The Method: Target Specifics--Abs, Arms, Hips, ThighsJennifer Kries
Year Released: 1999
Categories: Pilates/Core Strength , Total Body Workouts
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I just wanted to add a short praise for the Abs segment of this workout (I don't really use other sections). It's one of the best short Pilates abs workouts out there and seeing how this DVD can be picked up for $4 these days it might be worth considering - it makes an excellent abdominal add-on and it didn't age at all.
It is a pure Pilates programme; even though other segments of this DVD incorporate ballet or yoga, they are not present here (apart from a brief child's pose to rest here and there).
In 13 minutes Jennifer goes through a selection of basic and intermediate Pilates moves - instruction is provided but I feel that this workout works best if you know what you're doing already as both Jennifer and her exercisers go for more advanced versions of all moves. I appreciate the addition of some moves done lying on your stomach to countrbalance all the abdominal work. The pace is very good, with little down time - there are brief stretches between the moves but you're never left just lying there. You won't do many repetitions but they will all count!
- posture setup and shoulder stretch
- breathing instruction
- the hundred
- roll-up (bent, then straight knees)
- leg circles
- rolling like a ball
- single leg pull
- double leg pull
- double leg lower
- legs and arms lift - lying on your stomach
- forward fold
- open leg rocker
Jennifer is at her best here - energetic and knowledgeable. I know that some find here dry when longer explanations are involved, but she shines in this workout as it's very compact and well thought out.
I was looking for a good toning tape and found it. Jennifer's cueing is excellent. I have been very interested in Pilates and was considering finding a place that teaches it. However, with this tape, I don't have that desire anymore.
Fifteen minutes is given to arms, hips, thighs and abs. Each body part definitely feels worked.
However, anyone interested in this tape should be aware that The Method/Pilates is more about core stabilization and strength. So while you may not feel as if you've worked out combining this with other workouts or just doing it at least twice a week you will notice a definite improvement in posture as well as reaping the rewards of toning your arms, hips, thighs and abs.
This time is also a great time saver if you're pressed because it is in 15 minute increments.
Jennifer is an excellent instructor, who seems very committed to the Pilates/Method, philosophy. Her cueuing is good and she's very personable as well as being in shape.
Target Specifics is one of those videos that make me feel long, lean, taller and graceful. I have added it in my strength rotation for the week (Cathe Friedrich tapes are the other strength tapes that I do) because I really like the way it makes me feel, and I really believe I will see interesting results - especially in the areas of strengthening my abs, standing up straighter, and having a much better defined sense of balance.
The only portion of this tape I don't enjoy as much is the chest portion. I have a small upper body that I wish to get bigger to offset my bigger butt :-), and I prefer to do low reps/high weights for that area (arms, shoulders, chest, back). I usually end up FFing through that part of the tape.
I still give this tape an A, because it really delivers what it promises!
Jennifer is one of my favorites. She is very direct, honest, no-nonense (without being wooden), and she is graceful and strong.
Target Specifics was a nice surprise! I had both Precision Toning and Precision Sculpting at one time, but have since traded them both. I liked some of the exercises, but as a person who usually likes using heavier weights and doing a lot of cardio, PT and PS went on too long for me. Target Specifics is divided into four distinct sections: Abs, Arms, Hips, and Thighs. Each section is 14 minutes long. It makes it a perfect length to add on to another workout, or to do all at once for an hour-long Method workout. I had bought this and returned it unopened, but based on response on the Forum praising the abdominal section I repurchased it. I was pleasantly surprised. As was mentioned on the Forum, the ab section alone is worth the $10 I paid for it at Target. The set is pretty, with an Oriental flavor. There is a curved bridge in the background, dome lights on either side of the set, and lots of greenery in the foreground. The music is drum-based and very percussive (pretty repetitive as well), and is performed live (similar to in the Reebok Step Circuit video where the camera will briefly focus on the band). All of the exercisers are barefoot, and they are wearing black bra tops and jazz pants. They look very stylish and hip. Jennifer Kries, the instructor for this video, starts out by saying that this video came into being because after Precision Toning and Precision Sculpting were released there were many requests for similar exercises in a shorter workout format. That's essentially what this video is--a faster-paced version of a combination of Precision Toning and Precision Sculpting. I'll now break down the different sections.
The first section is Abs. These exercises are similar to those in Precision Toning, except the section is much shorter. It contains two minutes on posture/breathing, and 12 minutes of abs. It's the perfect length to add on to another workout. Jennifer and the other exercisers show the advanced versions, and Lakey demonstrates the modifications. Throughout the video, however, not much emphasis is placed on explaining modifications. First, you will do Method breathwork (5 quick inhales and 5 quick exhales similar to PT and the Firm's abs in Better Body and Buns) while in the teaser position (balanced on your sacrum with your body forming a "V"). Then are the Method roll-ups, hamstring stretches, reclining leg circles and leg stretches, rocking back and forth balancing on your sacrum for balance and spinal massage, leg pulls (a scissor move with the legs), a teaser where you balance in a "V" and then pull your knees into your chest, straight-legged scissors, double leg raises with your head elevated, and the "criss-cross" (elbow-to-knee move for the obliques). You will then do back exercises: a cobra position (prone backbend) with your legs apart, some spinal erector work, a "swimming" move where you lie prone moving your arms and legs alternately up and down, the "open leg rocker" where you rock back and forth for stability and balance, and then leg stretches. I really liked the ab section, and will use it frequently. It really focuses on stabilization, and is much faster-paced than Precision Toning.
