Crunch Fat Burning Pilates

Ellen Barrett
Year Released: 2003

Categories: Pilates/Core Strength

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This is one of the Crunch pilates fusion workouts featuring Ellen Barrett, before she started her own Studio series. Having done most of the Studio workouts and very few of her Crunch workouts, I was expecting this to be generally less refined and less intense than her Studio workouts. Iím psyched to say however, that not only is this intense, it was a lot of fun! It was classic Ellen but with a more athletic (and less mind-body connection) feel. This would be a great workout for those who canít quite digest Ellenís ďheart centersĒ and ďfemale physiqueĒ talk. She is more down to business in Fat Burning Pilates, but still seamlessly combines cardio with standing pilates. This video is most like her Studio Fat Burning Fusion, more traditional/athletic but overall comparable in intensity. The workout has about 25 minutes of standing cardio/pilates work and 15 minutes of traditional floor pilates for an overall 40 minute workout. I was really impressed with the music, which was not only live, but included some catchy tunes which I recognized from different BSS Firm videos. Ellen leads with several 20-something female background exercisers, one of which demonstrates beginner modifications.

Standing work included three kinds of knee crunches (to the front, all the way on the side-these were the hardest, and along the diagonal like you see in many workouts). There was standing mermaid, plie squats (several of these-no surprise for an Ellen workout!), plenty of side to side leg and arm reaches, lots of ďelegant armsĒ during leg toning work, and as a breather between moves, step touching with arms out to the front. The floor work included some great Pilates abs (single and double leg stretch, out and in, single and double leg circles, then some spinal erector work, then a brief stretch).

I was surprised how much I was sweating and working hard. Granted I used this as a recovery workout but I wasnít expecting it to be so intense! Collage rates this as Intermediate and I would agree with that Ė I think this is just as intense as a Studio workout. That is, you will feel like you worked, your body will feel stretched and toned, but it wonít kill you. Great for a light day, recovery day, or vacation day for an intermediate or advanced exerciser and would be pretty intense (but doable) for a beginner. Highly recommended and Grade A!

Instructor Comments:
Ellen is very enjoyable. She isnít quite as mystical as she is in her later Studio workouts, which doesnít make a difference to me but some might appreciate that. She gives very clear cuing and she mirror cues.

Emily B.


NOTE: Review applies to cardio portion only.

Pleasant, uncomplicated, get-my-blood-moving workout. It's controlled, ballet- and Pilates-inspired cardio with lots of plies and lengthening moves.
I really enjoy this as an early morning routine. I feel energized and mildly worked out afterword, never spent.

Instructor Comments:
Sweet on-camera persona. Very likeable. My only wish is for more form pointers. She talks a lot about Pilates posture without providing many details.



Now this is what I'm talking about! Pilates and aerobics combined. These two elements are what make up Crunch Fat Burning Pilates. The concept may sound a bit strange, but Ellen Barrett pulls it off and really makes this workout work.

I've never really been a big pilates fan. Heck I think I've tried almost every pilates tape out there because I want to like it. I need the core benefits and I also want that long, lean look that others claim come with a consistant pilates practice. I just have not been able to find anything that has clicked with me -until now.

This workout consists of low impact aerobics that use pilates/ballet inspired moves that are basic and easy to follow. I got almost all the moves on my first try and I'm a complete choreography clutz! I could not believe that I was able to do plie squats, releves, back leg extensions, and knee lifts so gracefully. I also managed to work up a pretty good sweat.

While doing the moves, Ellen gives you plenty of visuals, similar to visuals explained in many traditional pilates mat workouts. These visuals really helped me with the aerobic moves and forced me to concentrate even more on what I was doing, increasing the aerobic and pilates toning benefits even more.

After the 25 minute aerobic section, you move on to a brief, 10 minute pilates matwork section that will work your abs and lower back. The workout ends with a very relaxing stretch.

Besides looking for a good pilates workout, I'm also now in the market for more good low impact aerobic workouts. I also just wanted something different from the norm and this is it! It is not what I call a major sweatfeast(I'm an advanced exerciser) but after I finished, I not only felt like I worked out cardiovascularly, but I felt completely stretched, lengthened and releaxed. This one is a definate keeper.

Instructor Comments:
Crunch has found a real fitness star. Ellen has a style of instruction that is down-to-earth, clear, and very motivating. She makes you believe that you can do pilates and be graceful doing the moves.

I love the creativity of this workout and very much look foward to Ellen doing more workouts like this.



I was looking for low-impact cardio, no more than 30 minutes, to provide some variety in my mornings, and my review is only about the cardio section. Unfortunately, this is not the workout for me. Probably my biggest issue is that it is a Crunch video. This did not manifest as whooping, and I did like the music/drummer, but I had a hard time getting past the background exercisers. It is not just the unflatteringly low pants, but also their lack of good Pilates form, while Ellen is stressing the importance of good posture and a strong powerhouse. Which brings me to my next nit to pick. Although Ellen does tell us to use good Pilates form, she doesn't really elaborate what this means during the cardio portion (maybe she does in the mat-work section, I didn't get that far). This leaves the cardio a little bit neither fish nor fowl (not very intense, but not very much of a workout for the core either). WWWendy predicted in her preview at the forum that this would be a workout that people either loved or hated. I think she is right, and there certainly seem to be many people who enjoy this as a fusion workout with a little spin on the usual Pilates approach. I feel lucky that I was able to rent this and discover that I should save my money for some other workout.

mel VF


This is a new brand of Pilates exercise, definitely not traditional at all. And, I was prepared to NOT like it. There are few Crunch workouts Iíve stuck with. This one, however, I will keep for now.

