This DVD has three workouts:
1 = 30 minutes, upper body & core focus including some back strengthening.
2 = 30 minutes, core mostly & some lower body (no upper body).
3 = 12 minutes, bonus - I only watched this & it looked like mostly lower body with some moves similar to Winsor Buns & Thighs - looks very good.
This moved along at a good pace for me (not slow like Stott or Polestar and not fast like Fit Chic)...more like Hilary Burnett's Intermediate. Not the same-old same-old moves traditional pilates sequence - great combos of pilates & yoga, such as boat pose variations and corkscrew-type moves. And not wimpy, either...I felt that I got a thorough & challenging workout. Really, for me, some of my favorite yoga & pilates moves are in this DVD and to have them combined in different ways was great!
I loved that the moves were different, varied, & challenging...I had upper body DOMS as there is chattarunga (sp?) and plank work in #1 and I really enjoyed the core work in #2. I like that poses weren't held long...you usually just keep moving (but not too fast). I like power yoga but I often am not in the mood for holding poses and want to keep moving like in this workout. The time flew by!
The instructor (Kristen McGee sp?) was terrific...competent, smiling, & not annoying in any way. If you are new to pilates, she doesnt' give the basics for instruction but she does give other good reminders (so this would not be a good first pilates tape - but probably fine for your second!). Background exercisers give three levels of difficulty. I got the entire MTV set & am loking forward to trying the rest of the DVDs (yoga & pilates) - I think I got the set at DDD or DVD Universe a couple of months ago and getting the set is a good value.
For comparison, I've been doing pilates for about 3 years & my favorite pilates workouts are Hilary's Intermediate (and Advanced & Zen Stretch), Method Precision Toning (long, though), All the Right Moves, and most power yoga (including Turbo Flow). I love Minna's Strength & Grace, ALC, and Yogilates but they are not very challenging so I rarely do them.
I’m reviewing this workout after previewing and doing all of the segments once each.
General workout breakdown: This video has three segments fusing Pilates with moves from yoga and similar disciplines; the goal is to build strength and tone muscles of the whole body, especially the core.
*Routine 1 (28 min.) focuses on the upper body with some lower back and abs. It begins standing in Pilates stance with shoulder rolls and upper body stretches, then quickly moves into Pilates (i.e. triceps) push-ups, leg pull back, plank with knee crossing to opposite armpit ending with a side stretch, cat and cow on all fours into knee to nose-leg press back into balance with leg and opposite arm extended into leg and opposite arm moving to side and back to center into knee and opposite elbow curling in, on all fours hovering with knees slightly above ground, child’s pose, side plank, downward-facing dog, dog split into (triceps) push-up with leg extended, little cobras, pushing up onto all fours - back to child’s pose - triceps push-up with knees on ground, back extension with opposite arm and leg extended (i.e. swimming prep), swimming, raising and lower arms extended at shoulders while lying face-down, arms & legs lengthened in X to squeezed back together, heel beats, “Charlie Chaplin heels” raised & lowered - then extending & pulling back in, sphinx into elbow plank - adding leg lifts and later a twist, king cobra, on knees: chest press with pulses & criss cross and then thigh stretch, leg pull front into triceps dips, spine twist, shave the head, rowing, and “ab blasters” (leaning back from seated with heels on ground w/ different arm variations like biceps curls; this series is repeated with legs extended and crossed). The workout ends with some upper body stretches (including for the triceps and shoulder) and a seated forward bend.
*Routine 2 (30 min.) focuses on the lower body and abs. It begins seated with a half rollback, which moves into a sit up with arms variation, then a twist in the half-rollback / boat position, and then a hold. You then roll down to your back, with knees hugged in and then circling, which leads into the “dead bug” (opposite arm and leg moving towards ground), the hundred, alternating hundred, roll-up (first slower and then quick), lying side torso stretch, single leg stretch, double leg stretch, single straight leg stretch (aka scissors), double straight leg stretch, criss cross (aka bicycle; first slower and then quick), reclined butterfly / bound angle stretch into twist, single leg circle (advanced variation: do this while in bridge) into bridge with leg kick into single-leg teaser into single-leg teaser w/ twist into reverse curl w/ one leg crossed over opposite knee into oblique twist with legs in same or similar position, rolling like a ball, lowering to floor from boat & back up w/ bicycle legs, jackknife into jackknife w/ a twist into corkscrew w/ jackknife, supine twist w/ legs side to side - then walking legs, shoulderstand w/ leg scissors - then bicycle, and teasers (w/ a couple of variations). The practice ends with rocking and rolling as a prep to rocking up to standing forward bend, then rolling up to do some demi plies and releves, first w/ heels together and then w/ legs apart; finally some “sumo wrestlers,” diagonal lunges w/ toe taps, and a final releve w/ head looking in various directions close the practice.
