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New workout craze Piloxing combines mix of disciplines

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Thursday, July 24, 2014, 8:55 p.m.
Piloxing instructor Stephanie Verdecchia, owner of Studio Fit Pa in Butler, runs through a boxing workout while teaching her piloxing class on Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Piloxing, a workout consisting of pilates, dance, and boxing, is an all-in-one workout for balance, strength, and cardio, according to Verdecchia.
Piloxing instructor Stephanie Verdecchia, owner of Studio Fit Pa in Butler, runs through a boxing workout while teaching her piloxing class on Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Piloxing, a workout consisting of pilates, dance, and boxing, is an all-in-one workout for balance, strength, and cardio, according to Verdecchia.

You most likely won't find these individuals in a boxing ring anytime soon, but you might see them working on their punches — a left hook or a right-cross.

The moves are part of a workout called Piloxing, which combines boxing, pilates and dance.

“It's a good exercise because it's a mix of three workouts,” says Steve Beck, who, with Stephanie Verdecchia, owns Studio Fit in Penn Township, Butler County. They have been offering the class since October.

“When you own a gym, you have to change things up, because things can become stale. Piloxing definitely changes things up. It has really been a hit for us.”

This 60-minute high-intensity exercise has been around for a few years, but made its way to Western Pennsylvania recently, certified instructors say.

Piloxing cardio fusion incorporates cutting-edge research and fitness techniques to burn maximum calories, build lean muscles and increase stamina. The program blends the power, speed and agility of boxing with the targeted sculpting and flexibility of Pilates. These techniques are supplemented by the use of weighted gloves — further toning the arms and maximizing cardiovascular health — and dance moves.

Piloxing is the brainchild of Swedish dancer and celebrity trainer Viveca Jensen and the culmination of her mission to physically and mentally empower women through fitness. At the core of this workout is the principle that women are powerful and that they can attain a sleek, sexy and powerful self-image by taking charge of their own health. The Piloxing system has been named one of the Top 10 workout DVDs for 2014 by Fitness Magazine.

“Piloxing is a happy mix,” Beck says. “If it's not fun, people are most likely not going to come back.”

Jen Ator, fitness director at Women's Health Magazine and a certified strength and conditioning specialist says merging various disciplines into one workout helps break the monotony and adds liveliness to a routine.

“The cool part about Piloxing is you have the creator of it, Viveca Jensen, who is continually creating new routines to keep it fresh,'” Ator says. “It would be tough for you to mix up the routine yourself, but she knows what works. It's also the type of workout that is high-energy and effective that it keeps women coming back.

“They might not have time to take boxing, Pilates and dance classes, but they will find time to do all three in one class, especially since Piloxing is fun, too.”

With Pharrell Williams' song “Happy” playing in the background, Verdecchia instructs a class where students work up even more of a sweat because the power is out in the garage studio, so there is no air conditioning. In the back of the class, Jody Kozik of Forward Township endures the grueling conditions.

“It's so worth it,” Kozik says. “It helps with coordination and balance and working my core, and I don't want to lose those things as I age.”

She recalls her first Piloxing workout. “I told Stephanie if I was sore the next day I wasn't coming back. I was sore. And I came back and keep coming back.”

A drop-in class costs $8 at Studio Fit, with a similar rate offered at most other gyms, or members can opt for a fee for multiple classes.

Piloxing is not only an enjoyable workout, it also has helped Amy Squyres of Penn Township continue to lose weight. She has lost an additional 80 pounds since she joined the Studio Fit class.

“It's fun,” Squyres says. “It's challenging. When I first started, I thought I was going to fall over, but I have been getting stronger and can do the moves now. A lot of times, you don't even think of it as a workout, because it is so much fun.”

The music adds to the pleasure of the class, says Verdecchia, because it's so upbeat.

“It's a workout that keeps people motivated,” she says. “It's totally different than any other workout. Participants are intrigued by Piloxing. They love the music and the fact it involves multiple moves.”

Some participants will wear the ½-pound weighted gloves, but they aren't required. It is best to wear comfortable clothing and no shoes.

At a recent class at Body Rockin Fitness in Squirrel Hill, certified Piloxing instructor Patrick Donley was showing his students some moves. The Woodland Hills School District gym teacher says the workout is definitely high intensity.

He and his wife, Jackie Schultz, opened the gym in January.

“It's been a really popular class because there is a lot of variety in the workout,” Schultz says. “You get to practice boxing, while the Pilates helps strengthen and tighten, and the dance moves add some fun. A lot of celebrities are doing Piloxing.”

“You really work your entire body,” says Christine Sciulli, certified instructor at You Rock Fitness in Pine. “I think the people who workout here like all three combinations. Piloxing is not boring, so that is one reason people like it. I love the boxing aspect of it, because I feel powerful when I am doing the boxing moves.”

There are ways to modify the workout, says Amy Moreland, owner of You Rock Fitness, so that it makes it accessible to everyone.

“It allows individuals to go at their own speed,” Moreland says. “People want something different, so when I see or hear about a new workout I definitely look into it.”

“You really get your heart rate growing,” says Jenna Knickerbocker of Pine, who works out at You Rock Fitness. “And it also is great for toning with the Pilates workout and the leg lifts. It's just a good, balanced workout for your entire body for one hour.”

Knickerbocker says having a good instructor is great because she provides a welcoming atmosphere for everyone — whether they have done this type of exercise before or not.

“You don't have to do everything perfectly,” Knickerbocker says. “Give it a try and be committed to having fun.”

Seeing the class offering at You Rock Fitness, which included dance moves, grabbed the attention of Erin Andres of Pine, a dance instructor at Fairgrieve School of Dance in Gibsonia.

“It seemed like a perfect fit,” Andres says. “Being a dance teacher, it was an immediate draw for me. I love music and rhythm, and when I am doing Piloxing I forget I am doing exercise because it is so much fun.

“It's a full-body experience. I had never heard of it, but once I tried it I was hooked, and I convinced my mom and sister to try it. It may seem intimidating at first, like it might not be for everybody, but if you work at your own level, the class can be modified, and it can be done. It's not scary at all. It's a wonderful atmosphere and an energetic experience.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-320-7889.

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