Callanetics Evolution

Sandra Hanna
Year Released: 2007

Categories: Abs/Core , Ballet/Barre, Lower Body Strength

This is a one hour, total body “barre” (Lotte Berk style) workout.

Callanetics Evolution ("CE") is an update of the 1986 original Callanetics ("OC") video workout. A quick history lesson: In the early 1970’s Callan Pinckney taught in a Lotte Berk studio, but found several of the exercises as presented were painful to her own back and knees and, she suspected, those of some of her clients. Callan modified the exercises and incorporated the concept of very tiny pulses to work the muscles. She began teaching Callanetics out of her home, word spread, and her iconic videos and books followed. For many of us VFers of a (ahem) certain age, Callanetics was our first exposure to home exercise videos.

If done faithfully, the original Callanetics exercises do work, and often very quickly. However, there is little denying the OC routine is not a party in a box. You get into a position, do 100 pulses, get into another position, do 100 pulses, etc. The 1986 video (now available on DVD) appears very dated today. Also, the original Callanetics exercises have, well – evolved – over the last 20 years. Enter Callanetics Evolution.

Callanetics Evolution is taught by Sandra Hanna, who presents in a warm, ladylike, professional manner. (BTW, Callan herself does not appear in CE, although Sandra lets us know Callan is now living in Savannah and sends us “warm greetings.”) Sandra stands and instructs while three Callanetics instructors demonstrate beginner, intermediate and advanced versions of the exercises. Sandra instructs live, and she mirror-cues. Unlike OC there is no on-screen countdown. Sandra occasionally mentions doing "at least 75" pulses on a few exercises.

Collage Video rates CE as Intermediate, and I would agree.

The workout is done barefoot. Equipment is minimal – a mat plus a chair or barre (for balance only – unlike OC you do not put your leg or foot on the barre to stretch). An optional pair of light toning balls is used to give intensity to some of the exercises as well as provide additional upper body work. The beginner modifier uses a pillow for back support during some of the abs work. The set is a living room done in beige – lots of beige! – and there is soft piano background music.

OC fans will notice a lot of differences with CE. New exercises have been added and old ones dropped. Several exercises look somewhat like the originals, but have been modified quite a bit (I believe for better safety). A welcome change is the introduction of new pulses. Besides the traditional linear (up-and-down or back-and-forth) pulse, new pulsing options include spiral (circular) or rotational pulses. Each pulse style works the muscle slightly differently, and have a pulse option adds variety to the exercises. There is also a new emphasis on keeping the pelvic floor engaged, and Sandra will remind you to do so constantly.

The Main Menu has the following chapters:


-Play All

-Body-By-Design Programs: The workout chapters. Note that choosing a chapter from this section returns you to the menu rather than continuing on to the next chapter.

Callanetics Concepts (12 minutes): This is an important chapter. It explains the new options in pulses, and also discusses pelvic floor engagement.

Callanetics To Go (5 minutes): Using footage from the main workout, Sandra suggests how you can incorporate Callanetics moves throughout the day.

Bonus: Information on Callanetics teacher training.

As noted, the workout chapters are found under the Body-By-Design section, and are as follows:

-Warm-up and Upper Body (11:30 minutes): A warm-up fairly similar to OC is followed by the same underarm exercise, but holding toning balls is shown as an intensity option. The section concludes with neck and back stretches.

-Legs (12 minutes): All done standing, holding onto a support for balance. The section begins moving slowly up and down in 2nd position plie, pausing to curl the pelvis (pretty similar to an OC exercise). Each leg is then worked individually with pulses (traditional, rotational or spiral) holding the leg out front, to the side, and to the rear. The section concludes with more 2nd position plies, followed by a stretch. The advanced modifier holds toning balls with her arms in ballet positions instead of using the support, and she does the plies on the balls of her feet.

-Hips & Behind (16 minutes): Callan’s original Bringing Up the Rear (a variation of the Pretzel) and Out To the Side are here, but shown leaning out to the side onto the forearm. Next is an exercise where pulsing is done in a bridge position but on balls of the feet. Following that is more leg lifts, done in an L position. This section concludes with a nice hip stretch.

-Pelvis & Thighs (5 minutes): CE’s version of the Callan’s Pelvic Scoop (vaguely similar to LB knee dancing). I find both the OC and CE versions hard on my knees. I prefer a similar exercise taught by The Bar Method which involves leaning straight back from the knees rather than bending them. This is followed by a pulsing triceps pushup, another pulsing thigh exercise, then thigh stretches. To be honest, I skip this section.

-Abs (14 minutes): Remember that exercise in Super Callanetics where you lean back in a C-curve then wave your arms up and down? It’s back! The beginner modifier uses a pillow at her back, and sits out the second set (doing stretches instead). More C-curve pulses follow to work the obliques (using OC positioning). There is a set of pulsing crunches with the legs in a wide V position. Back extensions (done both pulsing and static) conclude the abs work. This is a tough section!

-Finishing Stretches (4:20 minutes): Has my favorite OC stretch, the one where you lie on your back and bring one knee across the body and over to the side (although in OC there are pulses while CE keeps it static).

Bottom line: Callanetics Evolution is much more polished production than OC, although somewhat bland (I kind of like Callan’s quirky style and her motley crew of exercisers, which included several beginners and featured a wide age range – including her mother!). Excepting the Pelvis & Thighs section, CE is very kind to my cranky knees. I like the option of the different pulse styles, and the idea of holding toning balls during the leg work is a nice intensity option. I have to admit, though, that while the CE exercises are undoubtedly safer, somehow they don't feel as intense as OC, or a lot of other barre workouts out there. I like CE okay, but don't "lurve" it as much The Bar Method or Classical Stretch.

There is a companion DVD titled Cardio Callanetics. It presents a half-hour low impact cardio routine (lots of plies), followed by a half-hour set of Callanetics, drawn from the same footage as Callanetics Evolution.

Callanetics Evolution is available at online sites such as Amazon, Collage, and Total Fitness DVDs (there are clips at the latter two sites).

Instructor Comments:
Please see above. The official website is