Video Fitness

A.M. and P.M. Pilates Mat Workouts

Ana Caban & Jillian Hessel

Iíve reviewed each workout separately; Iíll just give a brief overview of the DVD here.

The DVD contains Jillian Hesselís A.M. Pilates as well as Ana Cabanís P.M. Pilates and Energy Boost Pilates (1). In addition to the brief introductions before the AM and PM segments, there are interviews with and little written biographies of each instructor. The AM and PM Pilates workouts are each chaptered as segments: introduction, brief warm-up, matwork, and short ending exercises. Energy Boost Pilates is found under ďExtrasĒ and has no chapters. All three workouts are set outdoors, captured with Gaiamís usual sharp camera work. The soft instrumental music is pleasant but not very loud or particularly memorable. As to be expected, you have to do with the standard Gaiam introduction after the long disclaimers.

All three Pilates routines focus primarily on the abdominals, with minimal back, leg, or upper body work.

AM Pilates is a good 25 minute routine for experienced beginners to low intermediates that focuses on proper breathing while performing a very abbreviated form of the basic matwork series. There are a number of pauses between exercises while Jillian sets you up for each move, and the overall pace is relaxed and slow. This is probably my least favorite routine on the DVD.

PM Pilates is a good 25 minute routine for low intermediates that incorporates a number of stretches before and after the abbreviated classic matwork series. This is definitely a step up in the difficulty from AM Pilates. Itís not just for evening; I find it great to do in the morning when Iím a little stiff. The overall pace is deliberate, not too fast or too slow. This is probably my favorite workout on the DVD.

Energy Boost Pilates is a good 11 1/2 minute routine for solid intermediates that incorporates a lot of exercises, including several that donít appear in most other Pilates videos. There are a couple of stretches and cardio moves included at the beginning to warm you up. This has the least amount of instruction of all three workouts, and itís the most challenging workout for me on the DVD.

I consider myself a low intermediate. I have about two years of Pilates experience but still have limited strength and flexibility. Iím keeping this DVD, because itís one that I can grow with right now, even if AM Pilates is a little easy, because PM Pilates is just the right amount of challenge and EB Pilates is something that I will be able to work up to in the foreseeable future. Even when Iíve managed to advance enough that all three are easy, Iíll still keep this DVD because the first two routines will make nice light day workouts, and EB makes a great workout for a time crunch.

Instructor comments: Both instructors cue well and know their stuff when it comes to Pilates. They instruct via voiceover.

KL (KathAL79)

July 27, 2005

This DVD contains three workouts, AM Pilates, PM Pilates, and Energy Boost Pilates. I've given descriptions of each of the individual programs below.

AM Pilates is sort of an odd blend. On the one hand, instructor Jillian Hessell spends a lot of time focused on the breath, which would be very helpful to Pilates beginners. Furthermore, she provides a rather abbreviated mat sequence--for example performing "50s" instead of the tradional hundred exercise and doing only two quick side series exercises. On the other hand, she does not give much detailed instruction about form, shows no modifications, and performs a few of the exercises at a very quick pace, including the criss-cross and swan dive, which would make this workout more ideally suited to advanced beginners or lower intermediates (most likely on a light day). The DVD breaks the workout into three segments, Breathing, Matwork, and Centering. The Breathing segment, about 4.5 minutes long, is performed seated in a chair, and it includes both breathing instruction and a few simple stretches. The 16.5 minute Matwork sequence begins with a controlled sit-down and roll-back. A band is used to modify the roll-up and single leg cirlces, and few repetitions are performed for the exercises. Finally, the workout concludes with a 3-minute Centering section, which involves additional breathing instruction, basic stretches, and a tiptoe balance, all in a standing position. This 26-minute workout would probably be best suited to Pilates beginners who have some prior familiarity with the Pilates exercises and are looking for a relatively basic workout.

Ana Caban's PM Pilates is designed as an evening Pilates routine to help you wind down and de-stress at the end of the day. It's perfect for this purpose (although a bit too strenuous to be used right before bedtime), but it would also serve well as an energizing routine in the a.m. or almost any time. Ana begins the workout in a seated position to perform several neck stretches. She then moves to the floor for a traditional Pilates mat series, starting with the hundred. Although Ana mostly follows classic Pilates sequencing, some of the more difficult moves (e.g., rollover) are left out, and other moves are done in a modified form (i.e., a rolling prep and an open-legged rocker prep instead of the full movements). Despite these modifications, the routine is still challenging: she does a higher number of repetitions than usual (particularly with the series of five, or stomach series), and the workout proceeds along at a steady, moderately quick clip. There is a concentration on abs moves, as Ana skips the side kick series, Pilates push-ups, and other full-body moves; personally, I liked this, but those who prefer a more complete matwork program might not. The mermaid and a standing stretch bring the routine in at 25 minutes. This was my favorite of the three workouts on the DVD, as it is well-suited to my intermediate level.

Energy Boost Pilates, also taught by Ana Caban, is kind of different in that it begins in a standing position with a few aerobic-type moves such as jogs, knee lifts, jumping jacks, and jumping lunges. This segment is very quick--no more than 1-2 minutes--and is designed to warm you up, but you could easily skip it if needed. Ana then proceeds to the floor for some traditional Pilates matwork moves. She leads you quickly through reclined exercises such as the hundred, the roll-up, and part of the stomach series. Moving to a seated position, Ana then performs an additional series of moves, a few of which I had never seen before (and I've done A LOT of Pilates videos). Then it's a quick stretch and you're done, for a total of about 11 minutes. This practice struck me as sort-of a shorter, more fast-moving version of PM Pilates; it's a nice alternative for getting in a full-body Pilates workout in a limited amount of time.

Overall, this DVD contains a nice variety of practices that would be appropriate for experienced beginner to intermediate Pilates practitioners.

Instructor comments: Both instructors cue via voiceover. I found Jill a bit bland but mostly fine; Ana cues well and is more upbeat.

Beth C (aka toaster)

September 8, 2006

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