This DVD contains not 1, not 2 or 3, but 15 different Pilates mat routines. The routines are broken down into 3 levels, Beginning, Intermediate, and Challenging, and they are instructed via voiceover by certified Pilates instructor Karen Garcia. In addition to the workouts themselves, each section of the DVD also includes a "Lesson," which breaks down the new moves at each level. Within each level, the same footage is used in more than one routine in order to create a variety of different practice options.
Here is the main DVD menu, with my notes in parentheses:
Lesson: Principles/Cautions (overview of basic Pilates principles)
Interview (6 minute Q&A session with Karen)
About the Instructor
Other Products (lists other Body Wisdom DVDs)
Contact and Credits
Okay, now I'll break down each of the three levels. The times are as they appear on screen, but the times in parentheses are based on my own review. I've included an overview of the exercises included in each practice (this is not intended to be comprehensive).
Beginning Routines (displayed by Sherri)
*Beginning Lesson (24m)--instructions for the hundred, roll-up, leg circles, rolling like a ball, single and double leg stretch, spine stretch forward, open leg rocker, corkscrew, saw, beginning side kicks, teaser, seal, modified Pilates push-ups, beginning weight series
*Basics, 10 minutes (13m)--the hundred, modified roll-up, leg circles, single and double leg stretch, modified teaser, corkscrew, saw, seal
*Basics Variation, 20 minutes (17m)--adds spine stretch forward, open leg rocker, and side kicks to the above
*Basics with Warm-Up, 30 minutes (28m)--adds a 6.5 minute standing stretch series and a 2 minute seated warm-up; also adds Pilates push-ups and the weight series
*More Challenging Basics, 20 minutes (17m)--a less modified version of the Basics Variation which includes the weight series
*Challenging Basics with Warm-Ups, 30 minutes (29.5)--adds the warm-ups described above; also includes seal, Pilates push-ups, and the weight series
Intermediate Routines (displayed by Karen herself)
*Intermediate Lesson (20m)--instructions for a Pilates sit, single and double leg stretch (unmodified), single and double leg kicks, neck pull, shoulder bridge, spine twist, side kicks, full teaser, swimming, mermaid, seal, and intermediate weight series
*Short Variation, 15 minutes (15.5m)--the hundred, roll up, full series of 5; most difficult exercises include the teaser and swimming
*Short with Arm Work, 20 minutes (23m)--the segment utilizes unusual sequencing and includes the neck pull, teaser, seal, Pilates push-ups, and the weight series
*Short with Leg Work, 30 minutes (29m)--the leg work here is in the form of additional exercises such as the leg kicks, shoulder bridge, and side kicks; also includes the weighted arm series
*Longer with Leg Work, 35 minutes (34m)--adds the 6.5 minute standing warm-ups; also includes the neck pull, side kicks, swimming, and mermaid/seal/push-ups to finish
*Longest with Warm-ups, Abs, Leg, and Arm Work, 35 minutes (38m)--includes both the standing and seated warm-ups, full series of 5, open leg rocker, corkscrew, leg kicks, neck pull, shoulder bridge, side kicks, mermaid/seal/push-ups, and weight series
Advanced Routines (displayed by Alice)
*Challenging Lesson (15m)--instruction on the roll-over, corkscrew (advanced version), swan dive, side kick series, can can, hip circles, leg pull-down/pull-up, boomerang, plus advanced Pilates push-ups and weight series
*Short Variation with Warm-up, 20 minutes (21.5)--includes both the standing and seated warm-ups flowing into a fairly standard advanced mat routine; most difficult exercise is the boomerang
*Short Variation without Warm-up, 20 minutes (19m)--again, a standard advanced mat series which includes the advanced corkscrew, slow and fast repetitions of the series of 5, multiple repetitions of Teasers 1 & 2, and the boomerang
*Short Variation with Leg Work, 20 minutes (22.5m)--the leg exercises include the shoulder bridge, the leg pull-down/pull-up, etc.; this segment also seemed to have more intense ab/back work (eg, the neck pull and the swan dive)
*Longer with Leg Work, 35 minutes (31)--includes the 6.5 minute standing warm-up plus additional side kicks exercises
*Longest with Warm-ups, Abs, Leg, and Arm Work, 40 minutes (<43m)--this segment adds both the standing and the seated warm-ups, a Pilates ring during the teaser, and the weight series
In general, the practices on this DVD followed traditional Pilates sequencing, although some of the shorter routines deviated a bit. I was a bit surprised by how some of the exercises were classified--for example, I've usually seen open leg rocker and corkscrew rated as intermediate exercises, not beginner as taught here, and similarly, some of the challenging exercises were what I would consider to be intermediate. I'm at an intermediate level myself, and I was able to complete the Challenging routines without much difficulty (whereas Hilary Burnett's Advanced Mat is a bit beyond my level).
I think that this DVD would be fairly well-suited to someone who is new to Pilates and who is looking to purchase just one DVD that they can grow with over time. The add-on style teaching here (ie, you add in more challenging exercises as you progress) is similar to Brooke Siler's The Pilates Body, an excellent book for those new to the discipline. Although this video also contains more challenging practices, I would not recommend it for someone like myself who is already coming in at an intermediate or above level, largely because so much of what is offered is likely to go unutilized by the more experienced practitioner.
In summary, this DVD would likely work best for those new to Pilates who have had little experience with other Pilates videos; since I have other Pilates DVDs I like better, I've decided not to keep this one.
Karen and her models do an excellent job displaying the exercises with effortless, flawless form, and I had no problems with Karen's voiceover instruction.
Beth C (aka toaster)
January 29, 2007