Pick Your Level: Weight Loss Pilates

Ellen Barrett
Year Released: 2006

Categories: Pilates/Core Strength

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Tastes certainly do differ! This is an Ellen Barret video that I really enjoy for an easier day. The explanations don't bother me and I think they're worked well enough into the routines. I love that you get three 10-minute sections and they come together well for me.



This is a 35 minute pilates workout led by Ellen Barrett. While I have and enjoy her Crunch and Studio workouts, I just didn’t like this workout much at all. I have to agree with Beth’s assessment of the workout: too much down time, too much time explaining the workouts, unchallenging collection of exercises. Ellen leads two background instructors, one who demonstrates beginner Level 1 and one who leads advanced Level 3 (Ellen demonstrates Level 2). Ellen starts everybody off at Level 1, then leads 2&3 onto Level 2, then gives the Level 3 modification. It just seems like it takes along time to progress onto the Level 3 move, which doesn’t feel adequately challenging to me (I feel like I am at an intermediate level of Pilates).

The standing portion was really slow moving, boring, and repetitive – nothing like her later Studio Fat Burning Fusion or her Crunch workouts. Like Beth said, this is light toning at best (even with the Level 3 arm movements). The side mat series was a little better with side plank and leg lifts, but again it moved too slowly and didn’t have a congruous flow like other pilates workouts I have done. The mat portion was really not challenging at all.

All in all I would say this might be good for somebody new to pilates because Ellen takes the time to explain the exercises. For somebody who has already been doing pilates, I think they will find this excessive and redundant, even for Ellen fans. For reference, the pilates videos I do like are those by 10 Minute Solution (Pilates, Rapid Results Pilates, Pilates on the Ball, Quick Sculpt Pilates). All in all a very unremarkable DVD. Grade C.

Instructor Comments:
I am a big Ellen fan and her instruction is fine here (cuing, form pointers) but like I said, she doesn’t move the workout along quick enough for me. As usual she is enthusiastic and personable.

Emily B.


Ellen is an excellent instructor. Ellen performs the exercises at the intermediate level. She motivates and gives great form pointers. There are two other exercisers ones performs at an advanced level and another at the beginner level.

This DVD is chaptered. The workout takes place in a bright and airy set. The production is good in that the camera angles and lighting do not interfere with the workout. All the exercisers are easily seen making it easier for you to follow whatever level you wish. This workout is great in that it makes pilates accessible to all. The three levels are also great for those days when we feel we want more of a challenge, and for those days when we are not feeling 100%. I especially liked that this workout included standing pilates moves and then moved on to matwork. I prefer to have a combination of standing and floor. It made pilates more enjoyable for me. Also Ellen’s workouts are fusion and therefore not “pure” pilates. So for those who are “purists” this might not be the best pilates workout choice for you.

Ellen has a very friendly demeanor. All of Ellen’s workouts leave you feeling relaxed, refreshed and renewed.

Instructor Comments:
Ellen is very easy going and relaxed. All her workouts have a "feel good" feeling for me. She has the ability to give you a workout while leaving you feeling relaxed.



The concept behind "Pick Your Level: Weight Loss Pilates" is that you can customize your workout by choosing the level which best suits your needs for each and every exercise. This is done through the use of three different exercisers displaying three different levels of difficulty. Instructor Ellen Barrett always does Level 2, the intermediate version, while her two background exercisers show the beginning (Level 1) and more advanced (Level 3) versions.

The workout itself is broken down into three 10-minute segments: Standing Pilates, Side-Lying Pilates, and Pilates Matwork. The standing work is similar to several of Ellen's previous videos (eg, Crunch Burn & Firm Pilates) in that you are doing moves such as plies, leg lifts, standing leg circles, etc. This segment focused mainly on legwork, although the Level 3 modifier added arms movements to increase the intensity. Still, this section felt like light toning at best, and it certain lacked the cardio benefit to produce the "weight loss" promised in the title. The side lying moves are a bit more intense, beginning with a side plank. Some of the exercises here were similar to the Winsor Buns and Thighs video, and I could feel them in my glutes/outer hip. Again, Ellen does the middle level while the two background exercisers show modifications. Unlike in the standing section, however, each new move does not begin until Ellen explains all three levels, which makes for a lot of unnecessary downtime. In the final segment, Pilates matwork, Ellen has her Level 3 modifier add a few twists to traditional Pilates moves, making them more challenging. However, I found this to be a fairly easy matwork sequence which failed to incorporate any of the classic Pilates intermediate and advanced moves. Also, Ellen continued to focus on the lower body here; the abs work was not very intense, and no back work was included.

Overall, I did not enjoy this video. Even following the Level 3 modifier, I found the intensity to be a low intermediate level at best, and so I did not feel like I got much of a workout. Also, as mentioned above, there seemed to be too much down-time while Ellen set up the levels, particularly in the second and third segments; she also spends too much time at the end of each segment just breathing. Similarly, the workout seemed to move at a very slow pace throughout, leaving me bored and eager to finish it. A final issue was that I just did not click with Ellen's perky personality. I do think that this DVD is nicely produced and likely to appeal to some, mainly those who have enjoyed Ellen's prior Pilates videos and who are at a more beginning/low intermediate level in their Pilates work.

Instructor Comments:
After trying several of Ellen's videos, I have come to realize that I simply do not click with her personality. She is perky, although not overly so; there is just something about her that I find annoying. However, many people do love her workouts, so keep in mind that my own views are probably influenced by the fact that I have come to dislike her. ;)

Beth C (aka toaster)