More than Mat Pilates: Intermediate Level

Sarah Picot
Year Released: 2005

Categories: Pilates/Core Strength

Video Fitness reviews may not be copied, quoted, or posted elsewhere without the permission of the reviewer

Show oldest reviews first

From the menu:
1. Play All (54 minutes)
2. How to get the most from this video (2 min)
3. Pilates principles (4 min)
4. Fundamentals; Warm-up (10 min)
5. More Than Mat (38 min)
6. Cardio Flow (20 min)
7. Interview with Sarah Picot (4 min)

If you have the Beginner's dvd, you'll see some of the same features (all the extras on the menu are the same: warmup, principles, how to get the most, etc). You'll also see many of the moves carrying over from the Beginner dvd. The same sets, same dvd layout, even the same music on the More than Mat and the Cardio Flows (on both dvds the MTM is somewhat of a Celtic instrumental and the CF is more of a instrumental light rock).

Here's a basic breakdown of the moves to expect: roll down, footwork, hundred, push through, short spine, coordination, rowing, shave your head, hug a tree, swan, pulling straps, backstroke, teaser, cat, short box, elephant, long back stretch, stomach massage, tendon stretch, thigh stretch, reverse triceps press, 3 part, leg circles, leg springs, knee stretches, pelvic lift, "running"

Many of these moves are in the Beginner DVD but here they are presented in a more challenging manner (i.e. the Hundred done with legs straight at an angle instead of with bent knees/chair). There are also new moves peppered in (such as teaser) that were not in the Beginner dvd.

The layout for the More Than Mat workout is a move is demonstrated on the Pilates equipment (i.e. the Wunda chair or reformer) as a break before each new mat segment. This makes for many breaks. The Cardio Flow is done without those visual demonstrations/breaks, just moving from move to move. However, it is NOT the same exact footage (in the MTM footage, there is a backgrounder and in the Cardio Flow Picot is performing the moves on her own) but it IS essentially the same workout (just presented in an uninterrupted flow).

*See my review for the Beginner dvd for more details on the extras.

Instructor Comments:
Sarah Picot presents clear, knowledgeable instruction. Her form is lovely, with sharp execution. Her tone is very calm and soothing. I'm not totally sure how I feel about this dvd (I'm partly disappointed b/c I thought I was going to get 2 different workouts....duh, should've read the description better) but I do know that I'm REALLY interested in the actually Pilates equipment now! Those demonstrations looked really fun! :)



I'm reviewing this workout after previewing it and doing each of the workouts once within the past week.

General workout breakdown: This DVD contains two versions of the same workout. "More than Mat Workout" is a 38 minute long version with instruction as well as cueing, but the moves aren't broken down so much that you can't use this as a workout. A clip before each move shows Sarah performing the original exercise on a machine. Sarah encourages you to use this 3-5 times a week for at least 6 weeks before attempting to tackle the faster version, ?Cardio Flow Workout,? a 20 minute long version that eliminates the reformer shots and has more focused cueing and a quicker flow. (What a great idea! Why don't more Pilates and yoga videos do this?)
These are the exercises included in both workouts: controlled sit down, roll down, foot work (3 variations), hundred, push through, short spine, coordination, rowing (2 variations), shave the head, hug a tree, swan, pulling straps, child's pose, backstroke, teaser, cat, short box (4 variations), climb a tree followed by outer hip stretch, elephant, long back stretch, stomach massage (3 variations), tendon stretch, thigh stretch, reverse triceps press, 3 part, leg circles, leg springs, knee stretches (2 variations), pelvic lift (2 variations), and running (2 variations).
Most exercises are repeated 3-5 times, which felt like an appropriate number of reps. The pace of the exercises themselves was neither too fast nor too slow. There is more down time between exercises in the ?More than Mat Workout,? but it's not so long that you feel like you've lost the flow of the overall workout in its entirety.
These exercises seemed to me to be truly about working the ?Pilates powerhouse,? or core. I have a number of Pilates videos with a heavy abdominals focus; this video seems to see the core more as an integrated whole. I also felt that there was a good amount of upper body moves and flexibility work here, too.

