Korea is hot. And humid. The air feels like you can chew it. The weather this week has been around 85 degrees every day and between 85 and 100% humidity. So, those conditions, plus a bjj gym with no air conditioning, a layer of clothes close to your body (sports bra), another layer of clothes (rash guard or t-shirt), plus a big thick gi. Yeah, I’ve had fun.
Clothes: If you wear t-shirts under your gi, immediately switch to rash guards. I could not believe the difference! T-shirts wet with sweat feel disgusting, heavy, and smell bad. Rash guards keep you cooler, stay light, and make for an all around pleasant experience. I also figured out a trick with my “sports bras.” So called because in reality they’re active-wear tank tops and the extra layer of fabric over my stomach was killing me, so I started folding up the fabric over my chest. For some reason the extra fabric over my bewbs feels less hot than over my stomach.
Gis: Lightweight gis are apparently the way to go 😉 The one that has tempted me the most is the ultra-lightweight Kauai Kimono ripstop gi, which weighs less than 1 lb. There is a discussion on them here, and the poster mentioned it dried in only 15 minutes. Amazing. Next year, self! No need for 5 gis in 2 months!
Drinks: I started freezing mine the night before, and by the time class started the next evening, the water was deliciously cold. Some have said that drinking near frozen water causes a shock to the system, but I haven’t been able to find any evidence of that on my basic Google search, so take that with a grain of salt 😉 Whatever you do, though, drink and then drink more. Drinking Gatorade or the like can replace electrolytes, and one gentleman said he likes to have weak Gatorade at the beginning of class, then a stronger concentration about 10 minutes before rolling. Warning: too much glucose will make you nauseated.
Food: Several people mentioned that having some food in your stomach is very helpful. Eating digestible carbohydrates about an hour or two before class. Some of the foods mentioned were: oatmeal with honey, bread, banana, sandwich, or something light.
Cooling down: I’ve been wetting a thin towelette and keeping it in the gym refrigerator, which is right near the mats, and on breaks I take out an icy cold washcloth to wipe my face/neck/head. WONDERFUL. I also get it wet and wet the hair on the top of my head. REFRESHING. Apparently the top of your head has a large concentration of blood vessels, so the cold water helps dissipate heat very effectively. I’m still convinced that adding a tiny bit of Dr Bronner’s Peppermint soap would keep things cooler, but have yet to try it.
Edited to add: You can buy peppermint oil and apply that to your temples to help cool you down as well. It feels nice and refreshing, but I’m not sure how much actual cooling it does.
The standard warning: STOP if you feel nauseated, dizzy, confused (more than normal ;)), or chills. Sit, rest, and drink immediately.
An extra tidbit about humidity from a very cool article about running in hot, humid weather. This article talks about the effects of heat and humidity on the body:
What about humidity?
Studies in Japan on ambient humidity result in the same effect because humidity prevents the body’s sweat from evaporating. Sweating is the body’s method of keeping cool. When it is not functioning properly again the blood flow is diverted to the skin. This study shows that hot, humid environment at sea level is as much incapacitating as is hypoxia at high altitude. [Ref. Journal of Applied Physics, Vol. 40, Issue 2, 206-210]
Jiu Jiu’s Question: So what do you do to keep cool when you roll? What works for you?