Video Fitness

Living Arts Pilates - Intermediate Mat Workout

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

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.


-While the production quality is not as high as other Living Arts Videos, that is not why I bought this tape. I was looking for a complete flowing pilates video and that is exactly what I got.

Ana is an enthusiastic instructor and the workout flew by for me. If you are new to pilates I'd recommend you start with an intro tape or Method Precision Toning to learn the moves first even though some instruction is provided.

I like that the upper body got some work as well. Overall this tape is just what I was looking for - 30 minutes, complete pilates mat workout. If you can get past some of the production flaws - I am personally so focused on what I'm doing to notice, I'd highly recommend this video.

About me, I'm 29 and and at an intermediate to advanced fitness level. I have been doing videos for close to a year now to get in shape after having a baby. I previously taught aerobics and toning at a Woman's Workout World and I was very involved in ballet and modern dance as a kid through college.

Diane Miller

This tape is NOT for those new to Pilates; it's meant as a Part 2 to the Beginners Mat Workout. In the first tape, instructor Ana Caban takes the time to carefully explain each move and to describe in detail how the moves are performed, but in this more advanced workout, she skips the instructions and moves quickly from one move to the next. The entire workout builds on the Beginners tape by adding new moves, all of which smoothly flow from one to the other in the classic Pilates tradition. It's true that the sound and video quality is a bit off here and there, but this is easy enough to ignore once you have practiced the workout a few times. This is an excellent tape for strengthening the entire midsection, and perfect for those who want to further advance their Pilates practice.

Instructor comments: Ana is a very likeable instructor who is motivating and energetic without being overly peppy or intimidating. She offers encouragement using simple, sometimes amusing language such as "be long, like a noodle!"

Beth (aka toaster)

December 15, 2003

I've tried a lot of Pilates tapes and this DVD is one of my favorites. It is intended as a follow-up to the Beginning Mat Workout. The beginning tape has more instruction but if you have a fairly good basis in Pilates, you can start with this one. I don't remember the exact sequencing of the workout but it does include exercises for the abs, the sidekick series for legs and a couple of pushup type exercises for arms and chest. I like that Ana uses breathing cues and good visualization techniques. I also like the modifier, Tara, who is calm and unimposing but knows what she's doing. The Living Arts Intermediate workout is not as fast-paced as other Intermediate Pilates workouts but if you pay attention to form, you can really grow with this one. The bonus workout on the DVD is excellent and beautiful as well.

Instructor comments: Ana is very professional and cheerful without being overly perky. She gives good thorough instructions and has a soothing voice.



Iím reviewing this workout after doing it several times over the year or so that Iíve had this DVD.

General workout breakdown: This Pilates routine lasts about 30 minutes (skipping the intro). It contains the controlled sit down, the 100, roll up, single leg circle, rolling like a ball, single leg stretch, double leg stretch, single straight leg stretch, double straight leg stretch, criss cross, spine stretch forward, open leg rocker, corkscrew, saw, neck rolls, single leg kick, double leg kick, spine twist, side kick series (front & back, up & down, little circles, lifting & lowering both legs together, lifting & lowering bottom leg while top leg held, big scissorsóboth slow and fast), teaser, swimming, leg pull down, seal, and push ups.
Ana does take a little time to set up and explain each exercise, but I never felt that she took excessively long breaks. The exercises are done at an appropriate pace and with a decent number of repetitions.

Level: Iíd recommend this to anyone looking to cross over into the intermediate level through someone practicing at a solidly intermediate level of Pilates. True beginners need to look elsewhere because Ana doesnít include much instruction for breathing. I consider myself a low intermediate at Pilates (about 2 years of experience but still limited strength & flexibility), and I find this suitably challenging.

Class: Ana, with Tara providing modifications (more for limitations of strength than flexibility).

Music: upbeat synthesizer stuff. Itís not too obnoxious.

Set: room with hardwood floors and a wall of windows. The floor and white paint are a little scuffed, and the furniture off in the corner suggests this is in an actual house.

Production: The sound here is OK, although a few shots donít use Anaís voice on the mike but the sound captured by the camera. The picture varies from camera shot to shot, which it does often and quickly, switching angles, types of camera (professional-quality film cameras to what appears to be a handheld camcorder), and effects (including switching from color to black & white). Overall the camera angles are helpful, even if the constant changing between them is a bit distracting. The name of each exercise appears on the screen at the beginning of each move, sometimes in creative ways (e.g. the word ďkickĒ imitates the action of a leg kicking up and down).

Equipment: mat (or equivalent). Ana is barefoot.

Space Requirements: enough space to move your arms and legs around while lying down.

DVD Notes: The routine is chaptered by exercise. It comes with the long Gaiam intro (which I can only fast forward but not skip). Anaís Energy Boost Pilates II is the bonus workout.

Conclusion: Iím keeping this one. I like Ana (see instructor comments below). Anaís more recent videos are better produced, but this one is just right for me at this point in my practice.
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, Maintenance Pilates for Weight Loss (both routines), the Energy Boost Pilates (I and II), and Pilates for Abs. This video (Intermediate Pilates Matwork) has Anaís longest side kick series.

Instructor comments: I enjoy Ana as a Pilates instructor. I think she presents the classical Pilates matwork in a way that makes the same old, same old seem fresh, interesting, and doable. Ana instructs ďliveĒ here. She has a positive, encouraging attitude. She cues well and provides a good amount of form instruction and some excellent form tip (including some with imagery, but not as odd or corny as some instructors). She focuses only on Pilates with no side chatter.


January 30, 2006

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