Fitness Throwdown I: Pilates vs. Crossfit

On the fitness system spectrum, Pilates and CrossFit appear to stand on completely opposite ends. Here you have Pilates, born in a WWI internment camp to help prisoners regain and maintain their health even while cot-ridden, now fully grown into a pathway to integrated wellbeing that suits pro athletes as well as post-op patients. Now look at CrossFit, a program developed in the late ‘90s that took the concept of “high-intensity” training to a whole new level, combining Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, strongman, and other exercise disciplines in an ultra-competitive atmosphere. At a glance, you might doubt that Pilates extends any value to the CrossFit community. Not so fast: Pilates offers many benefits that CrossFit fans crave.

Weight Loss 

The promise of rapid weight loss attracts an equal ratio of men and women to CrossFit. CrossFit’s high-intensity workouts are designed to burn enormous amounts of calories. However, CrossFit has received heavy criticism for creating high risk of injury and has been connected to exertional rhabdomyolysis, a condition resulting from muscular cell death that can lead to renal failure. In short, when you’re hurt or sick, you can’t CrossFit—and then you can’t lose weight with CrossFit.

“Will I lose weight with (insert fitness fad du jour)?” This is the question that has pumped millions of dollars into the fitness industry for decades; perhaps if we dig deep enough, we’ll discover the very origins of the fitness industry in a popular desire to “reduce.” But lately we’ve been seeing a refreshing trend among fitness professionals who take a common-sense approach to the million-dollar question. Weight is controlled mostly by what you put into your body, and creating a caloric deficit (i.e., burning more than you take in) is the only proven way to lose weight. Regular exercise plays an important role in upping your daily caloric burn, but it won’t work without primary consideration given to diet. The other thing these true fitness experts are saying about weight loss is this: Instant gratification is a myth. Weight loss takes sustained effort over time. And this is where Pilates is a winner. It’s a fitness system that’s adaptable to different life stages, fitness levels, and physical conditions, and the personal attention given to each client ensures that everyone gets maximum results from their workouts with absolute minimum risk of injury. At Dynamic fitness, we get to work with pregnant moms as well as ballet academy students. In short, Pilates is meant to be a fitness system that you can practice and benefit from throughout your whole life.

Strength

If the word “Pilates” fails to conjure up images of bulging biceps and rippling pecs, then take a look at a photo of Joe Pilates—at age 82. That should fix the gap in your mental picture. It’s true that many of Dynamic Fitness’ clients have sought out Pilates because they want to avoid bulking up. That’s part of the beauty of this system: Under the training of a certified instructor, a Pilates regimen can be tailored to your unique fitness goals. No, you won’t see us doing tire flips in a Pilates studio, but if your goal is to get ripped, the Pilates method can absolutely get you there.

Whole-Body Fitness

There’s a common myth that Pilates is just a core workout, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth: Pilates is an integrated fitness system that leaves no muscle un-worked. The first of the six Pilates principles is centering, and we’re not talking about the mind. (That’s reserved for the principles of concentration and control, and Pilates is a system that promotes mental fitness as well—a topic for another blog). The core, or “powerhouse,” serves as the epicenter for every movement in a Pilates workout. Developing a strong core and connecting it to the body’s full range of motion is Pilates’ proven formula for whole-body fitness.

Community

With more than 13,000 affiliated gyms nationwide and its own “summer games,” CrossFit has developed an impressive following (with some detractors likening it to a cult). Participants forge bonds of blood, sweat, and tears while battling each other and their own physical limits to achieve feats of strength, speed, and endurance under the leadership of charismatic CrossFit trainers. While you won’t find a competitive streak in the Pilates world, you will find an equally passionate community and meaningful connections with others on a journey to complete wellbeing. Pilates practitioners believe that journey is unique for everyone, and wellbeing manifests and progresses differently for each body.

Athletes, beasts, and firebreathers, the invitation is open to trade one “WOD” for a workout at the Dynamic Fitness Pilates studio, so you can experience these benefits firsthand. New visitors to the studio can take advantage of a one-hour private session for $40 (a 50% discount, dependent upon availability). If you’re ready to see what Pilates can do, contact us to schedule your initiation to a lifetime of fitness.

Sources and Further Reading:

CrossFit” in Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
Rhabdomyolysis: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment” in WebMD.

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A Rising Young Star: Sarah Shaw's Dynamic Fitness Story Sarah Shaw has been training at Dynamic Fitness over the past year and a half to build more core strength on her path to becoming a professional ballerina. With her own background as a ballerina, Dynamic Fitness' owner Kathy Boivin has been working the method with Sarah to enhance the strengths that Kathy knows, as a former dancer, Sarah particularly needs.We're so proud that Sarah has been selected for the summer training program at the oldest ballet school in America, the San Francisco Ballet, which is affiliated with one of America's top companies. We invited Sarah to share her Pilates story and the exciting future she has ahead:Hi, my name is Sarah Shaw and I'm 14 years old. My dream is to become a professional ballerina.I started dancing when I was fours year old at Attitudes in Dance, a local studio in Venice, Florida. I took ballet with Conneé Winslow and tap with Fran Fredricks. When I was 10 years old, my dance teacher told my mother that I had enough talent to achieve my dream, but to do that I would have to move to a school with serious training. Encouraged by Wendy Johnson, a teacher at the Sarasota Ballet School, the next school year I began my training with the Sarasota Ballet. I worked really hard, and as a result I was promoted a level at the half-year mark. The following year, I was accepted into the school's pre-professional division, the Margaret Barbieri Conservatory of Dance. In addition to my regular classes at the Sarasota Ballet School, I worked privately with Wendy Johnson and Javier and Isabel Dubrocq.I remained in the conservatory for three and a half years. It was during this time that I began to work with Kathryn Dandois-Boivin at her Pilates studio, Dynamic Fitness. Through Pilates, Kathy has helped me to dramatically strengthen my core and the other muscles that support my flexible joints. This newfound strength allows me to perform more difficult steps and to stay strong and balanced in my center. I plan to include Pilates as part of my training throughout my career in order to maintain my strength and to prevent injuries. Pilates training is a great strength-builder, and I recommend it for everyone, especially dancers and other athletes.In January 2016, I auditioned for several summer intensive programs and was pleased to find that I was accepted into the Saratoga Summer Dance Intensive, the Vail Summer Dance Intensive, the American Ballet Theater in New York, and the San Francisco Ballet School. This summer I will attend the San Francisco Ballet School summer session.