According to a new survey forecasting fitness trends for 2011 Pilates isn’t quite as eventful as bootcamp.
In fact so precipitous was the fall of Pilates, once a fitness staple, that Dr. Walter Thompson, lead author of an annual poll conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine, is starting to call it a fad.
"Fads are here today, gone tomorrow," Thompson said. "Pilates has been very strong since 2008. But for 2011 it fell off the list completely."
Stability balls and balance training also plummeted off the online poll, which asked over 2,000 fitness and health experts from Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa, North and South America to identify top trends.
"It could be this was just another fad invading the gyms that's run its course. You've got a lot of these stability balls, but are you using them?" asks Thompson, a professor of exercise science at Georgia State University.
Meanwhile, the bootcamp workout is coming on strong, according to the survey, which for five years has alerted fitness experts and consumers alike to future trends.
Certified fitness professionals, programs for older adults and children, and strength training also posted strong showings.
"If I owned a health club and we weren't offering any bootcamps, we would have bootcamps starting tomorrow," Thompson said of the fast-moving callisthenics-based interval workout.
Pilates vs. Bootcamp prices
For Pilates instructor and studio owner Lara Hudson, the problem is in the price point.
"Pilates is perceived as more expensive than bootcamp," said Hudson, owner of the Mercury Fitness Pilates studio in San Francisco, California. "In this tough economy people look for less expensive workouts."
She said Pilates is a thinking man's workout trapped in a time-pressed, one-stop shopping environment.
"People always want something new," she said. "Before the crash we couldn't meet the demand, but once the economy took a turn we had to rely on our group classes."
Hudson said her studio is rolling with the punches.
"We're working on how to appeal to today's wallets and desire to get it all in one hour."
Suzanne Bowen, a certified Pilates teacher based in Nashville, Tennessee, thinks Pilates is here to stay but teaches a hybrid of Pilates, yoga and ballet.
Getting results faster
"Pilates will not give you results fast," said Bowen, star of the DVD Gorgeous Core. "To do it well takes a lot of strength, and it can be expensive if you're on a Reformer."
The Reformer is the springed exercise platform designed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century.
Crunch, the national chain of health clubs, still offers traditional reformer-based Pilates, but is also keen on cost-cutting alternatives, according to spokesperson Donna Cyrus.
"Joseph Pilates is dead," Cyrus said, "So how do we take these exercises and put them in mainstream classes?"
For Cyrus, the answer lies in hybrid group fitness classes which fuse Pilates-based exercises with yoga, light weights or resistance training.
"I'm always redesigning," Cyrus said, "Trying to open it up to a wider audience."
But Cyrus hesitates to call Pilates a fad.
"A fad is something like pogo sticks. People liked it but the learning curve was too hard."
(Reuters Health, November 2010)