A Yoga Student’s Opinion About the Swerve Studio Fitness Craze
Fun and lighthearted “YBB” is a great way to get cardio – NOT the best way to learn Yoga (or Ballet…)
Physical trainers often recommend dance classes as a great way to change up your workout routine and still get your cardio in for the day. Dancing builds strength, endurance, balance, and agility while you learn a few new moves.
Ever-increasing in popularity, the Yoga Booty Ballet workout was featured on MTVnews with Lillix and is the subject of several “as seen on TV” style infomercials. A workout video series produced by “Beachbody” and hosted by teachers Teigh McDonough and Gillian Marloth, the co-founders of the Los Angeles studio “Swerve”.
Teigh and Gillian are a great team, seamlessly swapping control of the class from one instructor to the other, with different enough styles to be able to demonstrate modifications to the more difficult movements.
The rest of the students featured in the background of the video are real students (i.e. these people are not Barbie-dolls!) which is heartening and encouraging to newcomers.
One thing that leaves room for doubt, however, is the title of the series!
Where’s the “Yoga”?
They use the Sanskrit words and the shapes and sounds of yoga, but they don’t penetrate to the heart of it – the spirit is missing.
Though Gillian is a trained Yoga instructor, and the Swerve studio offers Anusara Yoga classes and boasts of a close relationship with Anusara’s founder John Friend, it seems to be scratching the surface. They seem to be going through the motions of a workout routine that looks Yoga-ish at best.
For dancers, it’s amazing how gracelessly they move through vinyasa flows that should be slow and fluid with long, extended inhales and exhales. These, instead looked like they were doing jumping jacks while sitting on the floor.
Stretches that need to be held for several breaths in order to be truly beneficial are barely bounced into. They know all the words to say, but they are in such a hurry to get warmed up and start dancing that the yoga loses all of its meaning and benefit.
Anyone who thinks they are gaining familiarity with Yoga through the YBB series would be sorely mistaken.
Plenty of “Booty”, but obviously meant for dancers
The core of the workout is a peppy dance routine that builds incrementally as a Jazz class would. The addition and complication of each move one onto the next, the repetition of phrases of the routine, and the assumption that audience members already know the names of dance steps can be daunting.
To the uninitiated, this workout could be more frustrating than fun. To someone who has taken a few dance classes, this is a fantastic cardio workout that moves quickly and keeps it interesting.
What about the “Ballet”?
Though there were a few of the French Ballet terms sprinkled through some of the body-sculpting portions, relatively little of the workout could be considered “Ballet”.
Those familiar with Pilates will recognize much of the emphasis on building core strength and the vast majority of the moves. Of course, the overlap of Ballet technique and Pilates movements extends back to the earlier part of the twentieth century when Joseph Pilates collaborated with many of New York City’s finest dancers to refine his own movements. The dancers, in turn, incorporated many of his techniques into their repertoires.
More Body than Mind
The key to Mind-Body workouts is a connection between movement and breath. The benefit is the presence of the mind and the awareness of the moment.
The YBB workout is a great cardio routine, but it does not serve the purpose or meet the goals of a mind-body exercise.
Unfortunately, this seems to be the same result any “Fusion” routine has when it tries to incorporate Yoga as a warm-up and cool-down for another style of workout. It deprives the student of the benefits of really stretching muscles, and of getting to the quiet place on the mat, where we reach the soul of Yoga.