I’m reviewing this DVD after doing each workout once.
General workout breakdown: This Pilates matwork DVD contains 3 practices which build upon each other, with the express being the least challenging and Workout 2 being the most challenging of the three.
Here’s a breakdown of times and exercises:
• Express Workout (18 min.): breathing - flex forward, breathing - supine legs bent, imprint & release, hip rolls, scapula isolation, ab prep, breast stroke / hundred combo, half roll back, rolling like a ball, single leg stretch, obliques (i.e. criss cross), side kick (front & back only), side bend, spine twist, swan dive prep, push up / single leg extension – quick push-ups, and spine stretch forward.
• Workout 1 (25 min.): breathing - flex forward, breathing on all fours, scapula isolation, cat stretch, ab prep, breast stroke, half roll back, hundred, rolling like a ball, single leg stretch, obliques, single straight leg w/ no arms, shoulder bridge (several variations), roll over prep (the pelvis lift portion, similar to a reverse crunch), lower & lift (the closest Stott comes to a double straight leg stretch these days), saw, spine stretch forward, side kicks (front & back only), side bend, spine twist, swan dive prep, swimming (splitting lower and upper body), push up w/ single leg extension – quick push-ups, and stretch.
• Workout 2 (32 min.): breathing, scapula isolation, cat stretch, ab prep, breast stroke / hundred combo, half roll back, open leg rocker, shoulder bridge (with a few variations), roll over prep, scissors (or a single straight leg stretch), saw – spine stretch forward, side kicks (front & back only), side bend, spine twist, swan dive prep, swimming (splitting lower and upper body), push up w/ single leg extension - push up w/ hip rotation, and stretch (mermaid).
Shell stretch appears between a few exercises to release the spine.
Many of the exercises are done in short series that are repeated a few times; for example, you do 3 sets of rolling like a ball, single leg stretch, and obliques, or 2 sets of side kicks, side bend, and spine twist, picking up the tempo the second time through the exercises. Also, Moira does variations rather than the more classical form for a number of exercises; for example, hundreds are done kneeling, the rollover (here just done in two preparatory exercises) comes later in the sequence, swimming is divided into lower and then upper body, and both side bends and push-ups are shown with knees on the floor in all but the last series on the third workout.
The emphasis is on quality over quantity, with fluid transitions between movements. The pace is quick, especially for a Stott video, but never so fast that I felt like I was racing to catch up with Natalia. On the plus side, there’s little down or hang time.
Level: Stott rates this a level 4 (out of 5, with 5 being the most advanced), or as the accompanying pamphlet says, “You have established a strong mind-body connection and are ready for a more demanding workout.” Even though there are reminders of Pilates principles before and during the video as well as more accessible variations of exercises you really ought to have prior Pilates experience to get the most out of these workouts. I have been practicing Pilates since 2002 and find these workouts a suitable level of challenge for me, provided I focus on maintaining proper form - easy to do when Moira’s instructing!
Class: 1 woman demonstrates the exercises while Moira walks around and instructs live, often pointing to the live model to emphasize her points.
Music: soft instrumental guitar with atmospheric soundtrack (very elevator music-y). It fades into the background, and I didn’t even notice it while doing the workouts.
Set: bright studio space with wooden floor and back wall lined with Pilates equipment neatly arranged on shelves plus a large window onto nothing.
Production: crisp picture and sound, with the instruction louder than the music. The camera angles are VERY helpful; there are a lot of close-ups, but they do a great job of showing you exactly what you’re supposed to be doing and reinforcing Moira’s instruction.
Equipment: mat (or equivalent).
Space Requirements: enough space to lie down and sweep your arms and legs around.
The main menu offers these options: DVD Player Tips, Audio Options (instruction on or off), Workout Principles (breathing, pelvic placement, rib cage placement, scapular movement & stabilization, head & cervical placement), Express Workout, Workout 1, Workout 2, and Special Features (founders’ message & bio, meet the master instructor trainer, bonus! try the next level – which here is Intense Sculpting Challenge, Stott Pilates equipment, Stott Pilates education, Stott Pilates additional titles, and get in touch).
The individual workouts are chaptered by series of exercises (for example, there are 8 chapters within the Express workout). Thus, if you want to make the express workout even more express, you could skip the warm-up.
Comments: Unlike the other titles currently available in Stott’s Weight Loss Series, this does not include anything other than Pilates matwork (so no walking). The weight loss focus is fortunately limited to Moira’s brief opening and closing remarks, where she emphasizes the role of exercise like Pilates in raising body awareness, building strength, boosting metabolism, etc.
I don’t use my Stott matwork videos as often as I’d like because of their length. This solves that problem! And I appreciate this DVD’s value: 3 practices for $15 (suggested retail price at time of this review). The progression in difficulty between the three practices works well for those times when I need to work back up to my regularl level of Pilates after a break for whatever reason. I’ll keep this one in mind to recommend to those who have mastered the basics and are looking for a DVD they can grow with.
The building of exercises into mini series seems to be the newest big thing within the Stott method; my most recent live classes, with an instructor of Stott training, also did this. If you don’t feel the moves the first time through, you will feel them the third time around! While this brings something new and interesting to the standard Pilates workout plus adds a sense of fluidity and flow to what can feel like a disjointed collection of moves, I should warn you that in my live classes people tended to vote against running through series again (although my teacher’s series tended to be longer, and many of my classmates were brand new to Pilates, so they may have been hoping that if they didn’t put themselves through that torture again they could survive the rest of the class).
If you’re looking for a more classical matwork routine, this isn’t really it. Stott has continued to tweak exercises so that the form and order are even less recognizable from the traditional canon than before. Even though I have great respect for the classical Pilates tradition, I happen to be very fond of the Stott Pilates method, mainly because the two live Pilates instructors with whom I’ve worked have been Stott trained. As someone who has some physical limitations I find the Stott modifications more often than not work well for me.
Those with wrist issues should be cautious, as there are a number of exercises which bear weight on the hands.
Moira, as always, manages to include an incredible amount of information with her cuing. Natalia’s impeccable form complements Moira’s detailed instruction well. I like that in addition to cuing the exercises as well as including so much form tips and reminders - and some additional modifications to boot - Moira also discusses what you’re working and why. I’ve always liked Moira, but she is a little more natural and warmer these days; even still, she’s not going to appeal to those who need more of a cheerleader type to get them motivated. Moira tends to cue sides in more generic terms (front or back leg, or even just one arm and then the other) rather than obsess over right / left.
February 23, 2009