August 2, 2023 | 15:08
Dim the lights, light some candles, browse Netflix and preparing to relax sounds like the peaceful setting for a sexy night in bed.
But for part-time New Yorker Allie Bennett, that’s how she and other fitness enthusiasts start their day — with a light 30- to 60-minute workout on a treadmill or walkway.
“Pleasant cardio is a really good way to honor your body and prioritize your peace through movement,” Bennett, 24, a health and lifestyle influencer, told The Post about the latest TikTok viral exercise movement — popularized by wellness creator Hope Zuckerbrow in March.
On the app, where the fast-growing hashtag #CozyCardio has racked up over 1 million views, women of all walks of life are creating a soothing scene to get active, seeing some, like Zuckerbrow, hitting their walking gear in a cozy set of pajamas and fuzzy socks.
It’s a low-impact, anti-HIIT workout — like the busy #HotGirlWalk and the virtual Pvolve program — that allows participants to step at their own pace, burn calories and revel in a relaxing, yet impactful “me” -time from the comfort of their living rooms.
Fun cardio also eliminates the pressure of “gym intimidation”—the worry that muscleheads at health clubs are judging their bodies and physical abilities.
In fact, a September 2019 study via Sure Women found that 1 in 4 women shy away from exercising in public for fear of being criticized by nitpickers.
The results showed that Gen Z women between the ages of 18 and 24 had the most anxiety about being viewed negatively while exercising.
And NYC fitness experts say cozy cardio is a phobia-free solution that gets otherwise sedentary people moving.
“For people who prefer to work out on their own, this is a great option,” Sadie Kurzban, founder and CEO of the 305 Fitness studio in downtown Manhattan, told The Post. “It doesn’t matter if you go to the gym, at home or even outside, it’s about doing what makes you most comfortable and what will keep you accountable every day.”
Ianthe Mellors, a group fitness instructor at Barry’s Bootcamp, says cozy cardio walks give her a welcome mental health boost.
“It’s a great way to shake a bad mood,” she said. “I go for a 20-minute walk and listen to a podcast, my favorite album or audiobook, and by the end of it my head is clearer and my mood is infinitely better.”
“It’s a fun, peaceful way to move your body in a way that doesn’t hurt and in a space that isn’t scary,” said the blonde, who splits her time between Manhattan and her hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina. “You’re working out, but you’re away from the gym or an instructor yelling at you.”
“You’re at home, in an environment that makes you feel good,” she added, “and doing something positive for yourself and your body in an extra comfortable way.”
For his cozy cardio sessions, Bennett — who founded the trendy “treadmill stand” — likes to fire up his sunset lamp, which beams cool purple and green light around a dark room; crank up the tunes on her “One Direction” playlist; jump on her walking machine; and sip a tasty energy drink for 30 minutes.
Instead of breathing her way through the high-intensity exercise, she enjoys a leisurely walk at a pace between 2.9 and 3.4.
Bennett doesn’t monitor her calorie burn or the number of steps she takes during the walks, as she claims the emotional benefits of the leisurely exercise outweigh their immediate effects on her weight.
“I feel great during and after a nice cardio ride,” she explained. “My focus is not on weight loss during that time. It’s about moving my body and getting those endorphins – but I sweat a lot.”
However, Zuckerbrow, 25, has shed more than a sprinkle of sweat since launching the cozy cardio craze at the top of the year.
“I’ve gone from a size 16 in jeans down to a size 12 — so it works,” the brunette, a content creator and caretaker from Dallas, told The Post. “I’ve been doing nice cardio consistently five days a week for the past five months.”
She dreamed of Netflix and the ‘mill trend’ after regaining about half the 100 pounds she had lost from her once 255-pound frame in early 2022.
Zuckerbrow, who has always been “terrified” of going to the gym, wanted to cut her excess fat in a relaxing and self-loving way.
“I wanted to put the weight back on in a way that felt good to me, not as punishment,” she said. “I’m a cozy girl at heart – I love to feel good no matter what I’m doing – and cozy cardio has greatly improved my relationship with my body and exercise.”
On TikTok, where recordings of her daily moseys have clocked up 1.7 million views, Zuckerbrow guides her followers through her cozy routine, which begins each day at 5:15.
After making a protein-packed iced coffee, she lights her three-wick “Cozy Comfort” scented candle, pops on a rom-com, and gets to work on her Soozier hiking mat — which sells for $200-$300 on Amazon — for 30 to 40 minutes.
And she is happy that her set-up has inspired others to start sweating too.
“I love seeing so many people online embracing the trend,” she said.
“The only way you can stay healthy is by doing what feels good to you and your body,” added Zuckerbrow, “not necessarily by forcing yourself to do something that makes you uncomfortable. ”