The Method: Perfect MixJennifer Kries
Year Released: 2001
Categories: Pilates/Core Strength
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Please note that I wrote this review about 4 years ago; I've copied and pasted it as originally written. At the time of the review I had done it several times.
For the record, I never figured out how to work this video into any sort of rotation, as it left my collection a few years ago in favor of other Pilates workouts by instructors I like better, plus I've decided I'm not a fusion type of gal when it comes to Pilates, yoga, etc.
General workout breakdown: This workout consists of three segments.
“Core Contouring” is a 23 minute Pilates matwork sequence. Jennifer begins seated, with shoulder rolls, breathing, including breath of fire, and a 100 arm pump prep. She then leads you through the 100, roll up, leg circles, rolling like a ball, single leg stretch, double leg stretch, fish (yoga pose), single straight leg stretch, a move where you bend your legs and straighten them in the double leg stretch position, double leg stretch, criss cross, bridge with leg lift, spine stretch forward, open leg rocker with legs bent and then straight—ending in the teaser position, corkscrew, saw, single leg kick, double leg kick, swimming, shell stretch / child’s pose with arms extended, neck pull, “active moving cat” (cat with leg movement and push up), downward facing dog, and teaser.
“Metabolic Booster” is a 19 minute aerobic weights segment. You start with dynamic stretches crossed with dance moves. Jennifer first builds the lower body movements, based off of lunges (for the most part), squats, plies, arabesques, and releves; she then adds upper body moves to them. You do Pilates push-ups from a standing position, and then you move to the floor for yoga moves: locust, boat, table top, and reverse plank. You finish with some upper body stretches.
“AM/PM Rejuvenation” is a 23 minute yoga sequence. Jennifer takes a couple of minutes to introduce this and practice breath of fire. You begin with “active moving cat,” cat and dog (or “cat and cow”), child’s pose, half down dog, and full down dog (with walking your legs). You then sit with your legs in front, pulling your bent leg toward your chest, janu sirsasana (please excuse my spelling!) with forward bend, upavistha konasana with forward bend to the center and over each leg, table top, reclined leg stretch, reclined twists with legs bent, downward dog leading to standing forward fold, and ending with breathing in Pilates stance.
Level: I’d recommend this to an intermediate exerciser, although an experienced beginner with flexibility and core strength would be fine. You need to have some familiarity with weights, Pilates, and yoga to get the most out of this workout. The Pilates segment is a solidly intermediate routine. I consider myself a low intermediate. I have about two years of Pilates experience but still have limited strength and flexibility. This sequence is appropriately challenging for me, but the flow drags a bit for my tastes. The yoga isn’t particularly difficult—unless you try to match Jennifer’s flexibility. The flow is also a little disjointed because Jennifer stops a few times to set up moves. And I sweated a little and felt my heart beat a little faster during the weights; it was nice
Class: Four women, including Lisa Wheeler, join Jennifer for the “Metabolic Booster” segment. Jennifer is alone for the “Core Conditioning” and “AM/PM Rejuvenation” segments.
Music / Set / Other Production Notes: The upbeat instrumental music has a beat as well as a little jazz here, a little guitar there. (I may be wrong, but it seems to me that the music on all three JK Pilates Method workouts is the same; if it’s not, it sounds awfully similar.) The interior set looks like some sunken courtyard. There are two dark gray Classical/Renaissance-style statues in the back corners of the gray set. The picture and sound quality are OK, to be expected of something filmed about 15 years ago when hi-def and digital weren’t options.
Equipment: mat (or equivalent) for Pilates & yoga portions; light hand weights for “Metabolic Booster.”
Comments: You’ll need some space for this. You should be able to lie down with your arms and legs extended, and you should be able to lunge to the every side with your arms outstretched for the standing portion.
DVD Notes: There are 2 DVD versions: the brown cover is older and now out of print; the yellow and white cover is newer. Both contain the exact same workout. The newer versions have slightly better sound and a slightly crisper picture, but the difference isn’t enough to justify rebuying them. The newer ones have a long introduction to Koch Vision’s other fitness titles, which you can skip by hitting menu. You can select any segment, but each takes you back to the main menu afterwards with the older DVDs. You can turn the instruction off for “Metabolic Booster.”
Conclusion: It’s hard to figure out how to work this into a rotation. The Pilates segment is the most useful to me, but I have 20 other videos that I like just as well or even better. The strength and yoga segments just don’t have enough strength and yoga for me. I guess I like this workout but don’t love it. I think it’s time for it to find a new home where it might actually get some use, maybe with someone who likes fusion workouts or who needs something lighter.
Everyone has the title they prefer of this series, which also includes 3 Dimensional Toning and Precision Pilates. My favorite happens to be Precision Pilates because it offers something different to my collection. This one—not so much. By the way, the Pilates segment here is harder than the one on 3 Dimensional Toning.
Jennifer’s encouraging but a less approachable figure than most fitness instructors. She appears more comfortable when she’s performing the exercises than just talking to the camera. Her manner of speaking is not typical of exercise video instructors; no monosyllabic exhortations like “Burn that fat!” or “Keep it up!” here. She cues moves very well in the Pilates segment, decently in the yoga segment, and barely in “Metabolic Booster.” She is SUPER flexible, which can be intimidating to someone like me who months ago could barely touch her toes.
