Video Fitness

Living Arts Pilates Beginning Mat Workout

Living Arts Pilates Beginning Mat Workout
Living Arts Pilates Intermediate Mat Workout
Ana Caban, Instructor

These are being sold together (though not as a package), so I will review them together:

The Good: Ana Caban is a very good instructor, and both tapes have modifications for the less flexible (more modifications on the beginner tape). Ana's imagery is very good. What sets Pilates apart from say, the old TV exercise shows (imho) is that you are concentrating while doing the exercise, not knocking out mindless reps. You are doing maybe 5 reps (each side) at the most The better the imagery the better the mind-body connection. I was very pleased with the intermediate tape, which is a complete workout, without stopping for a whole lot of explanation, except for the added exercises, and those explanations do not slow the flow of the workout.

The Bad:

The camera work (all the black and white stuff looks like they were filming action shots for the movie "Earthquake" it is so shaky), the beginner video is especially bad in this regard. The beginning video, like The Method Precision Toning, demos, then exercises, then the next demo, and so forth. The workout then becomes longer than it should be, which detracts from it being able to be used as a quickie workout. Why can't they put the demos in the back of the video, so you can start with the workout? There is also lot of silly posturing and posing going on, which distracts from her professionalism.

Bottom Line:

If you are at all familiar with Pilates through books or videos like Precision Toning, pass on the beginning video--you won't be missing much. It is one of those "watch it once or twice for info" types. The workout was too broken up by the demos to be really useful. The intermediate video is very good for a complete workout and I would recommend it over Precision Toning, as it adds some Pilates-style pushups which give the upper body something to do. I bought them at Costco for $8.99 each.


I bought this tape after taking a Pilates class so that I could do the workout at home. Very disappointing.

Ana Caban does a good job with the introduction but that ends with the exercises. She does the moves way too fast which it makes it impossible to do the moves correctly especially for a beginner (and this is a beginner tape. She also tries too hard to be "cute" and talks way too much - there's more talking than actual exercises.

I bought the Brooke Siler book and it is much better - I think it says a lot when you can do moves after reading about them in a book, but you can't get them from a tape.

Steve Viuker

I'm totally new to Pilates, and this is one of the first Pilates videos I acquired. When I did this video for the first time, I was surprised at how much more I liked it than when I previewed it. In the introductory material, Ana seems somewhat superficial, focused on her own (admittedly good) appearance. And some of the "arty" camera work seems unneccessary. However, when I actually did this workout, I found that Ana gave wonderful pointers that helped me greatly with my form. This is a traditional Pilates workout with the following sequence: The Hundred, The Roll Up, Single Leg Circles, Rolling Like a Ball, Single Leg Stretch, Double Leg Stretch, Single Straight Leg, Spine Stretch Forward, Open Leg Rocker, Corkscrew, The Saw, the Sidekick Series, Teasers, and The Seal. In addition to Ana, there is another exerciser demonstrating beginner modifications. I would definitely recommend this to other Pilates neophytes.

Instructor comments:

mel VF


Some people didn't like the MTV style of this video, but I'm from that generation and it didn't bother me at all; I might not even have thought about it if others hadn't mentioned it.

I have been using different Pilates videos for two years now and this tape is still my favorite. I am not a serious pilates student, and I only practice about once a week. But even at my most out of shape, this video has never been too much for me, and as I continue to get more fit I still find it challenging. It's a workout I don't really outgrow.

You can either follow Ana or Brooke, who demonstrates the easier versions of the poses. I like Ana's encouraging but not too perky style. I much prefer her style to Mari Winsor's - just personal preference, no slam on Mari. I don't think Ana goes too fast, which is a complaint I do have about Mari. I still consider myself a beginner and need a slow/moderate pace.

I love that this is a short tape; just over 20 minutes and you're done. I sometimes tack it on after other lower-body work, or just do it on it's own. I feel very relaxed afterwards, and like I've given my body a real treat.

Additional note: I have a family member who weighed 300+ lbs and thought she'd never get in shape. She did this video 5x a week for three months, and no, it wasn't a magic bullet; she didn't get a 'dancer's body' or perfect abs, but it helped her build up her strength and confidence so that she can now take 3 mile walks. I am really amazed at how strong she got with this tape; not Cathe-level of course, but impressive nonetheless. It has since circulated in our family to others who have physical limitations but want to ease back into exercise.

