Ballet bar workouts have been around for a while, and they seem to be multiplying. Those in search of a toning, stretching, and sculpting workout can choose from many options, including the Barre Method, Pure Barre, the Dailey Method, Pop Physique, and Cardio Barre, just to name few.
But now a unique bar class is coming to the Presidio YMCA. Starting in September, members will be able to take Piloxing Barre, a low-impact workout that uses both a ballet bar and light, weighted gloves to provide a full-body strength and cardio workout that burns calories, tones muscles, and is a lot of fun to boot.
Piloxing Barre is one of several offerings in the Piloxing cardio-fusion brand. Created by Swedish dancer and celebrity trainer Viveca Jensen, Piloxing was developed to help women not only get a good workout but also to feel empowered.
Jensen started as a body builder and then moved to dance, training at the Stockholm Ballet Academy in all aspects of dance, including ballet, jazz, and modern dance. She performed in Stockholm’s professional theater community for three seasons and then moved to Los Angeles to study with Billy Goodson, a well-known Hollywood choreographer. Jensen toured as a professional dancer in music videos and films until an injury cut her career short in 1997. She turned to Pilates, becoming a Pilates instructor and owner of a Pilates studio in Burbank, where she has trained celebrities including Hilary Duff and Amanda Bynes. Jensen created Piloxing, a mix of dance, boxing, and Pilates, in 2009.
In a Piloxing class, participants wear one-half-pound weighted gloves and perform boxing moves with their arms while also doing some traditional Pilates movements, such as forearm planks in an interval-based format. According to Jenson, Piloxing can help you boost cardio fitness; strengthen your core; tone and sculpt lean muscles, including arms, thighs, belly, and bum; burn calories; and increase stamina. Piloxing is offered at a few Bay Area gyms, including Raise the Bar Fitness with San Francisco locations on Taraval and Judah Streets and in Marin at the Bay Club and Jewish Community Center.
Jensen introduced Piloxing Barre, a new workout, in 2014. In a Piloxing Barre class, done barefoot, participants use a ballet bar for dance and Pilates moves similar to those of other bar workouts to work the core and legs. But the workout also combines elements of Piloxing, such as the weighted gloves, and rapid-fire powerful punching, kicking, jumping, and side-to-side intervals to add a cardio element.
PILOXING BARRE IN THE BAY AREA
Rachel Hubbard, a Marin-based Zumba, Piloxing, and Piloxing Barre instructor with a background in dance, says Piloxing Barre is her favorite workout, and she’s excited to bring it to the Presidio Y. “There are just so many great things about this class,” she says. “For those who aren’t feeling challenged enough by their current workouts and looking for something fun that both burns calories and builds strength, Piloxing Barre is the perfect mix. Hubbard says the workout is safe for those who may have knee, back, or feet issues and it is great for core strengthening. “Recent research,” she says, “shows that workouts that incorporate interval training actually promote weight loss and better cardiovascular health than long-distance running.” Hubbard is in the process of training more Piloxing Barre instructors, who must undergo a certification process similar to that of any other group exercise instructor.
Suzanne Dito, director of healthy living at the Presidio YMCA, is thrilled to be the first San Francisco location for Piloxing Barre classes. “We will have a 7:05 a.m. class on Saturdays and a Thursday class at 5:00 p.m. to start and will probably add additional evening classes, ” she says. “And if you’re not already a Y member, you can come in and take a tour along with a free class.”
TRYING IT OUT
In July the YMCA offered a Piloxing Barre class demo, and I signed up. Bellying up to the bar (there’s one along the wall and several moveable bars) barefoot on the cold wooden gym floor wasn’t very appealing. But once Hubbard and one of her instructors started the high-energy soundtrack and we began to move, the class was completely engaging. We alternately faced the bar, holding on with one or two hands, and did a series of lunges, squats, plies, and side-to-side steps to work the core, backside, and legs, alternating with a vigorous series of boxing moves such as uppercuts and punches that worked our upper bodies as well as the oblique muscles that run down the side of the body. (The gym wasn’t equipped with the weighted gloves for the demo but they will be available for the regularly scheduled classes.) Many of the moves were similar to those I’ve done in other bar classes, but the boxing was new and fun, and Hubbard’s enthusiastic encouragement and attention to form, along with the music made the class fly by. We ended on mats using some classic Pilates core-strengthening moves to work our abdominals. I got a good workout from Piloxing Barre and look forward to doing it again.