Fit in my 40s: boxing and dance with Pilates is a holy trinity
Sometimes the people around you – your friends, neighbours, people you don’t know but who look a bit like you – are all doing a thing, but they’ve never mentioned it, and you only find out in some random tangential way via social media. Piloxing is that thing. A mixture of Pilates, boxing and dance, it was invented in America where hidebound traditionalism didn’t block them from seeing that those three completely unrelated things actually went quite well together. This being the case, I thought it would probably be available only in fancy gyms. I was wrong.
A fitness freestyler (let’s call her a fitpreneur; go on, let’s), Amy Lamont, runs classes in school halls all over my neighbourhood; there are other Piloxing classes at gyms and community centres all over the UK (search on classfinder.org.uk). It reminds me forcefully of the aerobics scene in the early 90s: all church halls that were a bit smelly because nobody expected them to need ventilation, full of enthusiasts.
It was the Saturday morning after what was meant to be Brexit day, so surely I wasn’t the only person with a hangover; but I was the only person who was five minutes late. Lamont knew everyone by name. There were about a million of us, everyone wearing those little boxing inner-gloves, with weights built in, so they kill your arms in about 10 seconds.
Everybody seemed to know exactly what they were doing. The coordination was marvellous to watch, the passion immense. It looked like Fame, if the kids were training for a coming apocalypse. Jab; jab; uppercut; hook; hop backwards and forwards. Who knew middle-aged women had so much pent-up aggression? (Me! I knew!) The first 10 minutes lasted an incredibly long time, as I figured out what I was doing; then the next 20 minutes flew by. It was now Pilates time.
I’d forgotten what Pilates was like without a machine. You basically take all the hard bits of yoga – the balancing, the squatting – strip out the spirituality and speed it up. It’s harder when you’re wearing boxing gloves, but nobody else had taken them off so, you know, peer pressure. In my class, the dance element was scaled down, perfect for the exerciser who is bigger on punching things than coordination. There is still a bit of salsa-ing and grapevining, if that’s your thing.
On the way out, someone asked how I’d found it, and I said, “Dead hard” and she said, “I love it. I have a core. I haven’t had a core since I had children.” Someone else said, “I’ve never had a core!” And someone else said, “I couldn’t even have told you what a core was.”
And I thought, this is a highly friendly and accepting group of people, also evangelical, like a cross between fitness and worship: a church whose prayer is half-stretching, half-punching. This could catch on.
What I learned
The plank is the quickest, most effective thing you can do to yourself in the name of core strength.