Pilates Plus Power: P3Jodi Brennan
Year Released: 2006
Categories: Pilates/Core Strength
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I was curious about this DVD because the instructor, Jodi Brennan, owns a Pilates studio in Pittsford, NY, close to where I live. As the title states, this is a POWER Pilates workout, meaning that it is performed at a very fast pace, offers the option of using weights, and includes very few of the traditional sequence of matwork exercises taught by Pilates founder Joseph Pilates. However, although many of the moves here don't LOOK like classic Pilates, they do FEEL like Pilates, and you will definitely feel the work in your core, particularly your lower abs.
This DVD contains three total workouts: a Studio Workout (44 minutes), a Beginning Garden Workout (10 minutes), and an Advanced Garden Workout (12 minutes). In the Studio Workout, Brennan walks around leading a large group class setting. Some of the participants use weights, some do not; a selection of wrist weights, ankle weights, and dumbbells are shown. Much like Pilates instructor Mari Winsor, Brennan rapidly cues one move after another without pausing. The first 10 minutes of the class consists entirely of matwork lying on your back, but the only move I recognized from classic Pilates was the hundred (which was performed AFTER warming up with several other moves first). This non-stop segment completely exhausts the abs; although I consider myself to be at an intermediate level in Pilates, I had to stop repeatedly to rest. The following 10 minutes involves seated arms work using weights. Next, there is about 5 minutes of work in a prone position and then another 5 minutes in a lying face up position, including a teaser sequence. The final 10 minutes of this workout includes Pilates side kicks, kneeling arms work, and some brief exercises in an all fours position; Brennan then concludes with a few minutes of stretching.
Both Garden workouts are filmed in an outdoor setting, with Brennan performing the moves alone and instructing via voiceover. The two workouts start similar to the studio workout floor segment in that there are several warm-up exercises for the abs before moving into the hundred exercise. Weights are an option for these workouts as well, but Brennan does not use them. I found the "Beginner" workout to be nearly as challenging as the Advanced; the main difference that I noticed was that in the Beginner Garden workout, Brennan takes more frequent breaks to do a low back stretch. However, the Beginner workout still moves quickly and still contains challenging exercises such as the rollover; the Advanced workout includes a short teaser sequence. One other important thing to note: for some reason, the Beginner workout stops abruptly with Brennan being right in the middle of both an exercise and a sentence!
In case you haven't already guessed from my description above, this DVD is NOT for those new to Pilates. Brennan provides no information about Pilates principles, no breakdown of the exercises, no information on proper form, etc. Furthermore, the "Beginner" workout would likely be too intense for most beginning Pilates students. Rather, I would say that this is more akin to power yoga--i.e., a more intense, physical version of the traditional Pilates system. Therefore, this DVD would be best suited to those looking for a Pilates practice that is going to give them a real workout; it would probably also be good for those who enjoy attending fast-moving Pilates classes and would like to replicate this experience at home.
I thought Jodi was fine overall, although as mentioned above, she doesn't break down moves or offer form pointers. She isn't quite as drill sergeant-like as Mari Winsor--she's a bit more soft-spoken--but she's no-nonsense and moves quite quickly.
Iím reviewing this workout after doing all workouts twice.
General workout breakdown: This workout contains three workouts primarily drawing from Pilates apparatus (reformer, etc.) moves adapted to the mat. The focus is on stabilizing the core while the upper and lower body are moving, which means that there is more lower and especially upper body work than in most Pilates videos. The core is constantly engaged, so there are not many exercises that specifically target that area alone. There is some lower back work in the studio workout, but itís minimal in the two shorter routines.
There is little down time between each exercise, which is usually performed with a limited number of reps (usually 3-6 each). The pace is quick but not so fast that limbs are flailing about wildly.
