10 Minute Solution: Pilates

Lara Hudson
Year Released: 2004

Categories: Pilates/Core Strength

I'm reviewing this workout after doing it a number of times since getting it just about when it first came out. I've probably only done it the whole way through once, maybe twice. But I have used the Sculpting segment at least a dozen times, maybe more, and the Abs segment almost as many times.

General workout breakdown: This Pilates workout, with some yoga elements thrown in, consists of 5 10 minute segments, each featuring the following moves:

*Pilates for Abs: Begin on floor with short boat pose, hundred, roll up, double leg stretch, stretch, double straight leg stretch, knee drops, criss cross, single straight leg stretch (i.e. scissors), corkscrew, rollover, teaser, and forward bend.
*Pilates for Buns & Thighs: Begin on floor with side leg series (up & down, circles, ronde du jambe) followed by inner thigh lift and hip stretch, grasshopper (i.e. heel beats), bridge (without and then with leg extended, staying in bridge position while raising and lowering leg, then pulsing with foot across other leg), open angle stretch, and butterfly.
*Sculpting Pilates (i.e. arms & shoulders): Begin standing with zip up, biceps curl (to front and side), arm circles (to front and side), shave the head, triceps "press back" (i.e. kick back), triceps and shoulder stretches, boxing (up & down and front & back), hug (while standing and then while bending from hips), rear delt pulse, superman lunge, chest stretch, and forward fold with arm circles (without weights).
*Pilates Burn: Begin standing with series where you curl down, leading up to walking out into plank and then doing heel press and push ups; series on hands and knees while you extend opposite arm and leg, then tuck both in, moving into a pulsing lunge, then pulsing with straight leg extended and finally push ups; shell stretch / child's pose; swimming, side plank with one knee down (lifting up and then "under the bridge"), kneeling side kicks (front & back, circles) ending with hip stretch, and child's pose with arms extended.
*Pilates for Flexibility: Begin on floor with cat stretch, thread the needle (?-it's the twist while still on all fours), downward facing dog (with one legged calf stretch) leading to lunge (with knee down), child's pose with arms extended, mermaid-type side stretch, saw-type forward bend / twist, around the world, and breathing while standing. Lara includes a good number of repetitions for each exercise. There is often a short pause between exercises, but it's never very long. At the same time, the exercises never feel too fast or too slow.

Level: I'd recommend this to an experienced beginner (with existing knowledge of Pilates and some strength & flexibility) to intermediate Pilates exercisers. This is not an ideal tape for beginners, as Lara doesn't include a lot of form instruction, even if there is some, and there are several solidly intermediate exercises (e.g. rollover and kneeling side kicks). Few modifications are shown or suggested. I first got this when I had just about finished my transition from beginner to intermediate, and it was fairly tough. Now that I consider myself low intermediate (about 2 years of experience but still limited strength & flexibility), I find this to be a more appropriate challenge.

Class: Lara alone.

Music / Set / Other Production Notes: The music is nice but nothing spectacular. It's instrumental, with a bit of a beat. (Actually, the Buns & Thighs segment music sounds like something from the Liz Gillies Progressive Pilates series.) The workout takes place in a bright indoor studio with hardwood floors, light walls, and potted plants on the back "stairs." The sound and picture quality are very good.

Equipment: mat (or equivalent). A pair of light dumbbells (1-3 lb. each) is needed for the arms segment. Lara performs all segments barefoot.

Comments: You don't need much space for this workout. You should be able to lie down with your arms and legs extended and have a little room around your mat.

DVD Notes: The DVD allows you to play all, select just one workout, or program any of the segments in any combination that you like. There's an introduction, but you can hit skip.

Conclusion: I've raved about this workout, and yet when I did it again lately it didn't live up to my high notions. That said, it's still good. It's great to have the option to do just one 10 minute segment. I like Lara as an instructor, and the series is well done. So I'll keep this, mainly because I love the upper body segment, preferring it to the one on Liz Gillies' Progressive Pilates 4 10 Minute Target Tone Workout. It's more compact with more traditional Pilates than the upper body segment from Jennifer Kries' Pilates Method: Precision Pilates. For what it's worth, I do get a little sweaty during the "burn" segment, but the only burn that happens for me is a nice buzz in my abs the next day, rather than fat melting off. And I'm not sure you'd gain a lot of flexibility from using just this segment, but it does make a nice addition if you're adding this on to another workout. (In other words, it's a great way to end a session.)

I would rank the Pilates workouts with 10 minute segments from easiest to hardest as follows: Quick Fix Pilates (found on the Quick Fix Total Mix Pilates & Yoga DVD), Progressive Pilates 4 10 Minute Target Tone Workout, 10 Minute Solution Pilates, and Quick Fix Pilates Abs. In other words, if you don't have much Pilates experience, I'd recommend starting with the first Quick Fix, then working up to this one.

Instructor Comments:
Lara cues well but doesn't focus a lot on instruction or form and even less on breath. She is young but seems relatively at ease in front of the camera, despite a tendency to repeat some phrases a lot ("Nice," "Very nice," etc., and she loves the idea of "yawning"). I like the way she comes across: relatively low key yet still with enthusiasm. There are a few mentions of appearance / suggestions that you'll see almost instant results, but these are more in the scripted intros / conclusions and don't appear in the workouts themselves. Lara's form is very good. She is very flexible, but somehow I didn't feel intimidated by it-more like inspired.