Pilates for Abs

Kathy Smith
Year Released: 2001

Categories: Pilates/Core Strength

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Pilates for Abs was Kathy Smith’s first pilates workout, and it is an excellent routine. Kathy works out with one background exerciser who shows advanced modifications. They are in a clean, cool room with stone garden-like décor and they each work out on a large, thick mat. Kathy instructs in real-time but there is an occasional voice-over with a more detailed form pointer, and the name of each exercise appears on the screen as it begins. The dvd has info on Kathy’s other workouts, and a text bio but otherwise no extra features.

The workout is about half an hour and goes at a slow, controlled pace. Kathy offers meticulous instruction---closing credits thank the Stott people, and if that’s where Kathy got her training, it shows. I was very impressed with the care and attention to detail compared to other Pilates workouts I have seen.

There is a short warm-up to teach breathing and alignment, then the workout begins. The exercises include: the hundred, roll-ups, rolling like a ball, single leg stretch, double leg stretch, scissors, leg lower and lift, twist, spine stretch, saw, swan, shoulder bridge, teaser, can-can and mermaid. It was very similar to the Winsor Pilates ab routine but much better instructed and at a slightly slower pace.

I would not hesitate at all to recommend this workout and it companion tape Pilates for the Lower Body to someone new to pilates who wants a safe and effective introduction that instructs thoroughly, but does not drag or pause. It is a solid, flowing routine and suitable for more advanced users too.



This video was Kathy Smith's first sojourn into the world of Pilates. It was the first Pilates tape I tried and it really turned me off of pilates from the start.

She goes through many of the basic pilates movements like Rolling like a Ball and the Hundred. I find that her descriptions of the exercises are rather sparse and make it very difficult to follow the routine without craning my neck to see the TV.

I traded it fairly quickly, and am more likely to recommend Mari Winsor for pilates - even though I am still not a fan of the practice over all. I used to think I was a really horrible person for hating Pilates, but I have since come to the realization that if I don't absolutely love what I am doing, why should I do it?

Cori (ziggy2306)


At the start of this video, Kathy Smith takes a full 7 minutes to discuss proper form and alignment. She covers important Pilates terms such as the powerhouse, and she also offers detailed form pointers including how to pull your navel toward your spine, how to tilt your pelvis, and how to contract your pelvic floor (similar to Kegel exercises). Although I was already familiar with Pilates, I found this section to be a very helpful refresher, and I appreciated Kathy's unique instruction.

Kathy then moves on to the workout. Although she doesn't do the moves in the classic Pilates sequence--she notes that she altered the sequence to focus even more specifically on the abs--she does start with the typical Pilates first exercise, the Hundred. She performs this and other moves at a modified level while her assistant, Lija, demonstrates more challenging positions. The exercises include lesser-known Pilates moves such as the Can-Can and the Mermaid as well as a yoga pose, Bridge. Kathy offers form reminders throughout the workout, and I found this to be particularly helpful in making sure that the work was concentrated in my abs. The entire workout is over in a quick 20 minutes, but by the end, my abs definitely felt the work.

Although this workout is appropriate for those at a beginning level, I wouldn't recommend it to someone totally brand new to Pilates, as it proceeds a bit too quickly. Instead, a Pilates novice could use either Ana Caban's Beginner's Mat Work or Hilary Burnett's Pilates for Beginners to obtain more detailed instruction on performing the movements. Once the basic technique is learned, however, this workout is appropriate for beginning or intermediate Pilates practitioners who want a short program which specifically targets the abdominal muscles.

Instructor Comments:
I like working out with Kathy; I think she is a very good instructor who is always offering pointers on form. She also provides tips on breathing in this video, but her inhale-exhale commands seemed to be a bit out of sync in this workout.

Beth C (aka toaster)


Kathy's Pilates workout is extremely effective and will help guide you through proper pilates form. It's a great workout, very challenging to perform all the way through if you are following her excellent cues and working from your 'powerhouse'. Kathy makes that easier to do by using accessible imagery for you to use as a tool. With cues such as "imagine you're stopping the flow of urine", it's hard to not understand what you should be feeling and where to tighten up your muscles. I think this tape is very successful as a workout, however I know Kathy's workouts and I know she usually pulls of a first-class production in content as well as visually, but it looks like not a lot of thought went into the set in this video, it is pretty boring to look at. But that isn't really important, that is a totally subjective thing. All in all, I think this is a very good Pilates video - it is very accessible but it's serious, too. Time is not wasted, and you will work.

Instructor Comments:
Kathy Smith in this video carefully explains how to do the exercises. She's very good.

Kathy Weller


This tape is about 30 minutes long with the workout being 22 minutes long. The beginning of the tape is instructional. Kathy goes through how you should breathe and the position of your body while performing the exercises. I felt she gives some good tips – I got the ‘scoop’, and neutral spine down. However, I did not really get one thing she talks about – ‘knitting the ribs together’ – but I was not so worried about it because the work seems hard enough as it is. She says that since this is specifically for abs the exercises are not done in the traditional order for Pilates.

Each exercise is performed about 5 - 7 times and include:

The Hundred
Rolling like a Ball
Single Leg Stretch
Double Leg Stretch
Double Leg Lower Lift
Spine Stretch
The Saw
The Swan
Shoulder Bridge

My other Pilates experience includes only Denise Austin’s Pilates tape and the Pilates Body book. Kathy Smith’s tape seems to sort of pulled everything together for me. She said the work should feel tougher as you get better at Pilates. I felt it was tough the first time through, and I think it will challenge me for a while. Kathy is working out with someone else in the background, who is doing the more advanced versions of the exercise. Kathy also shows and describes ways of making some of the exercises easier, so this can cover different levels. If you are new to Pilates, I think this would be a good start especially since Pilates requires a lot of concentration and this is a short tape, but it also has good instruction. I think for someone experienced with Pilates, this may be too basic. Over the past 4 weeks, I have done the tape about 2 – 3 times each week and it still feels good for me. I think if you are thinking about trying Pilates, this would be a good start. The tape is inexpensive (about $10.00) and readily available.

Kris Kim