Will a Darker Room Make You Burn More Cals?

by Marissa Stephenson


Courtesy of Barre Bee FitCourtesy of Barre Bee Fit That's the theory behind the lighting system at Barre Bee Fit, a Chicago-based barre studio that, despite the cutesy name, specializes in calorie-crushing workouts. (Think hardcore kickboxing rounds followed by thigh-burning barre work, and repeat, repeat, repeat.)

Workout rooms are windowless, and owners Jillian Lorenz and Ariana Chernin plant an iPad in the wall to control the lighting and playlist, which switches up throughout the class.

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For strength work, lights are at 55 to 90 percent ("You can clearly see yourself in the mirrors to check form, and notice your muscles firing," says instructor Suleen Lee). For cardio bursts of jumping jacks, fast feet and punching combos, the lights dim to 35 percent ("When it gets darker and the music speeds up, you feel more intense, and you attack those couple minutes," Lee explains.) Then the room goes cave-like at the end of class with a stretching segment and 20 percent light. At that point you're spent, and the almost-black space helps you ease into relax-mode.

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I tried the studio's new Michigan Avenue location this past Saturday, and experienced the lighting experiment firsthand. Verdict: I did push a little harder when the lights went down for cardio bursts -- even closed my eyes at one point and just jumping-jacked my face off. Did the surge of blasting pop music help? I'm sure. But if mood lighting could help coax even a little more intensity out of you during cardio, it's worth hitting the dimmer at home.

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