Fitness class review: PiYo

By in Sports & Health

PiYo is a music-driven mash-up between Pilates and yoga designed to strengthen, stretch and firm up the core in a challenging, but generally low-impact workout, as I discovered for myself.

PiYo is one of the few classes that the University of Saskatchewan Fit Centre offers once a week, so the only time you can experience the class for yourself is at 4:45 p.m. on Tuesdays.

The scheduled time for this class brings up a common problem that I have with fitness classes at the Physical Activity Centre: many are scheduled at and around common meal times. For PiYo, the mealtime conflict wasn’t an issue, but the classes offered at lunch aren’t an option for me.

Scheduling qualms aside, however, PiYo was an alright class. Basically, the physical structure of the class involved yoga movements done to the pace of high-beats-per-minute music. For much of the class, this made for a decent workout. However, I have a number of issues with the class.

One of the warm-up sets was a transformed version of a sun salutation that tested my ability to maintain balance and composure, as I tried to keep up with the rest of the class. While this was a challenge, and had me sweating early on in the class, it was by no means an uncomfortable feat to pull off.

However, later on in the class, I found some of the movements more challenging — for all the wrong reasons. One exercise involved a lot of weird footwork, coupled with complicated upper body movements.

Not only was this hard to accomplish without tripping, but the repeated leg crossing eventually made my ankles quite achy. While my ankles do tend to get sore during certain exercises, I don’t think this was an issue isolated to my own experience. For comparison purposes, I had no such problems with the athletic step class that I took for this series earlier this month, despite the fact that it was centred around footwork.

This wasn’t my only pain-related issue, as I found that another set brought pain to my lower back from repetitious torso twisting. However, I am especially prone to this sort of irritation after a high-school-football injury, so this obstacle may not apply to everyone.

These problems aside, the class was a good workout and had me sweating profusely throughout much of the hour-long time slot. While I managed to continue through the movements that made my ankles sore, I did have to take a break when my back started to hurt.

After completing the class, I now recognize that I would prefer to do regular yoga, because I like the aspect of relaxation that many yoga classes offer — something that PiYo lacks. Despite this, I do have to say that PiYo was much more demanding than yoga, so if you want to sweat, it could be a good option for you.

Jack Thompson / Sports & Health Editor

Graphic: Jaymie Stachyruk