Classical Pilates Technique: The Complete Magic Circle Matwork Series

Bob Liekens
Year Released: 2003

Categories: Pilates/Core Strength

If you are used to Pilates videos along the lines of Denise Austin or Ellen Barrett, this DVD is definitely NOT for you! Classical Pilates Technique provides much more serious, no-nonsense Pilates instruction. In fact, even the individual workouts have more of an instructional feel rather than seeming like actual workout routines, as the voiceover instruction fails to provide adequate cueing for movement changes, breath, etc. Instead, you will be in the middle of one exercise and hear "now another variation is..."; I found myself struggling to keep up with these rapid changes. Similarly, there is no pause between the moves, which would be fine if this was a Pilates mat routine only, but with the ring added, it makes it very difficult to find time to re-position the ring before the next exercise begins.

The DVD starts with a brief introduction to Pilates, which is basically a lying and seated breath practice. You then have four workouts to choose from. The first, Basic, is only 5 minutes long and is more of an introduction to using the ring; 6 basic Pilates matwork exercises are included. The second, Intermediate, is 18 minutes long, and the exercises included are similar to what would be found in most advanced beginners programs. However, the addition of the ring makes the exercises more challenging, and there is also a tough teaser sequence--three Teaser 1's repeated three times--at the end of the workout. At 20 minutes, the advanced version is slightly longer, but it moves even more quickly to include a larger variety of exercises. With a few exceptions (eg, full shoulder bridge, boomerang), most of the exercises included here are what I'm used to seeing in intermediate Pilates programs (rollover, corkscrew, hip circles), but again, using the ring ups both the intensity and the difficulty level. The final workout is called a "Super Advanced" Reformer Mat sequence; the overview stresses that this should ONLY be attempted by very advanced students and teachers, and they also mention that it is the first time that the entire 35-minute reformer sequence has been filmed. I previewed this segment only, and while I'm sure I could do some of the exercises--including the yoga-inspired moves and the arms series with light weights--others were clearly beyond my skill level, and they definitely required the use of a raised Pilates mat rather than a thin multi-purpose yoga/Pilates mat.

There is no music on this video, and each workout features a single participant following the rapid voiceover instruction. For someone who is experienced with Pilates and can follow the fast-paced movements in the intermediate and advanced programs, I think these routines could be highly effective, but for me, the low "fun" factor means I am not likely to use this video again.

Instructor Comments:
Bob provides voiceover instruction. He is very good at reminding you to use your core--in fact, he constantly says that when you use the circle, you should feel it in your core, not the part of you that is pressing the circle--but he is not so good at cueing movement changes, breath, etc.

Beth C (aka toaster)