Classical Pilates truly lives up to its name. If you are looking for high-quality production or beautiful Maui beaches, you might want to try something else. This DVD provides very thorough, straightforward instruction in a minimalist setting. The DVD contains basic, intermediate, advanced, and super-advanced mat workouts. The workouts move rather quickly, since the makers intended for viewers to work along with the DVD in real time. Be prepared to pause now and again if you're somewhat like me.
That said, I really enjoy this DVD. I find that it contains one of the most comprehensive catalogs of Pilates moves out there. For instance, at various stages during the workouts, a picture in picture box appears and a dancer demonstrates alternative exercises one can do in place of or in addition to the move shown on the main screen. The models perform the moves impeccably as Bob Liekens gives detailed instructions on form at just the right moments. Those two elements make this one of my favorite all-time Pilates DVDs.
Bob provides very thorough instructions in the traditional Pilates method. He pays close attention to form, and seems to really enjoy his work.
Iím reviewing this workout after previewing all of the segments once and doing the intermediate series several times.
General workout breakdown: This DVD has 4 classical matwork Pilates sequences and 1 set of super advanced exercises. The routines contain the following exercises:
*Modified Basic (6 min.): the hundred, roll down, roll up, single leg circles, rolling like a ball, single leg stretch, double leg stretch, and spine stretch forward. There are shown in a modified form.
*Basic (4 min.): the hundred, roll up, single leg circles, rolling like a ball, single leg stretch, double leg stretch, and spine stretch forward.
*Intermediate (13.5 min.): the hundred, roll up, single leg circles, rolling like a ball, single leg stretch, double leg stretch, single straight leg stretch, double straight leg stretch, criss cross, spine stretch forward, open leg rocker, corkscrew, saw, neck roll, single leg kicks, double leg kicks, neck pull, side kick series (front & back, up & down, small circles), heel beats, teaser 1, and seal.
*Advanced (21 min.): the hundred, roll up, roll over, single leg circles, rolling like a ball, single leg stretch, double leg stretch, single straight leg stretch, double straight leg stretch, criss cross, spine stretch forward, open leg rocker, corkscrew, saw, swan, single leg kicks, double leg kicks, neck pull, high scissors, high bicycle, shoulder bridge, spine twist, jack knife, side kick series (front & back, up & down, bicycle, small circles, double leg lifts, cabriole, big scissors, hot potato, grand ronde du jambe, front split), heel beats, teaser series (1, 2, & 3), hip circles, swimming, leg pull down, leg pull up, kneeling side kicks (side circles and front & back), side bends (or mermaid), star, boomerang, seal, and push-ups.
*Super Advanced (4.5 min.): snake / twist, rocking, crab, balance control off, high bridge, and teaser 4. (This isnít a workout in and of itself, but the idea here is to give you ideas of the more advanced exercises to add to your own practice.)
Each routine moves at a brisk pace, with minimal down time between exercises. (Even so, these arenít performed at superhuman lightning speeds.) The exercises, form, order, small number of reps, and pace are all consistent with traditional, or ďclassical,Ē Pilates. The video stresses performing quality over quantity, exercising mental control over the muscles, engaging the powerhouse or core muscles throughout, and making smooth transitions between moves.
Level: Iíd recommend this to any serious Pilates student, although if youíre a beginner you really ought to supplement this with additional introductory media, books, and/or live classes. Beginner / intermediate through intermediate / advanced Pilates devotees will probably get the most out of this video. This is especially good for those who are visual learners; more auditory learners may be disappointed and even frustrated by this video.
I consider myself a solidly intermediate at Pilates, and after trying the intermediate a couple of times Iím trying to psych myself up to tackle the full Advanced routine.
Class: Each segment has one Pilates instructor (including a man) performing the routine while Bob provides voiceover. During the Advanced routine, for a few moves, like the side leg series, thereís another picture inset of an instructor performing more advanced variations.
Set: bright interior space with a mat on the floor and curtain on the wall behind.
Production: clear picture, somewhat quiet sound. The camera remains fixed on the whole exerciser from a distance, so no jarring camerawork here. This is a no frills production, but it does what it needs to do.
Equipment: Pilates mat (or equivalent); all exercisers are barefoot.
Space Requirements: enough room to lie down with arms and legs extended and to sweep your limbs around, with some space behind your head while lying on your back for your legs during rollover and related moves, if applicable.
DVD Notes: The main menu has Play All, Introduction, Modified Basic, Basic, Intermediate, Advanced, Super Advanced, Discussion (between Bob, Alycea, and another instructor about a wide range of topics related to Pilates), and Credits. There are no chapters within workouts.
Comments: For many, this may work better as a demonstration or instruction tape than as an exercise video. Another VFer and I decided this series could be best described as ďvisual textbooks.Ē That said, it is possible to work out to the DVD, if you know what youíre doing and donít mind the quick pace. I appreciate being able to get in a serious, challenging, traditional Pilates matwork routine in under 15 or in just over 20 minutes.
Bob Liekens provides the voice-over narration for the workout segments; I believe Alycea Ungaro may do the voiceover for the in between parts. This video is not meticulously cued and instructed, as one is used to finding in a video geared towards home workouts; instead, Bob announced each move, points out some major form tips, etc., and then maybe highlights some important aspect of the exercise and perhaps cues a few reps. The name of the exercise and recommended number of reps appear at the top of the screen at the beginning of each exercise. The voiceover readers and demonstrators are both serious, but not deadly so. Bob has a slight accent, but now that Iím used to it I hardly even notice it, much less have any trouble understanding it.
The instructors who demonstrate the moves have great form, demonstrating superb control.
March 4, 2007