This summer had some particularly hot and humid days. Training in the heat, like training in the cold, is just another one of the challenges each student needs to accept and, oddly enough, is an important part of the school’s curriculum. Violence can happen in any season and training in the various extremes of temperature is just another way of being prepared. Additionally, learning and understanding the capabilities of your mind and body during difficult training conditions is part of the learning process. That being said, there are a some things to note about training in the heat.
First, classes are typically adjusted somewhat to account for the heat. Although they aren’t dummied down per se, classes held in extreme heat will focus on things that don’t overly press and fatigue the body. Before class, Sifu or the instructor will remind the students about the physical symptoms of heat exhaustion (general fatigue, weakness, nausea, dizziness, muscle cramps, and an increase in body temperature) and tell them that they can bow out of class to get a drink should they feel the need. Just a gulp or two is all that is needed once or twice during class. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are serious physical issues that are not taken lightly. It is better to take things a little easier and train the next day, than to push yourself and be out for a week.
Second, one of the biggest issues during the heat is hydration. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids before and after class. Sports drinks with electrolytes can be particularly good for post-workout rehydration. There is water available for students after class, but when the weather is hot it’s advisable to bring your own bottle of water or other drink to ensure there is plenty to drink. Having a little ice in the bottle to cool it down helps, although making it too cold with a lot of ice is not typically advisable as it can shock the system.
Third, this one is fairly obvious, but train in the light kung fu t-shirt instead of the kung fu “jacket”. The t-shirts are both lighter and breath better. Be sure to bring a towel to dry the sweat off with and light, breathable clothes to change into after class.
Fourth, it is often less hot in the later classes (7-8pm during the week) and the earlier classes (10-11am on Saturday). There can be a substantial difference in both heat and humidity between the 5-6pm class and the 7-8pm class. If you have the flexibility, try going to a cooler class.
Lastly, if you are starting to have symptoms of heat exhaustion or to cool off when class is over, take something cool and put it around your neck – this works wonders.