Fitness: Piloxing

Alice Taylor follows instructor Kym Donnelly (left) during a piloxing class at Corner Barre. Boxing gloves can be worn for more intensity.

Donning the half-pound gloves makes you feel as if you’re in for a serious all-boxing workout. But then you take off your shoes (what?) and warm up with plié squats and ballet toe points.

This is piloxing, a fusion class created on the West Coast that has spread to fitness centers and dance studios across the country.

It’s the only class in which I’ve heard the boxing commands “attack, retreat” in the same few minutes as an instruction to “assume second position and elevate,” which is a ballet move that involves turning out the toes and lifting the heels.

In the Richmond area, piloxing is offered at Corner Barre off Lauderdale Drive in western Henrico County. The Short Pump studio offers mostly low-impact classes using ballet (with the help of the barre attached to the wall) and Pilates moves.

“We needed a cardio option,” said Bronwyn Conway, one of the owners of Corner Barre.

After researching the options, the owners picked piloxing, which hadn’t been offered in the Richmond area before.

“We liked how it incorporated barre,” Conway said. Corner Barre has been offering the classes for about a year.

Newcomers are encouraged to try the class without the half-pound gloves sold at Corner Barre. When they’re ready to increase the intensity, the gloves make a significant difference, Conway said.

Parts of the class are high-intensity punches and kicks. Other parts are filled with balance and core work.

Throughout the United States and elsewhere, it’s catching on, Conway said. Instructor workshops are held all over the world.

Piloxing is the creation of Swedish dancer and celebrity trainer Viveca Jensen, who’s based in the Los Angeles area. It has become a popular workout with celebrities, such as Vanessa Hudgens, Alexis Bledel and Hilary Duff.

Corner Barre offered piloxing classes for free in July to encourage people to try it.

“It’s really been a hit,” Conway said.

Several participants who regularly attend the class said they’ve seen improvements in their shape and strength. All of these “regulars” wore the weighted gloves, making the punches more difficult and the cardiovascular training more intense.

Conway said, “Piloxing fuses Pilates, boxing and dance moves into a fat-torching, core-centric, interval-training workout.”

She added, “It’s really fun and really gets you sweating.”

Maria Howard is a group exercise instructor for the YMCA of Greater Richmond. Her column runs every other week in Sunday Flair.

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