This is a 30-minute pilates-style workout which incorporates a 6-inch inflated ball.
Currently Gaiam sells this DVD in a kit with the ball. I got my kit at Barnes & Noble. The ball is a pretty lavender color and appears quite sturdy. (Actually, it looks suspiciously similar to the ball included in Gaiam’s Yoga Ball kit, just a different color.) I expect to be able to use the ball in other workouts as well. The DVD itself comes in a proper case, an improvement over the cardboard sleeves Gaiam used in its earlier kits.
By the way, this is a totally different DVD from Ana’s earlier Pilates Bodyball workout. That workout uses a softball-size 1 lb. ball and came packaged in a kit with a VHS tape. I don’t believe this workout was ever put on DVD.
I would rate Pilates Body Sculpting as intermediate at best. The routine will make much more sense if you already have some familiarity with pilates. Ana’s directions are very clear, but she concentrates on form tips and on how to incorporate the ball, as opposed to instructing the pilates exercises themselves. She moves at a steady deliberate pace.
There is no chapter menu except for Play, but the DVD appears chaptered by individual exercise so you can easily skip over a particular move if you want. The Southwest (?) setting may be Gaiam’s prettiest yet (unfortunately I couldn’t find any info where it was filmed). There is pleasant but forgettable background music.
The workout is done barefoot, and except for the ball the only equipment needed is a mat (although I would suggest keeping some light dumbbells handy for the brief upper body section at the end).
After a brief intro, Ana Caban leads the routine solo, instructing in voiceover. The exercises will be familiar to those already using pilates mat workouts. Ana incorporates the ball in several ways, depending on the exercise. For example: squeezing the ball between the knees during criss-cross and teasers, holding the ball between the hands of outstretched arms during single and double leg stretch, using the ball to roll in and out of swan preparation. The toning emphasis is on the core. For the side series exercises the ball is used only as a hand/leg prop and doesn‘t really increase lower body intensity. Ana concludes the workout with a few standing upper body exercises while squeezing the ball between the ankles; she does these unweighted but I would add dumbbells.
I also experimented with using my 2-lb. Firm Ooof ball rather than the unweighted Gaiam one. This worked well for adding a little extra intensity to the routine.
Overall, this is a pleasant and attractive workout, but only a handful of the exercises felt especially challenging to me, and I am an intermediate exerciser at best. I do like using the ball, though. Whether the kit is worth the money depends on (1) if you enjoy light pilates-style workouts with a twist, and (2) if you will be able to incorporate the ball in other fitness videos.
Ana Caban is one of my favorite pilates instructors, knowledgeable and elegant without being intimidating.
August 29, 2007