Thursday, August 16, 2012

the fitness class experiment: PiYo

I'm a cardio junky. On my non-strength training days I ache for intense heart pumping sweat sessions. Needless to say, attending a 'mind-body' class sits on my farthest of far back burners. Little did I know what was in store for me when I attended PiYo for my latest test case in my fitness class experiment.

I have never done yoga and only done at-home Pilates DVDs, never taking them seriously (i.e., doing them while concurrently snacking on melba toasts). I went into this class with the expectation that it wouldn't raise my heart rate and I wouldn't get a 'real' workout. I was wrong.

When the instructor told me to take off my shoes I was immediately taken aback. A shoe-less workout? This I had to see...

Results. PiYo™ is a pre-choreographed class constructed to help participants gain strength, core stability, agility, and flexibility. This class uniquely blends not only pilates and yoga, but also sports training, core conditioning, dance, stretch, and athletic drills. Although this may sound daunting, PiYo is carefully designed with natural progressions and modifications to facilitate participation from people of all fitness/experience levels.

Here's what you can expect:
  • Warm-up. A basic warm-up is the first section that introduces participants to the moves and flow of the class.
  • Heat Building. The heat building section is just what it sounds like. A more intense warm-up that really starts working.
  • Strength 1-3. The strengths sections are the core of the PiYo workout. This is where you really get your heart rate up and when the work happens. These sections seem to vary substantially, so check out these three links (1, 2, 3) for videos from different sections/seasons to get a flavor of the workout.
  • Core.
  • Stretch. 
  • Final Relaxation. The class ends with an enlightening few moments of relaxation, where you simply lay and focus on your breathing.

This class requires energy, power, and rhythm. It smashed my pre-conceived notions about mind-body classes, got my heart rate up, and left my core remarkably sore the following day. For more insight into the moves involved check out this video. Remember, I had never done anything like this - and I was able to keep up with minimal faltering. You can do this, too.

Since PiYo is such a different class compared to the other group fitness classes in this experiment, its rankings deserve a little attention. In my opinion, PiYo requires coordination and balance - although this is a skill I'm sure you gain as you attend regularly. I was wobbling and falling, but again, no one cares about you - but you. My heart rate did get up and my muscles worked hard. In fact, my entire core was sore for the next two days - which is something that does not happen often.

As it turns out, PiYo, an intense mind-body inspired workout, has its place in the fitness world, after all. On days where you want a fantastically different workout mixed with a relaxing finish - this may be a new go-to option. Just be prepared for sore abs the next day.

(images 1, 2, 3)


  1. That sounds like a really fun mixed-up routine. One of my yoga instructors is an ex-pilates instructor, so she throws some of that fun stuff into classes, and it's always a great workout. It would so interesting to do a full class that combines the two!

  2. Interesting! I like the sound of this class. And sore abs? Win.

  3. Thanks for the write-up! I've been to PiYo a couple of times and your description is dead on. If the gym where you took Sh'bam also offers BodyFlow, you should consider giving that class a try as well. It's a similar concept (blend of yoga, pilates & Tai Chi) from Les Mills (makers of BodyPump, BodyAttack & Sh'bam). I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

  4. Very interesting!! I don't think this is offered at my gym yet but I'd love to try it!

  5. This sounds like a very interesting class, I love when I am sore after taking a class! I hope I will be able to find a PiYo class somewhere near me :)

  6. What a neat class!! I like your experiment-- I did something similar a few months ago and ended up really liking some of the classes I made myself take (and even the ones I didn't like were at least interesting!).

  7. I am the same way, I love my cardio but this class sounds cool!

  8. I've actually never heard of PiYo. It sounds like a great way to change up your exercise routine though!
    I'm a cardio-lover as well but have finally learned to appreciate strength training and yoga/pilates over the past few months. It's a big transition though! There's just something amazing about a sweaty, heart-pumping workout...