*Studio workout = mat class + toning exercises using weights (just under 45 minutes), includes the following exercises: reclined full body stretch with centering, footwork with arm movements (e.g. biceps curls or arm circles), the hundred, criss crossing legs and arms while lowering and raising them, reclined spinal twist, modified rollover (i.e. jackknife) with arms reaching in opposite direction, coordination, supine leg series (small double leg circles, frog-like motion, opening and closing legs, double straight leg stretch, big double leg circles, a variation on the can-can done supine and to one side at the time, corkscrew variation), reclined spinal twist, roll-up into seated arm series (including several versions of rowing, shave the head in front and behind, hug, etc.), spinal twist with leg raise, swan prep, single leg lift and heel beats in single leg kick position, swimming prep (lifting opposite arm and leg) and full swimming, breaststroke with heel beats, back stretch (i.e. shell stretch / childís pose), backstroke, teaser with arm movements (i.e. lifting and lowering or small circles) and then leg movements, arm movements series with single leg stretch, arm movements with single straight leg stretch (i.e. scissors), reclined spinal twist, side leg series (front & back, up & down, big circles or ronde du jambe, lower leg lift, double leg lift), arm movements while kneeling, thigh stretch, more arm movements while kneeling (including one thatís a variation of side bend, etc.), table-top balance series (i.e. on hands and knees, with opposite arm and leg extended, moving, etc.), back stretch, and a few quick standing and seated stretches (primarily for the lower body).
*The Garden Ė Beginner = beginner / intermediate full-body workout (just over 10 minutes), includes the following exercises: centering on back (raising and lowering bent knee, arm circles, leading into curl with bent knee and circling arm, which becomes curl with both knees and arms moving), footwork with arm movements, the hundred, criss crossing legs and arms while lowering and raising them, reclined spinal twist, rollover, coordination, supine leg series (small double leg circles, frog-like motion, opening and closing legs, lowering and lifting legs held together), roll-up into seated biceps curls with leg lifts, single leg circles, roll-up into rowing, and reclined back stretch (knees to chest). The routine is very similar to the first part of the studio workout, but there are a couple of reps less, and Jodi has you do a reclined spinal twist after every couple of exercises.
*The Garden Ė Advanced = intermediate / advanced full-body workout (about 12 minutes), includes the following exercises: curl with double arm circles and knee lifts, footwork with arm movements, the hundred, crossing legs and arms while lowering and raising them, supine leg series (small double leg circles, frog-like motion, opening and closing legs, lowering and lifting legs held together, big double leg circles), reclined spinal twist, arm movements series with single leg stretch, arm movements with single straight leg stretch (i.e. scissors), reclined spinal twist, a variation on the can-can thatís done supine and to one side at the time with arm movements, corkscrew, reclined spinal twist, roll-up into seated roll-back with twist, teaser with arm movements and leg movements, reclined spinal twist, roll-up into spinal twist with leg raises and then biceps curls with leg raises, shave the head (in front of and behind the head), backstroke, reclined spinal twist, roll-up into rowing, hip circles, and reclined back stretch (knees to chest).
Level: Iíd recommend this to someone practicing Pilates at a beginner / intermediate through the intermediate / advanced level. I would not recommend this to a beginner to Pilates because there isnít much form instruction, nor does Jodi instruct Pilates breathing, even if she cues it fairly constantly and well. Additionally, those new to the Pilates reformer moves may find this video frustrating. (Iíd recommend Sarah Picotís More than Mat series for instruction on a number of the reformer matwork moves and Brooke Silerís The Pilates Body for many of the arm series.)
Iíve been practicing Pilates for 3 to 4 years now and consider myself a solid intermediate. This video was appropriate for my level with some room to grow. Since this routine contains a number of moves outside of traditional Pilates matwork, my core was definitely talking to me during the video and the day after.
The fact that a good deal of each routine is performed in a curl position as well as the timing of Jodiís cueing means that itís easy to strain your neck while doing this video; itís also a good idea to be aware of your back during the many rowing exercises. I highly recommend previewing this video and then trying it at least once without weights, especially if you do not normally include weights in your Pilates routine, and then adding them in slowly.
Class: The mat class has ten of Jodiís students, including two men, as Jodi walks around and instructs, sometimes pausing to physically correct a student. One man does all exercises without weights, but there are few modifications shown, much less suggested.
The full-body workouts just feature Jodi, with instruction via voice-over.
Music: There is no music in the mat class. The shorter workouts in the garden have soft instrumental music thatís pleasant but forgettable.
Set: The mat class is set in a bright studio with white walls, wood floors, and Pilates equipment neatly arranged around the sides. The two shorter routines are set in a sunlit backyard garden on the lawn.
Production: This definitely isnít a big budget production, but the picture and sound are good. The camera angles, especially during the two garden sequences, are helpful, with minimal artsy stuff, face shots, etc. The voiceover is not always exactly in synch with the moves. (Actually, itís more that Jodi gives you details later rather than sooner during a few moves.)
