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Fit For You: PiYo


You may have heard of or even taken a yoga or Pilates class, but have you ever tried PiYo? PiYo is a fitness format created by Chalene Johnson that takes the strength and flexibility of yoga and combines it with the sculpting and core strengthening advantages of Pilates. This results in an effective, low impact workout.

"You're moving and flowing through all of these exercises to add a little bit of cardio, so it really changes the dynamic," says local fitness instructor Jodene Richard. She says what also sets PiYo apart from other formats is the constant dynamic movement.

A typical PiYo class format builds in exercises over the course of approximately ten weeks, but even each individual session has you building on from one exercise to transition into the next. By the end of a session, "you're going to notice how much more you're capable of doing, and that's always a success story," says Richard.

PiYo is also a good format for people of all ages and capabilities because you build from your own starting point. "You're not jumping, there's nothing harsh happening, but it's continual," explains Richard. For example, if you are in a plank, you can add a dynamic movement such as moving your body weight side to side to increase the position's effectiveness. PiYo does not involve any equipment outside of a yoga mat, and, Richards says, using your own body weight is an advantage.

"PiYo will challenge you, but PiYo is also a class that you can modify," she says.

Richard also notes that PiYo will lengthen your body and tone your muscles in a more effective manner -compared to traditional weightlifting because it won't limit your range of motion.

If you enjoy the mindful aspect of yoga, PiYo also incorporates the breathing element into the flow of the workout - something that initially attracted Richard to the format. "I like the idea that breath connects...and I especially find that in Pilates and yoga. I find when your breath connects, then your mind opens."

While it cannot be directly compared to the mindful experience someone can have in a yoga class, the mental and physical connection remains important. Although PiYo is based on gentler forms of exercise, it can help to remove excess weight and build muscle.

"You will find different experiences, but you will find a full exercise experience when you take PiYo," says Richard.

If you are hesitant to try PiYo or any new format, Richard advises to "put yourself outside of your comfort zone," and perhaps you'll discover a new passion.

Audrey Nowakowski hosts and produces Lake Effect. She joined WUWM in 2014.