Health clubs in New York City are introducing workout classes that take place in the near dark. The recently opened New York Sports Clubs in lower Manhattan, for example, is turning down the lights in the gym for a new workout experience.
“I think of football, when the games are usually played at night,” Millennial Alonzo Wilson told The New York Times in an interview. “It brings out the beast in you — it allows you to unleash your inner athlete.”
“The dark signifies that you are doing something special,” a 43-year-old lawyer told The Times. She said the dim lighting made her feel more confident in front of the mirrors. “It’s motivating when you look good,” she said. “It makes you want to go back.”
Fitness studios like SoulCycle, Barry’s Bootcamp, Flywheel, and YogaWorks have long preferred the pitch black ambiance. And now the trend appears to be growing.
For people with an active lifestyle, sometimes exercises have to be done at odd hours. Fitness enthusiasts who identify themselves with this emerging generation active are accustomed to working out before the crack of dawn, or late at night long after the sun has set. It’s this dark setting that often motivates athletes the most.
However, some doctors say that exercising in the dark may not be ideal for the body.
Dawn Lorring, the clinical rehabilitation manager for Rehabilitation and Sports Therapy at Cleveland Clinic Sports Health, cited a 2012 study, which showed that people performed at higher levels during their workouts if they had been exposed to bright lights before getting into their exercises.
“Dim light seems to negatively impact the level at which people push themselves,” Lorring told The Times. “Darker lighting also decreases a person’s sense of balance and body awareness, which, along with the vestibular system and other sensory inputs, is how we determine where, for example, to place a foot during an exercise movement. I’m not sure the positives outweigh the negatives.”