If you find Pilates too intense or technical, but also find Yoga too slow, Breathe Pilates has a new class that you may find to be just right: ZEN.GA. I gave it a try last week and came away pleasantly surprised (and surprisingly sore!) with how good a workout it was.
Breathe is actually the first and only studio in Singapore to offer this revolutionary class from North America, which combines elements of Pilates, Yoga and Tai Chi in a variety of strengthening and stretching moves to create “a more youthful, resilient and flexible body”. (In other words, you’re still gonna get that long, lean, toned look that makes Pilates so popular!)
We began the class on the mat, where instructor Svenja emphasised that ZEN.GA focuses on “mindfulness in movement”, and took us through some relaxing visualisation exercises before gradually segueing into arm and leg raises. It was all pretty gentle, and I began to wonder if I’d get much of a workout.
Then we hopped on the Pilates reformer, a series of gliding platforms and pullies that seems to have infinite uses. We began with stretches that seemed to limber up our backs and hip flexors.
Svenja explained that a core tenet of ZEN.GA is myofacial release, which improves blood and lymphatic circulation by stimulating the stretch reflex in muscles. This in turn breaks down tension, and is meant to also help you reach clarity in the mind. There’s a great focus on breathing, alignment and correct posture “to increase one’s awareness”, which I think is the Tai Chi element of the workout.
Anyway, we did a series of lunging exercises on the reformer that had my inner thigh muscles trembling like a leaf (and they were sore the next day, too!). We also worked our cores via modified planks and push-ups. Perhaps the most fun exercise involved strapping our legs into harnesses to do supported squats; it was a slightly funny, bouncing sensation that I’ve never experienced in an exercise class before.
By the end of the hourlong session I felt a bit like dough that had been stretched out with a rolling pin; I was a little bit sore, but also felt loose and more relaxed. Fluid is another ZEN.GA watchword, and I get that: your movements are meant to flow naturally from one to the next during the class, and afterwards this carries over to how your muscles feel.
According to instructor Svenja, ZEN.GA is less muscle-based than Pilates, but features more movement and tension than Yoga. I’d agree with that assessment; there was less focus on exact repetitions that I’m used to with Pilates, but I also felt like we moved around and worked a lot harder than I have in any Yoga class (where I often feel bored and impatient!).
I definitely left the class feeling like I’d gotten a good all-around body workout, but I was also relaxed and less revved up than with a typical exercise session. Perhaps the tranquil view from the 13th-floor Marine Parade studio contributed to that as well.
I would absolutely do the ZEN.GA class again; besides being a great workout, who doesn’t need a bit of mindfulness and refocusing in her life?
Both individual and group classes are available, starting at $55 for a single group class. Parkway sessions limited to 5 people; Novena sessions limited to 4 people. Contactinfo@breathepilates.com.sg for more information.
10 Sinaran Drive, #09-33 Novena Medical Centre, Singapore 307506
Tel: (+65) 9835 5683
1 Marine Parade Central, #13-02 Parkway Centre, Singapore 44908
Tel: (+65) 9835 5683