Equipment: mat (or equivalent). As shown during the studio session, you may add ankle weights, wrist weights, and / or light dumbbells or weighted balls (your choice of weights, but youíll want something light, like 1-3 lb.). All exercisers are barefoot.
Space Requirements: You should have enough room to lie down with arms and legs extended and be able to sweep your limbs around without hitting everything.
DVD Notes: The main menu has these options: The Studio Workout, The Garden Ė Beginner, and The Garden Ė Advanced. There are chapters in the studio routine, but they donít often fall in logical places (i.e. at the beginning of the variation rather than before the move is introduced). During this session tips, usually correcting form, offering a modification, or reminding you to work at your own level, appear at the bottom of the screen from time to time. Jodi gives an introduction to Pilates during the warnings, etc., but you can skip this. You do have to wait a few seconds for all of the graphics and music to load at the main menu, though.
Conclusion: Pilates purists will point out that there is no need for weights during a well performed Pilates routine, but this DVD is ideal for those who have switched to Pilates for their regular strength routine. The selection of reformer exercises and the addition of weights makes this great for cross-training, and youíll have room to grow because youíll be able to increase your weights. Youíll also enjoy the significant focus on the upper body, often lacking in Pilates videos, without push-ups. Regular Pilates enthusiasts might find this an enjoyable change from their regular matwork and get ideas about how to incorporate more upper body movements to challenge or liven up their regular routines.
I caved on this after reading Deniseís excellent review, especially when I saw it had a couple of short routines, and Iím glad I did because this adds something different to my collection of Pilates videos. The short routines will rotate nicely with Ana Cabanís Energy Boost Pilates or segments from 10 Minute Solution Pilates. I usually donít spend 45 minutes alone on Pilates, but I enjoyed the live class feel of the longer mat session.
If you enjoy the reformer moves on the mat, try Sarah Picotís More than Mat Series as well as Mari Winsorís Maximum Burn Super Sculpting & Body Slimming. You can also find some reformer exercises in Ana Cabanís Energy Boost Pilates 1 and Liz Gilliesí Progressive Pilates for Weight Loss (most of which are also on the bonus section on her Target Tone video). The supine leg series appears with some variations in Kristin McGeeís MTV Pilates as well.
Jodi has a pleasant, professional on-screen persona with no excess chatter. She does not include a lot of form tips and even less form instruction, but she does include some helpful tips on when to breathe. Her form is good but not perfect, although itís nice to see a Pilates instructor whoís not Gumby. Jodi does not mirror cue, nor does she cue every rep of an exercise. Also, she sometimes does not note transitions before or even right as they happen. More experienced Pilates practioners may find this a plus, however, as they will be able to move through the moves at their own pace once they are familiar with the routine.
This workout consists of 3 different sessions.
Pilates Mat Class-45 Minute
Beg/Int-12 Minute Full Body
Int/Adv-12 Minute Full Body
Indoor studio setting, with wood flooring, matching mats and plants to help decorate. There is no music in this session. Jodi instructs while the class follows along. Beginning on your back, Jodi goes through some deep breathing exercises & brief exercises before beginning. Next is a series of abdominal exercises that are taken from the pilates apparatus and demonstrated on the floor. These exercises are done in a slow, controlled pace (which you'll surely feel in your core muscles!). Many students demonstrate using hand weights and wrist and/or ankle weights. All levels are shown as everyone works to their own level. Many modified poses are shown prior to bumping it up into the full version, such as with the rollover exercise. Throughout the workout, the television screen will show tips so you can get the most from your workout. (plus Jodi gives gives great form pointers) This workout has many new/fresh variations to keep you interested and help you shape your body. (you won't get bored) The side leg series will tone and define inner/outer thighs, hips and glutes. Jodi joins the class for the final relaxation stretches.
Garden Beginner/Intermediate and Intermediate/Advanced:
Both are demonstrated by Jodi, who is alone in a pretty outdoor garden setting. There is pleasant instrumental music in these two sessions. Begin with the beg/int. session before progressing to the int/adv. session. (the int/adv. session moves slightly quicker and demonstrates harder versions of the poses) In just 12 minutes you'll work your body with unique exercises for maximum total body benefits.
If your looking for a pilates workout that takes it up a notch from the "basic" mat work, this is it. Two thumbs up on this one!!