Last night I went to my second Pilates SPX class. To be honest, I didn’t write about my first experience because I was miserable after the fact! I have this habit of always giving 110% – even if I have never participated in a program before - and I literally couldn’t walk for 2 days…not the most motivating post. Every muscle in my body ached, and I was afraid that if I sat down, I might not be able to get back up without assistance!!! However, I did want to try this class again - this time listening to my body and realizing that it is ok to leave room for improvement.
It’s important to know that this workout is NOT traditional Pilates - but it borrows heavily from the original movements and approach of the Pilates method. SPX involves a spring-based carriage, known as the Megaformer, designed by Sebastien Lagree (an LA-based “trainer to the stars”). This particular exercise program combines strength training, endurance, balance, core work, and flexibility. SPX takes a little getting used to because you’re standing on top of moving pieces with springs attached to them. And FYI – you can expect your muscles to shake most of the time because the entire point of the exercises is to work your muscles to the point of exhaustion. A new concept for me. The SPX workout is 45 minutes long, but in reality time flies by because each exercise is repeated for 1-2 minutes, isolating specific areas in each leg, glute, lower ab, upper ab, arms, and back.
The Science of SPX
Slow and Controlled Movement – The lifting and lowering phases of each repetition is at least 4 seconds to eliminate any momentum. Lifting slowly and with control forces the muscles to stay contracted throughout the entire range of motion, a key factor in promoting strength. The “constant” tension recruits more muscle fibers and is a very efficient way to “wake up” muscles that have gotten used to traditional methods.
Constant Tension – SPX Fitness keeps muscles at a maximum tension throughout the duration of the exercise. The muscles are not allowed to relax for even a fraction of a second during the rep. This type of training is very effective for building strength and muscle definition.
Muscle Failure – Each set is designed to work the muscle to failure – when the muscle can no longer move or contract concentrically. During a session, each set allows you to progress through all 4 motor unit types. Your body will start by recruiting your slow twitch fibers first. As the set progresses and those fibers weaken, your body will recruit your fast intermediate muscles fibers. Finally for the last 2 to 20 seconds of the set, your body will recruit your fast twitch fibers. This progressive overloading stimulates the biggest amount of muscle fibers and creates the greatest metabolic response.
Multiple Muscles – SPX Fitness works multiple muscles at the same time. Some movements work over 600 muscles at once! Aside for being extremely time efficient; working multiple muscles at the same time burns more calories than isolation exercises; develops core strength faster; stimulates balance and body coordination better; keeps the heart rate up; and build strength quicker than isolation movements.
Putting all the science and benefits aside – I don’t believe SPX is for everyone. My recommendation is that SPX is best for people who like extremely intense workouts, are able to pay $13 -$35 per class (depending on how often you workout), and are willing to push themselves every time. SPX is not ideal for people who need their workouts to be fun and/or are uncomfortable following quick directions to change positions/machine settings.
Bottom line - I do highly recommend you at least try SPX to see if it is something you would like to continue. Or, if you are like me, give it a second chance!
Have you tried Pilates SPX? What was your experience like? Would you recommend it?