Breakthru Core Conditioning Pilates (aka Breakthru Hard-Core Conditioning)

Tracy York, Michelle Dozois
Year Released: 2001

Categories: Pilates/Core Strength

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Please note that I wrote this review about 5 years ago; I've copied and pasted it as originally written. At the time of the review I had done this a few times, but it had been a bit since the last run through.

General workout breakdown: This workout has about 30 minutes of Pilates and Pilates-inspired moves followed by almost 10 minutes of stretching and other non-intense moves for a total of just under 40 minutes. The emphasis is primarily on abs with minimal upper and lower body work; there is a decent amount of work for the back. Michelle and Tracy go through two or even three modifications for many of the moves, sometimes increasing the difficulty and sometimes decreasing it.

Workout Level: Iíd recommend this for a strong and experienced high beginner to a mid-intermediate Pilates practitioner. I donít this video would make a good introduction to Pilates, because Michelle and Tracy do not offer enough tips on form and technique for someone whoís never done any of the moves before. At the same time, they do spend time setting up moves, which would bore more experienced Pilates exercisers. When I had this video, I considered myself an experienced beginner: I had taken a semester-long class on Pilates and had been doing a little work at home, but my strength and flexibility needed a lot of work. I found this video almost overwhelming at that point. Now that Iím in the low intermediate stages and have videos with similar moves, I think that I would now find it suitably challenging.

Class: Michelle and Tracy both perform the entire routine, with one offering modifications on a number of moves.

Music / Set / Production Notes: The jazzy instrumental music which gives way to some light choral-type music is barely audible. Also barely audible is the microphone when Michelle or Tracy move their heads away from it to complete a move or are on their stomach. In other words, the production values of this workout are OK but not great. The interior set has a blue screen on one side, a painted wall on the other with window boxes, and gray carpets. Itís nothing to write home about, but itís pleasant enough.

Equipment Needed: mat and towel (or yoga strap or something of that sort). Tracy and Michelle perform this barefoot.

Comments: You do not need much space for this workout. You should be able to lie down with your arms and legs extended, and you should have enough space to either side to move your legs freely.
Although this features Pilates exercises, it is not in the traditional Pilates order and does not include all of the Pilates ďclassics,Ē such as the 100. I would recommend it to intermediate practitioners who want something a little different.

DVD Notes: The DVD lets you choose chapters (covering segments rather than individual movements); this allows you to skip the intro.

Conclusion: Besides having trouble hearing portions of the instruction, my biggest problem with this workout was the slow pace. Michelle and Tracy donít rush through explaining technique or stretching out to get to the next exercise. That means this is a good workout for days when you want to take it easy and challenge yourself with smaller movements and fewer repetitions. Or it might be good for intermediate exercisers with fairly strong abs and good flexibility who want to add something different to their abs routines. The length makes it difficult to use as an add-on, which is how I like to use my Pilates videos.
Of the three Breakthru Pilates programs, this is the most focused on Pilates and the least exciting in terms of overall flow as well as production values. Iíve kept the other two BPs, but I traded this one away. I hemmed and hawed about that, because it's a good workout and I like Michelle and Tracy a lot. In the end I realized that I needed to clear something out for some other Pilates videos that I enjoy more.

Instructor Comments:
Michelle and Tracy obviously have good rapport and are serious about Pilates. They alternate leading segments, and, since only one has the mike at any given time, there is no side chatter. I think Michelle is good with imagery while Tracy is good at describing form in non-imagery terms. Michelle is more graceful while Tracy is more athletic. Both sides of the body are worked evenly, and the two instructors intend for you to mirror their movements.



Indoor studio, no music that I remember, no problem with clothing. No background exercisers.

Michelle Dozois does the first 17 min. It includes crossover, rollover but she adds little bits of the whole move and then does the whole move.

Tracy York does the next 16 min. Does a variety of planks and a variation of the spine stretch forward. Hers is a more active segment.

I am not sure why one of them doesn't always continue doing a modified version of the move instead of mirroring each other. Also, because of the attempt to gradually add segments to the final move, I had to keep stopping to strain and turn around to look (especially during the plank sessions.)

Beginners to pilates can learn some modifications possible before attempting to do complete moves with other videos.
Negative is that they don't do a good job of telling you what the move is they are doing so you can really learn about pilates or continue to do the modifications.

Total wo time: 38 min mat wo which incl 5 min cooldown which has at least 2 downward dogs.

Beginner to pilates only. I think there are probably better videos than this one though.
No advantage that I can see to dvd which I have as opposed to cheaper vhs.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Instructor Comments:
Instructors end up stumbling on words and quite a few "uh"s and um's."
I don't particularly care for Tracy York usually but her loud hyperness is not present here.

Linda (aka fanofladyvols)


I'm surprised there's not more reviews of this tape. This is a great workout for only $9.99. I thought about purchasing the tape for awhile and then got a smokin' deal on the exchange and I'm so glad I did! The workout is about 40 minutes total. It's high beginner to intermediate level. I wouldn't recommend it for someone brand new to Pilates, because they didn't explain the breathing patterns well (except Michelle did give a good example of how it should feel to exhale- like a seat belt tightening all around your core, and to expel all the air out). I would say I'm a low intermediate, I took a series of classes last year, so I know the techniques but let my Pilates practice go for awhile. What I love about this tape is they dont do the advanced moves, like jacknife or roll-overs--- I have other tapes that demonstrate those exercises but I do not have the core strength or flexibility to attempt them at this time. With the other tapes, I end up fast-forwarding through those sections and get a guilty feeling, like why can't I do these moves (silly, but I am very competitive!) It's nice to have two instructors so one does the move (example: one-leg teaser) and the other can show the advanced way (regular teaser). They switch between the abs and back alot, which I feel is important to get a balanced workout. The music is quiet, new-agey. I think I am going to enjoy this tape and grow with it.

Instructor Comments:
Both are friendly and explain the moves well.

Sally Reese


What a pleasant workout! There's something very appealing about this tape -- everything from the personality of the instructors, to the soft "new-agey" music, to the exercises themselves. It's a 40-minute Pilates-type workout. Michelle teaches the first part, and Tracy the second. You do a lot of different exercises that work your abs, core, and back. It's seldom that I have the patience to do 40 minutes of this type of exercise (20 or 30 is usually my limit), but this one goes by so fast that you don't even realize how much time has gone by. They do several different exercises, but they don't do a horrendous number of repetitions. You do something, and then you move on. It gets increasingly challenging toward the end. After I do this tape, I stand taller and feel more graceful, and I really enjoy it. Grade A+.

Annie S.