I’ve done this dance-y, Pilates inspired hi/lo cardio workout a dozen times and reviewed it analytically to break down here. (I’m not a dancer, just a wannabe.) Off the bat I’d say, if you have not liked Mari Winsor’s past productions, you might not care for her off the mat. That said, I enjoy Mari’s programs and benefit from them. I find this workout effective and enjoyable despite its quirks, and suitable for anyone (with some caveats as to final mat work). The cardio is done in blocks rather than a repetitive TIFT from beginning to end, with a grand finale stringing the blocks together.
PROS - no equipment other than supportive footwear is required for the cardio; a mat is needed for the final 10 minutes of floor work. The music is very well done, featuring three live percussionists and Spanish guitar (off screen) ranging from gentle strumming to flamenco rhythms. The stage is bright and airy; there is a modifier (Susannah), visible most of the time. For Winsor fans, it is fun to see associates from various videos standing upright and dancing. And they are on-beat and good! This workout can be done in a relatively small area – if you have a foot of space in each direction around your Pilates mat, you’ll have room for this. Cueing is mirror image and well done.
CONS – the warm-up contains flowing, graceful segments but is punctuated with marching while Mari executes her “make ‘em wait while I teach the next section” trademark style. In line with the dance class flavor there is a lot of counting, and between segments Mari orders “march it out!” TIFT is present but broken into blocks, and while the cueing is good, it may be a little too good for some tastes.
BREAKDOWN: a solid 50 minutes from soup to nuts.
7 minute warm-up features flowing, standing Pilates punctuated with marching – Mermaid, chest expansion with head turns, a series of graceful lower body warm-ups including side lunges, gentle alternating lunges with knee-ups to change feet, contracting abs in a C-curve and rolling the spine, and a brief plie series. As mentioned, the marching and instructing detract from a potentially wonderful warm-up.
26 minute cardio routine consists of five distinct sections:
1 - more vigorous standing Pilates (hundred with arm variations; rowing, shaving, hugs while marching faster);
2 - modern dance section featuring a cha-cha series with arm variations, out out/in in steps with a jazzy little jump, step-tap combo with a little leap, and step slides built up to include wide arms, hip shakin’ and four corner direction;
3 – “pacing” featuring side to side and angled walking with arm patterns (presumably ala Sansone but I cannot compare having never enjoyed Leslie’s company). Mari’s pacing is jazz flavored, for example four side steps and a leg kick to the rear as head looks over opposite shoulder and arms pull back;
4 - knee lift combo with repeater knees that you can jump, hamstring curls and “Temptation Walk” with little leaps;
5 - Grand Finale tying the previous sections together two or three times.
The 5 minute cool-down is a flowing, graceful blend of windmill arms with standing stretch/pulls and spine rolls, “running” in place while breathing with arm movements and a Mermaid finale.
The 10 minute mat work is a well choreographed but imperfect quickie to stretch the spine and give the core a quick blast. Rollups, rollovers, rolling like a ball, series of five, spine stretch forward, open leg rocker straight into seal and you’re done. I love this portion after the cardio and would give it a higher grade if Susannah continued demonstrating modifications and Mari gave clearer direction to beginners on rollover and open leg rocker.
SUMMARY: This workout is quirky – well done in production, choreography and music. For me, it has overtones of Catholic school gone wild as Mari snaps out orders while simultaneously shakin’ it down. There is a fun factor in seeing the Winsor instructors standing up and dancing, sort of like you caught them all after several martinis at the Winsor Pilates Holiday Office Party. Mari calls out after the cool-down, “Was that a mind-blowing workout OR WHAT?” Totally Mari, yet I enjoy it for a moderate level cardio dance of a decent length with limbering warm-up, flowing cool-down and mat work bonus core blast.
Mari has a reputation for barky inflection and at times here, while working hard, it intensifies. There is a lot of counting, not quite to Tae Bo levels but in a dance practice manner. Fortunately, as Mari gets a little winded “8 more!” suffices. This is the first workout where I’ve seen Mari move like this – the video clips online do not do justice to her rhythm and the joy she obviously derives from dance. I give her credit for producing a dance/Pilates/cardio routine without the mishaps of Method fame – I think Mari missteps once or twice, and miscues are absent.
October 24, 2006