Breakthru Pilates PlusTracy York, Michelle Dozois
Year Released: 2002
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 it several times since acquiring it a year earlier. I kept it for a little while longer but eventually passed it on, as I prefer to keep my weights and Pilates sessions separate plus just don't do ballet workouts any more.
General workout breakdown: The video has four distinct segments: the warm-up, the Pilates matwork, the ballet segment, and the yoga segment. Michelle and Tracy recommend doing portions of this video if you donít have time to do all four at once, although Iíve done all every time Iíve done this video. (I then add on some upper body work, such as segments from Jennifer Kriesí Precision Pilates or Lara Hudsonís 10 Minute Solution Pilates, to make this a total body workout in about an hour.)
The workout begins with about 8 minutes of movement, stretching, and modified sun salutations. You then move to the floor for about 18 minutes of Pilates-inspired floorwork. Next you stand for about 12 minutes of ballet ďbarreĒ moves. Finally there are about 8 minutes of yoga moves. The workout takes about 45 minutes to complete.
This workout focuses on the abs and lower body with minimal upper body work.
Workout Level: Iíd recommend this to a low to mid-intermediate exerciser due to the importance of proper form in getting the most out of each exercise. Someone with experience in Pilates, ballet, and yoga but who considers themselves a beginner may find this challenging at first but should be able to work up to it easily. Someone more advanced probably wonít find this challenging enough. Familiarity with Pilates principles is helpful, as Michelle and Tracy do not offer enough explanation of technique for this to be an instructional Pilates video. On the other hand, I think someone with limited ballet experience and even limited yoga experience could find this workout approachable.
Class: Michelle and Tracy each perform every move, with one sometimes offering modifications.
Music / Set / Production Notes: The instrumental music changes with each section; for example, it is ďtribalĒ during the yoga segment. The home-like interior set is brightly lit, with hardwood floors and large but dark frosted glass windows at the back and some plants in containers. Overall the production values appear good to me.
Equipment Needed: mat for Pilates segment, chair for ballet segment (which you should be able to hold onto comfortably while standing). Tracy and Michelle recommend socks for the ballet portion if youíre on carpet; otherwise the workout is done barefoot. (Last time I put on my Bloch split sole sneakers, and they worked well.)
Comments: You do not need a lot of space for this workout. You should be able to lie down with both your arms and legs extended; when youíre standing, if you can kick forward and back or take two steps to each side without running into anything, youíll have enough space.
The Pilates segment does not represent the traditional order of exercises. I believe Michelle and Tracy alter some moves or even devise exercises of their own. Donít be afraid if you havenít ever done ballet or yoga, though. The ballet segment is basic standing barre work (plies, tendus, degages, etc.). Since I had years of ballet and have done the NYC Ballet Workouts off and on over the past couple of years, I can perform the exercises without the aid of the chair, which is used for balance. However, those who need the extra stabilization should use the chair, and youíll need it to do some stretches at the end. The yoga portion uses some combinations and poses I havenít seen before; again, I think Michelle and Tracy do their own take on yoga. That portion should not intimidate people who steer clear of yoga for whatever reason: Tracy doesnít use any names for moves or make any statements that would make you uncomfortable.
DVD Notes: The DVD lets you choose chapters (which cover segments rather than individual exercises); I use this to skip the Breakthru Pilates intro and the workout intro, but you could use it to do just the yoga segment, for example.
Conclusion: Iím keeping this one for now. I recently pulled it out with my New York City Ballets for a good ďitís too hot to do CatheĒ week. The ballet portion is so simple and straightforward that itís the main reason I keep the workout.
I have to skip over the triceps push-ups segments due to a childhood elbow injury that prevents me from doing that move comfortably; however, I seem to be about the only one with this problem.
Of the three Breakthru Pilates programs, this is the only one with ballet and yoga portions. It was the second one done, so the overall production is significantly better than the first (Core Conditioning).
FYI, similar workouts combining Pilates, yoga, and ballet include Denise Austinís Power Zone (Mind Body Soul) and Jennifer Kriesí Precision Pilates.
Michelle and Tracy obviously have a good rapport; they do swap comments from time to time, usually sticking to the workout (e.g. ďOh, I feel it now!Ē type of asides). They are both serious about Pilates and fitness in general. They alternate leading segments. I think Michelle is good with imagery, and 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.
Breakthru Pilates Plus is a wonderful mix of several different exercise methods, with Pilates being only part of the workout. The entire video is about 46 minutes long, and it's broken up into four sections as follows:
Section 1: Michelle Dozios leads this stretching segment, which consists mainly of yoga-type stretches, including some sun salutation variations. About 8 minutes.
