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Pilates and Cardio

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One stormy day eight years ago, Master Pilates instructor and avid triathlete, Barbara Wintroub, prepared for her daily run. After seeing how wet it was outside, she decided to find an alternative workout. Lying down on the sliding carriage of her Pilates Reformer, she began to simulate running and springing off the “jumpboard” – a padded, vertical platform attached to the foot-end of the Reformer.

“I remember noticing a definite increase in heart rate and wondering if my class might want to do something like this. So, I tried it out with them the next week. They loved it and I felt I was really onto something,” says Wintroub, owner of Retrofit Pilates Rx® in Santa Monica, CA.

Her development of cardio-based “Aerobic Pilates” programming has now led to full classes, multiple training and demonstration engagements at fitness shows around the globe, and the production of a DVD based on the workout. For progressive-thinking health and fitness clubs, Wintroub feels that adding cardio Pilates classes is a great way to generate income outside of membership dues.

“We all know that people are willing to pay extra for Pilates sessions. Adding a cardio version of the exercise creates an additional revenue stream,” says Wintroub. “And, for those facilities that already have Reformers, all it takes is adding a jumpboard which can be found for about $100.”

It’s Not “Fast Pilates”
Aerobic Pilates is not the “speeding up” of traditional Pilates exercises, but rather a series of cardio exercises on the jumpboard (also known as a footplate). “No, it is most definitely not racing through traditional Pilates movements,” says Wintroub. “We usually do about 15 minutes of the aerobic routines and then go back to the actual Pilates exercises. It’s a great way for them to get their heart rate up and ready for the rest of the class. It’s different and it’s a lot of fun – everyone has really enjoyed it.”

Basic exercises on the jumpboard include double-leg and single-leg jumping, running in place, jumping jacks and prancing. Wintroub adds music for extra fun. Balance and coordination are also challenged while using the jumpboard. Plus, cardio workouts on the jumpboard challenge the core, elevate the heart rate and train coordination. Other benefits include: burning more calories; working the core in a different setting, and strengthening your muscles.

Great Low-Impact Alternative
Because using the jumpboard on the Reformer is much easier on the joints and muscles than actually running, Wintroub feels that many club members may prefer it. “The gravitation pull is far less,” she says. “Every club has members that may not like to train on a treadmill or stairmaster. This class would be a great way for these people to get their endurance training in,” she says.

Your club may also have older members who can no longer jog or do high impact workouts because of the risk of injury. A cardio-based Pilates program gives them a gentler fitness alternative.

Customizing the Workout
As with any Pilates class, modifying the exercises is critical. In the case of cardiobased programming, teachers need to pay attention to the attached springs on the Reformer. The Reformer springs create varying resistances for the different Aerobic Pilates exercises. Instructors must assess the kind of tension that will work best with a variety of body dynamics and fitness levels. A good educational reference is Wintroub’s DVD, Aerobic Pilates from Retrofit Pilates Rx™, which details exactly what instructors need to know in order to teach an effective and injury-free cardio-based Pilates session.

Classes on the Rise
Wintroub has already noticed a large increase in interval or cardio training using the jumpboard at many of the clubs and studios in her area. “Some of these programs are booked for weeks in advance. Many are charging between $35 to $45 per group session, and some have up to eight students per class. For a health club willing to invest a little time and marketing in this type of programming, there’s a large chunk of change to be had,” she says.

Ken Endelman is the CEO and Founder of Balanced Body Inc. He can be contacted at 1.800.PILATES, or visitwww.pilates.com.

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