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What’s the Value of Fusion-Style Pilates?

April 23, 2012

We ask trusted Zeel Expert Halle Clarke—owner of New York City’s Mongoose Bodyworks—for her take on fusion Pilates. What eccentric Pilates-inspired classes are out there, and are they as effective as the original? Halle tells it like it is.

Pilates is an exercise technique that was developed about 80 years ago and has grown in popularity in the last 20. In recent years, it has become common to combine Pilates with other techniques such as yoga, ballet or even tango.

So what exactly does that mean? It probably means something different in each case. There are a lot of attributes that make Pilates “Pilates.” There is the choreography (the movements themselves), the specialized Pilates equipment and the principles (the philosophies behind the movements).

Some of these fusion techniques are simply adding in Pilates mat exercises into the movements of yoga or fitness training. Other times, fusion classes may be incorporating the idea of engaging the core to stabilize the lumbar spine, a uniquely Pilates principle. And some even use the Pilates equipment but have made up new exercises on them. Each of these examples may have some level of success. I suppose it really boils down to what your goals are and why you have enrolled in the class in the first place.

The thing that Pilates does best is simultaneously reeducate movement patterns while increasing strength and flexibility. The result is a happier, stronger, better aligned body.

I can’t help but think that the best solution is to take Pilates on its own and then also take your ballet, tango, yoga, etc. Otherwise you may be missing out on the depth that Pilates has to offer. However, it is a testament to the effectiveness of Pilates that so many other movement genres have tried to fuse with it.