10 Minute Solution: Slim & Sculpt Pilates

Suzanne Bowen
Year Released: 2007

Categories: Pilates/Core Strength

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I'm a daily exerciser who has been trying to work more Pilates into my regular routine. I especially like using Pilates as short, add-on segments, and because I enjoyed another 10 Minute Solution DVD by instructor Suzanne Bowen, Pilates Perfect Body, I thought I would try this one as well.

Pilates Slim and Sculpt comes with a long stretchy band that is used with each of the five workouts included on the disk (my band is green, not purple like the one Bowen is using). As with all of the 10 Minute Solution videos, the Main Menu of this DVD offers the option to Play All, Play One Workout, or to Create Your Own Routine by selecting segments in turn (I found the custom function to be a little tweaky; it kept double-selecting segments for me). For each segment, Bowen is exercising alone, instructing live in a large open studio. I have provided brief breakdowns of each 10-minute section below.

For this segment, Bowen begins seated with the band around the balls of the feet to briefly focus on the breath. She then rolls back, and with the band around one foot only, she performs leg circles and leg lifts down and to the side; she transitions with frogs before repeating on the other side. Coming to a side lying position, the side series work (band around one foot) includes up-down, 3-point, inner thigh lifts, and donkey kicks; again, the series is repeated on the other side. Bowen concludes this segment holding the band over the pelvis for reverse plank with leg pull-downs and pelvic lifts.

Starting standing with the band under the feet, Bowen simply holds the band for shoulder rolls forward and back. Next, she moves into the Pilates zip-up and bug. Lunging over one leg, she performs boxing and bicep curls and then triceps press and lateral raises on the other side. Bowen then moves into a side lunge position for draw-the-sword, paint-under-the-stairs (triceps extension), biceps press-ups, and chest presses; this entire series is repeated on the other side. She finishes the upper body work with a scapular press using the band doubled up, a beach ball chest press (band behind the back), and a few brief stretches.

Bowen starts seated with the band under the feet for a brief spine twist. Coming to lying, she performs the hundred, roll-down (alternating the arms holding the band), and half roll down with the hands together holding the band. She then bunches up the band and places it between the feet for rolling like a ball. After brief hip lifts (band across pelvis), Bowen places the band behind her shoulders for single leg stretch, single straight leg stretch, and double leg stretch. The band then goes back under the feet for leg lowers. Bowen holds the doubled band between her hands for the teaser, and she concludes with a quick cat/cow stretch (no band).

Here Bowen begins standing with the band under one foot for leg lifts out to the side and to the back. Lunging with the band under one foot, she performs rows and lateral raises on both sides. Next comes kneeling thigh work holding the band in the hands. Bowen then places the band on the floor for triceps push-ups, alternating with a side plank/arm raise using the band. Lying back on her forearms, she bunches up the band and places it between the knees for corkscrew and can-can to finish.

This final segment again starts standing for standing mermaid holding the band. Still holding the band, Bowen proceeds to a chest opener and standing saw; she also performs a standing hip stretch and a plie squat with a triceps stretch. Coming down to the mat, Bowen puts the band aside to perform up dog to down dog, and then child's pose with rotation. She also does brief holds of low lunge and pigeon pose, rising from the latter into a seated pretzel stretch (using the band again in the hands). Bowen concludes the flexibility segment on her back for reclined leg stretches with the band and a lying twist.

Overall, I was disappointed in this DVD. First, I didn't think that Bowen made particularly good use of the band--for example, balling it up (i.e., instead of using it for resistance), just seemed like a total waste of time. Furthermore, Bowen gave little instruction for positioning the band in order to obtain maximum utility from it. Second, the pacing and general design of these workouts just felt off. Some exercises are only performed ONCE, while others are done for many repetitions. In addition, the holds in the flexibility segment were MUCH too brief to provide any real benefits.

I do think Bowen is a good instructor, and this is certainly a well-produced video, with nice production values. But personally, I would not recommend this DVD.

Instructor Comments:
I find Suzanne to be generally likeable--she is fairly low-key, speaking with a soft Southern accent and providing gentle encouragement. She does mirror cue and offers nice form pointers overall, but I thought she could have done a much better job of cuing how to use the band here.

Beth C (aka toaster)


I’m reviewing this workout after doing it in its entirety 3 times.

General workout breakdown: As with all 10 Minute Solution videos, this DVD contains 5 separate 10-min. sections, each with their own focus.
- Lower Body Pilates: breathing while seated, single leg circles, down & up, out & in, frog legs, side leg series (up & down, hot potato variation, inner thigh lift), donkey kicks, reverse plank into leg pull front, and bridge.
- Upper Body Pilates: shoulder circles, zip up, bug, boxing, biceps curl, triceps press back, lateral raise, arm circles with arms out to side, draw the sword, paint under the stairs (an overhead triceps extension), biceps press ups, chest press, scapular press, hug, and stretches for shoulders and chest.
- Pilates for Abs: spinal twist, hundred, half roll-down with arms angled, half roll down with twist, rolling like a ball, long spine stretch, single leg stretch, single straight leg stretch, double leg stretch, double straight leg stretch, teaser series, and cat & cow stretch.
- Total Body Pilates: standing leg lift to side and to back, row & bent arm lateral raise with leg lifted behind, thigh stretch w/ upper body twist, triceps push-ups into side plank w/ arm lift, corkscrew on forearms, and can can.
- Pilates for Flexibility: side bend, arm circles, standing saw, half standing forward bend w/ weight shift, plie with triceps stretch, sun salutation (forward bend - plank - upward-facing dog - downward-facing dog - child’s pose with stretch to each side), low lunge -pigeon - pretzel / mermaid side bend, roll down into reclining leg stretches, and reclining spinal twist w/ legs bent.
As you might expect from a Pilates workout, the emphasis is on quality over quantity. In other words, Suzanne never does more than 4-8 reps. There’s not a lot of down time between exercises. The pace is fairly quick but never rushed.

