Is the 'World’s Easiest Workout' too good to be true?

The ‘world’s easiest workout’ proclaims to burn 600 calories in 30 minutes  (Gymbox)
The ‘world’s easiest workout’ proclaims to burn 600 calories in 30 minutes (Gymbox)

Some people love the gym; others have the gym thrust upon them.

I belong firmly in the latter camp. Propelled by the twin forces of guilt and cut-price ClassPass membership offers, I've spun, planked, and winced my way through circuits in the past. And yet, it never seems to get easier.

I have made my peace that I will never be one of those 5am people who bounce out of bed and onto a treadmill before the office. You know what? Yolo.

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t wished those extra Christmas pounds could just drop off with minimal grunting on my part. Wouldn't it be marvellous if you could just melt calories away, as if by magic?

A new gym class promises such sorcery. Devised by Gymbox, the 45-minute session is touted as 'the easiest workout in the world', and uses infrared sauna blankets to sizzle off up to 600 calories in a single session — or so the spiel goes. Could this be the answer to my lazy girl prayers? All results, zero gruntwork? I joined a class to find out.

Held on Mondays at Gymbox’s Victoria branch, in a small room in front of gleaming gym machinery. It was a tight group; only seven Higher Dose sauna blankets were laid out but every single one was taken by the time the class began. Turns out the idea of a lazy burn is also a popular one.

We begin with the most strenuous part of the workout; that is, light stretching to limber up muscles and allow the heat, which will rise incrementally to a scorchy 70°C, to do its thing. Getting into the sauna mat is the closest I got to breaking a sweat. It takes Olympic-level wriggling to first get into a protective sleeve-like body towel before scooching down into the warmed sauna mat, all while trying to avoid catching anyone else's gaze in the full-length mirrors ahead.

Heat rising: the sauna blanket studio (Abha Shah)
Heat rising: the sauna blanket studio (Abha Shah)

Once correctly swaddled and fastened up around the shoulders so just the neck and head poke out, we’re coached through breathwork reps — far more agreeable than burpees — as the heat steadily ticks upwards. Sadly, it did not become the molten inferno that I’d fantasised about, despite readings confirming we were at 70°C.

I may not have felt any real burn, but studies have shown that sauna blankets are great for muscle recovery and can help improve circulation while easing stress. I was indeed feeling pretty zen — laying down in a warm blanket in a dark room will do that to you, surprisingly — and I wasn’t the only one.

I detected at least two sets of gentle snoring from around the room as I tried to focus on my breathwork (in for four, out for six). And while I can’t say for sure how many calories were lost exactly — Gymbox claims 30 minutes is about the same as an hour’s spin class — I felt good.

The glow of workout smugness is the missing element here. While I regard anyone who claims runner’s high is a real thing as deeply suspicious, there is something to be said for the saintly feeling you get after going hell for leather in a traditional fitness class.

Still, allowing a sauna blanket to do the heavy lifting for you occasionally is a treat gym devotees (or lazy lifters) will surely appreciate.

Classes are for Gymbox members only. Monthly memberships start from £90, or try a day pass for £20.