Combining Exercises for Fun and Intense Workouts

We have become a world where multi-tasking is expected. We are more comfortable doing several things at once and we measure success on the proficiency of our juggling skills. It’s no wonder that our workouts are reflecting the intensity, variety and efficiency we demand in the other areas of our lives.

Rev Yoga, Biker Barre, Zumba, The Blend, Piloxing, Crossfit, Cardio Kickboxing, the Ball Bike – these are just a sample of classes and fitness equipment that is setting a current trend in fitness – doing more creative, more focused and more varied workouts.

The concept of doing cardio, strength and stretching in one workout is not new. Years ago I taught two one-hour classes consecutively – the first one was high impact aerobics and the second was body conditioning and stretching. You could take each class separately or if you took the classes back-to-back you’d get a more intense, balanced and complete workout.

Fitness is not measured by how fast you can run or how heavy you can lift. While those goals may be valid for some, fitness is generally measured by cardio endurance, muscle strength and flexibility.  We often neglect one or two fitness components because of time, tastes or comfort level. Getting out of a fitness rut is beneficial for both your body and your mind.

One way to revive your workout or try something new and get intensity, challenge, balance, relaxation and fun all in one exercise session is to experience some of the less traditional classes found in the area. Rev Yoga or Biker Barre may fit that bill.

Rev Yoga

“I combine 45 minutes of cycle with 45 minutes of yoga (specifically designed to strengthen the upper body and core, lengthen hamstrings, glutes, hips and quads and clear the mind with breath work and meditation,” said Gabriella Boston, the creator of  Rev Yoga at Results Gym on Capitol Hill. “People have responded well. It has attracted people both from the yoga world and the cycling world. I am thrilled when that type of cross-over happens.”

Gabriella explained that cycling is an excellent cardio workout that also builds strength and endurance in the lower body (and to a lesser extent in the core). But cycling like so many cardio-type workouts tends to shorten and tighten muscles. While cycle instructors include stretching at the end of class she said she did not think it was enough to open up the hips, hamstrings and quads. Cycling includes no upper-body strengthening work.

“This is where yoga comes in. I realized that I liked following up my cycle class with yoga whenever possible not only to lengthen but also to strengthen the muscles as well as clear the mind. However, since the yoga classes weren't tailored to fit the cycle classes they often included a lot of power poses for the quads and glutes (not exactly what you need after cycling) and not a whole lot of upper body strength work (which is exactly what you need after cycling).”

Currently Rev Yoga is exclusively at Results, but Gabriella  (www.gabriellaboston.com).said a new studio offering cycling and yoga called Sculpt DC in Gallery Place will be opening soon.

Biker Barre

Just about three blocks away from Results, a fitness studio opened last May that offers cycle and barre classes. Barre is a sculpting and toning total body workout that uses ballet, Pilates and Yoga moves (not dance) in dynamic sequences with music and energy. When I was at Biker Barre Studio (www.bikerbarre.com) on a Saturday last month, several morning classes were sold out and the waiting room had a healthy number of students waiting to take a class. “Cycling and barre are the perfect fit,” said Jane Brodsky, co-owner. Biker Barre is a high intensity community-based studio.  She calls taking a back-to-back cycling and barre class “doing a double”.

Other combos

Combining exercises from different disciplines in one class is also a big trend in fitness. Last month at the DC Aerobics Convention in Reston, VA., I discovered Piloxing, (www.piloxing.com) a class that mixes Pilates and boxing for a fat burning, muscle-sculpting core workout. It blends power, speed and agility of boxing with sculpting and flexibility of Pilates. Participants use weighted gloves as well.

I also discovered the Ballbike, a cardio, core and strength exercise machine. It’s called the “one and done” workout. It combines a bike, ball and elastic resistance. You ride on air (seated on a ball) without discomfort of impact to avoid injury using a smooth rhythmic motion so that your perceived level of exertion is low at a high target heart rate (maximum benefit, least exertion). When you use the elastic resistance attached to the back of the bike, you can do a different movement every movement to keep you engaged, focused and not bored. The machine is not much different in size than a treadmill and about the same price.

Principles and movements of individual exercise classes lend themselves to fusing together to make a class that is different from each discipline when performed separately. A few years ago I designed a class that blended movements from Pilates and yoga called “The Blend” (www.pattiecinelli.com). It is a smooth flow-like class that allows a student to experience a taste of both yoga and Pilates in an hour-long intense workout.

Even Zumba, developed in 2001, (www.zumba.com)which is reported to be the world’s largest dance-fitness program with more than 14 million people taking weekly classes in more than 150 countries, combines Latin and International music with dance moves and intense high/low impact aerobic moves.

Then there’s Crossfit,(www.Crossfit.com)that incorporates exercises and equipment that have been used for years to train military personnel and athletes into a program that is adapted for general populations.

Something is to be said for the purists who want Pilates to be Pilates and yoga to be yoga. When exercise disciplines are combined and executed to music at a fast speed, body awareness and expert cueing is the key to a safe and fun workout.

A student recently said to me,” Something old is something new again.” The ways in which we move our body are not new, nor are the movements themselves. It’s all about the design of the class, the skill of the instructor and the mindfulness of a student. The best exercise is the one that you do. There’s no reason why you can’t find some class or piece of exercise equipment that you enjoy that gets you moving on a regular basis. Figure out what you like. Try a few classes, get on a new machine and start sweating.

Pattie Cinelli has been teaching fitness classes and personal training for more than 25 years. She currently focuses on training clients in pre-postnatal exercise, mind/body balance for weight loss and core strength and stability. Email her fitness questions or story ideas at: fitness@pattiecinelli. 


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