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New workout PiYo is like 'Yoga and Pilates on steroids'
Trendy exercise builds strength, muscle and flexibility
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Fitness instructor April Wood teaches a class Jan. 19, in the Family Life Center at First Baptist Church of Gainesville. Wood is a licensed PiYo instructor. It was her second day teaching the class. - photo by Erin O. Smith

When: 6-7 p.m. Thursday
Where: First Baptist Church’s Family Life Center, 751 Green St. NW, Gainesville

When: 8-8:45 a.m. Saturday
Where: Anytime Fitness, 5757 Old Winder Highway, Braselton

Everyone has seen the latest workout trends come and go — the parade of chic gym equipment to push, pull and stretch on, or the newest round of night owl infomercials. Each promises washboard abs in days, “All yours for just four easy payments of $12.99!”

But fitness experts aren’t fooled by flashy workout gadgets or celebrity workout DVDs. They know true physical fitness comes through discipline, sweat and countless hours of hard work.

“And that’s what PiYo is,” said April Wood, a fitness instructor at First Baptist Church’s Family Life Center in Gainesville. “You get a solid hour workout, and you are going to sweat.”

Wood, a licensed Beachbody coach, teaches PiYO, one of the newest exercise trends. It combines the muscle building and strength training of Pilates with the grace, flexibility and balance of yoga.

But PiYo is no serene half meditation/half workout with which many are familiar. It is an intense, nonstop series of moves that looks like yoga at double speed.

During her weekly PiYo class on Thursday nights at the Family Life Center, Wood coaches a half dozen students through the different moves. So far the unanimous conclusion is the exercise is no walk in the park.

“The continuous motion is what’s so hard about this,” Michael Green said as he took a breather during a recent class.

But as hard as most of the participants claim PiYo to be, class members seemed to have a great time working out. 

“It’s definitely fun and definitely a workout,” said Michael Stump, one of Wood’s male students and another instructor at the center.

Stump said even as fit as he is, the workout challenged him at times.

“It’s like yoga and Pilates on steroids. But it’s different, and that’s why I like it,” he said.

Each hourlong PiYo class is broken into different sections. Each is focused on a different aspect, with its own music and routine. And as the workout builds in intensity, the music builds with it. Hits from the 1980s such as “Sweet Dreams” by Eurythmics and AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” guided the students in pushups, planks, lunges and downward dog stretches.

But Wood said PiYo’s greatest benefit isn’t its results, but the versatility it has for different ages and skill levels.

“What it boils down to is if they need to be slower, they can just be slower and just catch up when they can,” Wood said. “This is about helping them get into better shape, and not so much about having them get every move that we are doing right.”

For those who are up to the challenge, Wood said students can modify the workout with more advanced forms.

“You have a well-rounded program that hits just about every area you can imagine in one workout,” Wood said.

It may be considered low impact, but you get high impact results.”

For more information about PiYo, visit or call 770-534-7354.

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