Video Fitness

Cardio Pilates

Ana Caban

This tape is also part of the Gaiam set currently being sold on their site. If you're familiar with the Energy Boost workouts (originally add-ons to the Beginner and Intermediate workouts, now sold separately), that concept is extended here. The workout starts with a more traditional "aerobic" warmup, then moves on to Pilates movements (some pretty advanced) done at a slightly brisk pace.

The warmup includes circuits of kicks, jacks, lunges, marches, jogs and jumps for about 3 minutes, then moves onto the matwork. The movements follow the traditional Pilates sequence, but doesn't include everything. The movements are: the Controlled Sit Down, the Hundred (the more "old school" leg variation is included here- the legs are lifted from the floor rather than bent from the knees then lowered), the Roll Up, Single Leg Circles, Rolling Like a Ball (hands are crossed over the shins here), Single Leg Stretch, Double Leg Stretch, Spine Stretch Forward, Closed Leg Rocker, Corkscrew, Neck Roll (the Full Swan may also be included at this point), Single Leg Kick, Neck Pull, Shoulder Bridge (with leg kicks), Spine Twist, Side Kicks (including Passe, Developpe, Big Scissors and Hot Potato), Teaser (One Leg, then with a twist), Mermaid and Seal. Then we stand for Running (knees to the front and side) and Jacks.

Instructor comments: Competent, calm instruction, as usual.





Lest anyone confuse this workout with videos like Crunch Fat Burning Pilates that combine Pilates movements with cardio, you need to know right off the bat that this is instead a traditional Pilates matwork workout followed by a lackluster hi/lo workout. The setting is a pretty Asian-inspired garden, and the music is up-tempo New Age. Gaiam has not apparently figured out how long their videos are because this one says 42 minutes on the package but is in fact 48 minutes. The matwork segment is 29 minutes and the cardio, cooldown, and stretch are 19 minutes total.
The matwork consists of about 23 classic basic and intermediate Pilates exercises, including a few tough ones like closed leg rocker, teaser, and side bend. It is not recommended for Pilates newbies as Ana doesn't demonstrate or discuss any modifications for these moves.
The cardio section consists of four basic hi/lo steps: marching in place, hamstring curls, reaching side to side, then overhead repeated endlessly for about 8 minutes. Suddenly you switch to a couple of quick balancing moves (standing on one foot at a time) and a couple of ball-and-chains (which low impacters will need to modify, probably with more marching in place), before going right back to the first routine several more times through. After repeating these moves for 15 minutes, you do some squats and jumping jacks, then some more balancing moves of lifing one leg at at time to the front and to the side before a quick stretch.
I doubt I will ever do this video. It's fine as a basic, half hour matwork session, but I'd probably have to lose the entire remainder of my video collection in a fire before I'd condsider doing the cardio portion. I appreciate basic choreo, but this had me screaming with boredom.

Instructor comments: Ana is a good Pilates instructor with excellent cues and pointers, but in this video she provides absolutely no modifications. She leaves a lot to be desired as a cardio instructor, however.


November 6, 2004

Iím reviewing this workout after doing the Pilates portion numerous times and the cardio portion once over the months Iíve had this.

General workout breakdown: This video has two distinct routines: one Pilates (about 25 minutes) and one hi/lo aerobics (about 20 minutes).
The classical-type Pilates routine includes controlled sit down, the hundred (with the last half done with 3 inhales and 7 exhales, in contrast to the usual 5 and 5 or 4 and 4), roll up, leg circles, rolling like a ball, single leg stretch, double leg stretch, single straight leg stretch (i.e. scissors), double straight leg stretch, criss cross (i.e. bicycle), spine stretch forward (holding the final stretch down), closed leg rocker, corkscrew, saw, neck rolls, swan dive preparation, childís pose, single leg kicks, chidís pose, double leg kicks, shoulder bridge preparation, side leg series (up & down, passť), one-legged teaser, mermaid, side plank, seal, and return to standing. Anaís overall pace is on the leisurely side, yet youíre never sitting around waiting for her to finish instructing or setting up a move. At the same time, I feel I have plenty of time to move from seated or supine to prone positions and back again. Ana doesnít do a lot of repetitions, but at the same time I didnít feel shortchanged.
The floor aerobics consists primarily of marching, hamstring curls, step tap, and step with a reach across. She does throw in some holds, and later (when I was just about to threaten bodily harm if I had to do the opening combo one more time) she adds two series with moves like scissor jacks (which she calls lunges) and jumping jacks. She then stops abruptly for a few quick stretches at the end. There is no warm up, either. Except for these small jumps, this is a low impact, compact aerobics portion.

Level: Iíd recommend this to someone with some Pilates experience looking to make the transition from beginner to intermediate. Ana includes some form instruction and pointers, but not enough for true beginners. Additionally, she does not show or really even suggest modifications, making this routine difficult for those with flexibility and strength limitations who donít know how to modify. I consider myself low intermediate at Pilates (about 2 years of experience but still limited strength & flexibility), and I find this video somewhat challenging.
I consider myself at the high intermediate, maybe at the intermediate / advanced crossover point, with respect to cardio, and I had to exaggerate my movements to keep my heart rate up.

Class: Ana alone, instructing ďlive.Ē

Music / Set / Other Production Notes: The light instrumental music stuff is bland and repetitive. During the Pilates portion itís fine, but it detracts from the aerobics. (Iím sure someone out there runs sprint intervals to Windham Hills, but I think most of us need something more invigorating for cardio.) Ana is under a gazebo-like structure in a public garden or arboretum of some sort. As is usual for Gaiam productions, the picture and sound are crisp and clear.

Equipment: mat (or equivalent) for the Pilates portion; sneakers for the aerobics.

Space Requirements: enough room to move your arms and legs around while lying down, and enough room to move your arms and legs around comfortably while standing. The cardio portion stays in one place and would be great for rebounding. (In fact, it may be almost fun on a rebounder.)

DVD Notes: Iíve found I can only fast-forward, not skip, the long Gaiam intro. Fortunately the intros to the workout itself are chaptered and skippable. The Pilates portion is divided into about ten chapters, and the cardio portion is all one chapter.

Conclusion: Iím keeping this for the Pilates routine. Itís a good beginner/intermediate or low intermediate routine, and Ana is a great Pilates instructor. Iíd rank Anaís current matwork videos in this order, from easiest to toughest: Beginning Pilates Matwork, Easy Pilates, Quick Start Pilates for Weight Loss, Cardio Pilates, Intermediate Pilates Matwork, PM Pilates, the Energy Boost Pilates, and Pilates for Abs.
The cardio portion is worth a watch or try of a few minutes to see how engaging your core can help your cardiovascular activities, but there are too many far better routines out there to bother with this one, unless you like very, very basic choreography and donít have much cardio.

Instructor comments: Ana has a pleasant, positive on screen persona. The Pilates portion shows her talents much more than the cardio. She cues the Pilates moves well and offers a good number of helpful tips. I enjoy Ana as a Pilates instructor. I think she presents the classical Pilates matwork in a fresh, exciting way that makes the same old, same old seem interesting, doable, and even fun. On the other hand, she seems unsure of how to conduct the aerobics portion, only cueing move changes and reminding you about your form.


January 12, 2005

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