Living Arts Pilates - Intermediate Mat Workout

Ana Caban
Year Released: 2001

Categories: Pilates/Core Strength

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I am late to this party, but given this dvd is still commercially available and also streaming on, I do believe it remains relevant. There are some excellent reviews here already and I'd like to echo the firm belief that in-person instruction in pilates is truly the best way to learn the principles. That said, dvds are a fantastic way to refine/advance practice. I also find that learning from more than one instructor to be very beneficial. Sometimes it just takes the "right" way of describing a move to finally make it "click".

I consider myself to be at an early intermediate stage and was looking for something to bridge from Ana Caban's excellent beginning mat workout and the equally excellent (but unfortunately out of print), Pilates for Dummies with Michelle Dozois. If you are fortunate enough to find the latter and have mastered that workout (which is most certainly not for dummies), I think you will find that a lot of intermediate moves have been introduced already--making it an excellent bridge for this intermediate mat workout. Conversely, the Pilates for Dummies tape includes a bonus intermediate workout that actually introduces quite a few advanced moves that I felt unready to tackle. I do believe that time spent with this Ana Caban intermediate workout will provide a bridge to that workout as well as other higher intermediate pilates workouts.

Joseph Pilates had an established set and order of movements that advance with increasing difficulty. Most of the classically trained instructors will keep their routines pretty close to that classical outline, but sometimes modify a bit, depending on the focus of the program. The moves here are as follow: Controlled sit down to floor, the 100, the Roll up, Leg circles, Rolling like a ball, Single leg stretch, Double leg stretch, Single straight leg stretch, Double straight leg stretch, Criss Cross, Spine Stretch Forward, Open-leg rocker, Corkscrew, the Saw, Neck rolls, Single leg kicks, Double leg kicks, Spine twists, Side-kicks (including scissors), Teaser, Swimming, Leg pulldown, the Seal, Pilates Pushups. The workout is 30 minutes in duration and features Caban in the forefront demonstrating with student, Tara, in the background who frequently demonstrates some modifications.

As to the pros and cons of this workout video, the "good" is the quality of the workout and instruction. The "bad" is undoubtedly the interjected and sometimes shaky hand camera effects (often in black and white, presumably for "emphasis") that badly distract from an otherwise fairly high quality, if dated, production. Since I don't watch the video constantly while trying to follow the moves myself, this is not a deal-breaker. I do wish that Caban and Gaiam would re-edit this work-out for re-release, excluding some of that or perhaps it is time to release a new intermediate mat workout. I like the fact that it is in the studio and that Caban does the workout alongside her student, Tara. Eventually, I will feel that I've sufficiently mastered the moves to enjoy following a workout with more scenic locales, but I'm not there yet. In terms of length, 30 minutes is the "sweet" spot for a home pilates workout for me--assuming it is not interrupted with a lot of pauses and this one is not. Despite the instructional nature of this tape, I do think it "flows" reasonably well and did not find it lagged at any point.

Instructor Comments:
Ana Caban has a pleasant demeanor and is sufficiently motivating with clear instructions. Her form is impeccable, yet she has not forgotten the aspects of moves that may be quite challenging to those less accomplished. This is not a beginner's work-out, however and while she will provide form reminders, it is expected that the viewer will have mastered the initial beginning pilates concepts and moves.



Iím reviewing this workout after doing it several times over the year or so that Iíve had this DVD.

General workout breakdown: This Pilates routine lasts about 30 minutes (skipping the intro). It contains the controlled sit down, the 100, roll up, single leg circle, rolling like a ball, single leg stretch, double leg stretch, single straight leg stretch, double straight leg stretch, criss cross, spine stretch forward, open leg rocker, corkscrew, saw, neck rolls, single leg kick, double leg kick, spine twist, side kick series (front & back, up & down, little circles, lifting & lowering both legs together, lifting & lowering bottom leg while top leg held, big scissorsóboth slow and fast), teaser, swimming, leg pull down, seal, and push ups.
Ana does take a little time to set up and explain each exercise, but I never felt that she took excessively long breaks. The exercises are done at an appropriate pace and with a decent number of repetitions.

Level: Iíd recommend this to anyone looking to cross over into the intermediate level through someone practicing at a solidly intermediate level of Pilates. True beginners need to look elsewhere because Ana doesnít include much instruction for breathing. I consider myself a low intermediate at Pilates (about 2 years of experience but still limited strength & flexibility), and I find this suitably challenging.

Class: Ana, with Tara providing modifications (more for limitations of strength than flexibility).

Music: upbeat synthesizer stuff. Itís not too obnoxious.

Set: room with hardwood floors and a wall of windows. The floor and white paint are a little scuffed, and the furniture off in the corner suggests this is in an actual house.

Production: The sound here is OK, although a few shots donít use Anaís voice on the mike but the sound captured by the camera. The picture varies from camera shot to shot, which it does often and quickly, switching angles, types of camera (professional-quality film cameras to what appears to be a handheld camcorder), and effects (including switching from color to black & white). Overall the camera angles are helpful, even if the constant changing between them is a bit distracting. The name of each exercise appears on the screen at the beginning of each move, sometimes in creative ways (e.g. the word ďkickĒ imitates the action of a leg kicking up and down).

