By Bryan Goh

How Alicia Pan Is Changing the Rules of Pilates

"It gives you a crazy endorphin rush."
How Alicia Pan Is Changing the Rules of STRONG Pilates
Pictured above are Pete Thew and Alicia Pan, the co-founders and directors of Yoga Movement

With Pilates being one of the top five genres of fitness classes on ClassPass over the last 12 months, the question is what exactly is this exercise? To some, it might be a low-impact exercise that’s gentle on the joints and to others, a low-intensity way to slowly and effectively reduce both body weight and fat percentage.

However, according to Alicia Pan, the co-founder and director of Yoga Movement, Pilates might be perfect as it can “can be adapted to suit a wide range of fitness levels and goals.” but STRONG Pilates—an Australian fitness franchise that she has helped debut in Singapore—is where it’s really at.

A combination of resistance pilates and cardio that works the body out in full and to its fullest, here, Pan takes us through its benefits, how fast it works, and the power of consistency.

Hello Alicia, how are you?
Hi! Things are going great at the moment—we’ve just launched a whole new subscription-based membership that is fully integrated into our app, a spanking new location at Holland Village, and gotten exclusive rights to STRONG Pilates which we will be spearheading in this region.

It’s a busy year, but the team’s onto something special and there is great momentum going. 

With Pilates, why do you think it’s so popular here and in particular for women?
Traditional Pilates is popular for various reasons such as its focus on core strength which can improve posture, balance, and overall physical performance. Its low-impact nature makes it a good option for people who have injuries or conditions that limit their ability to do high-impact activities like running or jumping.

The versatility of Pilates also makes it popular as it can be adapted to suit a wide range of fitness levels and goals. 

Many women appreciate the emphasis on core strength, which can improve posture and reduce the risk of back pain. Moreover, Pilates is a form of exercise that not only gives the ability to strengthen and tone the body, but also encourages mindfulness and body awareness, which can help women feel more confident and in control of their bodies.

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How Alicia Pan Is Changing the Rules of STRONG Pilates
Photo credit: STRONG Pilates

What sparked the partnership with STRONG Pilates and what was the ultimate selling point for you?
My husband and business partner, Pete, and I have spent the past few years pondering what our next venture would be and we’ve always wanted to explore stuff beyond yoga. We were eager to collaborate with other well-established brands that shared our values and merge them with our operational expertise to create a dynamic fitness lifestyle group.

We strongly (no pun intended) believe this move will set us apart and help us achieve our goals. When we first spoke to Michael and Mark, the founders of STRONG, we instantly recognised that the vision they had for STRONG was totally aligned with ours for YOGA MOVEMENT.

And that was to de-gender and make accessible the fitness-focused side of both PILATES and YOGA, and fill the gap of what was missing in both modalities.

We grabbed hold of the opportunity and decided to take their unique idea of a ‘pilates-infused, cardio-inspired’ workout (similar to YM’s‘ fitness-focused yoga’) into the market very quickly. 

With how STRONG Pilates works—part resistance pilates and part cardio—how intense does it get? Is it a great class for first-timers?
Our rowformers and bikeformers are unique to the STRONG workouts as it combines the cardio element of the rower which ensures that people are achieving a substantial calorie burn while taking advantage of all those amazing benefits we get from Pilates.

Our strength-based Pilates is proper resistance training, while the row or bike machines give you a crazy endorphin rush. As everything can be both regressed and progressed, the class is a low-impact but high-intensity workout that is achievable for someone with a low level of fitness or mobility.

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What do most women not know about Pilates?
There are several lesser-known facts about Pilates, including its suitability for people of all ages and fitness levels, its adaptability for pregnant women, and its focus on proper alignment, breathing, and concentration as a mind-body exercise that can promote relaxation and reduce stress.

Overall, Pilates is a versatile exercise method that can be adapted to meet the needs of individuals with various goals and abilities. It is worth exploring and trying out to see how it can benefit you.

Photo Credit: STRONG Pilates

How many sessions of STRONG Pilates does it take for you to see a visible difference? How intense too should you be going during the class?
The number of sessions required to see visible changes varies depending on individual factors such as fitness level, frequency of practice, diet, and lifestyle.

In general, as with everything else, to see visible results, it is recommended to do it at least two to three times per week consistently over a period of several weeks. It’s important to find a challenging yet sustainable intensity level to suit each individual’s needs.

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What would be the first difference you would notice with your body then?
The first noticeable difference in the body after starting is often an improvement in posture due to the emphasis on proper alignment and the use of deep postural muscles. It can also improve core strength and stability, leading to reduced aches and pains in the lower back and hips.

With consistency, there may be improvements in flexibility, range of motion, overall body tone, and strength.

However, the specific changes you will see and feel in your body will depend on your individual starting point, your goals, and how often and consistently you workout.

How does a STRONG Pilates class go from start to finish?
During a 45-minute high-intensity strength and conditioning class, you will participate in a challenging circuit that includes up to four minutes of rowing or biking, broken up into sets.

Following this, depending on class type, you will quickly transition to heavy lower/ upper body sets before returning to the rower or bike for another round of cardio. The circuit continues with additional resistance exercises before repeating the cycle.

This intense workout keeps your heart rate elevated, leading to significant calorie burn, while also delivering the full benefits of Pilates.

Lastly, what is next for Yoga Movement and STRONG Pilates? 
This partnership between Yoga Movement and STRONG Pilates kickstarts the birth of MOVE [REPEAT] fitness lifestyle brands, a parent company to both Yoga Movement and STRONG Singapore, which has its eyes firmly set on locking up one or two more quality boutique modalities, with Asia expansion front of mind.