While PiYo may seem like a new kid on the block, this exercise system which combines Pilates and Yoga (hence PiYo) has long established roots. It’s proving popular amongst those looking to get a long, lean appearance without bulking up through weight lifting.
PiYo creator Chalene Johnson loved the results she was getting from yoga but says she was too impatient to stay for long periods in the postures so she designed an exercise program that gave her the outcomes she wanted without the long holds she found boring. As a result PiYo students can have the flexibility for which yoga is famous, alongside the lean musculature seen on dancers and Pilates students – but it doesn’t stop there because the inclusion of cardio moves, particularly in between those hold movements’ gives a calorie-torching pace to the workouts which makes them intense and exciting.
A typical PiYo session will include a range of movements for the whole body, using body weight exercises and functioning like a cross between a flow yoga session and a dance class. The length of a PiYo workout can vary from 20 minutes to 50 and will also bring dance and martial arts elements into the mix to keep the workout fresh and exciting.
While every PiYo workout will include some cardio, some stretching and some body weight activity, the design of the sessions will vary depending on the body area being targeted and the purpose of the session. From the PiYo DVD, as an example the Sweat’ session incorporates lunges and sun salutations to warm the body and get it ready to work hard, then balance exercises intermixed with skater slides to boost the cardio component and that’s balanced by planks and some core work to bring body weight components to the workout – finishing with some power moves like burpees and squats to give a solid workout for the lower body that leaves you feeling energized and full of endorphin highs. On another day, the workout might incorporate specific exercises for spinal strength, upper body toning or whittling the buns and tum’ areas.
Clever modifications of classic exercises make PiYo a winner for injured athletes or those new to exercise, for example, runners pose is like a dead lift without the strain that weightlifting puts on the back. In PiYo you move the weight to your right leg and lift the left foot from the floor, keeping the left knee bent. Then you tilt forward as you push that leg out behind you and tilt backwards a little as you swing the leg forwards and up to waist height. Twenty on each leg will give PiYo students a superb workout of the glutes and hamstrings without the risk of pain to the spine. Another useful feature of PiYo is that you can ramp it up where you feel confident by using modifications that challenge your balance or core strength, whilst taking less extreme options in other exercises that might inflame an old injury or put strain on joints not used to exercise. This range of options makes PiYo accessible to all.
Like many other tough’ exercise regimes, PiYo, done correctly, can burn up to 1,000 calories a session but unlike some other boot camp style systems, PiYo is designed to be gentle enough for those who have joint issues or can’t tackle high impact activity through injury or ill health. It’s okay (with individual modifications) for pregnant women to take part and while it requires a similar level of discipline to other dedicated exercise systems, PiYo is designed to give everybody a chance to participate all the way through the session by adapting the full form of each exercise through a series of variations that permit anyone to take part.
This is ideal for anybody who’s committing to exercise after a period of inactivity and especially good for those who’ve been injured and now need to ensure that their workouts are low impact.
The combination of Pilates and yoga gives PiYo participants long, toned muscles – but keeping the action moving at a rapid pace ensure that unwanted body fat gets torched between the body weight exercises. This means that muscle sculpting takes place alongside gaining the benefits of a resistance workout. While that’s not unusual, it’s the clever incorporation of cardio that gets the heart racing and delivers twin benefits, body fat-reduction and endorphin production. The high intensity interval work is as effective as shuttle sprints for cardio and the holds bring balance as well a strength, so you look more poised as well as slimming down.
PiYo can be taken in classes or there are two DVD packages, featuring Chalene Johnson herself. The DVDs are particularly good for those who aren’t able to commit to a regular class or want to train more regularly that a class-based system permits. The basic version offers an eight workout package and a deluxe version that contains two additional workouts and the strength slides’ which are plastic discs that allow participants to slide’ into each position, creating greater flexibility and a deeper stretch.
One of the standout features of PiYo is the way that it reduces aches and pains so that DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) becomes a thing of the past. You can plan a PiYo session for every other day without feeling the strain and it’s also possible for those who have already got a reasonable to high level of fitness to use two of the DVD-based workouts back to back, such as Heat’ and Lower Body’ to maximize their workout time.
Exercise can often seem like a prescription, something we’re forced to do but don’t necessarily enjoy. PiYo is a fresh and exciting new exercise system that – by focusing on linking movements, raising the heart rate and gently challenging the entire body – creates good results rapidly. What makes PiYo special is that the deceptively simple movements, undertaken with care, will deliver surprisingly rapid results, and the sessions themselves are paced just fast enough to be sure every student is working hard, but are accessible enough to ensure that nobody gets left behind.
For those who love to feel the burn’ but have developed impact injuries, for overweight or sedentary people who want to change fast, but aren’t ready to take on high impact aerobics or high intensity interval training, for pregnant women or those who have reached an age where they need to take care of their hips or knees, PiYo offers a real alternative.
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