Fusion Pilates Triple Threat

Jennifer Gianni
Year Released: 2005

Categories: Pilates/Core Strength

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Fusion Pilates Triple Threat is a 55-minute workout incorporating low impact cardio, light pilates-style toning and balance work. The instructor, Jennifer Gianni, does the entire workout barefoot, including the cardio. I did the same and had no problems. The only equipment needed is a play ball (I substituted a light medicine ball), plus a mat for floor work.

Jennifer Gianni was previously known as Jennifer Peluso, and appeared in The Firm's 1998 Tri-Trainer Better Body & Buns. In that workout her presentation was roundly criticized ("come hither" looks and posturing, voice too breathy/sexy) as was her appearance (too "waifish" compared to other Firm instructors). I know I wasn't the only one who hated her outfit, which too closely resembled a bathing suit -- with her upswept hairdo she looked like a beauty contestant who got lost on the way to the swimsuit competition. I am happy to report that in Triple Threat she is much improved. Jennifer is still petite (of course) and soft-spoken, but the sex kitten mannerisms are gone and she wears a sensible (but pretty) outfit with a simple hairstyle.

I like the set a lot. Jennifer teaches solo in a softly-lit room corner with plants and tall windows that look out over more greenery. It was like being up in a tree house. The music was good if not memorable, with a strong percussive beat that kept it from being too bland.

There a separate 12-minute intro section where Jennifer covers basic pilates principles. Those who have done pilates before will find this familiar, but it is worth watching at least once as Jennifer uses some slightly different terminology and imagery. The chapter menu on the DVD allows you to skip the intro, and the main workout is segmented so you can easily skip or repeat different sections.

In the workout Jennifer uses a play ball about a foot in diameter. I chose to substitute a two-pound medicine ball, which was just perfect for adding a bit of intensity. I consider myself an intermediate exerciser. More advanced exercisers might want to try a heavier ball. However, note that Jennifer herself does not mention using weighted balls as an option.

A brief warm-up featuring side steps and knee repeaters is followed by an active stretch into which Jennifer incorporates several balance moves (such as dancer's pose). She then picks up the ball for the cardio section. The cardio is completely low impact, using simple combinations done at a deliberate pace, but it still raised my heart rate. For the lower body there are lots of kick moves, knee-ups, lateral side steps and side lunges. For the upper body Jennifer uses the ball in a lot of circular, diagonal and twisting moves, which adds a functional fitness aspect to the workout. A few of the moves involve standing ab work. Everything was well cued and easy to follow.

From the cardio section Jennifer transitions into more balance challenges (e.g. standing on one leg while holding the ball overhead and squeezing), followed by a set of back lunges (dips).

We then move to the floor. Most of the moves here are familiar: push-ups, front leg pull (an inset picture shows a beginner modification), pilates side series. However, the abs were a bit different -- after side planks and mermaids, Jennifer uses the ball for roll-ups, then does crunches and leg lowers incorporating a frog position (feet together, knees apart). A thorough stretch completes the workout.

Triple Threat would work for almost any fitness level. Beginners can use an unweighted play ball as Jennifer does, while more intermediate ones might substitute a light medicine ball. Intensity junkies and choreography fans won't be challenged, but they might still appreciate Triple Threat as a "light day" alternative, especially if they want to work on balance. While doing Triple Threat I found myself thinking what a nice choice this will be for a workout on a hot summer day, since it is done barefoot, has the refreshing "tree house" setting, and is not ultra-intense.

Jennifer's other Fusion Pilates workouts are designed for pregnant and post-pregnancy exercisers, and I haven't seen them (no need, LOL!). I hope Jennifer will make more non-pregnancy workouts.

Instructor Comments:
Jennifer Gianni previously appeared in The Firm's 1998 Better Body & Buns as Jennifer Peluso. At that time her appearance and presentation were roundly criticized (see the VF reviews). However, she is much improved since that video and I found her a very pleasant, professional instructor.