Group cycling and Pilates share more similarities than meet the eye, and as club operators fuse the two programs into one class, they are finding that the combination sells itself.
Combining the two programs into a one-hour class offers both a cardiovascular, calorie-burning workout and core training in a time-saving workout.
Though the two modalities do not target the same muscle groups, they do share the fundamental concepts of mind/ body connection, core stability, alignment and form, and proper breathing. Stefania Della Pia, program director, education and master instructor trainer at Stott Pilates, Toronto, says these technique foundations build on each other in the fusion course.
“Spinning is incredible on your cardiovascular and your performance because of the aerobics component, but you also really have to focus mentally,” Della Pia says. “You have to be mindful of your posture and stay tension-free while strengthening your mental motivation. The core training that Pilates provides is going to help build that strength and stability from the core into the shoulders and spine, which is going to help improve balance and functional movement. This translates into more cycling power.”
Mad Dogg Athletics, Venice, CA, has seen the movement grow in the last few years as consumers seek new programming options, says Kevin Bowen, Peak Pilates director of education.
Working under the Mad Dogg umbrella, Bowen’s instructors are preparing programming that uses the company’s equipment to show instructors what can be done and how to format a class of that nature.
“We certainly are showing how to fuse programming together,” Bowen says. “The consumer is looking for something different, new and exciting, and the clubs and instructors are trying to answer that call.”
Bowen adds: “It is a great crosstraining tool and mechanism for various facilities to offer comprehensive program offerings. We look at it as a way of growing the business and getting the information out to people that all of these things work together very well.”
Even though cycling/Pilates fusion classes have their benefits, the cardio component steers away from the pure Pilates method, says Nora St. John, education program director for Balanced Body, Sacramento, CA.
“We tend to take a fairly open-minded approach to Pilates, and if you are looking at staying pure to Pilates, then [cardio] is not an addition to the Pilates repertoire,” St. John says. “On the other hand, if you are looking at creating the optimum fitness experience, the combination of focused core work with a really good cardio component is a really nice recipe for overall fitness.”
Fitness facility owners may face inconveniences by offering the program. Mike D’Alfonso, coordinator of fitness and wellness at the University of Connecticut, says the class, which his facility offers free to full-time students, takes up more room than some classes since it requires both the cycling equipment and space for students to move about in the Pilates portion. However, D’Alfonso says students like having an extended class that has two separate workouts.
To offer the program, facilities must have instructors who are certified in both group cycling and Pilates.
“Education and skill set of the instructor is really what makes the class successful,” says PJ O’Clair, owner and program director of clubXcel, Manchester-by-the- Sea, MA, which offers group cycling/ Pilates classes. “I would recommend that they use only the skilled instructors for both modalities. So, if the instructor isn’t trained for both, then they should use two different instructors. You really don’t want to water down either one of the disciplines.”
O’Clair, who also is a master instructor trainer for Stott Pilates, has been teaching the fusion format for eight years. Her clubXcel private training facility has not faced any issues in finding the space and time for the class offering, she says.
Bowen says private studios commonly charge a group class rate while health clubs do not charge extra for this kind of programming, and a more specialized facility will add an extra charge. O’Clair charges $15 per class, $135 for 10 classes or $200 for unlimited monthly access to her club.
“These classes are full, and we feel it has been a beneficial offering,” O’Clair says. “If all of our classes are full, then to us, that is a money-maker.”