Video Fitness

The Method Perfect Mix

Jennifer Kries

This was a very nice beginner to intermediate/light workout video. There are 3 complete 20-minute routines that you can do separately or combine them all for a total body workout. The first segment focuses on traditional Pilates workout, conditioning the abs thoroughly. The second segment combines cardio and strength moves with lightweights. The moves are dance-inspired, but do-able (reminds me a little of Dynamic Cardio). I preferred the Firm videos’ use of weights and cardio, as these moves were a little fast for me and I felt like I was swinging the weights too much. The moves are combinations of upper body weights and lower body lunges, squats and single leg balance work. The third segment is a yoga and stretch session in which Jennifer does some breath work and traditional yoga moves, nothing fancy.

The production quality is quite grainy and Jennifer is the only participant in the Pilates and Yoga sections. She has background exercisers for the weight/cardio segment, which includes Lisa Wheeler. I love watching her form and movements.

One part that you may have to fast forward through is a lengthy explanation of the breath and various breathing techniques. Jennifer also moves through the workout segments and postures quite rapidly so you never are bored, but you also never fully develop the moves and get any type of muscle fatigue. Jennifer is such an enjoyable instructor to watch and listen to though. She is very thorough in her explanations and encouragement. While her flexibility is almost mind boggling (such is the body of a dancer), she does tell you to watch your body and take stretches and poses to your own limit.

I enjoyed this video for a “light” workout or as a 20-minute individual add-on to a more strenuous cardio or weight training day. Rating B+

Janet O'Neil

(this review is of the DVD version of this workout)

Perfect mix is a charming but strange program. Certainly not a "perfect mix."

The program is divided into three sections that don't really go together. First there's a more or less traditional beginner pilates mat work segment with a bit of yoga thrown in. Next, a dance/sculpt segment that's done to some nice flamenco-type music. Jennifer uses light hand weights in a series of controlled flowing motions and has her class with her for this segment only. Finally there's a yoga-based segment that's supposed to energize and wake you up.

It's a lovely program. The segments, taken by themselves, are all quite nice. The pilates segment is well instructed. The dance/sculpt is dreamy to do, and Jennifer's treatment of Kundalini breath-of-fire during the yoga segment is one of the best I've seen on a beginner/intermediate video.

But I do have some reservations -

1) what's up with the sequence? Isn't the prevailing philosophy that there should be a light warm up followed up by cardio work, then strength/core or whatever, then stretch? So why are we core training first, then doing our little dance, then doing yoga? 2) the dance/sculpting segment is very pleasant to do - graceful, dancey but doable, but I guess I have serious questions about whether it does genuinely provide either cardio conditioning or sculpting. 3) the yoga segment repeats many of the postures and exercises of the pilates segment, which makes you feel a bit silly when you do all three. Also, the Jennifer energizer-bunny chatter about how the yoga segment is going to wake me up and get me raring to go was somewhat disconcerting because I did the segment at night (but I was able to sleep just fine, thank you!).

I get the sense that Jennifer is being spin-doctored a bit - someone is whispering in her ear telling her to call her dance routine cardio-sculpt so people will buy the tape, similarly, it can't just be "breath of fire", it has to be a.m./p.m energizer. Jennifer has a beautiful smile, but you get the feeling someone's said "smile for the camera" and sometimes her facial expressions come off sort of false.

At the end of the three segments I was left with two thoughts, first - "gee, that was really fun and kind of unusual, I'd like to do it again", but second, "did I really get a work out?" A guilty pleasure, I guess.

I would describe the overall level as intermediate. The dance/sculpt segment would intimidate an exercise newcomer.

I would describe the set as "minimalist Firm". Sort of a romanesque marble statute thing happening, but uncluttered.

Regarding the DVD features, there aren't many. You can chose the sequence of the three segments, and you can turn off the spoken instruction in the dance-sculpt segment so there's just music - but it looks kinda goofy. Jennifer's lips are moving but you can't here what she's saying! You can't modulate the sound, i.e., raise the music level, lower the voice over - you must choose A or B - and, as I say, this feature is only available on the one segment. This is unfortunate because the music on the lst and 3rd segments is close to inaudible. I've heard that the video version of this program is sort of visually grainy. I wouldn't characterize the DVD this way.

Jane C

This is the most difficult of all of the New Method/Pilates Method videos by Jennifer Kries. It's divided into three sections: Core Conditioning, Metabolic Booster and AM/PM Rejuvenation. Core Conditioning is an intermediate to advanced Pilates routine that integrates some yoga postures. I like her yoga choices (Downward Dog, modified Fish and Active Moving Cat). She doesn't do Pilates Pushups, but the Active Moving Cat works the upper body nicely as do the Pilates movements such as the Double Leg Kick.

Metabolic Booster is one of my favorite video segments period. It was the first time I saw "four-limbed aerobics", but I like her version better than most of the Firm tapes I've seen. She starts with very simple moves, then slowly builds up. She does three or four sequences. If she comes out with another tape, I hope she does more of this. After ten minutes of work with the weights, she does four sets of two Pilates pushups (she does them with elbows out) then some challenging yoga postures, including bow, incline plank and extended hero. You feel very thoroughly worked, but also very relaxed and stretched.

AM/PM Rejuvenation is relaxing and non-threatening yoga. The most difficult thing she does in Tabletop, but most of it is on the line of Active Moving Cat (no yoga presses), forward bends, twists and Downward Dog. If you follow the tape in sequence, it's the perfect reward for her other sections.

Instructor comments: She has a sense of humor here and seems to know exactly when you're groaning.

Deb (aka dnk)


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