MTV Pilates

Kristin McGee
Year Released: 2004

Categories: Pilates/Core Strength

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I’m reviewing this workout after previewing and reviewing it once each and doing it at least three times in the year or two that I’ve had it, including twice within the past week.

General workout breakdown: This approximately 35 minute Pilates matwork workout with a few moves from the reformer, yoga, and athletic abdominal training thrown in. For the most part the moves are traditional Pilates, although Kristin rearranges the sequence and adds one or two personal touches (like having you weave your hands in rolling like a ball.) The focus is primarily on the abdominals, but there’s quite a bit of work for the lower body, some for the back, and a little for the upper body. The workout flows at a leisurely pace, with only one double time, so there’s sufficient time to set up each exercise and perform it with control. There’s a little down time between movements, but Kristin generally puts you in a stretch or release pose (e.g. with your knees to your chest, gently rocking your head) while she sets up the next move; in other words, she doesn’t have you just lie there doing nothing every couple of poses.
The exercises include a warm-up (on back: breathing, pulling in navel, moving arms while keeping body still, small crunch into small crunch with one leg lifting at a time into small crunch with both legs lifting), hundred, roll up, leg stretch into single leg circle into climb a tree, corkscrew, spine stretch forward, rolling like a ball, single leg stretch, double leg stretch, single straight leg stretch, double straight leg stretch, criss cross (half done double time), reclined butterfly, reclined twist with legs bent, open leg rocker, rollover, tick tock, crunch with arms reaching toward legs at 90 degrees, reclined leg series (what I would call “the frog” – with heels together, bend knees and flex feet, then point feet while straightening legs; straddle with criss cross in center; and straddle with flexing in and pointing open), one-legged teaser with rotation, teaser (#3), bridge, neck pull, spine twist, saw, side elbow plank into side leg series (little circles, up & down, front & back, hot potato, double leg lift, quick walking, clown) into mermaid, elbow plank (during which Kristin slows down the count), single leg kick, double leg kick, supine move where you reach your arms and legs up and out and then draw the arms toward you and your legs together, heel beats, cobra with neck rotation, and Pilates push-ups. Kristin ends standing, taking a couple of breaths.

Level: I’d recommend this to experienced beginners in Pilates, especially those looking to make the transition to an intermediate level, through intermediates. While Kristin does include some good breathing tips (especially during the rollover), she doesn’t include enough form tips (especially during the rollover) for a true beginner to Pilates. (Yes, I know there’s a tutorial at the end, but it’s always helpful to have such info during the workout, too, especially when you’re new to a workout.) That said, someone new to Pilates with some existing strength and flexibility would find this doable, provided they supplement it with other videos, books, or live classes. The modifications are overall helpful and good ones, although Kristin misses out on modifying for a few moves, like the rollover and neck pull (put your hands in front of your head instead of behind for the intermediate version). I consider myself almost a solid intermediate; I have about three years of Pilates experience but am still working on improving my flexibility and strength. This workout was a tough one when I was a high beginner, and I appreciated the beginner modifications, but now it’s suitable for my level, and I’m able to do the “expert” modifications for all but one or two moves.

Class: One man and two women join Kristin; all are about the same age. The attire is modest, and the cast is fit and healthy but not impossibly skinny. One of the women demonstrates beginner modifications, the man does the intermediate level, and Kristi and the other woman perform the full poses.

Music: Quiet but OK. It’s vaguely club-like (in that it has a repetitive beat).

Set: outdoors on a brick patio lined with geraniums and other potted flowers, overlooking the Arizona mountains. It’s a bright, sunny day.

Production: good picture and sound (but quiet music – and, if you listen closely, you can hear a plane or two go overhead). There are a few crazy camera angles, but most of the time they’re while you’re performing the moves and thus not looking intently at the TV.

Equipment: mat (or equivalent). The entire cast is barefoot.

Space Requirements: enough room to lie down with your arms and legs extended. You should be able to sweep your arms and legs to the sides and behind you without hitting anything.

DVD Notes: From the main menu you choose Play Program, Scene Selection (Warm Up, Abdominal Series, Leg Series, Back Series, and Cool Down), Special Features (Position Breakdowns for the hundred, roll up, rolling like a ball, single leg stretch, double leg stretch, roll over, saw, and Pilates push-up; Instructor Bio; and Also Available from MTV Home Entertainment – i.e. trailers for MTV Yoga and MTV Power Yoga plus other MTV videos), and Set Up (instructor and music, instructor only, music only). I wish the warnings and introduction were in a separate chapter, but they’re only a couple of minutes long.

