Video Fitness

Pilates for the Lower Body

Kathy Smith


Kathy Smith is known for her ability to stay on top of trends, and this workout is no exception. It is her second Pilates workout. Her first, Pilates For Abs has already been reviewed so I’ll confine my comments to this one. However both workouts can be purchased together as a set entitled Ultimate Pilates.

The format of this workout is almost identical to Pilates for Abs. It uses the same set, which looks like a patio outside a suburban home, with a stone wall in the background.

Kathy and her background exerciser Lija Fisher are on thick mats on the floor. Both wear pastel colored unitards, but the colors in this workout differ from those in the abs one. Kathy does the intermediate moves, while Lija does more advanced modifications.

In the introduction, Kathy explains that she will not be doing the exercises in the traditional order, and that she has selected specific ones to target the lower body.
She also gives a detailed description of Pilates form, stressing the neutral spine, controlling the pelvic floor, etc.

She does use one term that irritated me. It is the “bikini butt” by which she means keeping a slight tension in the hamstring-glute area. She places quite a bit of emphasis on this, much more than I’ve seen in any other Pilates workout. Perhaps she feels it will aide in toning the muscles of the lower body, but all these form pointers might overwhelm a beginner, and I think correct the correct spinal and pelvic positions are much more important.

Included exercises:

The Hundred
Roll Ups
Single Leg Circles
Double Leg Circles
Shoulder Bridge with a kick up on each leg
Knee Squeezes (not a Pilates exercise, you simply squeeze the knees together while holding a bridge position)
Side Kick Series (several variations, this is the strength of the workout)
Grasshopper
Swimming
The Mermaid

Most of the exercises are intermediate in intensity except for the shoulder bridge with a kick up, which is quite advanced. Many beginners will not be able to do it (I couldn’t). However it does seriously work the hamstrings and helps the workout to live up to its name.

All in all it’s a very good workout that will help tone and tighten the core and the lower body, but I prefer a more traditional Pilates routine. I tried to program a complete Pilates routine from this DVD and her abs one, but are only five chapters on each DVD, and the body of the workout is only one chapter which restricts the programming versatility.

Instructor comments: Kathy was certified by the Stott organization and it shows in her precise attention to detail. Fortunately, the hyperactive, shrill Kathy of the Timesaver Series is not present here. She is totally professional in this one.

Jane P

27 April 03

In this video, Kathy Smith offers a very good Pilates workout which specifically targets the lower body. She begins with a 6-minute instructional section which addresses fundamentals of Pilates. In this section, Kathy provides excellent descriptions of basic PIlates concepts such as breathing techniques; the c-curve, pelvic scoop, and neutral spine alignments; engaging the hamstrings; and the Pilates powerhouse. This is a great introduction if you have never done Pilates before, but once you are familiar with Pilates principles, you can skip over this section.

The actual workout consists of 25 minutes of Pilates mat work. Kathy begins with classic Pilates exercises such as the hundred, leg circles, and shoulder bridge; her assistant, Lija, shows modifications for each exercise. After doing several moves lying on her back, Kathy flips over to lie on her stomach for some work more targeted on the hamstrings and glutes (for the exercises done while on the stomach, Kathy's instructors are dubbed in via voiceover, which is a little odd given that she uses live instruction for most of the workout). The final section of this workout is performed while lying on your side for the Pilates side kick series. Kathy leads a particularly tough sequence of moves in this series, and you will really feel the work in your outer thigh and hip areas especially. The workout ends with a seated mermaid exercise to provide a nice stretch. If you enjoy Pilates and would like to specifically focus on your legs, hips, and behind, this video would be an excellent choice.

Instructor comments: Kathy provides very thorough and detailed instruction in this video, particularly when she introduces the fundamental Pilates concepts.

Beth C (aka toaster)

May 17, 2004


Pilates for Lower Body was Kathy Smith’s second pilates workout, and it is identical in style and look to her earlier title, Pilates for Abs. The two are available separately but can now be found in a box set as well. Kathy works out with one background exerciser who shows advanced modifications. They are in a clean, cool room with stone garden-like décor and they each work out on a large, thick mat. Kathy instructs in real-time but there is an occasional voice-over with a more detailed form pointer, and the name of each exercise appears on the screen as it begins. The dvd has info on Kathy’s other workouts, and a text bio but otherwise no extra features.

The workout is about half an hour and goes at a slow, controlled pace. Kathy offers meticulous instruction---closing credits thank the Stott people, and if that’s where Kathy got her training, it shows. I was very impressed with the care and attention to detail compared to other Pilates workouts I have seen.

There is a short warm-up to teach breathing, pelvic tilts, knee folds and the upepr body curl motion, then the workout begins. The first part of the workout involves the hundred, roll-ups, single leg circles, double leg circles, a shoulder bridge, a shoulder bridge with kick and knee squeezes. The second part involves a leg series done entirely on the right side, then repeated on the left side. Those exercises include a front and back kick, ronde de jambe, small circles, up and down, passe, lower leg lift, double lift and grasshopper. Following this sequence, the workout concludes with the mermaid. It was very similar to the Winsor Pilates bun and thigh routine but much better instructed and at a slightly slower pace.

I would not hesitate at all to recommend this workout and it companion tape Pilates for Abs to someone new to pilates who wants a safe and effective introduction that instructs thoroughly, but does not drag or pause. It is a solid, flowing routine and suitable for more advanced users too

Joanna

5/24/04

This workout is about 30 minutes long, with a 5 minute warm-up and 25 minute workout. It is taught by Kathy, who demonstrates the exercises along with one background exerciser. The set is a pleasant courtyard/patio kind of look.

As in her Pilates for Abs tape, Kathy gives very good instruction with lots of helpful imagery and reminders about your form. The number of different form pointers felt a bit overwhelming to me the first few times through, but overall I think they’re very helpful in learning to do the exercises properly. Kathy keeps things moving pretty well, but as I’ve gained more experience in pilates, this DVD has started to seem a bit slow-moving to me, and I prefer my Winsor and Hilary Burnett workouts.

At the beginning of each exercise, the exercise name appears at the bottom of the screen. However, the DVD is not chaptered by exercise; there are only chapters for the warm-up and the workout itself.

The length of the tape makes it a nice add-on, and I feel pleasantly worked and lengthened afterwards. I think this is a great introduction to the side kick series. If you’d like to try Winsor Buns & Thigh Sculpting but don’t have much Pilates experience, this is probably a good place to start. It’ll give you a good foundation to move onto the faster-paced Winsor workout.

KathyW
wilsonkm@speakeasy.net
August 21, 2004



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