Video Fitness

Pilates Lower Body Workout

Jillian Hessel

This is one of three workouts included in Gaiam's Lower Body Conditioning DVD (along with Suzanne Deason's BalanceBall Lower Body and Lower Body Yoga workouts). I believe it is also available separately.

This is a 30-minute Pilates workout focusing on the lower body. It begins as Jillian provides a brief review of proper posture and alignment, and explains the "powerhouse." For the actual routine Jillian instructs in voiceover as she and a second exerciser, Tara (who demonstrates modifications), work out on the banks of a river in Banff National Park. For equipment you will need a mat and an optional towel or pillow (to cushion the neck). An optional bodyband is used in two of the exercises. I would rate the overall level at beginner to low intermediate.

The routine begins with a foot/ankle warmup, then leg stretches (all of which felt great!). The rest of the routine is pretty much classic Pilates exercises (bicycle, leg circles, side kick series). Jillian does bridgework with feet together and knees apart, which I hadn't seen before. Another exercise which was new to me was the "knee stretch" (moving the leg in and out while in a runner's crouch). The routine finishes with a short ballet-like balance challenge.

I'm a big fan of Mari Winsor's two lower body Pilates workouts and I was hoping this would be something similar. However, this one is really geared towards beginners, and for the same amount of time I get a much better workout with Mari.

Although Gaiam is known for the beautiful outdoor settings of its workouts, this particular one didn't appeal to me. The background is lovely, with moutains, tall trees, and the river shimmering in the sunlight. Up close, Jillian and Tara's mats are lying on hard, scrubby ground that made me grateful for my wall-to-wall carpeting.

Overall, this is not a bad choice for a Pilates beginner, but I think there are better choices out there.

Instructor comments: Jillian instructs mostly in voiceover, so it is hard to get a reading on her personality, but the instruction quality itself is good, with many modifications suggested and constant attention to breath.


June 5, 2005

If you are relatively new to Pilates and looking for a lower body workout that is not too challenging, this video might be for you. Prior to the workout, instructor Jillian Hessel spends a few minutes introducing Pilates and going through a brief reivew of posture principles. The workout begins with some nice foot a leg stretches while lying on your back. You then perform some of the tradition Pilates mat exercises, doing only those that focus mainly on the legs such as leg circles and bicycle. There also are some more unique moves such as opening and closing the legs in a stradle position. Next comes the Pilates side kick series, including exercises that focus on both the outer and the inner thighs; there are also a few movements performed lying face down to work the back of the legs. The workout ends with a short standing balance segment, coming in at just under 29 minutes. This workout wasn't very challenging, but if you enjoyed the thighs segment from Crunch Pick Your Spot Pilates, you will probably enjoy this video as well.

Instructor comments: I found Jillian to be a bit bland, but she cued well plus offered some good form pointers.

Beth C (aka toaster)

August 1, 2005

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