PILOBOLUS Hard Core Workout


What will make you sweat as much as a Bikram Yoga class;

Build upper body strength to the same degree as an Olympic lifting session;

Develop the mind body awareness of a martial arts or ballet class;

Strengthen core and align spine like a Pilates session;

Work the fast twitch muscle fibers as well as plyometrics or slalom training;

Develop the trust and teamwork of any team or group sport;

Work your cardiovascular system like speed drill day of running;

and is lots of fun to boot?

A workout based on the training methods of the renowned dance troupe PILOBOLUS.

Their unique brand of dance, performance art, and athleticism is on display until August 8th at the Joyce Theater in New York City.

Renee Jaworski, Rehearsal Director and Artistic Associate of PILOBOLUS led a class of about twenty of us through an intense and extremely fast moving 75 minute session that combined running, strength and core training, partner exercises, tumbling and stretching at the David Barton Gym in Chelsea.

At the onset she explained that PILOBOLUS dancers, both male and female, need to be especially strong since their signature choreography involves lots of lifting and carrying of other dancers. Consider that the next time you’re working on your power lifting – in a PILOBOLUS piece, not only are you lifting an extremely heavy weight, you are moving gracefully through a series of choreographed moves with many other people around you doing the same thing.

Barefoot, we started by running around the room of the dance studio. Encouraged to pick up the pace and sprint, we ran, darting in and out of the group around us, paying close attention to fellow classmates so as to avoid collision and become mindful of our movement through the room and of the movements of our classmates.

This mindfulness became a leitmotif of the session as everything required awareness of the spaces left between people that could be traveled and moved through. Running was interspersed with quick drops to the floor for sit ups and pushups; hopping on both feet from side to side all while moving forward or backward; lunges with direction for proper alignment to avoid knee joint stress; leaps into the air; standing jumps into the air and continued running forwards and backwards avoiding any regular circling of the room.

We then broke into groups of two for partner exercises. Standing face to face and grasping each other’s wrists, we used our partners as counter balances to lean back and simultaneously lower ourselves to the floor in a squat and back up again. Then standing back to back we did “wall sits” using our partner’s back as the wall.

Before the final series of cool down stretches we practiced backwards rolls onto the floor. Holding a strong core in the shape of a C curve with the abdominals, we alternately rolled on either side of the back, in order to avoid the spine, then worked to develop enough momentum to roll forward to standing. Renee then directed us to go back to running about the room while quickly dropping to the floor to perform this backward roll to standing in the midst of our simultaneously moving classmates.

Throughout the class Renee pointed out details of body alignment emphasizing a strong and contracted abdomen, tucked tailbone, relaxed shoulders and straight spine. Knee alignment was frequently pointed out during any sort of bending or stretching.

Body intelligence and movement intelligence were two of the key phrases used to describe what we were working to develop, along with strength, cardiovascular conditioning, proper alignment, and flexibility. I can best describe the class as a synthesis of these things. A terrific hybrid and cross training at it’s best!

If you are fortunate enough to live in NYC these FREE classes are being held on Wednesdays and Sundays until August 9 at the very beautiful and well-equipped David Barton Gym in Chelsea.


Don’t miss PILOBOLUS at the Joyce Theater now through August 8.



Photo above courtesy of PILOBOLUS and David Barton Gyms.

Below video features PILOBOLUS dancers as photographed by John Kane for a 2010 calender now available for purchase at pilobolus.org