above: Monique Crous. – Photography by Jesse Rinka
Monique Crous helps people “get phiit fast” in a fun and safe way, and her signature workouts are now in Darien. Using infrared heat, her HOT HIIT classes help the body ease into movements and recover more quickly.
After taking her concept from a yoga center in Manhattan to a dedicated HOT PHIIT studio in Bronxville, NY, Crous and her partners expanded to Darien over the summer with a location at Goodwives Shopping Center.
Described as a “beat-based training system that combines High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), muscle toning and cardio with the healing properties of infrared heat,” the workouts aim to strengthen the core while burning fat, increasing flexibility and aiding circulation.
All HOT PHIIT classes are taught using far-infrared heat that “warms your body like the sun” with a technology similar to saunas. “The studio heats up to 98 degrees in a natural way and gets that amazing sweat out of your body,” she explains. “It’s good for your joints and stiffness, helping you ease into exercise more safely.”
While the class that started it all is HOT HIIT, Crous and fellow trainer Jessie Lambiase—who runs the Bronxville location—added core flow, barre and shadow boxing to the mix. Classes are taught on a yoga mat with a focus on core strength. They last anywhere from 40 to 55 minutes.
“We put a huge emphasis on the core, since it’s the center of all movement,” Crous says. “If you have control of your core, you have control of your limbs will move more safely and efficiently. You will also burn more calories.”
Crous points out some added emotional benefits you can experience from the workouts, in addition to improving physical health and fitness. “The classes are mood enhancing,” she says. “It gives you a euphoria when you’re done working out.”
A former Bikram Yoga teacher, Crous opened a yoga studio in 2013 in Manhattan’s TriBeCa neighborhood. In between teaching, she started working out on her own with the heat on and developed the HOT HIIT concept in 2015.
“My idea came from the natural craving of someone who spends a lot of time in the heat,” she says. When her HOT HIIT group fitness classes “blew up” in New York, she expanded with the dedicated Bronxville studio in 2019, before following up with the Darien location four years later. Crous applies some of the same yoga sensibilities at HOT PHIIT, with “an emphasis on mindful movement and low-impact modifications” anyone can do.
“HOT PHIIT is for all fitness levels, and most people do a mix of our classes,” Crous explains. “You can have a little fun while you do it, and we try not to take anything too seriously. Everything is set to music—it’s a killer workout.”
Crous has trained more than 100 instructors in HOT PHIIT throughout North America, and her concept continues to gain popularity in Fairfield County and beyond. Slated for early 2024, Crous plans to add a third location at 138 East Putnam Avenue in Cos Cob.