Most people think of Pilates as a mind/body exercise, and they think Pilates is a slow, nit-picky form of exercise. Now that boot camps and circuit training are big trends in the fitness world, Pilates studios and gyms are creating boot camps of their own. I was lucky enough to participate in a Pilates-style boot camp yesterday morning sponsored by Balanced Body at the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association convention happening here in SF this week.
The class was super fun, quick paced, and worked me from the big toe to the top of my head. This class was broken into four 12-minute circuits, with each circuit utilizing a different piece of Pilates equipment: Cadillac wall unit, chair, Reformer, and the Arc. Pilates equipment is so versatile, so the variety of exercises you could do in a circuit-style class is endless. Plus it is easy to incorporate classic gym moves like squats and lunges using the Cadillac wall unit springs for added resistance and/or assistance, depending on the exercise. Alternating backward lunges holding onto arm springs is an excellent challenge.
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The class was fast-paced and my heart rate was highest for the standing leg section combining squats with arm exercises with springs. The most challenging section was on the chair, and if I didn't know Pilates this circuit might seem confusing. But chair work is great for the core since you have to support your torso no matter the position of your body. The Arc section was mostly abs and core work, while the Reformer section managed to work arms, abs, glutes, legs, and stability in 12 minutes. If you have a chance to try a Pilates boot camp, I think you should. While it helps to have Pilates experience, you could definitely follow along without any. Due to the fast-paced group situation, these classes are not about the precision often associated with the Pilates method. But a Pilates boot camp will get you strong, centered, and work your abs without you even knowing it — until the next day, of course.