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PiYo strengthens core, fights stress, fans say

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 8:58 p.m.

Sleeping in is a time-honored way to spend Saturday mornings. Yet Jasmine Alberga sets her alarm so she's sure to be on time for a 9:30 a.m. PiYo fitness class at the Western Area YMCA in Robinson.

“I actually started PiYo to help with residual sciatica pain that I had,” said Alberga, 52, of Moon, a nurse who spends workdays on her feet. “Not only did it help with my pain, but my posture, balance, flexibility and core strength have all improved significantly.”

PiYo is a hybrid fitness class developed by Powder Blue Productions of Irvine, Calif., which developed Turbo­Kick and other workout programs. The PiYo class incorporates Pilates and yoga poses into routines with a quick pace.

“It is fast-paced yet blasts out stress and energizes,” said Alberga, who describes the class as “well-choreographed exercises on a ‘caffeine high.' ”

Certified fitness instructor Jackie Damp, 29, of Robinson brought PiYo to the Y a year ago and said she loves teaching it.

“A lot of people don't realize how important flexibility is,” Damp said. She said some people don't like the static aspect of holding a pose in yoga, so the PiYo routines may be more appealing because they are choreographed to music.

“It's modern and upbeat, and that makes it a little more fun,” Damp said.

Damp continued to teach PiYo into her 37th week of pregnancy; she was due to deliver her baby on Jan. 2.

“I definitely think it benefitted me” in pregnancy, Damp said. “It helped me keep my strength up without lifting weights” and helped with balance. Damp balanced on one leg with her students, despite her larger abdomen.

In addition to yoga and Pilates poses, PiYo includes strength and core training.

Jill Cersosimo, healthy living director for the Western Area Y, said she recommends some Pilates or yoga experience for the class, which is labeled for intermediate or advanced fitness levels “because the class moves quickly.”

Damp and Alberga say there are modifications for participants, depending on skill and energy levels or injuries.

“I get better results when I do a variety of things,” Damp said. “You're using every single muscle in your body. It keeps your body guessing, and it keeps me from getting bored.

“There are just a lot of different components; that's why I love it.”

“I wish they had PiYo twice a week,” Alberga said.

Sandra Fischione Donovan is a freelance writer.

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