This workout is about 35 minutes and is divided into two sections: a standing aerobics session with Pilates-inspired moves followed by a session on the floor with more traditional Pilates moves, although some of them are not the standard moves. It is not high impact at all, takes little floor space, and requires no equipment (unless you want a mat for the floorwork). For the floorwork, they have a modifier that shows beginner moves. They donít always show her right at the beginning of the move, but they do show her for most moves. The DVD is around nine chapters with several moves in each chapter. I canít say I even noticed the music. It had some, but I can't describe it.

Usually, the Crunch background exercisers really irritate me because they are soooo young and soooo trendy. Donít know why it irritates me, it just does. In this workout, they were still young and trendy, but it didnít register as much. Additionally, Ellen Barrett makes me feel really elegant and calm through this one.

At the beginning of the workout, I was thinking I wouldnít keep this workout; I was barely on the negative side. Then, it just sort of sucked me in and I enjoyed it throughout the latter 2/3 of it. Some people will not feel worked out enough; and I can understand that. For me, it will be a good light-day work out when I also want the abs workout of the floorwork.

Instructor Comments:
Ellen gives good form pointers. More than that in this workout, I like her calm encouragement. I feel graceful as I do this workout. Coming from the Klutz Queen, this is a HIGH compliment.

Laura S.


Fat-Burning Pilates consists of two separate routines: a 26-minute cardiovascular workout (the "fat-burning" part) followed by 14-minutes of matwork (the "Pilates" part). The cardio section is Pilates-inspired in that instructor Ellen Barrett frequently reminds you to keep your abdominal core area tight, and she also adapts a few traditional Pilates floor exercises to be performed in a standing position. Overall, however, this segment consists of standard, low-impact aerobics moves such as squats, knee lifts, step-touch, and also some ballet-inspired exercises. Although this part of the workout is fast-paced enough to raise your heart rate, given the extended warm-up period (7 minutes) as well the low-intensity nature of the movements, advanced beginner to intermediate exercisers will probably find this to be a light aerobic workout at best. The cardio section concludes with two short sets of Pilates-style pushups.
Following the cardio workout, you move to the floor for more traditional Pilates matwork. Ellen begins with The Hundred and continues with moves from the classic Pilates stomach series. However, she also adds her own twists to many of the Pilates exercises as well as suggests easier modifications. Most of this section is performed while lying on your back, but there are a few exercises done from stomach down, kneeling, and seated positions (none of the Pilates side kick series exercises are included). This entire section went by very quickly, and at the same time, my core felt challenged by only a few of the movements.

The workout is performed on the standard Crunch set with a room full of about 10 participants. In addition to the background music, there is a live drummer on set; some other reviewers didn't like the drummer, but I found him to be an interesting, non-distracting element. Overall, this is a nice workout for those who enjoy blended routines and who are looking for some fresh twists on the traditional Pilates exercises.

Instructor Comments:
Ellen is a likeable, friendly instructor who provides good form pointers, but she frequently fails to adequately cue new movements, which makes it initially difficult to learn some of the moves.

Beth C (aka toaster)


Crunch videos are very much hit-or-miss with me and I wasn't sure what to expect, but I ended up really liking it. The workout is about 40 minutes long: 20 minutes of standing cardio and toning followed by 15 minutes of matwork. Ravi, the drummer from such videos as Fat Blaster: The Next Step and Yoga Booty Ballet, is back. In the cardio section there are lots of plies and side lunges, so those with knee issues should beware. On preview, it looked like keeping my heart rate up would be a problem but that wasn't the case at all (I normally do intermediate level kickboxing and step for cardio). Even though it's a very low-impact workout, the big arm movements keep things brisk. Though the movements are not complicated or bouncy, Ellen reminds us constantly to focus on lifting and controlling the core. I found that by really focusing I definitely felt it in my midsection, inner thighs, and glutes.
The standing section is followed by 2 sets of Pilates pushups and the intermediate/advanced matwork. The matwork sequence consists of The Hundred, Open & Close, Single Straight Leg, Double Straight Leg, Leg Circles, Crisscross, Flight, Little Piece of Heaven, Arrowhead, Hip Circles, Reclining Twist, and Reverse Planks. Not for Pilates beginners, but modifications are shown.
I'm not sure how much true "fat burning" anyone will get out of this, but for days when there isn't time for both a full cardio and a toning workout this fits the bill nicely.
A word about the outfits: Maybe so many bare bellies are supposed to remind us subconsciously to focus on our cores, but I found it off-putting and frankly unflattering.