*Bonus (11.5 min.) is supposed to be a total body workout but actually is primarily for the lower body. It begins with side elbow planks into under the bridge, side leg series (up & down, front & back, small circles, passe, inner thigh pulse, open & close w/ bent knee, knee to knee - then kick back, and two clam variations), side-lying oblique crunch with knees bent, mermaid, and kneeling side kick (bend & kick forward & back, pulse). The sequence is done all on one side, then the other.
Kristin moves at a decently brisk pace that’s not too fast, not too slow. There’s not a lot of down time in this workout, but there’s enough time to set up for the next move. She performs a good number of reps (e.g. 5-10), sometimes repeating moves or even short sequences.
Level: I’d recommend this to low intermediate to intermediate / advanced exercisers already experienced in Pilates and related disciplines. Although there are “beginner” modifications, they’re best for someone who needs to take things down a notch due to limits in strength and/or flexibility or injury rather than true beginners. Additionally, Kristin does not always describe what the modifications are, and the modifiers are not always visible due to the camera angles and / or arrangement of exercisers. Kristin does not provide a sufficient amount of instruction or even form tips for beginners, and some of the background exercisers have slightly compromised form for a few of the exercises. There are a few more advanced exercises here (e.g. jackknife, the shoulderstand w/ bicycle), too. As a fully intermediate Pilates devotee I found these routines challenging but still within my reach.
Class: For the two main routines, 2 young men and 3 young women join Kristin, who instructs live. (They look rather normal compared to most of the folks one sees on MTV these days.) One shows beginner modifications, two show the intermediate exercises, and two show advanced variations. Kristin is alone on the bonus segment.
Music: mainly beat-driven instrumental light club-type stuff. It’s not bad or too distracting.
Set: inside Manhattan club Spirit, with dark walls and floors. Kristin and co. are on brightly colored mats.
Production: clear picture and sound. There are a number of funky camera angles, close-ups, and effects, including some shaking due to cameramen walking around the exercisers as they are performing moves (and in some instances you can see them doing just that). It’s not as distracting as it could be, but it’s almost amateurish-looking for something from a major cable company.
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 jackknife.
DVD Notes: The main menu asks you to pick your routine (#1, #2, bonus, or all), create your own routine (choosing one each from Arms A, B, or both; Legs A, B, or both; and Abs A, B, or both), audio set-up (instructor & music, instructor only, and music only), and previews of MTV videos (mine has Til Death Do Us Part Carmen + Dave, Punk’d Season 2, Newlyweds Season 1, MTV Yoga, & MTV Pilates). There are no chapters within the workouts.
Comments: This would be a great video for someone who’s looking for tough unweighted strength and toning work. If you’re looking for a traditional Pilates matwork or a very core-focused video, this isn’t it - although you may like Routine #2 more than #1 for this reason. But if you’re looking for something different to add to your Pilates or unweighted strength work collection, definitely check out this video.
Don’t be put off by the MTV designation. You do not have to be a hipster or even young to appreciate Kristin’s workouts.
This is actually quite a different routine from MTV Pilates. MTV Pilates is set outdoors and is more of a traditional Pilates-based matwork series (although even there Kristin varies the order and types of exercises). It’s more accessible to someone who’s still relatively new to Pilates. Additionally, that video only has one 35-min. routine which is focused on the core, although there’s some for the lower body and a little for the upper and back, too. I personally prefer the MTV Pilates over the Mix because the original’s an interesting variation on the usual matwork and has much more for the core, but then I don’t use Pilates as my main type of total body strength workout.
Kristin is a good instructor, who mirror cues and gives you enough warning of when she’s changing moves and what she’s doing. She includes a good amount of instruction and form tips, although not enough for true beginners. She’s serious about Pilates and professional in demeanor but still comes off as personable and even shows a smile or two. Her form is good, and she offers some good modifications for those with less strength and/or flexibility.
March 3, 2007