Equipment: mat (or equivalent). Ana is barefoot.

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

DVD Notes: The routine is chaptered by exercise. It comes with the long Gaiam intro (which I can only fast forward but not skip). Anaís Energy Boost Pilates II is the bonus workout.

Conclusion: Iím keeping this one. I like Ana (see instructor comments below). Anaís more recent videos are better produced, but this one is just right for me at this point in my practice.
Iíd rank Anaís current matwork videos in this order, from easiest to toughest: Beginning Pilates Matwork, Easy Pilates, Quick Start Pilates for Weight Loss, Cardio Pilates, Intermediate Pilates Matwork, PM Pilates, Maintenance Pilates for Weight Loss (both routines), the Energy Boost Pilates (I and II), and Pilates for Abs. This video (Intermediate Pilates Matwork) has Anaís longest side kick series.

Instructor Comments:
I enjoy Ana as a Pilates instructor. I think she presents the classical Pilates matwork in a way that makes the same old, same old seem fresh, interesting, and doable. Ana instructs ďliveĒ here. She has a positive, encouraging attitude. She cues well and provides a good amount of form instruction and some excellent form tip (including some with imagery, but not as odd or corny as some instructors). She focuses only on Pilates with no side chatter.



I've tried a lot of Pilates tapes and this DVD is one of my favorites. It is intended as a follow-up to the Beginning Mat Workout. The beginning tape has more instruction but if you have a fairly good basis in Pilates, you can start with this one. I don't remember the exact sequencing of the workout but it does include exercises for the abs, the sidekick series for legs and a couple of pushup type exercises for arms and chest. I like that Ana uses breathing cues and good visualization techniques. I also like the modifier, Tara, who is calm and unimposing but knows what she's doing. The Living Arts Intermediate workout is not as fast-paced as other Intermediate Pilates workouts but if you pay attention to form, you can really grow with this one. The bonus workout on the DVD is excellent and beautiful as well.

Instructor Comments:
Ana is very professional and cheerful without being overly perky. She gives good thorough instructions and has a soothing voice.



This tape is NOT for those new to Pilates; it's meant as a Part 2 to the Beginners Mat Workout. In the first tape, instructor Ana Caban takes the time to carefully explain each move and to describe in detail how the moves are performed, but in this more advanced workout, she skips the instructions and moves quickly from one move to the next. The entire workout builds on the Beginners tape by adding new moves, all of which smoothly flow from one to the other in the classic Pilates tradition. It's true that the sound and video quality is a bit off here and there, but this is easy enough to ignore once you have practiced the workout a few times. This is an excellent tape for strengthening the entire midsection, and perfect for those who want to further advance their Pilates practice.

Instructor Comments:
Ana is a very likeable instructor who is motivating and energetic without being overly peppy or intimidating. She offers encouragement using simple, sometimes amusing language such as "be long, like a noodle!"

Beth C (aka toaster)


-While the production quality is not as high as other Living Arts Videos, that is not why I bought this tape. I was looking for a complete flowing pilates video and that is exactly what I got.

Ana is an enthusiastic instructor and the workout flew by for me. If you are new to pilates I'd recommend you start with an intro tape or Method Precision Toning to learn the moves first even though some instruction is provided.

I like that the upper body got some work as well. Overall this tape is just what I was looking for - 30 minutes, complete pilates mat workout. If you can get past some of the production flaws - I am personally so focused on what I'm doing to notice, I'd highly recommend this video.

About me, I'm 29 and and at an intermediate to advanced fitness level. I have been doing videos for close to a year now to get in shape after having a baby. I previously taught aerobics and toning at a Woman's Workout World and I was very involved in ballet and modern dance as a kid through college.

Diane Miller


These are being sold together (though not as a package), so I will review them together:

The Good: Ana Caban is a very good instructor, and both tapes have modifications for the less flexible (more modifications on the beginner tape). Ana's imagery is very good. What sets Pilates apart from say, the old TV exercise shows (imho) is that you are concentrating while doing the exercise, not knocking out mindless reps. You are doing maybe 5 reps (each side) at the most The better the imagery the better the mind-body connection. I was very pleased with the intermediate tape, which is a complete workout, without stopping for a whole lot of explanation, except for the added exercises, and those explanations do not slow the flow of the workout.

The Bad:

The camera work (all the black and white stuff looks like they were filming action shots for the movie "Earthquake" it is so shaky), the beginner video is especially bad in this regard. The beginning video, like The Method Precision Toning, demos, then exercises, then the next demo, and so forth. The workout then becomes longer than it should be, which detracts from it being able to be used as a quickie workout. Why can't they put the demos in the back of the video, so you can start with the workout? There is also lot of silly posturing and posing going on, which distracts from her professionalism.

Bottom Line:

If you are at all familiar with Pilates through books or videos like Precision Toning, pass on the beginning video--you won't be missing much. It is one of those "watch it once or twice for info" types. The workout was too broken up by the demos to be really useful. The intermediate video is very good for a complete workout and I would recommend it over Precision Toning, as it adds some Pilates-style pushups which give the upper body something to do. I bought them at Costco for $8.99 each.