Video Fitness

Shape Pilates Workout: Pilates for Pink

Lizbeth Garcia and Tracy York

This DVD, prepared in conjunction with Shape Magazine and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, includes a 31 minute Pilates routine led by Lizbeth and a 12 minute Bonus Total Body Blitz led by Tracy, along with chapters such as Liz’s bio and information on Shape and the BCRF. A portion of all sales proceeds goes to the BCRF but I wonder how long that will last as the DVD gets older and reaches discount marketers.

PILATES: This routine was love at first try and I enjoy it more with each use. In a nutshell, Lizbeth has taken traditional Pilates moves and made them more dynamic with the addition of sweeping arm movements, build-ons and a super-setting theme, incorporating one exercise with another for several sets. The workout is non-stop, flows at a good clip but not so fast that you lose proper form in an effort to keep up, and it gives a mild cardio benefit in the bargain. This routine has some advanced moves but on the whole, is doable for anyone with a enough Pilates experience to “jump right in.” There is a modifier, who is always visible, but I don’t recall much reference to modifications other than at the beginning.

Both workouts are filmed on a living room set, cozy and relaxing. Production quality is good and there is basic chaptering between anatomical focus sections. The Pilates routine features good lighting, some shadowy effects, and the background music has a strong but not overbearing beat to which the exercises flow like a dance. Lizabeth and her two backups move in graceful unison.

Breakdown: Begin seated with a series of spine tilts, knees bent, performing semi-rolldowns with arms progressing from holding behind the thighs to sweeping and circling around, and rollback with twists. Transition into rolling down for full Rollups with arm circles.

Next, while on the back the legs come to table top for hip rolling side to side, progressing to a single leg extension in the extreme position on each side, then flow into toe tapping. Single leg circles are next, beginning with “slide and lift,” the foot sliding forward and up in a bicycling movement, culminating with bicycles supersetted with leg circles. Rolling up into bridge while the arms circle follows, then “power glute lift,” bringing the torso straight up into bridge without the vertebral rolling. The power glute lifts progress into bridging with knee lifts.

“Reverse curls” with ankles crossed, rolling partially back into a reverse crunch follows. This progresses into reverse curls with a leg split, recross and roll down with the cross of legs reversed (reminiscent of Boomerang), and then ultimately progresses to a superset of reverse curls and the previous power glute lifts remaining in the extreme position while a single straightened leg lowers and lifts.

Lizbeth next moves on to upper body with a set of ab preps, arms behind head. Single leg stretch flows into bicycle with long lever arms, right into scissors with arm reaches and ends with a quick back stretch. Then you move to hands and knees for opposing arm and leg reaches, to which a simultaneous hamstring and bicep curl are added. You then lie forward on the mat to reach same side arm and leg up and then back into a semi-bow position with flowing repetitions.

Kneeling back up for a cat stretch, you elevate the rear upward so you’re on your toes, knees hover above mat as one leg pulls in toward the nose then stretches backward, then flow forward onto the mat for breast stroke, arms circling backward to touch the toes as they simultaneously bend toward the body, then back on the toes/hands to repeat the series for the other side.

Spine twists series follows, seated with legs out straight and arms straight upward – twist once to each side, then in a pulsing rhythm, then pulsing to each side with a crisp downward arms slice, then a final set of twisting, pulsing, arms slice and diagonally forward into saw. Legs come in, draw the body in preparatory position for rolling like a ball, which is performed several times with hands clasped over shins and then with arms in a “wave,” outward and upward while rolling.

Move on to side leg series which starts with supersets of flutters (like swimming on the side), large scissors with a double pulse and fast single pulse big scissors. This is followed by traditional side kicks, single and with pulses, and side lift kicks, and finally the kick series supersetted together, forward, down and up.

The workout concludes with a Mermaid series. The legs are positioned with right leg bent back and left leg forward, as if for pretzels, but you flow side to side with oblique stretches. These progress to reaching all the way up onto the right knee, return to seated with a twist over the left side, from which Lizbeth leads you right into the set up for kneeling side series – knee pulling in then kicking straight out, then straight leg circling forward and back. Turn right over into a pushup position, where the pushups are performed with alternate legs lifting. The Mermaid series then repeats for the opposite side. The workout concludes with some brief final stretches.

Throughout, Lizbeth coaches well and encourages you to enjoy the movement. I think anyone who enjoys floor work might like this routine. Those who avoid traditional Pilates because of forward flexion might enjoy trying it as well – it’s more like dancing on the floor. And if you already love Pilates, this is a must-have! I am glad that the producers, who put this video out there to support breast cancer awareness and research, chose Lizbeth to choreograph and lead. It is a top notch production.

BONUS TOTAL BODY BLITZ: one of the better “bonus blasts” on a DVD that I’ve tried. In 12 minutes Tracy hits the entire body with a brief warmup, reaching and side stepping, then pick up your weights for a series of squats with bicep curls, to lunges and up to standing leg extensions with hammer curls. A series of bent over compound rows up to shoulder presses follows, then deltoid work featuring a quick variety of side to front arm raises and lateral pulls. Come to the mat for some push ups with leg pulls, roll over and grab your weights for flyes supersetted with skull crushers, drop one dumbbell for weighted abs and with a quick but thorough stretch, you’re done. I jumped up after this and said WHEW. It was a great warm-up for snow shoveling ….. and that’s a workout I don’t care to review :-)

Instructor comments: Lizbeth Garcia is one of my favorite Pilates tutors. I enjoy how she cues and offers reminders in a conversational tone. As she instructs, she portrays an emotion of joyfulness in the movement. As she performs the workout, she reminds me of a fish in water – graceful, fluid and at home in the routine.

