Meet Zach Hurt: Bike, Ski and Bikram Yoga
Meet Zach Hurt, your average skier, biker, yogi kind of guy: except that he’s totally not average. Zach shares the lifestyle of many Last Frontier Heliskiing guests: skiing in the winter, biking in the summer, and trying to stay healthy and strong all year round so that he can enjoy them without succumbing to injuries. The one thing that he says has improved it all? Bikram Yoga.
The hot yoga phenomenon known as Bikram is not just another exercise fad: for many people, it’s a lifestyle. The projected health benefits from a regular practice (2 – 4x weekly) include weight loss, fat burning, increased energy, stress relief, improved flexibility and strength, improved clarity and focus, healing of old injuries and chronic pain, increased circulation and balancing of bodily systems. On top of that, the hot room, heated to 40 degrees Celsius for the entire duration of the class, warms the muscles for greater flexibility, helps achieve a deeper stretch, flushes toxins from the body through sweat, improves efficiency of the immune system, creates a cardiovascular workout, burns calories and builds endurance.
Here are the twenty-six postures of Bikram, sped up.
So why did Zach go to a class? Seven years ago, he was occasionally practicing yoga with at-home DVDs, trying to balance out his active lifestyle of working at Silver Star’s Bike Park in the summer and as a Ski Patroller in the winter. Naturally, he was pretty stiff; “couldn’t even touch [his] toes.” A Bikram studio opened in Vernon, and he went to check it out, thinking to himself “this is stupid, this is for girls.” The older lady next to him was crushing the postures: Zach, hating every moment, couldn’t believe it. He had thought that he was in good shape, that he was strong. But the new challenge, combined with how good he felt after that first class, was what propelled him to continue.
“Continue” being an understatement: Zach immediately signed up for a 30 day challenge. He practiced 90 minutes everyday for 30 days straight, noticing an increase in flexibility, a calmer state of mind and more control in his breath when skiing or biking. Hooked, he headed down to Los Angeles for the infamous nine week Bikram yoga teacher training. At the training, students practice twice a day (2x 90 minute classes), and the remaining time is filled with clinics, postures and instructions to get into the postures. Some days they would work for twenty hours, getting only four hours of sleep in between. He taught his first class in 2011. Then Zach decided to take it to the next level; he began training for competitions. After ten months of training, he entered the local competition in Vernon, which advanced him to the BC Provincials, where he placed fifth. At Nationals he placed in the top ten.
Now Zach practices a couple days a week to supplement his active lifestyle. It’s a big time commitment, with travel time to and from the class and ninety minutes of yoga – plus a mandatory shower afterwards…you get so sweaty. But Zach insists that it’s worth it, “I’ve seen a whole lot of people get injured, mainly due to not being flexible.” Bikram yoga helps that; Zach has taken some nasty falls but has yet to pull a muscle. The yoga targets your core, which compliments biking and skiing, and the heat is restorative after spending nine of ten hours being outside in the cold. Ultimately, “you’ve got to want to do it for yourself,” Zach says, “it’s more than just a great way to stay in shape.”