It’s hard to imagine the appeal of Piloxing (Pilates and boxing), the latest workout craze sweeping the US and Europe, because it seems impossible to reconcile two seemingly contrasting disciplines together. But then again, it’s precisely the odd couple’s yin and yang relationship that’s winning over new disciples every day.
Piloxing has successfully combined standing Pilates and boxing with rhythmic dance movements in between. The full-body, high-energy interval workout attracts mostly women, including Hollywood celebrities such as Hilary Duff, Alexis Bledal, Ashley Tisdale, Kirsten Dunst, Vanessa Hudgens, Haylie Duff, Amanda Crew and Melissa McCarthy.
It just might become the next big thing after Zumba, and it’s not hard to see why. The fierce workout is designed to address common issues women have with their bodies—fleshy arms, flabby triceps, fat abs, wide hips and thunder thighs. The brainchild of Swedish celebrity trainer Viveca Jensen, the workout aims to physically and mentally empower women through fitness.
It is no accident, then, that students, after each class, recite the Piloxing mantra together: “Sleek. Sexy. Powerful.” Each word with matching body movements, naturally. The constant reaffirmation creates a positive, powerful self-image, and women go home feeling like a million bucks.
“Pilates and boxing share concepts of concentration, awareness and control. Boxing is power, speed and agility, representing power and confidence. Pilates is grace, fluidity and balance, creating a sexy and feminine self-image,” said Piloxing instructor Mitch Felipe. Felipe was trained and certified to teach Piloxing by Jensen.
The core of Piloxing, however, is mostly based on Pilates’ principles. Breathing is through the nose, thus expanding the ribs, then exhaling through the mouth, navel toward the spine. Expanding the rib cage will make it easier to breathe and control movement.
Core stabilization—in Piloxing-speak, that means the muscles of the torso and the muscles that attach the hips to the ribs—is achieved with an upright neutral spine. A typical boxing class, or even kickboxing, encourages students to hunch over for a round back position. That form, however, locks the shoulders and joints, making them susceptible to injuries.
That’s a no-no in Piloxing. The body must always be in a neutral upright position in any movement for it to be in a very safe mode of exercise. It’s the only position by which your body can take in so much stress safely.
The jab, for instance, is executed with a neutral wrist. Imagine holding an ice cream cone. Extend that arm forward, ice cream cone still in hand—do not spill that ice cream!—and you have the perfect Piloxing jab. Students of kickboxing will take some time adjusting, since the Piloxing jab does not allow for rotating the forearm when one punches.
“There are two bones in the forearm. When you rotate the forearm as you punch, as you do in kickboxing, those two bones cross. Doing repeated high reps of that makes you prone to injuries. In Piloxing, it’s always form first before speed,” Felipe said.
There is control in movement, no matter the intensity. To create a balance, there must be oppositions, she said. The jab must be executed with the back engaged so the movement is solid, smooth and fluid, not flimsy and awkward.
Lengthen and elongate, for instance, before a lateral flex. The flexion-traction will create a space opening of the joint or spine prior to the lateral movement, avoiding joint compression and injuries.
In every movement, there is contraction of the agonist muscle to stretch the antagonist muscle. This is called reciprocal inhibition. Lifting the legs causes the quads to contract but then it also actively stretches the hams. This protects overextension of the joints and increases extensibility, creating a balance of flexibility and strength between muscle groups.
Piloxing burns anywhere from 400-900 calories per session, depending on one’s fitness level, weight and age. Kara Prieto, who has been doing Piloxing via DVDs purchased online a good three months before an actual class was offered in the country, said she burns an average of 500 calories per session. The DVD video class burns less, she said. (Prieto uses a heart rate monitor to measure her calorie burn.)
For greater calorie burn and strength building, students may opt to use the Piloxing gloves that weigh a half-pound each. That option is only for advanced students.
Regular workout shoes are not allowed. Barefoot training is a must to strengthen the feet, which function as the body’s shock absorber. Going barefoot stretches and strengthens the arches, improves blood circulation and allows for a graceful landing. Socks with grips on soles, such as sticky socks, are acceptable. Diabetics can also wear barefoot shoes as protection against infection.
The dance part is always the fun part, like little breaks in between high-intensity boxing and Pilates. The 60-minute, 13-track class is loaded with energetic music that goes anywhere from 125-145 beats per minute. Each session is so intense and challenging that Felipe advises a twice-a-week only class for Piloxing, complemented by other forms of exercise throughout the week.
Piloxing develops long, lean muscles, toning and defining them along the way. It improves cardio endurance, promotes lean body fat ration and is excellent for weight management. It also improves posture, balance and stabilization, coordination and agility, and physical and mental connection and emotional well-being.
Males, of course, are welcome to join the class. Piloxing is offered at B+B Studio, 11/F Infinity Tower, 25th St., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. Call tel. nos. 4786691 and 0917-8653878.
PHOTOS BY AUGUST DELA CRUZ