Level: I would recommend this to an intermediate Pilates practitioner, whether you normally do mat work, machine work, or both. Sarah strongly urges beginners to Pilates, no matter how advanced of an exercise they are, to start with the beginning level of this series instead. I definitely agree that this is not for Pilates newbies. At the same time, this video would only be useful for a high intermediate or advanced Pilates practitioner as a lighter workout or to learn the moves in preparation for the advanced level of this series. I consider myself a low intermediate. I have about two years of Pilates matwork experience (and no reformer experience) but still have limited strength and flexibility. I find this workout appropriately challenging and the modifications appropriate for my flexibility limits and well thought out overall. I do not have the beginning level of this series and was able to figure out the exercises, although I have seen several in other workouts.

Class: During the ?More than Mat Workout,? another woman shows modifications while Sarah performs the full exercises. During the ?Cardio Flow Workout? Sarah works alone (with no modifications shown). In both classes instruction comes via voiceover.

Music / Set / Other Production Notes: The upbeat instrumental music with a light beat is pleasant but repetitive. The ?More than Mat? has a Celtic feel while the ?Cardio Flow? has a bit of a country twang. The set appears to be an actual living room in a lovely house. It's brightly lit, with light-colored walls, hardwood floors, and furniture and plants pushed to the side. The picture and sound are both very sharp and clear.

Equipment: mat (or equivalent). Sarah and her background exerciser perform the workouts barefoot.

Comments: You don?t need much space for this workout. You should be able to lie down with your arms and legs extended and have a little space around your mat.
Sarah says the Cardio Flow workout will get your heart rate up. I can't say I found that to be true, but I did break a bit of a sweat from working so hard.

DVD Notes: The DVD has the following options: ?Play All? (except the Cardio Flow and Interview) for 54 minutes, ?How to get the most out of this DVD? for 2 minutes, ?Pilates Principles? for 4 minutes, ?The Fundamentals / Warm Up? for 10 minutes, ?More than Mat Workout? for 38 minutes, ?Cardio Flow Workout? for 20 minutes, and ?Interview with Sarah Picot? for 4 minutes. My one complaint about this DVD: there is no chaptering within the workouts. You can't skip intros, go back to the previous exercise, skip the reformer clip, or anything.

Conclusion: A very kind VFer lent me this DVD to try, and I'm buying my own copy after this trial run. This workout is well done all the way around: exercises, instruction, production, etc. It also gives me true variety within my collection of Pilates videos. (I know people often ask why anyone would need more than one, but this one clearly sets itself apart from the standard matwork sequences.)
I've never had the chance (yet!) to work with Pilates machines, so I cannot compare this workout with reformer exercises in terms of accuracy, intensity, and so on. With one or two exceptions, the moves didn't seem to be awkward or obviously missing something. (I'm not sure how much Sarah did on her own or if there is a guideline for adapting these moves to the mat, but someone put some time into the adaptations.) I would think this would be a great way for those who normally take a reformer class to work at home when they can't be at a studio.
I know there must be several workouts featuring reformer moves adapted to the mat, but the only one I can think of is a segment from Liz Gillies? Progressive Pilates for Weight Loss. (A significant portion of this segment is found as the ?bonus? on her 4 10 Minute Target Tone Workout). The Breakthru Pilates series and other Pilates workouts with Michelle Dozois and Tracy York (e.g. the ?challenge? segment from the Quick Fix Pilates video or Quick Fix Total Mix Pilates & Yoga DVD) as well as Ana Caban?s Energy Boost Pilates series include a couple of adapted moves, too.

Instructor Comments:
Sarah comes off as a pleasant instructor who's serious about Pilates. I like that she doesn't downplay the difficulty of Pilates and the need for practice and patience. (As someone who finds Pilates challenging because I strive to do it correctly, I'm uncomfortable when I hear something like ?this easy workout will flatten your abs instantly?! There's none of that here; this is Pilates for Pilates' sake.) During the workouts Sarah is focused on cueing the moves (and instructing during the ?More than Mat? segment). Her explanations of the exercises are clear and easy to understand.