Video Fitness

10 Minute Solution Pilates on the Ball

Lara Hudson

Iím reviewing this workout after doing it once.

General workout breakdown: This 50-min. Pilates workout takes primarily the basic matwork exercises to the stability (or Swiss or whatever you want to call it) ball. As with all 10 Minute Solution DVDs, this contains five 10-min. segments, each with a different focus; like the other 10 Minute Solutions Pilates DVDs, the chapters are abs, lower body, upper body, total body, and stretch.
As you might expect from a Pilates workout, the focus is on quality over quantity, so most exercises have 4, 6, or 8 reps and are done at a controlled pace. Thereís usually a short pause between directions, sides, and exercises, but after the first few minutes of the first segment youíre not left hanging while Lara instructs. Overall I find the exercises well thought out, with just enough creativity to make the workout interesting but not so creative that I ever felt Lara was doing something just for the sake of being different (i.e. nothing screamed, ďLookie what I can do!Ē).
Here are the exercises for each segment:
*Pilates for Abs: mini or half roll-down, full roll-down, double leg stretch, double straight leg stretch, criss cross, rollover, lower legs to mat, side crunch with hip on ball, side crunch w/ leg raised, knee stretch (a prone jackknife with shins on ball, first with bent legs & then with straight), ending with an upper body stretch.
*Lower Body Pilates: straight leg bridge (done w/ feet on ball, as with the following bridge variations), straight leg bridge pump (or pulse), single leg bridge pump, single leg bridge w/ twist, bent-legged bridge, bent-legged bridge w/ legs in & out, bent-legged bridge w/ feet in frog position (first just lifting & lowering, then extensions), single-leg kick w/ extra extension on release, double-leg kick w/ extension on release, grasshopper heel beats w/ triceps push-up, standing scooter stretch w/ arm variations, ending with a quick release.
*Upper Body Pilates: cat lat pull, triceps presses, long stretch series (based on plank on ball; chest dips, long stretch, circular long stretch w/ push-up), childís pose, swan series (a backstroke-type move, airplane w/ rotation), side (elbow) plank, long back stretch (a reverse plank move), ending with a quick upper body stretch.
*Total Body Pilates: bridge w/ ball overhead, single leg stretch, single-leg bridge w/ overhead reach, scissor, forearm frogs (first straight, then w/ twist), rollover handoff, teaser, kneeling side kicks (front & back), side plank w/ top leg extended, quadruped w/ alternating arm & leg lift, throw self over & catch w/ hands, ending w/ a childís pose variation.
*Pilates for Flexibility: lying hip release, supine hamstring stretches, supine inner thigh stretch, supine hip stretch (w/ foot over opposite knee), supine spine twist, spine stretch forward, cat / cow, lat stretch, low lunge (hip flexor stretch) w/ hands clasped behind back, seated saw, lying extension w/ arm circle. Some stretches are dynamic, while some are static.

Level: Iíd recommend this to at least intermediate exercisers with some flexibility and strength under their belt, a solid working knowledge of Pilates, and familiarity with the stability ball. Lara provides only a small amount of form instruction; her tips and modifications are not enough if youíve never done Pilates before. This is probably best suited for those practicing Pilates at least at an intermediate level. Iím at an int. / adv. level of Pilates (about 6 years of Pilates experience, can perform the int. series and working on the adv.), but I have only recently acquired a stability ball. This felt suitably challenging for me - what wasnít hard for me in terms of Pilates gained extra difficulty when the ball was added in - and left me some with abs and triceps DOMS, meaning this worked those muscles in slightly different ways than with my normal (i.e. ball-less) Pilates workouts. I would suspect that very seasoned ball users, especially those who already have a great deal of core strength, may find this on the slow or even easy side, but I can see myself using this one for a while yet, as itís going to take me some time to master that ball!

Class: Lara alone, who instructs live.

Music: instrumental. Itís fine, nothing special.

Set: bright interior space with wooden floor and exercise equipment and other accessories along back wall.

Production: super crisp picture, clear sound. The instructorís voice is louder than the music. The camera angles are helpful rather than distracting, without too many close-ups, especially at inopportune times.

Equipment: mat (or equivalent) and stability ball. If you have more than one ball, go with the smaller (Iím taller (5í8Ē), and my 65Ē ball is too big for some of the moves, especially the side-lying series).

Space Requirements: This requires a good amount of horizontal space. You should be able to stand behind your ball and roll all the way across your mat. For me this was almost the full length of my workout space (I have probably just over 10í total and used 8-9í of that with this workout), but then I am on the tall side and use a large ball. That said, you donít need a lot of space to kick your legs to the side, maybe about a foot on either side of your mat.

DVD Notes: Laraís introduction can be skipped. As with all of the 10 Minute Solutions, you can play all of the segments in the order they appear, choose one, or create a personalized workout by picking and choosing between the five segments.

Comments: This is the 10 Minute Solution Pilates I personally like the most (disclaimer: I havenít tried the Prenatal one, but Iím not sure that would change my opinion). Two things I especially like are the consistent, well thought out use of the ball in all segments (none of them felt like the weakest link or oddity to me) and the emphasis on muscles along the backside of the body (hamstrings, glutes, low back, lats, and triceps), which are often overlooked in home exercise videos, especially Pilates or Pilates-inspired ones where so much seems to be about the abs and (outer & inner) thighs. Lara definitely works the full Pilates powerhouse (core, which isnít just abs but also low back, hips, inner thighs, and even glutes) as a unit here. And itís so great to see a post-Pilates stretch that includes hip releases as well as stretches for the hip flexors, since that area can be aggravated by Pilates, especially if oneís abdominals arenít quite strong enough to hold their own among those core muscles.

Since thereís a limited repertoire of mat Pilates exercises, each successive 10 Minute Solution Pilates has a new twist: incorporating apparatus moves adapted to the mat in Rapid Results, using the stability ball in On the Ball, modifying for pregnancy in Prenatal, working with a resistance band in Slim & Sculpt, and mixing in barre and yoga in Perfect Body. In comparison to the other 10 Minute Solution Pilates, I would definitely rank this more challenging than Laraís original. (Personally I found Slim & Sculpt more difficult than Perfect Body thanks to the added resistance from the band, but those who execute Perfect Pilates with precise attention to form, particularly the barre exercises, may beg to differ. However, Rapid Results has more fully intermediate and advanced moves - e.g. starfish, which isnít usually taught until the advanced series - so that remains the most challenging of them for me.) Since Iím relatively new to working with a stability ball, that added an extra level of challenge to the usual exercises, and so for me right now this is among the most challenging of this series.

There are a number of exercises done on the hands, but the stability ball helps take some of the weight off of the wrists. I have a cranky elbow, which I find appreciates push-ups done with knees on the stability ball for that reason.

Instructor comments: Lara has a pleasant, encouraging personality; sheís mostly all business, although she slips in some appearance-related comments, too. Sheís a little more serious and mature here than in her earlier 10 Minute Solutions, IMHO. She spends most of her time cuing, with some good form tips and reminders. She mirror cues.


December 29, 2008

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