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Yogalates: A Blend of Exercises

Any way you spell it, yoga and Pilates benefit body and soul.

A Few Opinions

"There's a beautiful marriage of flow, from a yoga move to a Pilates move," says Meg Jordan, PhD, RN, a spokeswoman for the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America. "Blending the two is time-efficient. You can address all the major muscle groups."

As a fitness instructor, Jordan found that people who wanted to improve muscle tone, get a slimmer physique, or tone specific body areas weren't satisfied with yoga. "Why don't I have this five pounds off yet?" -- that's what she heard.

She, too, saw the possibilities of blending the best of yoga and Pilates, as she describes in her 1999 book, The Fitness Instinct. However, Jordan went a step further -- topping off her workouts with calisthenics, to fully challenge the muscles.

"The aging baby boomer population is not interested in physically exhausting exercise," Jordan says. "You can get maximum results in terms of good ab and back strength from this blend. It has numerous benefits for injury prevention, back care, and strong abs."

The Purist's Viewpoint

Not everyone approves of this hybrid approach. "I'm not a fan of Yogalates," says Linda Sparrowe, MA, yoga director of Western Athletic Clubs in the San Francisco Bay Area and author of Yoga for Healthy Bones, which will be published next spring.

"I feel it waters down both practices into something that they aren't," Sparrowe tells WebMD. "Yogalates works in health clubs because people there are often not familiar with either one. So it's a nice introduction. But yoga is a deeper practice, a very physical practice. It taps into your emotional body and your mind."

He suggests taking separate classes in each practice: "Nothing changes my body more than the combination of Pilates and yoga classes. Each one gives me something different. So I'm not a fan of blending. Blending tends to denigrate the practice, whether it's yoga or Pilates."

Urla's answer: "The point is, does it work? For most people, who are not young and flexible, Yogilates works. This is a system that is less intimidating, more accessible, than either yoga or Pilates alone."

Just make sure your instructor is a good one -- either trained through the Pilates Method Alliance or the Yoga Teachers Alliance (each group has a web site), Urla suggests.

Reviewed on September 25, 2003

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