Video Fitness

Perfect Core

Meghan White

This DVD features instructor Meghan White leading 15 different customized core routines. Some of the routines centered around traditional crunches, whereas others are Pilates-based, sometimes incorporating equipment such as a stability ball and dumbbells. The Main Menu is set up as follows:

Core Basics
Core Challenge
...More for Your Core!

Core Basics provides beginner level workouts. Although Meghan goes slower here and does offer form pointers, I don't think she gives enough instruction to make these workouts appropriate for someone brand-new to Pilates. However, this section would probably work well for those who have some prior familiarity iwth Pilates but have limited flexibility. Here is the Core Basics menu, with brief descriptions added by me:

*Basic Abs (5 Min.)--basic and oblique crunches, keeping feet on the floor
*Strong Abs (5 Min.)--basic crunches, crunches w/legs raised, pulses, knees in and up, oblique work, unique side move
PILATES BASED CORE WORKOUTS (modified for beginners)
*Legs & Glutes (11 Min.)--modified versions of exercises such as the roll-up, rolling like a ball, side kicks, etc.
*Arms & Back (8 Min.)--modified versions of the hundred, roll-up, spine stretch forward, swan prep, swimming, scapular lift, and plank work
*Pilates Abs (11 Min.)--modified version fo hundred, rolling like a ball, single and double leg stretch, scissors, criss-cross, single leg teaser, and seal

The Core Challenge menu is set up similarly to the Basics menu above, and the exercises are similar as well, but in an unmodified and more chalenging form. Here is the Core Challenge menu, with brief descriptions added by me:

*Advanced Abs (5 Min.)--basic crunch, oblique reaches, pulses, transverse crunch, transverse w/twist, knees in and out (lower than in basic program)
*Stronger Abs (5 Min.)--basic crunch, crunch w/leg lift, crunch w/1 leg in and out, crunch w/1 leg up and down, hip lifts, bicycle
*Abs, Legs & Glutes (15 Min.)--there are two separate segments here, a 4-minute abs workout with the hundred, rolling like a ball, double leg lowers, and criss-cross, and an 11-minute legs/glutes segment with the roll-up, leg circles, the saw, single leg kicks, a side kick series, and leg lifts on all 4s
*Abs, Arms & Back (15 Min.)--this was also two separate segments, a 9-minute abs portion with the hundred, rolling like a ball, single and double leg stretch, scissors, double leg lowers, torso twists, teaser, and seal, and then a 6.5 minute arms and bakc portion with the hundred, roll-up, spine stretch forward, a series of back work (swan, swimming, scapular lifts), and leg lifts on all 4s

Finally, the ...More For Your Core! menu contains some more challenging workouts that include use of equipment as described below.

*Abs with Ring, Arms & Back, Stretch (15 Min.)--tough little segment using a fitness ring for the teaser and double leg stretch; followed by the same arms and back segment in the Core Challenge section and Stretch section with both reclined and seated stretches (actual time 17 minutes)
*Abs with Weights, Legs & Glutes (20 Min.)--starts with a 4-minute Pilates matwork flow and moves into a second 4-minute segment using a dumbbell for some unique moves such as side plank, partial roll-down, reverse curls w/weight under knees, and double leg stretch w/weight in hands; finishes with the same legs and glutes segment in the Core Challenge section
*Pilates Core and Stretgh (30 Min.)--combines the 9-minute abs, 11-minute legs and glutes, 7-minute arms and back (all from the Core Challenge section) with the 3-minute stretch for a full 30-minute workout
*Stability Ball (4 Min.)--nice short segment on the stability ball: roll-ups holding the ball in your hands, oblique work and teasers with feet on the ball, and double leg stretch holding the ball overhead
*Weighted Ball (4 Min.)--nice short segment using a small medicine ball: holding the ball between your feet for the hundred, hip lifts, rolling with a twist, and transverse crunch

Overall, this is a nice DVD with a good variety of abs routines. I did find the sequencing to be a bit strange: for example, the abs segment with ring starts off with a teaser variation, but then when you get to the arms & back segment, you begin with the hundred, usually the starting point for most Pilates routines (and sometimes the hundred is actually perfomed twice in the same routine here!). I would've preferred if all of the individual segments were listed in one menu where I could mix and match rather than having to choose one of the pre-formatted workouts on the menus.

For someone who likes both traditional core work and Pilates and who is looking for a wide variety of workout options, this DVD is likely to fit the bill. Since I don't do much traditional abs work anymore, I probably won't keep this one; however, because I did enjoy the Pilates segments, I plan to try Meghan's Pilates Sculpt & Tone instead.

Instructor comments: Many VFers have posted negative comments on the GD board about Meghan's voice, but I didn't notice anything particularly irritating about it, although she did have kind of a cheerleader-ish quality overall. She cued well with live instruction, and I found her to be fine overall.

Beth C (aka toaster)

February 15, 2007

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