Nearly 20 fitness enthusiasts participated in the inaugural "Yogalates" class at Graves fitness center Jan. 12.

Yogalates, a combination of Yoga and Pilates, is part of new classes the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, sports and fitness department recently added to its 2012 aerobics training program.

According to fitness specialists at Graves Fitness Center, the annual program is a comprehensive collection of aerobics exercise disciplines that Soldiers, Family members and civilians can participate in throughout the winter months. In addition to the regular group of aerobics programs available at Belvoir's gyms, sports and fitness added "Absolution" (exercises that develop functional movement within the core) and Yogalates.

"Yogalates is about strength, balance and cardiovascular fitness," said Michelle Landon, class instructor.

Landon's interactive teaching style and approach to the program made it easy for beginners and the experienced to learn the new concepts and approach the exercises in a safe and engaging way.

Yoga focuses on breathing and alignment while building strength, flexibility, balance and concentration and Pilates concentrates on core postural muscles that help balance and support the spine. Both are popular programs that draw full classes.

Landon placed much of the emphasis on controlled respiration during the sequences of postures.

"(Vinyasa) Yoga is all about breathing," she told the class as she demonstrated a series of balance and stretching routines. "It's the most important thing we do."

The one-hour Yogalates class was popular with attendees who said the combination discipline is a valid addition to Fort Belvoir's existing aerobics program.

"The best benefit is that it's physical and mental," said Mary Anne Hesch. "It makes you feel better. I think it also allows you to have a different look on life. After a class you're more relaxed and you've released a lot of stress."

Yogalates can also serve as a supplementary fitness regimen for those who engaged in more physically demanding activities that have unwanted side effects.

"I'm a runner, and I was finding my muscles tightening up," said Kate Morganti. "This is a great way to loosen them up."

DFWMR offers daily opportunities to participate in a wide variety of aerobics training at Graves Fitness Center. In addition to Yogalates and Absolution, classes include Dance Fusion, standard Yoga and Pilates, Power Pump, Rep Fusion, Spin, Sport Conditioning, Step and Sculpt, Turbo Kick and Zumba (a fusion of international moves set to Latin music).

Additional information is available from Graves Fitness Center at (703) 806-5368.