body class earlier that day had somehow figured out how to increase the temperature in the studio for her class's needs. I had no idea the club offered hot yoga on its group ex schedule. And, of course, no one could figure out how to lower the temperature, so we were left dancing with the heat blasting down on us.

Thankfully, the heating issue in the group ex studio was corrected the next day. The same could not be said for the rest of the club's problems.

There's definitely a lesson to be learned from my overheated experience. If you're a club owner, make sure your group ex instructors and other staff members don't dabble in facility operations and maintenance unless they've been trained. Also, don't be afraid to cancel a class if the conditions aren't safe. It's better to have 22 upset-they-missed-their-class members than 22 hospital bills.

The one positive from this sweltering adventure (besides the fact that the class did end up being a fun, albeit sweaty time) is that the rest of the club, by comparison, seemed like an icebox — or at least a refrigerator with high humidity. Regardless, it felt better.

I also learned a lesson about what to wear to a club. Always dress in layers. That way, you can be prepared year-round for any heat wave that might strike.

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