Instructor Jennifer Hopkins keeps the energy up with a speedbag punching drill.
Yogalates. Spinlates. Tangolates. Just when you thought that every conceivable hybrid exercise class involving Pilates had been invented, the Washington area is welcoming a new knockout workout.
What It Is: Piloxing, the brainchild of Swedish fitness guru Viveca Jensen, is an interval training program that alternates between heart-pounding boxing moves and muscle-toning Pilates exercises — and throws in a few dance steps for the heck of it. The blend started as a Hollywood craze (Jensen’s Piloxing Academy is located in L.A.), and has quickly spread across the country, along with its motto.
“Every class ends with, ‘Sleek, sexy, powerful,’” explains instructor Jennifer Hopkins, who’s introduced the class at Joy of Motion Dance Center and the YWCA National Capital Area. Each of the three words is accompanied by a pose that looks ripped straight out of “Charlie’s Angels” and serves to reinforce Piloxing’s main goal. “I want you to walk out feeling empowered,” Hopkins says.
Moves: That process starts when Hopkins has students jab away their stress by throwing their fists in every direction at a rapid pace. The boxing sections are similar to what you’d see in a kickboxing class — repeated combinations of punches and footwork — but with more attitude thrown in.
These moves are always done on both the right and left sides of the body, but rather than go straight from one to the other, the class mixes things up with a “singlet.” That’s Piloxing-speak for a quickie exercise set, such as hip bumps. “It helps you shake it out and keep your heart rate going,” Hopkins says.
Although the Pilates blocks aren’t nearly as cardio intensive, they’re not exactly breaks. Sections that pair leg lifts with triceps presses enlist your whole body, and your core gets extra attention whenever Hopkins calls out that it’s time to balance on one leg.
The lineup of exercises changes with each class, but you’ll never get out of the standing side crunch series, which involves repeatedly bringing your elbow to the opposite knee while keeping your active leg from touching the ground.
Standing on one leg while bringing your elbow to your knee is a Piloxing staple.
Workout: Considering that no dumbbells are involved, you’ll be surprised how sore your arms are the next day. And if they’re not? Hopkins wears half-pound weighted gloves and recommends them to any students looking for more of a challenge.
Your midsection should also feel tender, even though only a short segment at the end of class is done on a mat on the floor. Partly that’s due to the intensity of those moves, but it’s also because the class works your core constantly. When Hopkins has her students arch their backs and then contract their chests, that’s a standing ab workout.
“But it’s so fun because it’s like you’re at a club,” she says.
Crowd: Most students are women who like to punch up their workouts, as was evidenced by the vicious hooks being thrown during a recent class at Joy of Motion. No formal boxing (or Pilates) experience is required to follow along — although 32-year-old boxer Fatima Quander thinks the class will help her in the ring. “The core is so essential,” says Quander, who is psyched to see Piloxing marketed specifically to women. “Boxing classes usually are all testosterone.”
Men are still welcome to come, of course. “They just have to get a little sassy,” Hopkins says.
Piloxing is free at Joy of Motion (Joyofmotion.org) through July 25. The studio, which normally charges $17 for drop-ins, is offering the class at its Bethesda location (7315 Wisconsin Ave.) Wednesdays at 7 p.m. and at its Friendship Heights location (5207 Wisconsin Ave. NW) Saturdays at 12:30 p.m. Hopkins also teaches Piloxing at the YWCA ($6; 2303 14th St. NW, Ywcanca.org) Saturdays at 10 a.m.