Pilates With A Twist

Grace Dearing

As midterms came and went, a new group fitness schedule was introduced at Ping Recreation Center to pull students out of their mid-semester slump. 

Among the list of new classes was a POP Pilates class instructed by Kaya Mallick, a sophomore studying theater. From the minute Mallick strapped the headset on for the first time the fitness room was full of positive energy.

POP Pilates was first established by fitness instructor Cassey Ho just before she moved from Los Angeles to Boston. Ho decided to create a Pilates routine to the beat of Top 40 pop music and posted it online for the small group of students she instructed. Now, nearly eight years later, Ho continues to make videos from her current home in Union City, California. Today, POP Pilates is a live class taught in gyms across the United States. 

POP Pilates is all about offering a safe, encouraging environment for men and women alike to learn to love their bodies and to make health and fitness a top priority. Ho encourages anyone to become a POP certified instructor by attending a short workshop. 

Initially, Mallick was hesitant to become certified, but after realizing there was a convention and workshop in Colorado at the same time she would be there, the timing seemed perfect.

“The workshop was eight hours and then you have to submit a video afterwards,” she says. “You had like six weeks to do [the video], but I did it after the first week because you just have to learn the choreography. It’s been so much easier than I realized, and it’s so fun.”

One of the most unique things about POP Pilates is that not every class has the same choreography. Ho personally choreographs routines, but it is up to the POP instructors to decide which one they want to teach that day.

“We get a new choreography released every three months so then you can just layer in different tracks,” Mallick says. 

POP Pilates differs from a standard Pilates class because the moves, while still core-based, are much more upbeat and incorporate more cardio. Basic Pilates moves, like alternating leg lifts in Pilates stance, are used in addition to moves that Ho has created herself, like the POP burpee. 

The POP burpee starts in a wide plié squat and quickly transitions into a plank, then back to a squat as the tempo of the music picks up. After each burpee, the class simultaneously claps along to “Handclap” by Fitz and the Tantrums.

Moves like the POP burpee require rhythm and coordination that engage one’s core in a new way. Because of that, it can be difficult to pick up the choreography, but that shouldn’t scare anyone off from attending another class. In fact, it’s the persistence and determination required that Mallick loves most about being POP certified.

“I really love that moment that people get the choreography that I’m telling them,” she says. “I look around and everyone is doing the exact same thing and I’m like, ‘Wow! We’re working out, we look like dancers!’ It’s super fun. I just like seeing people having fun and working out.”