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Piloxing is the latest fitness trend – and no, it has nothing to do with pillow fights

Participants in a Piloxing class at the Street Dance Academy in Toronto.

kevin van paassen The Globe and Mail

When I first hear of Piloxing– the latest trend to hit Canadian fitness clubs – I imagine a round of vigorous pillow fighting. Instead, as with Brangelina and Chavril, the name is a mashup of Pilates and boxing.

The workout – created by Viveca Jensen, best known for being Hilary Duff's personal trainer – sounds like an odd pairing at first (not unlike Chavril). But both Pilates and boxing emphasize the importance of stabilizing the core, be it in a boxer's stance or on the mat.

"Let's Pilox," says Jessica Sayde, one of 14 certified Piloxing instructors in Canada, to a handful of twentysomething women gathered in a downtown Toronto dance studio. We strap on our pink-and-black weighted gloves, and after a quick run-through of two basic boxing punches (jab and straight), we start with a jab variation. The 1.5-pound gloves make this surprisingly more difficult, never mind the footwork.

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While Piloxing suggests a melding of both practices, in fact, the two never quite meet. The 45-minute workout alternates between fast-paced boxing moves (punching while squatting, or lunging, or stepping from side to side) and slower standing Pilates – subtle movements similar to those done in a barre class: gentle pliés; slowly raising one leg back, toes pointed, while leaning forward; and alternating tap backs while in a semi-squat.

Sayde's grace and agility – she's a dancer – is impressive, as is her ability to sing along, in perfect synch, with every song on her clubby soundtrack. She's clearly committed to this awkward-sounding workout: Aside from her megawatt enthusiasm, she's also decked out in head-to-toe Piloxing-emblazoned garb, from gloves to shirt to pants to knee socks.

After 40 minutes, I'm slightly sweaty (sleaty?) and my bicep and core muscles are aching. We end with a round of abdominal exercises, including the excruciating "Piloxing plank": planking while repeatedly bending our knees and lowering them to the mat, then raising them up again.

As we walk out of the studio, I overhear one of my fellow classmates enthuse about Piloxing, which has only been taught at this location for the past month. "It's going to take some time to catch on," says Sayde, who confirms that my pillow-fighting misconception is a common one. But the workout is fun, and while the name may sound odd, so too, at first, did Brangelina.

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