Will Pilates Remain When Bootcamps Go Bust?

I love my bootcamp workouts. This routine can produce great results, but contrary to popular belief they’re not for everyone.

These days, bootcamps are all the rage. But, like any fitness fad — think Jane Fonda’s workout, strip aerobics or Tae Bo — this workout will probably dwindle in popularity or morph into the next workout trend. And while Pilates may not be the “in” thing for 2011, the discipline has staying power and will continue to stand its ground as an effective physical conditioning technique long after bootcamps go bust.

Clearly, there are many great benefits to bootcamps, but here are three reasons why Pilates has staying power:

Quality Vs. Quantity

Pilates balances the body by focusing on stability, strength and flexibility in order to increase your everyday functioning or movement. Although it can be a tough workout, the emphasis is on quality — and the specificity of movement — over quantity.

Bootcamps tend to promote bikini-ready bodies or weight loss over the idea of body balance or improvement. In bootcamps, the emphasis is on quantity, competition, on pushing the body beyond its limits. It’s about how many push-ups or mountain climbers you can do instead of how you do them.

Body Awareness and Injuries

The specific exercises associated with Pilates encourages a deep awareness of the physical body and power of stable core muscles. It’s very rare to sustain an injury in Pilates class. The pace of a class is steady, the instruction is specific and technical and the fundamental principles of Pilates ensure safe and efficient movement.

Conversely, the whole premise of bootcamp is to test your body. If you don’t have proper form or a keen awareness of your body’s limitations, you can easily injure yourself. Regardless of how amazing a bootcamp instructor is, when the classes are large and the pace of exercise is high-intensity and high-impact, it’s next to impossible to correct an individual’s form while upholding the role of a drill sergeant.

Accessibility to All

Pilates can be practiced by anyone, anywhere. Whether you’re young or old, a professional athlete or a weekend warrior, whether you have an injury or are in peak training mode, your body will benefit from Pilates. You will feel and see an improvement in your body’s overall strength and ease of movement.

By their nature, bootcamps have limits to their accessibility. While the general population can definitely benefit from the strength training and cardio workout bootcamps offer, others may feel left out. Have you ever seen a “bootcamp for rheumatoid arthritics” or a “bootcamp for those suffering from back pain?”

There’s a reason why doctors, physical therapists and chiropractors refer patients to Pilates as a safe, but effective, form of exercise. You rarely see them referring clients to bootcamp.

So, as much as I love my adrenaline rush from bootcamp, I’m well aware that one day I may get tired of the burpees or of my instructor shouting at me to “work through the pain.” And I know that, like any faithful long-term companion, Pilates will be there for me far beyond bikini season.

Annabel Fitzsimmons is a freelance writer, runner, yoga and Pilates teacher and a mother of two young children. Her online yoga, Pilates and meditation studio is at http://www.annabelfitzsimmons.ca/.