Pilates Plus Ball and Band

Dian Ramirez
Year Released: 2001

Categories: Pilates/Core Strength

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This is an interesting Pilates workout that uses a lightweight foam ball and a resistance band. The video is 50 minutes long and features 5 sections of roughly equal length.

The first section is a standing warm up consisting of some breathing exercises, forward bends, squat pulse variations, knee bends and calf raise combos and ballet-style plies with the ankles pressed together. It was quite relaxing, and surprisingly well-choreographed: the moves flowed together seamlessly and gently stretched the body.

The second section, the Hundred/Roll-ups, features the band. First are standard roll-ups with the band across the feet, then with it held in the hands as a stabilizer. This is followed by the hundred exercise, performed with the band in the hands, balanced underneath the thighs. If you have short arms, this move might be a little bit awkward---the band kept rubbing against my legs no matter how I positioned them, as my arms just werenít long enough to allow proper clearance. I did like the idea of using the band as a stabilizer during the 100, but not in this capacity.

Part 3 is the ball workout, and I thought it was the most fun and most interesting part of the tape. First, you do roll-downs (again) with the legs in a V-shape, holding the ball in your hands. The addition of the ball really does help your form as you canít use your hands as a cheat here: if you move them to balance yourself, youíll drop the ball---literally. Next is a pelvic lift series with the ball squeezed between the knees, then table work with it squeezed between ankles. This move is then combined with a calf lift that youíll really feel in the hamstrings. Following this is a long series of leg circles, but with the ball held between the ankles. This makes the move MUCH harder, and was one of the more intense moves in the tape. The section closes with some balance work (the ďVĒ thing) and rolling like a ball, with the ball held between your knees.

Part 4, Core Strength Upper Body, was the weakest portion of the tape. It begins with still more roll-downs as before, then performed with a variation of twisting to the side a little. Then Dian incorporates a biceps curl with the band to the bottom of the roll-down. This was extremely uncomfortable. I had to experiment several times with the length of the band here: too short, and you wonít have enough slack to extend the band far enough. And if you pull too hard to try and compensate, youíll dislodge the band from your toes. Too long, and youíll have too much slack: the band will slide off your feet as soon as you pull on it. This was far too fiddly a move for my liking, and the band wound up pressing into my hands enough to leave marks! For strength work with a band, I always wear gloves, but that seemed too much for a Pilates tape. Ick.

The arms section closes with the band spread on the floor, and you kneeling on top of it. From this position, we do some non-Pilates and fairly standard shoulder raises to the side and back, followed by an oblique stretch and some seated spinal twists. Not very exciting or challenging---I have yet to find a Pilates tape that does have challenging upper body work, so this was not a surprise.

The final section is a supine side and leg series, and itís by far the most challenging in the tape. Itís much more high-rep than most work of this kind in other Pilates tapes. It consists of an endless series of leg circles and pushes with the band across the foot, one side, then the other, them repeated for ever and ever (well, all right, about ten minutes, but it FELT like forever!). The section closes with a brief interlude for swimmer-type work on the stomach, then side leg lifts and stretches. The tape closes with a brief addendum on how to use the band.

The video was attractively produced with a pleasant beach setting, although the work area looked very uncomfortable. Dian and her student were on mats that were propped on these odd platforms that resembled over-turned lawn chairs. As for the student, I was dismayed that they did not use her to show modifications or otherwise contribute. She appeared to be pure decoration.

My overall verdict on this video is mixed. The parts that were good were VERY good: the leg circles with the ball, the use of the ball as stabilizer to prevent cheating and maintain form, and even the final leg section, which, though repetitive and long, was very effective. I also appreciated the effort on the safety front, with the pointer section at the end.

But the parts that were bad were VERY bad. If you have ever had trouble with band work, youíll hate this workout, and I felt the upper body section was a dull, unimaginative time-filler to allow Dian to justify requiring the user to buy so many props. It was not intense enough to be much of anything, really.

Overall? If you like band work, this might be the Pilates tape for you. If you donít, you might be better off trying a different tape from this seemingly pleasant and reasonably competent instructor.