It’s the latest fitness craze.
Confession: I tend to avoid group fitness at all costs. Normally, during my workout, I like to drown my sweat and misery in an artfully crafted playlist of guilty pleasure music, while trying to think about anything other than the pain in my abs. Much of my aversion to group classes comes from the boredom I usually find myself plowing through since, before the class even begins, I know what to expect. If it’s yoga, get ready for the downward dog. Zumba? Time for some salsa steps. So when I heard about Piloxing – a class that blends Pilates, ballet and boxing into an ever-changing and full body workout – I knew I found just the thing to cure my group class woes. And how right I was!
Swedish dancer and celebrity trainer Viveca Jensen invented Piloxing in 2010 at her Toluca Lake, California studio. The craze quickly spread across the country and recently hit Chicago, with classes popping up in gyms across the city. My foray into Piloxing began at Posture Perfect Pilates in the South Loop.
I arrived early and sat in the waiting room with fellow yoga-pants-clad women, waiting for the preceding class to end. The studio itself was small, which meant the waiting room was filled with sounds from the class finishing up:
“Hold those abs, ladies!”
“Only ten more!”
“We’re almost there!” It didn’t sound easy.
Soon the instructor came out to lead us into the room, a space similar to the average dance studio with mirrors, a barre and yoga mats hung on the wall. We were instructed to remove shoes and socks (as the class is done barefoot) and grab some hand weights.
The class can be done with either weighted hand gloves, which are designed for the class and available for purchase, or with one-pound strapped hand weights provided by the studio. I was surprised how little weight we would be lifting. That is, until we started. After an hour, those little weights didn’t feel so light.
The first half of the class focused on boxing moves, cardio and ballet. We moved seamlessly from right hooks, to jumping jacks to pliés, with each ballet move providing the perfect amount of rest before the next cardio burst. As we ventured into the second half of class we rolled out our yoga mats to focus on Pilates. I was relieved to lie down but we were quickly put to work with crunches, leg and hip lifts and the ‘Piloxing taco,’ a combination of the three. The mat work included exercises to hit each area you expect from a Pilates workout – abs, glutes and inner thighs – as well as some tricep work that I knew I’d be feeling for days.
Posture Perfect Pilates started offering Piloxing in 2012, and the clients have been pouring into the classes ever since. “People love the class because it’s fun and it gets them cardio, which people are not always the most excited to do,” explains Shana Bonkosky, the spunky yet patient leader of my class. “The best thing about the class is that it’s designed to target the whole body.”
And target the whole body it did! I’m a little embarrassed to admit how sore I was the following day. Let’s just say that living in a three-floor walk-up has never seemed so daunting. And yet, for the chance to mix up my workout routine and get out of my group workout funk, it was all worth it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some sore muscles to tend to.
By Chelsea Zweig