Instructor Comments:
It took me a viewing or two to warm up to Ellen; at first she seemed a bit too chirpy but I think it's just her voice. She cues very well and appears to really know her stuff.

Kate Hedstrom


I know that some people were disappointed in this video, but I didn't feel that at all. I think it is great. The music is really energizing, with a live bongo drummer who is super cute!

The workout is 40 minutes long. the cardio part is about 25 minutes and the mat workout is about 15. It starts with a warmup, and then quickly moves into "standing cardio pilates work." Meaning, fast moving squats, plies, and "jack squats." It may sound bad but it's not. You are constantly reminded to watch your form, for instance, during the jack squats when you come back to standing up straight with legs together, Ellen tells you to be sure to squeeze your legs together in pilates stance and squeeze your buns. It's just for a split second, but it really makes the difference in how the move feels. There is also upper body work, maybe not really tough if you are an experienced exerciser, but at least your arms get moving. You do angel arms and elegant arms which are isotonic. There are also rolldown pushups later in the workout which work the arms.

The mat workout is very effective. There is a move for the obliques which really kills me, but it is so great! A little more than half the workout concentrates on Abs, and the rest is buns and thighs. The tape ends with some stretching.

This is a great workout. It's best for experienced beginners, if that makes sense. You know, new to exercise, but you've had some experience with both cardio and pilates. I wouldn't pick this as your first tape ever!

I'd give it 4 out of 5.

Instructor Comments:
Ellen has a very friendly personality without being annoying. Her voice is nice, not too high and not too low, and she speaks clearly. She doesn't make a lot of chit chat, and she counts accurately.



Fat-burning pilates is a bit of a misnomer for this video. It consists of an aerobics routine plus some pilates matwork. Ellen Barrett utilizes some pilates stance concepts in the aerobics routine, but in the end, it's aerobics and not pilates. After that segment, Barrett gets on the mat for some actual pilates moves. She does a fairly good job of cueing, but moves too slowly to produce any "fat-burning" benefits. So, in conclusion, if you're looking for a fast-paced pilates workout, look elsewhere. If you're looking for a comprehensive pilates workout, look elsewhere. If you want a short aerobics routine with a little pilates at the end, this may do the trick.

Instructor Comments:
Ellen Barrett is ok. I find her a little too perky for my tastes, especially in the aerobics segment. I like her better in the matwork portion.

Sheila Jones


This workout got many positive reviews from others on the forum. Allow me to chime in as the sole dissenter :-)

If I had gone into this routine with no expectations, and if it had not had the word "Pilates" in the title, I might have considered this an okay is somewhat repetitious low-impact cardio workout. But this tape had been marketed as a 'standing Pilates' routine. I thought that would mean we would get standard Pilates moves, modified to be done standing up. I was intrigued by such a concept. I could not wait to see it.

And what did I get when I popped in my dvd? About half an hour of plie squats and leg lifts along with some funky arm stuff, and about 15 minutes of adequate and completely unremarkable Pilates mat work.

On the plus, Ellen seems like a nice instructor and the routine was not unsafe or poorly cued. It was just...disappointing. Which is too bad, but happens. Better luck next time.



Although I liked Ellen, I did not enjoy this video. The first 20 minutes was light cardio. It was too light for me to consider it to be fat blasting. I didn't really feel like it was pilates either. I was constantly watching the clock, something that I don't usually do. The second half of the video was mat work. I thought that there was some good exercises, but there were so few reps that I really do not think that it was effective. I think that a beginner may enjoy this video, but it is too easy for the advanced exerciser.

Instructor Comments:
This is the first video that I have done by Ellen and she did a nice job. She was very professional, gave great cueing, and there was no unnecessary chatter.



I really liked this DVD. It begins with a cardio section that includes standing pilates moves. I really liked this section because the choreography was simple and the pilates moves are effective.

The next section includes matwork. She instructs a variety of moves to work different parts of the lower body, and even includes a few push ups.

At about 40 minutes, this is a great tape for getting in a quick workout that includes light cardio and toning.

Instructor Comments:
Ellen is a terrific pilates instructor. She has a laid back approach that makes her workouts fun and educational.



I've never posted a review before, but I *instantly* liked this workout...

and that almost never happens to me. I've never posted a review before, but I just did this workout for the first time and just had to give some feedback. I found this to be a very accessible AND FUN Pilates inspired workout especially for those of us who started out with Walk Away the Pounds. The cardio segment felt familiar in that way. The mat exercises were good particularly "the arrowhead" and a reclining move where you pantomine pulling back a bow and arrow. I felt the moves, but didn't feel overly taxed or frustrated (I am an intermediate exerciser). If you are getting started with Pilates, and especially if you have done Walk Away the Pounds, I think you'll like this video. It made me sweat a bit and raised my heart rate a little. It also features a live drummer which I didn't think would work but I ultimately liked. It feels a bit dancey but only the most choreographically challenged will find it impossible. I agree that it is a beginner video, but I think intermediate exercisers will also enjoy it.

BTW - I also posted this on Collage. I don't know why this particular workout struck me so much, but I think it is one of those "I'll look forward to doing this one".


Instructor Comments:
Clear and easy to understand. Not too talky (which I like).