The next section is Arms. The funny thing is that between all of the sections Jennifer says, "We'll be right back after this," as if there will be a commercial break. I wonder if these segments were taken from the Method Fit TV program. Anyway, the arm toning section focuses on toning the shoulders, chest, biceps and triceps. This section is done with very light (1-3 lb.) weights. Jennifer encourages you to resist the moves. First you will do Method bicep curls with your arms extended in front of you, and then with your arms extended to your sides. Then you will do hammer curls/tricep extensions. Next are side bends with one arm up and one arm down by your side. Then you get into a standing tabletop position (your upper body at a right angle to your legs) and do a move called "boxing," in which you move your arms forward and back kind of like you're swimming. Next is the "ladybug," which is similar to rear delt flyes. There are also arm circles up and down, triceps extensions behind the head, standing chest flyes, and then seated stretches with no weights. Then, seated, you use the weights again and do a seated row series, lying chest flyes. You put down the weights and do a few yoga-style pushups for the triceps, and active/moving cat pose (pushups lifting your legs alternately back). These were challenging! Except for the pushups, this section didn't do much for me. I'm used to using heavier weights, or when I do a light weight workout I do many more reps. This section is very similar to Precision Sculpting.
Next is Hips. Jennifer emphasizes that this section is meant to create "long, lean muscles" and to use "balance and opposition." This section uses a lot of moves from ballet: demi and grand plies in first and second position, tendues, battements (pointing, then brushing your straight leg out to the front, then side, then back), and lots of stretching. You'll then do a plank position with rear leg raises (Jennifer calls this an "empowering exercise). Side leg raises are next (a la Precision Toning). You will notice a *lot* of ballet and some yoga influences in this section. If you concentrate on your form and contracting your muscles, you will feel it. This section might be a bit difficult to "get" if you haven't done any ballet before (I have), since Jennifer doesn't explain the moves much. I enjoyed this section a lot.
The last section is Thighs. This section starts out with some stretches--yoga-type forward bends. Then you will go into a very yoga-ish section with sun salutations, lunges, plank positions, yoga presses (like pushups), cobra pose (on your stomach raising your upper body supporting it with your arms), proud warrior pose, more yoga lunges, and the awkward chair pose (which is like a hover squat with your arms raised parallel to your back or modified parallel to the floor). This section reminded me a lot of Rodney Yee's Power Yoga for Beginners. Heather (a background exerciser) shows some modifications, but not many are shown. It would have been more consistent if one exerciser had shown the less advanced modifications throughout the video. Then there are some more classical ballet moves. You'll do demi and grand plies in 1st and 2nd position (heels together and then legs shoulder-width apart), tendues (pointing your straight leg out front, side and back), degages (brushing your leg out front, side and back), releves (calf raises), and calf stretches. Again, it seems as if Jennifer assumes you have had some ballet training, because she doesn't describe the moves much. If you watch her and the exercisers, you will see proper form demonstrated, though. You also really have to concentrate on contracting the muscle. It's easy to cheat on the ballet sections. You will end with a side series (leg lifts called "toss-ups") and a stretch. Since I know some ballet and yoga the minimal instruction was not a problem for me, and I really enjoyed this section as well. I will likely use the hip and thigh sections regularly as add-ons to leg or cardio workouts.
Overall, I really like this video. I will use the abs, hips, and thighs sections regularly. I can't, however, see myself using the arms section. I really like the ballet and yoga influences. It includes what I liked about Precision Toning (and to a lesser extent Precision Sculpting), but condenses it into a workout of a more manageable length for me.
Jennifer Kries is beautiful to watch. She performs all of the exercises so gracefully. No wonder, because she is a dancer at the Pennsylvania Ballet and L'Opera de Paris. She is also a certified Pilates instructor. Is she ever flexible! She is also very encouraging; she mentions a couple of times, "If you can't get this right away, you will." Her cueing is extremely precise with much attention to form, although during some sections (especially the ballet-inspired parts) she seems to assume that the viewer has had some prior dance training since less instruction in form is given. Her cueing is wonderful; however, *slightly* less instruction is given than in her Precision Toning and Precision Sculpting videos. She also seems to me to be more comfortable and relaxed in this video than in Precision Toning and Precision Sculpting. Another thing of notice: Jennifer does not mirror-cue; when she says, "right," she is referring to her right and not the exerciser's. I just ignored her R/L cues and mirrored what she was doing. It seems like this is very common in Method and many yoga videos. As far as the background exercisers go, you may recognize some of them from other Method videos. Specifically, I noticed Lisa Wheeler (from other videos including Step Up To Dance) and Lakey Evans, who at times demonstrates less advanced modifications. Form is excellently demonstrated by Jennifer and the background exercisers.