Hybrid Workouts

By Catherine McNulty

December 3, 2010 5 min read

Are you torn between cardio and strength training? Want the natural high of a spin class and the calm of a yoga class but only have an hour or so to work out and don't know what to do? It is the bane of modern life to have so much information readily available regarding staying healthy but no time to apply it.

You're in luck because the latest fitness craze is hybrid exercise classes. Now you can get the heart-pumping rush of cardio and the supple toned body that comes with Pilates and yoga in a single class. But what is hybrid exercise, and which class is right for you?

Simply put, hybrid exercise classes are classes that combine two or more methods of exercising. Many fitness experts agree that this is a much quicker and more effective way to get in shape than using just a single method. Let's say you run four or five times a week. You are in pretty good cardiovascular shape. But what about strength and flexibility? You are overlooking that part of your workout.

One of the originators of this school of thought was Lotte Berk. A ballet dancer in Germany in the 1920s and '30s, she fled to England when the Nazis came to power. With the help of an osteopath, she established a series of exercises that built on her experiences as a dancer. These exercises targeted specific areas of the body for strength and flexibility.

The Lotte Berk Method is widely available on DVD and still taught in certain studios. You can find the DVDs and studios at http://www.LotteBerkMethod.com. One of Berk's biggest devotees, Burr Leonard, went on to keep fine-tuning the method and created The Bar Method in the process.

According to its website, The Bar Method "integrates the fat burning format of interval training, the muscle shaping technique of isometrics, the elongating principles of dance conditioning, and the science of physical therapy to create a revolutionary new workout that quickly and safely reshapes your entire body." The Bar Method even has celebrity clientele. In an interview with People magazine, Drew Barrymore noted that The Bar Method "just knocks your butt off."

The Bar Method has a line of DVDs for those not near a studio. Go to http://www.BarMethod.com to find a location near you and to learn more about it.

Need a little more heart-pumping action with all the iron you're pumping? Piloxing might be the workout for you!

Combining the explosive cardio of a boxing session with the strength and flexibility of Pilates, Piloxing is a "muscle sculpting, core-centric interval workout, guaranteed to whip you into shape, using a class format that's both fun and challenging," according to its website. If Pilates and boxing seem like unlikely bedfellows, remember that Joseph Pilates -- the creator of Pilates -- was a boxer.

Piloxing was created by dancer and celebrity trainer Viveca Jensen. Using weighted gloves and high-energy music, the hourlong class will leave you drenched in sweat and thoroughly stretched by the end. You can find classes and buy the Piloxing DVD at http://www.piloxing.com.

Another heart-pounding workout is YAS, an acronym for Yoga & Spinning. Called "Zen with Wheels" by Self magazine, YAS (pronounced "yaz") was created in 2001 by Kimberly Fowler. The hourlong class features an intense half-hour cardio cycling session followed by a half-hour of yoga that specifically targets areas of the body that athletes need help with the most, namely the back, shoulders, hips and knees.

Currently, YAS only is offered in the Los Angeles area, but check local fitness studios and gyms for similar workouts. Also, franchising information is available at http://www.go2yas.com.

This is just the tip of the hybrid exercise iceberg! No doubt, somewhere out there someone is combining plate spinning and javelin throwing or juggling and jump-rope.

If none of these options is offered near you, consider doing it yourself. With the plethora of DVDs, weights and fitness equipment available, you could have your very own exercise studio in your house. Please be sure to check with your doctor before embarking on any new fitness regimen. Whatever form of exercise you choose, make sure you enjoy it. The more you enjoy something the likelier you are to stick to it. Stay healthy!

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