Fresh take on fitness: Fusion workouts
We’ve decoded some of the newest combination fitness classes, including Piloxing, AcroYoga, and more
Get fit faster with a fusion class
Why stick to one discipline when you can get two-for-one benefits? Ramp up your fitness intensity-and fun factor-with a fusion class. Some are so newfangled they aren’t yet widely available; Google the activity and the name of your town or city to find out if there’s a class near you. And as always, check with your doctor before starting a new workout plan.
Developed by Diana Lefebvre, a former ballroom dancer in Calgary, Burlesquercise is a women-only class that combines a dance-inspired workout with theatre skills. The 45-minute fitness portion of the class includes elements of ballet, jazz, Latin dancing and Pilates. “The workout is low impact,” says Lefebvre, “but it works your entire body.” The other half of the class involves learning theatre skills, which includes playing with props such as feather boas and fans. “You learn to access your body and turn into another character,” says Lefebvre. Courses are offered at six levels and are six weeks long. Twice a year, Burlesquercise students participate in a themed gala where they can show off their new skills. The performances are strictly PG: “There’s no nudity involved whatsoever!” Lefebvre says. “It’s more like cabaret dancing; it’s not trashy. And it’s a very supportive environment. The focus of Burlesquercise is on feeling better about yourself and your body.”
This fusion workout combines Pilates with boxing, complete with jabs and uppercuts. “These activities are so different, you wouldn’t really think about pairing them together,” says Viveca Jensen, the Los Angeles-based founder and CEO of Piloxing. “But what’s great about Piloxing is the combination of working out at a higher intensity and then going into standing Pilates movements, which work on your balance, and help to tone and lengthen the muscles.” This type of interval training is one of the best workouts for cardio health and for burning calories, she says. Core strength is also a major component, and there is the option of wearing weighted Piloxing gloves (a half-pound each).
Jensen, originally from Sweden, also has a background in dance and boxing, and is a master Pilates trainer. She came up with the unusual combination after her Pilates clients asked her what they could be doing for cardio training. She combined the two regimens so people could get both their cardio and toning workout all in an hour. Celeb fans of Piloxing include Hilary Duff, Vanessa Hudgens and Heather Morris.
A SpinBarre class at Barreworks in downtown Toronto is one hour long, with the first 45 minutes devoted exclusively to Spinning, says Sandra Vadasz, Barreworks’ communications director. The last 15 minutes of the class are spent at a ballet barre doing stretching and strengthening exercises. “You can be a little tight after spinning, and this workout gives you the chance to completely unwind,” says Vadasz. Aside from the cardio aspect of spinning, the workout’s emphasis is on posture and alignment, to create a longer and leaner silhouette.
This workout combines the flexibility of yoga with the core-strengthening movements of Pilates. “A Pilates move is more repetitive, whereas yoga holds the pose,” says Sonja Bidese, owner and operator of Success Fitness in Colwood, B.C. “In a typical Yogalates class, there are techniques and poses that fuse the two together. For example, if you’re moving from a sun salutation into a lunge, you could stay in the lunge and hold it as a yoga pose, or you might drop your knee and pull it back up repetitively as a Pilates-type of move.”
This fusion of Bollywood dance and aerobics will give you a high-impact, energetic workout. “Bollywood dance is very structured and requires a lot of instruction and technique, while the movements in Bollyrobics are more fluid,” says Deepti Sami, creative director and dance instructor at Bollywood Beats in Edmonton. “You get the benefit of enjoying the music and the environment with a fun workout.”
Spynga combines indoor cycling and yoga in an hour-long workout that begins on a stationary bike and ends on a mat. “The bike sequence encompasses a great ride, including hills and sprints and lifts,” explains Toronto’s Sari Nisker-Fox, co-creator of Spynga. “The yoga sequence is designed to counterbalance all the work we do on the bike, so it helps to open up the quads, hamstrings and shoulders.”
The combination of kick-boxing and yoga provides a total-body workout, says Martine Riscalla, a master Canadian Koga instructor and sports trainer in Montreal. “It works your muscles, cardio and balance. You’re in constant motion during a class.” The workout consists of high-energy martial-arts moves interspersed with yoga poses. Participants have the option of wearing weighted gloves or using one- to two-pound weights if they choose. Each Koga move lasts between one and 1½ minutes, and the hour-long workout ends with floor exercises. Riscalla estimates that some participants can burn upwards of 1,000 calories per hour.
Caponyasa is a mash-up of a Brazilian martial art known as capoeira with vigorous Vinyasa yoga and elements of modern dance. “A typical Caponyasa class takes place in a heated room to warm the muscles and help people get deeper into the moves,” says Carlos Rodriguez of New York City, who created Caponyasa several years ago. (It’s not available in Canada-yet.) The hour-long classes begin and end with a seated meditation, and the sweat-inducing workout consists of lunges, squats, abdominal work and gingas (basic capoeira moves). Depending on how hard you work, you can torch anywhere from 600 to 1,000 calories per class.
AcroYoga fuses traditional yoga poses and philosophies with acrobatic elements and partner work. Classes are 1½ hours long and begin with an Ashtanga-based warm-up. From there, participants do core-conditioning exercises before moving on to partner work and group games. There are three people involved in AcroYoga poses,also known as rotations, transitions or static balances: “the base” (the person on the bottom holding a pose); “the flyer” (the person on top); and “the spotter” (who guides the other two and makes sure no one gets hurt). “AcroYoga is about being in the moment and balanced with one another,” says Eugene Poku, the Montreal-based co-founder of AcroYoga. “You have to be focused. You’re with another human being who is dependent on your awareness and your consciousness. You can’t be thinking about what to have for supper. It’s very intense.” Despite the challenging nature of AcroYoga, Poku stresses that people of all fitness levels can participate-as long as you have a strong core. “If you can do plank pose without your back sagging, you can do AcroYoga,” he says. The first class was held in Montreal more than a decade ago; today, there are hundreds of instructors worldwide.