Video Fitness

Total Pilates Rael System 27

Rael Isacowitz

I liked this workout a lot. It's about 45 minutes long, which is a good amount of time for a pilates video. I thought his pace was nice. It wasn't so fast that you feel like you're rushing through the movements. It also wasn't so slow that it was boring (and I get bored easily). I even broke a sweat during this video, and I don't typically sweat that much during pilates workouts.

One thing to note is that this video is pretty advanced. Thus, he doesn't give a lot of basic information. If you are a beginner or intermediate, then you should check out his 7 or 17 videos.

Instructor comments: The instructor is a male, which might make the video appeal to some of our male friends who think pilates is too girly ;). I liked him a lot because he wasn't too chatty. He also showed some modifications to make the exercises more advanced, which I thought was good. I believe he trains other instructors. I like that better than doing pilates with someone who has just learned it themselves. The website is



As the title suggests, you get 27 poses in about 44 minutes. Rael instructs verbally, with the exception of a few inserts, while the ladies do the exercises.

This is his most advanced workout in the series, but it is not as tough as Ana Caban's Pilates for Abs. However, the movements are very slow and controlled, which takes out all momentum, and is very effective. The sequencing is also excellent. I like how one exercise just naturally flows into the next one; there is no start/stop quality to Rael Pilates 27.

The only two things I did not like were the set color (orange) and the music (bland jazzy).

Instructor comments: His voice/manner is a bit grating but his instruction is fantastic.



Iím reviewing this workout after previewing and doing it one time each.

General workout breakdown: The exercises include breathing, scapula isolation (i.e. extend arms to the side and draw them back up), pelvic tilt followed by pelvic curl (i.e. half bridge), lying spine twist (with both bent knees in air), chest lift (i.e. basic crunch), chest lift with rotation, 100 (modified)*, roll up (modified), leg circle, rolling like a ball*, single leg stretch (with hands on knees, then with hands behind the head), criss cross*, double leg stretch* (with arms behind head), shoulder bridge with leg lifts, spine stretch (forward), saw*, sitting spine twist, corkscrew*, side leg lifts, adductor squeeze (i.e. while lying on side, raise and lower bottom leg to work inner thigh), oblique arch* (modified), swan (without rocking), single leg kicks, double leg kick*, cat stretch, leg pull front (although he just has you raise and lower the leg), hip flexor stretch*, back support (i.e. reverse plank), single leg teaser, seal puppy*, and seated relaxation. The focus is on the ďcore,Ē mainly the abdominals with some back work. There is a little lower and upper body work.
[* = new move not included in Rael 17]
Rael repeats each exercise up to 10 times at a slow and deliberate pace, so the 27 moves (plus a little bit of a warm up and the relaxation at the end) take you about 45 minutes to complete. You arenít left hanging around waiting for Rael to set up the extra move much. Some moves are shown in the modified form, with Rael inserting brief clips of himself performing the more advanced version. These inserts sometimes interrupt the cuing; at other times they are seamlessly integrated into the workout. They arenít shown until after the basic level is set up, so you have to remind yourself if youíre going to start with the more advanced version. While this is touted as Pilates, thereís a little bit of yoga in there, too, such as the downward facing dog that appears between two exercises.

Level: Iíd recommend this to an intermediate Pilates practitioner. I consider myself a low intermediate. I have about two years of Pilates experience but still have limited strength and flexibility. I found this workout appropriately challenging, although I had to modify a few moves for tight hamstrings. (Rael modifies the 100 and roll upóI guess because theyíre toward the beginning of the workoutóbut does not offer modifications for the corkscrew, which is a much harder exercise for me!) I felt this in my abs the next day when I went to do other corework.

Class: 3 women who are fellow Pilates instructors. (Everyone is the same from Rael 17, just with different outfits.) Rael walks around instructing and corrects their form or points out when they demonstrate the exercises well. As with Rael 17, heís very hands on.

Music / Set / Other Production Notes: The instrumental music is bland, upbeat, and not too loud. (Think Weather Channel or mall elevator.) The three women are on raised wooden platforms in a curved room with orangey walls. The workout is in letterbox, and the picture and sound are crisp and clear.

Equipment: mat (optional). All participants are barefoot.

Comments: This video is great for those who donít believe you can get a decent workout while only doing 3-5 repetitions of each movement. Youíll get your repetitions here!
Rael Pilates System reminds me a lot of Stott Pilates, in that there's a warm up and lots of instruction as the teacher walks around and points out or corrects students.

DVD Notes: The DVD begins with a sweeping overview of Raelís qualifications as a teacher, etc. You can skip this and go straight to the menu. Each of the 27 poses is chaptered. There is a short interview with Rael, too.

Conclusion: I previously reviewed Rael 17 and was a bit underwhelmed by it, mainly for the slow pace, lots and lots and lots of repetitions, and lack of distinctly Pilates moves. Iím glad to report that Iím much happier with Rael 27. I felt that the workout moved along more smoothly, although one could argue I was a little more prepared for what was in store and more used to Raelís style. In fact, Iím not sure if Iím going to keep Rael 17, even though I donít have many light days Pilates workouts.
I must say that I donít think you have to have Rael 7 or 17 to get the most out of 27. In fact, you might want to consult other Pilates instructors and/or media (videos, books, etc.) if youíre moving along the system. Rael did not instruct the new moves much at all in 27; this didnít bother me because of my Pilates experience, but someone without that might have trouble.
That said, this video is going to be hard to fit into a regular rotation because of its length!

Instructor comments: According to the back cover, Rael is a ďPilates MasterĒ who can do every single Pilates move. In the introduction heís shown smiling while teaching class and laughing while playing on the beach with his son. In the workout, however, heís focused and down to business. I like that he usually mentions the purpose of each exercise. His cuing is good, although uneven. Sometimes he focuses on the breath with his cuing, sometimes form, sometimes when to do each movement. Sometimes he cues right and left, and sometimes he doesnít. His form pointers are good. I canít place Raelís accent (vaguely British?), but it is easy to understand. In fact, heís quite articulate, which is good because he most of the time he is giving verbal instruction.

KL (KathAL79)

August 2, 2005

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