The Korea Herald


Piloxing: ‘Sleek, sexy, powerful!’

By 배지숙

Published : July 7, 2011 - 18:27

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ST. LOUIS ― The women inside the Webster Groves, Missouri, studio looked as though they were channeling Muhammad Ali, Mikhail Baryshnikov and any of a dozen Hollywood starlets who have long lean torsos (think Gwyneth Paltrow).

They stood, feet apart, abdomens sucked in, punching the air with their right fists. Their left hands were raised to their left ear in a protective manner as instructor Kristin Dabney egged them on.

“Cellphones, ladies. Keep your left hand up near your ear,” she yelled over thumping music. “Punch punch punch punch.”

The air inside The Scoop ― A Pilates Studio was taking a brutal beating.
Kristin Dabney leads a piloxing class at a Pilates studio in St.Louis, Missouri (St. Louis Post-Dispatch/MCT) Kristin Dabney leads a piloxing class at a Pilates studio in St.Louis, Missouri (St. Louis Post-Dispatch/MCT)

Piloxing is the latest group cardio exercise craze. It’s an interdisciplinary program that combines the sculpting and flexibility of Pilates with the power, speed and agility of boxing. It also adds a healthy dose of dance moves including hip-hop, salsa and especially ballet, requiring immense core strength, balance and coordination.

In Pilates, all movement should begin in what practitioners call the powerhouse ― the hips, abs, lower and upper back, buttocks and inner thighs ― and flow outward to the limbs. That explains why many of Piloxing’s moves have controlled ballet-like movements that work the lower body.

When Joseph Pilates created his fitness program in the early 20th century, he initially called it Contrology and his first students were dancers who helped build on his ideas. Coincidentally, or not, Piloxing was created by Viveca Jensen, a Swedish dancer and trainer to Hollywood celebrities, to “physically and mentally empower women through fitness.”

St. Louis Fitness Club on Hampton Avenue, Main Street Gym in St. Charles and the Jewish Community Center in Creve Coeur and Chesterfield also offer Piloxing classes.

Dabney teaches Piloxing at Washington University’s recreation center during the school year and says it’s been wildly popular with students.

“We’ve had to limit the number of people in the class,” she said. “They’re really interested in anything related to boxing.”

During the Piloxing class at Scoop, Dabney led the class through a routine that went from boxing and hip hop moves to squatting with the knees turned out into a modified plie, as in ballet. The participants raised their left legs repeatedly in a controlled manner, first out in front, then to the side and finally to the back, until lactic acid burned in their right thighs. Then they switched to the other side and did the same.

Sometimes they ran in place with choppy, rapid-fire foot falls while punching so quickly that their hands were practically a blur. Several women wore weighted gloves to help further tone the arms and maximize the cardiovascular effects.

Dabney, 45, yelled and whooped throughout the class.

“I’ve never taken Pilates, so I was going in blind,” Nicole Dalton, 19, of St. Louis said afterward. “But I’ll definitely be back. It was so much fun.”

Angel Deatherage, 19, of Oakville, Missouri, has taken Pilates, but said she still had a difficult time in parts of the class.

“I kept losing my balance and falling all over,” she said.

“You know, I could balance way better on my right side than my left,” Dalton added.

Boni Lang, 62, a Pilates instructor at Scoop, has taken three Piloxing classes and says it gets easier the more you do it.

“But oh, my god, it’s hard,” she said “I found that when the (music) beat picked up it required a lot more coordination.”

Practitioners of Pilates believe that precision is essential so you don’t do the exercises improperly and lose all the vital benefits. If that’s true, then you’d already have to have a strong core to reap all the possible benefits from a Piloxing class.

“Pilates movement fundamentals help you find your balance and recruit your muscles more efficiently,” said Dabney. “But there was one woman at the JCC who is a workout fanatic, and she said every muscle in her body was sore the next day. You recruit a whole set of muscles you don’t use in other workouts.”

She compares building muscles with Pilates and Piloxing to opening a Russian nesting doll from the inside out ― you start by working the small internal muscles in the core which help with balance and move outward to larger muscle groups.

“And as we age, that element of balance becomes more critical so it’s pretty important for everybody,” she said.

The last 10 minutes or so of the class were devoted to ab work. The women pulled out mats and did various crunches and planks.

Then they all stood up, reached for the sky with one arm before flinging it across their chest in a coy, come-hither pose, then punched the air while yelling: “Sleek, sexy, powerful.”

By Cynthia Billhartz Gregorian, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

(McClatchy-Tribune Information Services)