Conclusion: This is a keeper after all. When I first tried this, I was an experienced beginner. It was long and tough, and I dreaded doing it again. When I pulled it out again this past week, I realized how doable this video had become. I definitely feel the different lower body moves, and I like the extra stretches that Kristin throws in. I’ll keep this one and use it in my rotation for the next couple of months, after which it’ll be on the easy side and I’ll have less time for such a long Pilates workout. I would say this is comparable to Stott Core Challenge (Level 3) or even Stott Intermediate; it’s definitely a tad easier than Hilary Burnett’s Intermediate Pilates, but it’s probably a small step up from Ana Caban’s Intermediate Pilates Matwork (which also has a good deal of lower body work).
MTV Pilates and MTV Pilates Mix are distinct videos. Pilates is outside, Mix is inside. Pilates lasts just over half an hour; Mix has about an hour worth of Pilates. Pilates is a full routine that’s mostly traditional matwork and meant to be done in one go; Mix has more of a mix of disciplines like yoga and is geared towards breaking it up into segments.

Instructor Comments:
Kristin has a pleasant onscreen persona and a nice voice. She’s serious about Pilates for its own sake. She says a couple of odd things (“Bring your arms out in front of you like Frankenstein,” and asking you to avoid squashing the rotten egg under your belly) but otherwise speaks plainly and clearly, saying “abs” rather than “tummy,” “vertebra by vertebra” rather than “vertebrae by vertebrae,” etc. Kristin focuses on instructing and cueing breaths over form tips, although she includes a few of those.



I really didn't think I would like this video. I thought, MTV, UGH! But, I actually think this is one of my favorite pilates videos. It has a fast enough pace that I don't feel like I am wasting a lot of time, but there is enough time to properly complete the movements. Modifications are shown, but not always at the start of the exercise, so beginners will need to preview.

Great video to grow with. It worked for me as a beginner, is still challenging now that I am high intermediate. Good ab workout. Chaptered so that you can pick out body parts (abs, legs and so on).

Highly recommend this video.

Instructor Comments:
Good about form pointers, encouraging without being annoyingly so. Liked her a lot!

Krista (benemma)


MTV Pilates is a strenuous Pilates practice led by certified Pilates instructor Kristen McGee. It is filmed in an attractive outdoor setting, and Kristen works out with three helpers who show different levels of modification (beginning, intermediate, and advanced). Once you get past the opening instructions, the actual workout is approximately 36 minutes.

At the start of the program, Kristen provides instruction on breathing while doing simple prep work for the abs area. She then moves on to a series of classic Pilates matwork exercises, including the hundred, roll-ups, rolling like a ball, and the entire stomach series. Kristen puts a unique take on the traditional Pilates workout by inserting some additional stretches before and after most of the movements. She also includes some of the more advanced Pilates moves such as the rollover and neck pull, although she generally does less repetitions of these more difficult exercises.

Kristen completes all of the abs work (i.e., lying on your back) before moving on to the side kick series. She includes a side plank to begin and also adds a walking leg movement to the end of the series. She transitions with several more exercises specifically targeting the lower body as well as some back work performed lying on your stomach. Kristen then returns to some further abs work with a modified teaser, spine stretch forward, and the saw, and the workout ends with a few short sets of Pilates push-ups and a brief stretch.

I have been practicing Pilates for several years now; I consider myself to be at an intermediate level, and I definitely felt challenged by this workout. Although three levels of modifications are offered, the camera rarely focuses on the modifiers, and there are no alternatives shown for some of the most challenging exercises such as the rollover. For this reason, I would not recommend this workout to someone brand-new to Pilates, especially since Kristen does not provide detailed instructions on executing the movements. However, Kristen does cue very well, and so advanced beginners and others should have no problem following along. I highly recommend this workout to anyone looking for an intense Pilates practice which will particularly work their abdominal area.

Instructor Comments:
I liked Kristen: she is cheerful and offers excellent cuing and breathing reminders without being overly chatty. In addition, she demonstrates very good form on all of the exercises.

Beth C (aka toaster)


A very good intermediate video. This would not be appropriate for someone who needs to modify Pilates - there are modifiers working out, but you don't get to see them often. Also, Kristen never advises you when a move might be inappropriate for some exercisers. For instance she doesn't cue that people with back injuries should modify some exercises. She also doesn't cue the breathing pattern often.

Those misgivings aside, it's a nice ab workout. It doesn't really hit the butt or back, but the abs get a good challenge. She also seems to do more reps of each exercise than some videos. Also, there are some more unique exercises that don't turn up in every video - X body positions, open leg tucks. It's a nice change of pace from other videos.

Frankly, I was expecting far better music from MTV, but it's standard video fare.

Overall, I enjoyed this video and can see using it from time to time. I won't replace any of my favorite Pilates videos, but it's a nice addition.

Instructor Comments:
Very pleasant. She does a nice job of cuing on the foot and leg positions.