The Quick & Dirty Guide to Pilates, Volume 1

Laura Hames
Year Released: 2005

Categories: Pilates/Core Strength

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It's too bad that all exercise videos don't take advantage of the DVD format as well as this one does. In particular, The Quick & Dirty Guide to Pilates allows for each exercise to be viewed from multiple angles--including front, top, and behind--which is enormously helpful, especially to beginners. In addition, at any point during the exercises, you can click on the "+" button to obtain more detailed information on how to perform the movement.

That being said, I found the workout itself to be disappointing, as it contains virtually no traditionally Pilates matwork. Instead, I would classify this workout as more of a stretching program with components more similar to yoga than to Pilates. Aussie instructor Laura Hames does begin by offering an introduction to Pilates principles (neutral spine, pelvic scoop, and breathing), and she does remind you of these principles during the exercises.

The DVD is very well-chaptered according to the individual exercises, with most of the chapters being very short (<1 minute), and the total workout coming in at about 31 minutes. Below is the complete chapter breakdown along with my short descriptions:

1. Sliding Legs--lying on your back, moving each leg in and out in turn
2. Pelvic Tilts--performed lying on your back
3. Knee Drops--lying on your back, opening and closing your knees
4. Knee Stairs--lying on your back, making circles with each bent leg
5. Hamstrings--reclined hamstring stretch with towel (from yoga)
6. Spine Curls--similar to pelvic tilts, but incorporating a wave-like movement with your entire back
7. Arm Opening--still in a reclined position, raising your arms over your chest then opening out to the side
8. Drops--in reclined position, lifting and dropping your shoulders
9. Diamonds--a simple back extension from a face down position
10. Cat--spine stretch performed on hands and knees (from yoga)
11. Oyster--lying on your side with your knees bent, opening and closing your top bent leg
12. Glutes--lying on your back, a bent leg stretch (called thread the needle in yoga)
13. Curl Ups--a very slow abdominal crunch
14. Knee Bends--a gentle standing squat
15. Side Bends--a standing side stretch repeated to each side
16. Rotations--a sort of bow & arrow stretch from a standing position
17. Walk on the Spot--tiptoeing in place
18. Shoulder Circles--rolling your shoulders
19. Roll Down--rolling from standing to a forward bend
20. Rest--finish in shell stretch (Pilates) or child's pose (yoga)

Although this workout has some merit as a stretching routine based on Pilates principles, I think calling it a "guide to Pilates" is definitely poor marketing. The comments on the DVD case just add to this confusion--one statement referred to instructor Laura Hawes, saying "even her presence melts fat." I found this to be quite misleading; not only is this workout not traditional Pilates, but it is also NOT a fat-burning workout by any means, as it moves VERY slowly. If you are wanting to take advantage of special DVD features to learn basic Pilates principles and stretches, you might enjoy this DVD, but don't expect to become familiar with Pilates or to get an intense workout from this DVD.

Instructor Comments:
Laura instructs well, speaking with an Aussie accent. However, she moves VERY slowly through the exercises, so anyone beyond a beginner level might quickly become bored.

Beth C (aka toaster)