By Nicole Rogers
While a good, flowing Pilates session can elevate your heart rate and make you sweat, many instructors find that their clients crave ways to integrate more cardio into their workout routine. With this in mind, Pilates studios across the country offer classes that focus specifically on cardio. It helps to note that in this economy, gyms are slashing membership fees to lure new members, so any incentive for clients to stay in the Pilates studio is a welcome addition. Here we take a look at several studios who have added successful cardio classes. If you’d like to add some cardio to your Pilates offerings, take notes—then get cardio-creative!
Pilates on Fifth, New York, NY
Years ago, Kimberly Corp and her sister/business partner Katherine hoped to make their studio a “one-stop shop studio.” Many clients told them they used their gyms mainly for cardio. So why not bring cardio into the Pilates studio so that they could drop their gym memberships if they wanted to? In addition, the Corps found that many clients came to Pilates in order to lose weight. These students always wanted to move faster and elevate their heart rate. Pilates was not designed to be a heart-pumping workout, and the sisters didn’t want to sacrifice the benefits of Pilates form to accommodate the desire for cardio. First they added treadmills and elliptical trainers for clients to use after their sessions for a small fee. But Kimberly says she saw clients achieve lovely form in their Pilates session only to get on a treadmill and raise their shoulders up to their ears within minutes, negating the Pilates postural work.
They found their solution in Rebounders and their own brand of class named Cardiolates. According to Kimberly, jumping on the Rebounder enforces alignment, rather than derailing it. For example, if your head is forward of your feet on the Rebounder, you will fall forward – so to some extent you stay in alignment intuitively. The class combines the core strengthening and postural qualities of Pilates with a vigorous cardiovascular workout. As we age, our knees and bones can become less forgiving of running and aerobics. The beauty of the Rebounder is that it increases the gravitational load without the impact to the joints that high-impact activities like running can generate, so a wide-range of clients can enjoy the benefits of Cardiolates.
Flow Chicago offers a “Pilates Cardio” class using props and heavier weights, focusing on full-body integration. Cynthia Reid, a senior faculty member of Body Arts and Science International (BASI) and owner of Flow Chicago, says this Pilates class appeals to people who like to do a more intense full-body workout. Flow Chicago also offers mini trampoline and dance conditioning classes. These classes achieve a cardiovascular workout, maintaining the Pilates principles, rather than focusing on the classical Pilates repertoire.
Pilates Studio City, Los Angeles
Pilates Studio City in Los Angeles uses dance as well, with their Nia classes. Co-owner and head of the Nia program, Nichole Martinez-Barreto, describes it as “a perfect way to move without feeling the drag of exercising, a great cardiovascular complement to Pilates, and a pleasurable alternative to the gym.” Nia is said to integrate principals of martial arts, dance and the healing arts. Still unsure of what that all means? You can see video of people practicing the dance for yourself on the Nia Website.
Ellie Herman Studio, Brooklyn, NY
Ellie Herman offers “Cardio Pilates” classes using the mat, Reformer and Springboard. “The class flows, and there are more repetitions than a normal Pilates class,” says Herman. “Also, there is jumping involved; both jumping from a standing position with the Springboard (like the photo shows), and jumping sequences on the Reformer. Clients have been very excited [about] the class. We offer it to intermediate and advanced students only to ensure proper form while keeping the pace up. I think it’s great to make Pilates a cardio workout, but only when clients are advanced enough to do the proper form.”
One Shot Class
Power Pilates, New York, NY
Power Pilates’ One Shot class uses a battery-operated jump rope called the Jump Snap ropeless jump rope to give a cardio and core workout in one (shot). The Jump Snap lets you hear the rhythm of your jumps, just like a regular jump rope, but counts the repetitions for you and avoids the obvious whipping problems you would have in a large group of people jumping rope in close proximity. As with all things Power Pilates, it is an intense workout, and you will leave sweating. For now, this class is only offered at Power Pilates’ 23rd Street location in New York City. But it is offered four days a week, and there is also an online class, “One Shot Advanced Class,” taught by Susan Moran-Perich, available for download on Power Pilates’ Website.
Pilates professionals are innovating creative new ways to address cardio all the time. There are certainly more variations than we have mentioned here. If you would like more information about cardio-specific certifications discussed in this post, please refer to the following sites:
Nicole Rogers is a Pilates instructor and writer. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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