Pilates for Abs

Ana Caban
Year Released: 2004

Categories: Pilates/Core Strength

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The previous reviewers already provided good breakdowns of this workout. I just wanted to add my "thumbs up." I'm one of those exercisers who has a hard time fitting yoga, pilates, are barre genre workouts into my week. I prefer to do cardio and traditional weights, and that doesn't leave a lot of time for "other" types of workouts. I'm lucky if I can fit a stretch somewhere in there! But I have had this workout for a few years and I return to it again and again, because it stays challenging, works the abs well, and I always feel like I'm getting a good workout from it. I like the outdoor setting and calm voice over.

Instructor Comments:
Nice cueing and instruction, especially sense I can't always look at the TV while doing this. Very calm demenor.



This has already been very well reviewed, so Iím just going to add my opinions. This is one of the several Gaiam DVDs for pilates led by Ana Caban. The setting is a beautiful beachscape and the music is gentle instrumental, as might be found in a yoga video. Ana leads with Tara providing beginner (or less advanced) modifications to the very challenging pilates moves. Ana focuses on quality over quantity and demonstrates the moves very slowly. She instructs through a voiceover which Iím not a big fan of, but it did add to the quiet elegance of the production.

The only other pilates workouts I have done, and which I do frequently and really enjoy, are those put out by the 10 Minute Solution (those with Lara Hudson in particular are my favorites). Pilates for Abs is a step above these in terms of the purity of pilates practice (i.e., no fusion) and challenge. This workout expects a higher level of flexibility and strength and offers more challenging exercises in return. Also, unlike a 10MS pilates ab set which would be 10 minutes, this one challenges your endurance by focusing on your abs for over 20 minutes (the workout clocks in at about 25 minutes). The exercises pretty much cover it all: single leg stretch, double leg stretch, scissor, roll over, roll ups, roll ups with arms behind head (much more challenging), corkscrew, leg circles, rolling like a ball with legs bent, and later with legs extended, teaser variations, bridge, seated twisting.

Overall a very good workout for the abs although itís not one of my favorites. Thereís just no fun factor and I just donít like the voiceover. However for those that love the scenery, they will be wowed here. And pilates purists should also be pleased. Grade B+.

Instructor Comments:
Ana and Tara both have immaculate form and are an inspiration to watch. It is clear that Ana is an expert in the pilates practice, although I believe she expects the viewer to have an adequate background as well so doesnít give too many form pointers or breathing technique tips. Iím not crazy about Ana, mostly because the style (voiceover, etc.) of her workouts isnít my favorite, rather than her personally. I would follow her more closely if and when I decided to further my pilates practice, because she is obviously very skilled.

Emily B.


Iím reviewing this workout after previewing it once and doing it at least 4 times.

General workout breakdown: This approximately 23.5-min. Pilates workout focuses on the core, particularly the abs, with a slower pace and higher number of reps than youíll find in many matwork series. See Debís review above for a list of the exercises, but these are the typical matwork exercises, with a few twists (e.g. single leg stretch without arms, closed leg rocker, the combo), in the traditional order. There is a little bit of down time between exercises as Ana sets up the next move, but youíre not left hanging for minutes. The set-ups and moves are all done deliberately, with focus, which allows you to focus on form. This in turn makes what seems like a simple, easy workout particularly challenging and effective.

Level: Iíd recommend this to intermediate exercisers at an intermediate level of Pilates. As Beth has pointed out, thereís not a lot of instruction given, nor does Ana even spend a lot of time with form tips, etc. You need to know what youíre doing, and you need to have some existing core strength and flexibility - plus knowledge of modifications, if need be.

Class: Tara shows some modifications (mainly for those with less strength rather than less flexibility) while Ana demonstrates the full moves or progressions. Ana instructs via voiceover.

Music: typical Gaiam-issue instrumental stuff.

Set: mats on a grassy hill overlooking the sea (in Hawaii?).

Production: the crisp picture and sound typical of Gaiam productions. The camera angles are helpful, with nothing too fancy or distracting, and the voiceover matches up fairly well with the moves.

Equipment: Pilates mat (or equivalent). Both exercisers are barefoot.

Space Requirements: enough room to lie down with arms and legs extended and to sweep your limbs around. Youíll need some space behind you as well if youíre doing the full rollover.

DVD Notes: (Iím discussing the DVD that only has this workout; you can also find this workout paired with other Gaiam productions.) The DVD is chaptered by exercise, a fact which allows you to skip the 3 min. of introductory materials. There are no extras.