Level: I’d recommend this to exercisers with some experience, flexibility, and strength under their belt plus a good working knowledge of Pilates. Suzanne provides some form instruction and tips and a few modifications, but these won’t be enough if you’ve never done Pilates before. This is probably best suited for those practicing Pilates at the low to mid-intermediate level, although the use of a band with a little less resistance would make this approachable for beginner / intermediates while a band of more resistance would bump this up to high intermediate.

Class: Suzanne alone, who instructs live.

Music: instrumental music. It’s pleasant but nothing special.

Set: bright interior space with wood floor and exercise equipment and other accessories along back wall.

Production: super crisp picture, clear sound. The instructor’s voice is louder than the music. The camera angles are helpful rather than distracting.

Equipment: mat (or equivalent, if needed) and a 6’ resistance band (one comes with new DVDs; you’ll want to choose one of an appropriate resistance for your level). You may want a chair, other piece of furniture, or wall for the standing leg series in the Total Body segment.

Space Requirements: enough room to move your arms and legs around while standing and lying down.

DVD Notes: Suzanne’s introduction can be skipped. As with all of the 10 Minute Solutions, you can play all of the segments in the order they appear, choose one, or create a personalized workout by picking and choosing between the two segments.

Comments: This video would be a good option for someone who can’t or doesn’t want to use weights for whatever reason, such as travel.

The three 10 Minute Solution Pilates workouts – the original 10 Minute Solution Pilates with Lara Hudson, 10 Minute Solution Rapid Results Pilates with Lara Hudson, and this one (I don’t have the Prenatal or the stability ball Pilates ones) are different enough to justify having all three. They have the exact same format, so the difference is in type of exercises included. The original sticks primarily to traditional matwork, Rapid Results contains a number of the apparatus moves adapted to matwork, and Slim & Sculpt has more of the apparatus moves but still a good dose of traditional matwork moves with the band. I personally would find it hard to choose between the three because each has their place in my collection and is great for those time-crunched days when I just want to get in a short Pilates segment or for those days when I’m in recovery. Of the three, Rapid Results edges out the original and the Slim & Sculpt for most challenging for me.

Since this video came out about the same time as Shape Pilates Workout: Makeover Your Abs, Butt, and Thighs Fast!, which also uses a resistance band to mimic reformer and cadillac exercises and to punch up traditional matwork moves, I’ll post some thoughts comparing the two workouts. The major difference between the two is structure: the Shape has the 30 min. workout that incorporates lower body, abs, and some upper body plus the 10 min. segment for upper body, while the 10 Min. Solution has 10 min. segments for lower body, upper body, abs, total body, and stretch. Interestingly, the instructors sometimes use the band differently, even for the same exercises; for example, Lizbeth of the Shape Pilates workout has you wrap the band around your curved upper body for rolling like a ball while Suzanne has you ball it up and stick it between your feet as you roll. The Shape has more of a fluid, dance-like feel to it, while the 10 Min. Solution feels like a series of exercises performed one after another. The 10 Min. Solution uses Pilates exercises for the upper body instead of the gym-style or more athletic exercises in the Shape bonus; that said, the 10 Min. Solution total body segment seemed more gym- than Pilates-inspired, and its stretch portion is yoga-inspired. The Shape devotes slightly more time to the lower body, and that leg series can be rather grueling by the time you get to the end of the line for the one leg, but it doesn’t include the nice final stretch that the 10 Min. Solution does. Suzanne is more talkative than Lizbeth, but neither start babbling inanely or saying ridiculous things. I wouldn’t be surprised if people who have both find themselves pretty much evenly split between those who like one vs. those who like the other. I personally prefer the 10 Min. Solution because I like the flexibility of the DVD, with its ability to program the number and order of segments; the organization into neatly divided segments; and the fact that it’s evenly divided between body parts and includes a final stretch to boot.

Instructor Comments:
Suzanne has a pleasant, low key personality. Even though she’s young she comes off as knowledgeable and comfortable in front of the camera, constantly appealing to the viewer by looking into the camera, as if she’s right there to check to make sure you’re with her. She focuses both on cueing, with a good amount of form instruction and tips as well as mirror cueing, and on encouraging, with a focus on results and appearance (especially the back of the arms, because “who doesn’t want to work that?”). She points out some of the moves adapted from the reformer or cadillac, and she encourages you to grab lower on the band to keep challenging yourself – two touches I like.