One of the challenges of teaching fitness in a small town is that it can be hard to stay inspired and keep classes fresh; there are no cutting edge gyms and few teachers to learn from. So I end up doing most of my research on the Internet and relying on former students, hip, fit girls who go on to graduate and move to the big city, to report back to me what’s going on in the world of exercise.
The word on the street was that Piloxing, a portmanteau of Pilates and boxing, is where it’s at. So feeling in a bit of a rut and not wanting to re-up my Pilates certification, I signed up for the next Piloxing teacher training session in the closest city I could find–Baltimore. I figured, what did I have to lose?
I’ve been to plenty of fitness teacher training sessions — four yoga, three Pilates – and I always find them a bit strange. The instructors often veer toward characters, either they’re really, really happy or ultra severe or New Agey, the latter often relying on goofy doublespeak (“rethink the breath paradigm,” “fluff the tailbone”) that tells you they no idea what’s going on either.
So I was almost surprised to discover the woman teaching the Piloxing workshop was so nice and normal. She wasn’t a character. She wasn’t hysterical. She wasn’t a task master. She was a former dancer from LA who was smart and articulate and enthusiastic about Piloxing. The students taking the class — an impressive mix of races, ages and sizes — seemed nice and normal too. (Baltimore is a great town, by the way.)
So far, so good.
To begin, we were each given a workbook containing a DVD breaking down the choreography step-by-step, and a pair of 1-lb weighted gloves, which are worn throughout the class.
But before we began, students were invited to peruse two long tables of black and pink Piloxing merch: sweatshirts, tanks, tights, tees, CDs, DVDs, all emblazoned with the word “PILOXING” and some with Piloxing’s catchphrase, “Sleek! Sexy! Powerful!”
We were asked if we wanted to join PIA, the Piloxing Instructor Association which, for $25 per month, gets you three instructional DVDs and three music CDs per year. There are other benefits to joining PIA, but those are the only two I remember.
The day consisted of taking a one hour Piloxing class taught by the instructor so we could get a feel for what’s involved.
The class was broken into “blocks” — a short choreographed sequence of boxing moves followed by a sequence of Pilates or barre inspired moved. One block lasted the length of one song (I think). The music veered toward super fast techno with a Euro flavor to it.
I should say I’ve never been a huge fan of boxing. I find the moves too thunderous and explosive for my taste. I prefer more graceful, fluid dance-inspired movement (this probably explains why no dudes come to my class anymore ever! Ha!). I found myself feeling a bit goofy and clunky and uncoordinated during the boxing parts. And punches are thrown so fast and furiously that my arms really felt the burn from the 1-lb weighted gloves.
I was more in my element during the barre/Pilates-inspired parts. We did a lot of first position plies, straight leg tendus, third position tendus, standing side crunches, all the while maintaing graceful ballet arms, no easy feat with the gloves!
We spent the rest of the afternoon going over each movement individually, talking about proper stance, cuing suggestions, etc.
At the very end, we were taught Piloxing’s signature closing sequence, to be performed at the end of every class. We all had to shout out the words “Sleek! Sexy! Powerful!” while executing three movements illustrating each adjective.
“But we’re not taking about trashy sexy,” the teacher said. “We’re talking about classy sexy.”
So not this, but more like Rachel Weisz, got it.
I wondered why we had to talk about “sexy” at all. Can’t we just work out and not concern ourselves with how it relates to men?
Finally, we were each awarded a certificate of completion authorizing us to teach Piloxing for one year….as long as we became a member of PIA.
In the end, I decided that while Piloxing is a great workout, and I’d love to take another class, I’m not sure I want to teach it.
I opted not to join PIA because I still I have no clue how to teach Piloxing (how much information can you really absorb in eight hours) and I cannot in good conscious conclude a fitness class by shouting “Sleek! Sexy! Powerful!” accompanied by movements. My students would laugh me out of the room.
Beyond that, I’m not sure how I feel about the fitness trend as a whole in which teachers pay organizations such as Piloxing, Zumba, Les Mills, etc, hundreds of dollars a year for the privilege of teaching the brand and receive a handful of instructional DVDs and CD playlists as part of the package. Some teachers love this, particularly in towns that aren’t hotbeds of fitness, as it means they don’t have to come up with their own music or choreography to keep somewhat current. I’m not one of them. I see my class as another creative outlet. I enjoy sourcing my own music and sequencing my own movements (even if those movements are lifted from other sources, such as Piloxing!). It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort but I’m too fickle and independent for anything else.