Comments: This video has quickly become a staple in my Pilates rotation. I like the selection of exercises, including the variation, the pace, the chance to focus on my form, and Anaís pleasant voiceover. There are many reasons why this video is often recommended here at VF and is a staple in a number of collections.
Iíd rank Anaís current matwork videos in this order, from easiest to toughest: Beginning Pilates Matwork, Easy Pilates, Quick Start Pilates for Weight Loss, Cardio Pilates, Intermediate Pilates Matwork, PM Pilates, Maintenance Pilates for Weight Loss (both routines), the Energy Boost Pilates (I and II), and Pilates for Abs. On paper, Maintenance Pilates has more advanced exercises, but the slower pace and higher number of reps in Pilates for Abs makes it more challenging for me. Because of the two latter points, Pilates for Abs is a good successor to PM Pilates, which moves at a similar pace and also has more reps than normal.

Instructor Comments:
Ana has a pleasant voice thatís positive without being perky. She cues well and offers a decent number of form tips and encouragement at just the right time. Sheís not talking non-stop, however, as the amount of cueing matches the overall pace and flow of the workout well. Her form is excellent, demonstrating control in a seemingly effortless manner, as always.



This video is led by Ana Caban, and it is probably her most challenging workout. In consists entirely of matwork and begins immediately with the hundred exercise. Ana then moves through a traditional matwork sequence, including moves such as the roll-up, the roll-over, rolling like a ball, the series of five, and the teaser. For many of the moves, Ana adds a more challenging twist--eg, performing several of the series of five exercises with no arms, doing the open-legged rocker with closed legs as well, etc. Because this is an abs-focused workout, the Pilates side kick series and back extension moves are not included. Ana ends the workout with a unique combination move which is a compilation of rolling like a ball, open-legged rocker, the teaser, and lowering down a rope; she then ends with a few brief stretches to bring the workout in at just under 24 minutes. Although Ana works out with an assistant, Tara, who shows modifications for some of the movements, this is an intermediate to advanced Pilates workout and should not be attempted by those new to Pilates.

Instructor Comments:
Ana has a very pleasant manner and offers good instruction, although I prefer her live instructor to the voiceover used here. Also, she gives less form pointers than usual during this workout given that it is at a more advanced level. Her sometimes-assistant, Tara, joins her for this workout, which is filmed in a pretty outdoor beach setting.

Beth C (aka toaster)


I have been doing Pilates for about a year or year and a half now. My preference is for those that are more of a fusion type than straight traditional Pilates. This workout is more of the latter type and I have found it very effective and TOUGH. I am glad that Deb listed the exercises above because I donít think I have ever made it past the neck pull. It is a tough workout and my abs are usually screaming by the criss cross. Those that are better and/or more experienced at the traditional Pilates would probably find it easier than I do. I have found that when I do this tape consistently, even when I donít do the whole thing, my abs are quite a bit stronger than when I donít. Itís one of the few ďabs onlyĒ type workouts that I have done consistently for any period of time other than crunches on my stability ball.

I really appreciate the modifier in this workout because Ana shows some tough variations on many of the moves. In those cases, Iím with Tara. So, you actually get three levels of complexity with many of the moves: Tara shows the beginner move, Anaís original move is more intermediate, and then Ana will sometimes show an even tougher variation of the move.

I really like the setting by the sea. I donít remember anything about the music to report.

Instructor Comments:
She is clear and descriptive in her direction. The direction is in a voiceover, which I usually don't like, but this workout is tough enough for me that I don't really care in my struggle to do the moves.

Laura S.


This tape is set outdoors. For some reason, I'm not crazy about Gaiam's outdoor settings, but I know they're more popular than the indoor settings used in some of the earlier Pilates releases.

Ana is joined by Tara again, who shows easier modifications for most of the movements. The camera does a pretty good job of keeping the two of them in focus throughout the workout.

As is to be expected from the title, the focus is on the abdominals. However, it's still enough of a traditional Pilates workout that I wouldn't recommend it for "parts" toning only.

The movements are: the Hundred, the Rollup, the Rollover, Single Leg Circles, Rolling Like a Ball (with hands crossed at shins), Single Leg Stretch (first with a bicycle motion, then with no hands), the Double Leg Stretch (which also progresses to a variation with no hands), the Single Straight Leg Stretch, aka Scissors (which moves onto a variation with no hands), the Double Leg Lower and Lift, the Criss Cross, the Open Leg Rocker, the Closed Leg Rocker, Corkscrew, the Neck Pull, Shoulder Bridge (first with both feet down, then with a leg lift), the Spine Twist, a Full Teaser (legs and upper body lower and lift, then progresses to a variation with arm circles), Hip Circles, then a movement combining the Open Leg Rocker, Teaser and Reverse Teaser. Finally, we stand, walk to Plank, rise to Neck Roll, then return to seated.

This workout includes some of the more challenging movements from the Pilates matwork (Rollover, Full Teaser, Hip Circles), but is not done at a breakneck pace. It should be challenging, but not impossible.

Instructor Comments:
Please see comments for Easy Pilates and Cardio Pilates.