Section 2: Tracy York begins this segment, which focuses on Pilates. The exercises performed here clearly are rooted in Pilates, yet they are modified from traditional Pilates matwork. Some of moves are deceptively simple (e.g., leaning back to engage your abs and then punching to each side), but I could really feel the work in my abdominal area. Following the lying abs work, you roll onto your side for some additional unique abs moves as well as Pilates side kick type moves. A really challenging series containing plank moves combined with push-ups comes next; you will also do "decellerated push-ups," a slower moving tricep pushup. Michelle takes over to repeat the exercises on the other side as well as to do a second pushup series. At 17 minutes, this is the longest section of the workout.
Section 3: This is the ballet-inspired section led by Michelle. Using a chair for ballance, you will do simple plies, leg raises, and leg kicks, first on one side and then repeating on the other side. These exercises were definitely tougher than they looked, and I found it difficult to emulate Michelle and Tracy's perfect form. This section lasted about 12 minutes.
Section 4: This was the yoga segment, and it consisted of about 8 minutes of standing yoga poses, including warrior, side angle, chair, and standing forward bends. Tracy leds this section, and she provides good instructions on alignment. The workout ends rather abruptly with a very brief stretch at the end of this segment.
I really enjoyed this workout; the wide variety combined with the segmented format to hold my interest, and because of this, I know that I won't easily tire of this video. This is a perfect workout for intermediate exercises like myself who enjoy doing a wide variety of methods in a relatively short period of time.
Michelle and Tracy were both good instructors who provided good cuing. They occasionally chatted back and forth, but not to the point of being annoying or disrupting the flow of the routine.
The previous review covers the details so I will just share my review with you. I am not a stone cold beginner to exercise but I am coming back after a long hiatus. I always enjoy a video with a lot of variety and innovation, as opposed to repetitive, boring same-old-workout from the 80's videos. Pilates Plus is a HARD and fun video because it's so unique. I was dripping with sweat at the end of this, especially after the Pilates section. All those negative pushups really wore me out as well as those sideways leg-lifting pike moves. I wish there had been more emphasis on the Pilates stance, which focuses on keeping the thighs and calves pressed together. The ballet section was the most fun because I like to imagine myself at the barre instead of in my living room. I felt the yoga section was a little lacking in thorough explanation, especially breathing cues, which are important in yoga; however I don't really fault them for it as this tape covers a lot of ground in 50 minutes. I recommend this tape to someone who is familiar with the basics of Pilates and yoga. It's a fun and challenging change to mix three workout styles.
These ladies obviously have spent a long time exercising together and making videos because they coordinate very well together. Their chatty style reminds me of two ladies in the gym just having fun. The cueing is excellent and I really liked the detailed instructions. Of course Michelle and Tracy are highly experienced in all the exercises presented here.
I almost didn't buy this video because based on the title, I thought it would be exactly like Breakthru Core Conditioning Pilates, with a few extra pilates moves thrown in. Actually, it's quite different--and deserves a title that would differentiate it from their earlier Pilates tape. It uses yoga, pilates and ballet to build strength and tone muscles.
The workout takes place in a very large living-room type space--what a living room might look like if it were really an exercise area. The exercise space is clear and open, but living room-type furniture and decorations line the walls and background. It's an attractive and pleasant space--different from the plain space of Breakthru Pilates.
Michele leads the warm-up, which consists of some yoga-ish moves, interspersed with ballet/modern dance-type movies, followed by more intensive yoga sun salutations series. One thing that bothers me a little bit in this yoga segment and in the final yoga segment is that they don't really refer to any of the positions by their names--downward dog becomes "inverted V" here.
Tracy then takes over to begin the pilates sequence. This is more advanced than the sequence in Breakthru Pilates and also offers some interesting, innovative moves that I haven't seen before in my other pilates tapes. You already need a fair amount of core strength to be able to do these exercises. The sequence is broken up with planks and a challenging series of push-ups.
They then move to standing floorwork and a ballet sequence, led by Michelle. There are plies, releves, tendus, grand battements, and something else whose name I can't remember (and I apologize for the spelling too!). As with the pilates sequence, the exercises move quickly and flow well.
Tracy concludes the tape with a more challenging standing yoga sequence that stretches the upper body while really working the legs (you stay in warrior lunge for quite awhile).
The one thing I would have liked is a couple of minutes of stretching at the end; the upper body gets a good stretch during the yoga sequence, but I found that my lower body needed more of a stretch after the ballet and yoga sections.
I really like this video a lot. If you're new to Pilates, you'd probably want to start with a different video; Breakthru Pilates offers better instruction in terms of form and also builds the core strength that's needed for some of these exercises. And if you're looking for a pilates video, this isn't the one, as only a few minutes are really spent on more or less traditional pilates exercises. But this tape does a good job of taking the core work in Breakthru Pilates to the next level and offering an interesting, fun sequence of strength training exercises drawn from yoga, ballet and pilates.
Michelle and Tracy work so well together. They alternate teaching different sections; the one who is not in charge of that particular section shows modifications and offers extra tips or form pointers. They're pleasant and professional.