Video Fitness

The Lotte Berk Method

The Lotte Berk Method/ Callanetics

Lydia Bach/ Callan Pinckney

The principle behind both of these techniqes is very precise control. First, the body is positioned in strict alignment with the pelvis tucked, really tucked foward. Only then are small movements are done is this position (if you can move) These concentrated contractions are followed by intense stretches. It has it's roots in yoga, ballet and rehabilitative exercises and is surprisingly tough. The Lotte Berk Method as taught by Lydia Bach is the toughest of the two systems. Callanetics is a modified version that advances to the more difficult exercises.

The Lotte Berk Method by Lydia Bach was published in the early 70s so there is some outdated exercise advice that was geared to women. Lydia Bach suggest that one should diet before doing these exercises because excess fat is like working out with weights and will cause bulkiness. There are no modifications to make allowances for bad knees, back and posture problems. The instructions are clear and the photography is artsy/grainy and is still a good layout almost 26 years later. The book starts with stretches, then thighs, stomach, bottom and sex. I think this may be the forerunner to the Firm's pelvic contractions. Each chapter has anatomical illustration of the muscles being worked at the beginning.

Callanetics starts with a brief history of Callan Pinckney's vagabond trek around the work during the 60s. She's from an old American family. (Any history teachers out there?) To get back in shape, she ended up in London and learned these exercises and upon returning to New York, worked in an exercise studio teaching this method. Did she work with Lydia Bach, I don't know. Because of her congenital back problem and comments from her clients with various limitations and pains, she began to make small modifications that were still just as effective but enabled her clients to take advantage of this unique exercise technique. Her book doen't have the artsy quality of Bach's Lotte Berk Method. She seems anxious to emphasize that these are regular people, not professionals posing for her book. There are some impressive before and after pictures, especially of a student named "Jeanne" who really had some serious saddlebags. Her approach has many modifications for various conditions that ails us yet there are some advanced exercises such as the open and close. The written instructions are clear and detailed. Some of the comments seem cheesy. The videos are still available at retail and from Collage and are probably exercise video classics by now.

I ordered the Lotte Berk Method from their Manhattan studio and found the Callanetics book at my parents' home.

Instructor comments: Fit magazine did a highly acclaimed article on the Lotte Berk Method in a their April 1999 issue and a follow-up in the August 1999 issue. I thought they look similar to Callanetics. I was right. Callan Pinckney and Lydia Bach both learned this method in England from Lotte Berk herself and apparently went their separate ways. Callan Pinckney release a book a few years ago called Callanetics Fit Forever and still looks incredibly fit for someone approaching 60.

Jean-Leslie Wakefield

When I heard this method was finally out on DVD I was hoping it was going to be an all- in-one workout like Callanetics. Boy, was I disappointed!

Instead, there is a fair amount of repetion (especially in the warm-up and end stretching segments) between each DVD. There are hardly any closeups of proper form and most importantly, no profile views of doing "the tuck". There are very few modifications offered; you are apparently assumed to be in great shape just starting out, unlike Callanetics.

The music has a definite beat to it and is not conducive to doing the small precise movements required (same is true of "The Bar Method"), but while there is an option to work out with music only, there is no option to work out with instruction only, and no subtitles or closed captioning either.

This could have been an outstanding program if they'd put all the beginning workouts on one DVD and all the advanced workouts (there is one on each DVD) on another, for two all-in-one workouts, OR put everything together on one DVD and let you customize your own workout.

I'm glad I rented these from Netflix before buying--with all the repetition, they are overpriced. This is not to say that some of the sequences weren't good or useful, but I hate seeing waste, and 1-2 hours total (at most) of different exercises don't need to be spread out over 4 rather expensive DVDs. It is very wasteful both of resources and of a person's time spent changing out DVDs.

I will be staying with Callanetics in the meantime.

Instructor comments: There is a different main instructor on each of the 4 DVDs (they take turns in supporting roles). They all mention "the Lotte Berk Method" 'way too much, as if they're all reading from the same script.

I don't think any of them do a very good job of explaining "the tuck"--Callanetics does a far better job of that (btw, same issue with "The Bar Method" DVDs). If you aren't already familiar with Callanetics, you will *not* realize how important "the tuck" (aka the "pelvic tilt") is to properly doing these exercises.



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