Tracy York – this was my first experience with Tracy and I found her likeable. She put together a nice little total body burner with weights and cued it well.

Pat58

February 14, 2007

In this Pilates workout, instructor Lizbeth Garcia puts some unique spins on the traditional Pilates matwork sequence. Rather than begin with the hundred (in fact, the hundred does not even appear), she starts with a modified roll-up, adding an oblique move before going on to the full roll-up. She also switches up other classic Pilates sequences such as the Series of 5: in Liz's version of this series, you begin with a single leg sweep in and out, add leg circles, move into the single leg stretch, add criss-cross, and finish by flowing into the single straight leg stretch. There is also quite a bit of leg/glute work here, not just with Liz's variation on the side series, but also with some moves performed on all fours as well as a challenging push-up series which adds a leg lift. Although most of the Pilates moves that Liz includes are generally considered beginning level (ie, there are no rollovers, teasers, or other more intermediate/advanced Pilates exercises), Liz's flowing pace combined with her unique twists make this more of an intermediate Pilates workout.

This DVD also includes a "Bonus Total-body Blitz," which is a 12-minute weighted workout led by another Shape instructor, Tracy York. Tracy uses 2 sets of weights here, and after a very quick warm-up, she starts with some compound moves: squats and lunges with biceps curls. She also does several series of moves that flow together, such as a shoulder row, mid-back row, and overhead press combo and a second combo that includes a front raise, reverse shoulder squeeze, and elbow lower. The moves on the floor include a push-up/leg lift combo, a chest series, and a few nice weighted abs moves. Overall, this workout does hit a lot in a short period of time, but I'm not sure how effective it would be due to the low number of repetitions.

Finally, this DVD also comes with a nice little booklet called "Simple Tips to Better Health"; it contains Pointers on Pilates Form, Power Up Your Pilates (a review of basic Pilates principles), 4 Simple Calorie Blasters, and A Few Facts about Breast Health (this DVD is also sometimes referred to as "Pilates for Pink," as part of the proceeds go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation). I would say that his DVD is most ideally suited to advanced beginner to intermediate Pilates practioners who are looking to work their whole body and don't mind more non-traditional Pilates sequencing. It reminds me a little bit of Karen Voight's Pilates Core Power (aka Abdominals and Back) in style. However, I preferred the Voight workout to this one, as I prefer to use Pilates to focus on my core rather than my whole body as Lizbeth does here.

Instructor comments: Liz was fine overall, with a straightforward style somewhat similar to Ana Caban, although Liz instructs live rather than voiceover. Her cueing was generally good, although there were a few times when she may have forgotten to mirror-cue.

Beth C (aka toaster)

July 8, 2007

I’m reviewing this workout after previewing it once and doing it about half a dozen times.

N.B. This has a subtitle of “Firm up from Head to Toe.”

General workout breakdown: Pat and Beth have already described this workout well. I can’t think of anything to add!
I will just add that the 12-min. total-body blitz with Tracy York is the same one featured on Shape Cardio and Shape Toning Workouts.

Level: I’d recommend this to regular exercisers with Pilates experience who are working their way up or through the intermediate level. In other words, I think someone at the beginner / intermediate through mid-intermediate level of Pilates would find this routine appropriately challenging. While parts of the routine seem easier than others, there are some exercises in here usually reserved for more advanced practitioners.

Class: 2 women, one of whom sometimes shows less advanced modifications, join Lizbeth, who instructs live. As Pat mentioned, Lizbeth doesn’t often describe the modifications, so be sure to preview the video and make a note of them if you think you might need them.

Music: upbeat instrumental. It’s nothing too special, but it’s not distracting or annoying.

Set: brightly lit interior living room-like space.

Production: very crisp picture and sound. Lizbeth’s voice is louder than the music, but you can still hear it in the background. The camera usually focuses on all three exercisers from a bit of a distance. If you don’t want to see another extreme close-up, well, this is your video! I would have actually liked to have seen a few more closer shots to help with form, especially for the more unusual moves, but I don’t mind that the err was on the side of too many full body shots.

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

DVD Notes: The main menu asks you to play all, play program, or choose the bonus features (Meet the Instructor, Bonus Total-Body Blitz, About Shape, About BCRF, About UnderArmour, and Credits). The main routine is chaptered by series rather than by individual exercises (with 6 chapters for just over 30 min.).

Comments: This is a great Pilates video for someone who wants some variety in their matwork-based practices. In other words, if you’re starting to get tired of the same old hundred, roll-up, teaser, etc., this is the video for you. This isn’t a fusion video, really, and there’s a sense of appreciation for the classical Pilates tradition. I appreciate that Lizbeth hasn’t tried to reinvent the wheel here, as she’s just brought some different movements, combinations, and sequences to many of the usual exercises. I feel a sense of reinvigoration and joy with her twists on the usual which I’m inspired to take to my usual matwork practice.
Those with wrist issues should approach this with caution, as there is a rather lengthy sequence performed in tabletop / plank pose. I have trouble with triceps push-ups due to an elbow issue, and it’s too bad that this sequence is such a long part of the workout because it hampers my enjoyment of what is otherwise a nice, flowing workout that does feel, as Pat mentioned, almost like dancing on the floor.

Instructor comments: Lizbeth has a very pleasant on-screen persona. She’s very encouraging and positive without being perky or peppy. She does a nice job of cueing movement, with some mention of breath and form. She mirror cues.

KathAL79

September 14, 2007



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