This is the most difficult of all of the New Method/Pilates Method videos by Jennifer Kries. It's divided into three sections: Core Conditioning, Metabolic Booster and AM/PM Rejuvenation. Core Conditioning is an intermediate to advanced Pilates routine that integrates some yoga postures. I like her yoga choices (Downward Dog, modified Fish and Active Moving Cat). She doesn't do Pilates Pushups, but the Active Moving Cat works the upper body nicely as do the Pilates movements such as the Double Leg Kick.
Metabolic Booster is one of my favorite video segments period. It was the first time I saw "four-limbed aerobics", but I like her version better than most of the Firm tapes I've seen. She starts with very simple moves, then slowly builds up. She does three or four sequences. If she comes out with another tape, I hope she does more of this. After ten minutes of work with the weights, she does four sets of two Pilates pushups (she does them with elbows out) then some challenging yoga postures, including bow, incline plank and extended hero. You feel very thoroughly worked, but also very relaxed and stretched.
AM/PM Rejuvenation is relaxing and non-threatening yoga. The most difficult thing she does in Tabletop, but most of it is on the line of Active Moving Cat (no yoga presses), forward bends, twists and Downward Dog. If you follow the tape in sequence, it's the perfect reward for her other sections.
She has a sense of humor here and seems to know exactly when you're groaning.
Perfect mix is a charming but strange program. Certainly not a "perfect mix."
The program is divided into three sections that don't really go together. First there's a more or less traditional beginner pilates mat work segment with a bit of yoga thrown in. Next, a dance/sculpt segment that's done to some nice flamenco-type music. Jennifer uses light hand weights in a series of controlled flowing motions and has her class with her for this segment only. Finally there's a yoga-based segment that's supposed to energize and wake you up.
It's a lovely program. The segments, taken by themselves, are all quite nice. The pilates segment is well instructed. The dance/sculpt is dreamy to do, and Jennifer's treatment of Kundalini breath-of-fire during the yoga segment is one of the best I've seen on a beginner/intermediate video.
But I do have some reservations -
1) what's up with the sequence? Isn't the prevailing philosophy that there should be a light warm up followed up by cardio work, then strength/core or whatever, then stretch? So why are we core training first, then doing our little dance, then doing yoga? 2) the dance/sculpting segment is very pleasant to do - graceful, dancey but doable, but I guess I have serious questions about whether it does genuinely provide either cardio conditioning or sculpting. 3) the yoga segment repeats many of the postures and exercises of the pilates segment, which makes you feel a bit silly when you do all three. Also, the Jennifer energizer-bunny chatter about how the yoga segment is going to wake me up and get me raring to go was somewhat disconcerting because I did the segment at night (but I was able to sleep just fine, thank you!).
I get the sense that Jennifer is being spin-doctored a bit - someone is whispering in her ear telling her to call her dance routine cardio-sculpt so people will buy the tape, similarly, it can't just be "breath of fire", it has to be a.m./p.m energizer. Jennifer has a beautiful smile, but you get the feeling someone's said "smile for the camera" and sometimes her facial expressions come off sort of false.
At the end of the three segments I was left with two thoughts, first - "gee, that was really fun and kind of unusual, I'd like to do it again", but second, "did I really get a work out?" A guilty pleasure, I guess.
I would describe the overall level as intermediate. The dance/sculpt segment would intimidate an exercise newcomer.
I would describe the set as "minimalist Firm". Sort of a romanesque marble statute thing happening, but uncluttered.
Regarding the DVD features, there aren't many. You can chose the sequence of the three segments, and you can turn off the spoken instruction in the dance-sculpt segment so there's just music - but it looks kinda goofy. Jennifer's lips are moving but you can't here what she's saying! You can't modulate the sound, i.e., raise the music level, lower the voice over - you must choose A or B - and, as I say, this feature is only available on the one segment. This is unfortunate because the music on the lst and 3rd segments is close to inaudible. I've heard that the video version of this program is sort of visually grainy. I wouldn't characterize the DVD this way.
This was a very nice beginner to intermediate/light workout video. There are 3 complete 20-minute routines that you can do separately or combine them all for a total body workout. The first segment focuses on traditional Pilates workout, conditioning the abs thoroughly. The second segment combines cardio and strength moves with lightweights. The moves are dance-inspired, but do-able (reminds me a little of Dynamic Cardio). I preferred the Firm videos’ use of weights and cardio, as these moves were a little fast for me and I felt like I was swinging the weights too much. The moves are combinations of upper body weights and lower body lunges, squats and single leg balance work. The third segment is a yoga and stretch session in which Jennifer does some breath work and traditional yoga moves, nothing fancy.
The production quality is quite grainy and Jennifer is the only participant in the Pilates and Yoga sections. She has background exercisers for the weight/cardio segment, which includes Lisa Wheeler. I love watching her form and movements.
One part that you may have to fast forward through is a lengthy explanation of the breath and various breathing techniques. Jennifer also moves through the workout segments and postures quite rapidly so you never are bored, but you also never fully develop the moves and get any type of muscle fatigue. Jennifer is such an enjoyable instructor to watch and listen to though. She is very thorough in her explanations and encouragement. While her flexibility is almost mind boggling (such is the body of a dancer), she does tell you to watch your body and take stretches and poses to your own limit.
I enjoyed this video for a “light” workout or as a 20-minute individual add-on to a more strenuous cardio or weight training day. Rating B+