Progressive Pilates for Weight Loss

Liz Gillies
Year Released: 2003

Categories: Pilates/Core Strength

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Iím reviewing this workout after doing it a couple of times about a year ago.

General workout breakdown: This workout contains three distinct sections: a dance-inspired ďcardioĒ section, a standing Pilates section (with traditional Pilates matwork moves adapted from horizontal to vertical), and a matwork section (with many moves adapted from the Pilates reformer machine cannon). There is a ďbonus absĒ section which is actually drawn from Lizís other Progressive Pilates video: 10 Minute Target-Tone Workouts. The workout is about 40 minutes long, and the bonus section is 10 minutes. The overall pace is quick, both during the execution of moves and between moves.

Level: Thereís no easy answer to this question. I got this video about a year ago, when I was just getting back to Pilates after a couple of years away. I considered myself an experienced beginner at that time with respect to Pilates and an intermediate at cardio. In addition, I took a total of 10-12 years of various types of dance when I was younger. That said, I found the cardio too easy, the standing Pilates section OK, and the matwork appropriately challenging, even a little tough in areas. I donít wear a heart rate monitor, but Iím willing to bet my heart rate wasnít significantly higher at the end of the section than at the beginning; walking around my apartment probably would have had the same effect for me. And Iíve tried a couple of standing Pilates routines. They were tricky, especially since you definitely need to know what youíre doing, but I didnít ever feel the burn I was expecting. Itís possible I wasnít doing the moves correctly or something, since I feel these moves much more on the floor. As for the matwork, parts of it were challenging, including planks and moves new to me that also added some difficultyóand interest.
That said, Iím not sure to whom Iíd recommend this workout. Maybe to a formerly regular exerciser who has been away for a bit and wants something to ease the transition back into working out. Or maybe to someone who considers her/himself at the beginner/intermediate crossover with respect to Pilates and wants some variety. This is NOT a good video for Pilates beginners, no matter what the cover says. Liz does not offer enough instruction on form and breathing to make this an ideal first Pilates workout, and the standing Pilates series would probably only be effective for someone familiar with the moves already. The moves would be too easy for anyone past (or even at) a solidly intermediate level.

Class: Four thin young women accompany Liz, with one demonstrating modifications.

Music / Set / Other Production Notes: The music is better than average here, and the moves are nicely coordinated with the beat, thanks to Lizís dance background. The interior set features hardwood floors and bright colors. The overall sound and picture quality are very good.

Equipment: mat (or equivalent).

Comments: You donít need too much space for this workout. You should be able to lie down on your mat and move around comfortably while standing.
Are you going to lose weight just by adding this video? Most likely not unless you are getting back to exercising after some time away. But you knew that already . . .

DVD Notes: I donít remember specifics, but there was a long intro to Liz and the Progressive Pilates series. I remember being able to skip that, though. You can select segments to do, but I canít remember if you can program the segments in a certain order without having to go back to the menu each time.

Conclusion: Why did I trade this? Well, for part of the answer to that question see my comments on Liz as an instructor. The other part of the answer is that I just never got into this particular workout, which still puzzles me. I like ballet, I like Pilates, so why donít I like Pilates-dance fusion and standing Pilates workouts? Of the dance-Pilates fusion workouts that Iíve had, the only ones Iíve kept are Breakthru Pilates Plus and Jennifer Kriesí Pilates MethodóPrecision Pilates. (Interestingly enough, in both of those workouts the dance segments are for toning, not for cardio, so maybe itís more that I havenít found a ballet-inspired cardio dance that I like.)
Iíve heard this compared to Crunchís Fat Burning Pilates because both have dancy cardio portions, but I think itís also comparable to Denise Austinís Power ZoneóMind Body Soul because of the movement combinations and standing Pilates portions. I havenít done the Crunch, but I acquired the Denise about the same time as PP for WL. I liked the Denise a little better, mainly because of Lisa Wheelerís touch, but I ended up trading that one away, too. (In other words, Iím not the best person to ask about these types of workouts.)
I will say that if you like the idea of having some different matwork moves for variety, Iíd advise you to get Lizís 10 Minute Target Tone Workouts because the ďbonusĒ is actually a significant portion of the reformer matwork from this video. I personally liked Target Tone better anyway.

Instructor Comments:
Liz Gillies is yet another injured-dancer-turned-Pilates instructor. She's not a bad instructor, but I just didn't click with her. (Iím sure sheís a perfectly nice person, and I might even get along with her if I met her in person, but something about her on screen persona just didnít do much for me.) Sheís upbeat and enthusiastic, but not too much. She mirror cues, if I remember correctly. Her cueing is good, her form pointers few but decent, but her form is just OK. Her form may be better than it looks because (and I hate to say this because goodness knows Iíd be lucky to have even this said about me) she has a slightly thicker build than the average video Pilates instructor / background exerciser, making it harder to see sometimes the little subtleties that make a difference. Fortunately her background exercisers demonstrate great form, so I would look to them when I needed a clearer view of an exercise.
Hereís where the purely personal opinion starts, so if youíre not interested, skip to the last paragraph. I think it's great that Liz has enough confidence to wear whatever she wants at her age (she appears older in the video than on the cover, although Iím a bad judge of age), but she has this one tiny top and a couple of pairs of awfully tight pants. I spent a good portion of my preview time worrying for her about a ďwardrobe malfunction,Ē but fortunately none occurred. And hereís a truly bizarre point that probably wonít bother anyone else: Liz is from the New York City area, so she says things like making sure your body is "on line" instead of "in line." Obviously thereís nothing wrong with that, but my time as a language teacher in that area has made me hypersensitive to such wording.
To sum up, ignoring my strange personal issues with her, my real concerns are her relatively OK form and lack of form instruction / pointers, particularly in a video thatís marketed towards beginners.



This is similar to Ellen's Crunch videos but kinder to the knees. The first 20 minutes are standing Pilates but brisk then the rest is on the mat. I don't have too many Pilates videos so some of the terms that Liz uses meant nothing to me so it was difficult to follow her at times. If someone hasn't ever done Pilates, they would be lost at times.

There are four background exercisers, same as in the other Progressive Pilates video. One of them, Corey, does modifications.

Overall, a good video.

Instructor Comments:
Liz is her usual happy self. Her cuing isn't as good as in some of other videos.