Body Reform: Core Essentials

Karen Voight
Year Released: 1999

Categories: Pilates/Core Strength , Total Body Workouts

Emily has already done a thorough breakdown of Core Essentials, so I'll just add my (somewhat rambling) thoughts. This workout, as Karen states, is to help build core strength in the body, specifically targeting the abdominals, buttocks, and torso. It isn't meant to be a muscle-building workout, so if you're looking for that, you won't find it here. The production quality and music are similar to Streamline Fitness and YogaSculpt. Karen is alone on the set, and there are various artsy (but not distracting to me) camera angles and lighting. Karen sometimes instructs in real time, and sometimes in voice-overs.

I enjoyed the choreographed lunge/squat combo, but as Emily stated, it can be difficult on the knees if you're on carpet since there are lots of pivoting from a squat to a side lunge position. Karen does mention that you have to be careful and unload your weight if you're on a carpeted surface. While it is definitely a lighter workout for the legs, if you concentrate and really focus on your torso muscles, you'll find that these sequences can really help your balance. Form is very important here, as it is with all of the exercises in this workout. If you cheat with your form, especially in workouts like this that focus on core strength, you won't get much out of the exercises. The floor legs section is a cross between the Method side series from Precision Toning and the tablework from Firm Hare or Sculpted Buns, Hips & Thighs. The side series doesn't use weight, and the buttocks/hamstring table work uses a green genie weighted ball (or a dumbbell) squeezed behind the knee. Again, if you squeeze the ball (or dumbbell) hard, you'll really feel it.

Karen does a triceps pushup combo that really gets me! You pull your elbows in close to your body as you do the pushups (no cheating with a wide arm position!!!), do three, and then raise up onto your toes and hold a plank position, then S-L-O-W-L-Y lower yourself down to the floor. You repeat this sequence three times, and you'll also feel it in your abs! I normally do pushups on my toes, but I don't even ATTEMPT it here! :-) I felt better, because Karen does them on her knees, too. You then do chest flyes, and the reps are slow so you aren't really limited to light weights. I used 10 lbs. here (I usually use 15 and occasionally 20 lbs. depending on the speed and the number of reps), which was about right.

I was a little disappointed with the ab section, especially since this video is supposed to focus on core strength. This section is OK, with both traditional abs and stabilization moves, but not as tough as some of Karen's other ab sections. It uses the green genies or a dumbbells. I find her ab sections in Streamline Fitness, Great Weighted Workout, Firm Arms & Abs, and the matwork in YogaSculpt to be much more challenging. The stretch at the end is nice.

***A side note--I've done this workout using both dumbbells and Karen's 3 lb. green genie balls. I've found that I definitely feel like I get much more out of the workout using the green genies, especially for the table work and the abs.***

All in all, I find this to be a pleasant add-on tape. I'll use it as a light strength workout, in addition to my cardio or with another strength tape.

Instructor Comments:
Karen is the consummate professional. As usual, she takes a low-key, calm approach when instructing. Very clear form pointers and description of the exercises. Her physique is inspiring.

Kristin Aziz