I love how gentle but effective this workout is. It may bore an advanced exerciser to tears, but it's a wonderful way for a true beginner to approach both Pilates and fitness.



This is my first pilates video and all in all, I think it's an excellent beginner's workout. When I went on vacation this summer, I wrote down all of the exercises so that I could do them without the video and it was the one workout I did each day. When I first started doing the video (approx. 6 weeks ago), I was not able to perform all of the exercises but my abdominal muscles have quickly strengthened and I can now perform all of the moves. The immediate results that I've seen with pilates is definitely reinforcing me to continue. I have the DVD version, which has a bonus workout at the end - this workout is much higher impact (with jumping jacks, etc.) and I haven't gotten through that one yet. But, I am just about ready to pick up the intermediate mat workout.

Instructor comments: Although I find her sense of humor slightly annoying, I think she does a good job of instructing you on the moves, which is really what matters. She also has Tara beside her doing a modified version of the exercises for beginners.



As a relative newcomer to pilates I was a little nervous with this video. I had tried other tapes that didn't have enough instruction and left me wondering what I was supposed to be doing.

Not so with this one! The instruction is very detailed and a background exerciser shows modifications throughout. Ana does a great job of explaining things, and uses a lot of metaphors to point you in the right direction (i.e. press your belly button into the ground, as if a heavy weight is pressing on your abdomen). As a complete beginner, the extra instruction and demonstrations others have copmlained about were not only welcome but necessary!

I would reccomend this tape to anyone who is completely new to pilates. It's a great starter tape and I'm looking forward to trying more pilates tapes once I get the basics down with this one.

Instructor comments: Although she did make a few annoying comments about appearances I found Ana to be a friendly and likeable instructor. Her explanations were great and I throught her "cute" comments were rather endearing.


Dec. 11, 2003

When I first tried Pilates, I used Brooke Siler's book The Pilates Body. The book was exellent, but I still felt a need to actually see the exercises being performed. In this video, instructor Ana Caban provides a thorough introduction to the Pilates technique. She explains key Pilates terms such as the "powerhouse" and "Pilates stance," and she provides detailed, easy-to-follow explanations of how to perform each exercise. Caban utilizes excellent form and stresses the importance of breathing (although additional pointers might have been helpful here). All of the exercises are at the beginning level, but those with less flexibility can also follow Caban's student, Tara, who shows modifications.

This tape provides an excellent introduction to the Pilates method; however, beginners might benefit from supplementing their practice with Siler's book (mentioned above) or anothe video (such as Hilary Burnett's Pilates for Beginners). Those who are already familiar with Pilates via other sources should have no problems moving directly to Caban's Intermediate Mat Work, which provides less instruction and offers additional exercises.

Finally, a note about sound quality: while there are some minor issues with this video, they are easily ignored and do not overly detract from this very good Pilates workout.

Instructor comments: Overall, I really enjoyed Caban's instruction; she is enthusiastic and motivating without being overly peppy or intimidating, though she can be a bit goofy at times.

Beth (aka toaster)

February 4, 2004

When I first started learning Pilates, I used two workouts (this one and Pilates for Dummies). It was good to have two workouts because two different instructors give two different explanations and you can glean different pieces of information and deeper understanding from them.

I liked this workout because it wasn’t too long and it had a modifier. When first starting, there were some moves I could not match Ana on, so I followed the modifier. Slowly, I worked up to Ana’s full version on some of them. I liked how Ana explained the moves. There were moves I just did not “get” from Pilates for Dummies that Ana explained in a way that clicked. For example, her explanation on leg circles just clicked with me and I felt like I “got” how to do them. I also liked her sense of humor – some of her comments made me laugh ever time. Of course, if your sense of humor is different, this could get grating.

I didn’t use this video for more than a few months before moving on to more intermediate level tapes. But, it gave me a great start in Pilates. I probably should have kept it to do periodically for a refresher in the basics.

Instructor comments: She is very explanatory and describes things with visual images that really help. I also think she is funny.

Laura Staley

September 30, 2004

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