Romana's Pilates: Optimum Weight Management

Romana Kryzanowska
Year Released: 2003

Categories: Pilates/Core Strength



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This video is part of a series by Romana Kryzanowska a student of Pilates founder Joseph Pilates and in fact the heir to his original teachings. Now in her 80s, Romana is simply amazing--a guru, a diva, and an inspiration all rolled into one. This DVD offers documentary footage (including "History of Pilates" and "Romana: Keeper of the Flame and Force of Nature"), and it is incredible to watch both Romana and "Uncle Joe" at work.

Of course, this is also an exercise DVD, and to me, the workout did not disappoint. In the main practice, "One on One with Romana," Romana leads a female student, Petie, through a Pilates mat series. This is a flowing segment which I would rate at a low intermediate level, with the most challenging exercises being the neck pull and the jack knife (oddly enough, though, the rollover is admitted). Romana sticks mainly to the classical Pilates sequencing, going from the hundred, roll up, leg circles, and rolling like a ball to the single leg stretch, although she skips the rest of the series of five to move into the spine stretch forward, open leg rocker, corkscrew, saw, swan dive, single and double leg kicks, neck pull, jack knife, an abbreviated side series, teaser series, hip circles, swimming (which she makes a point of saying that she does not like!), the rarely-seen leg pull (face down and face up), kneeling side kicks, mermaid, seal, and final stretch. Romana is quite humorous in her instruction, and I loved the little tips she provide here and there (although her comments sometimes resulted in an uneven number of reps being performed from one side to the other). Overall, I thought the workout had a very similar feel to Winsor Advanced Body Slimming; Mari Winsor, one of the many Pilates instructors interviewed for this video, was clearly influenced by Romana. In addition to Romana's coaching, there is also occasional voiceover commentary providing additional information, and a graphic comes on screen announcing each upcoming exercise (I thought that both of these techniques served to break up the flow of the workout a bit; I would have preferred listening to Romana only). The entire sequence is about 20 minutes long.

A second workout option is "Workout with Petie." Here, student Petie repeats the above mat series on her own to voiceover instruction only. The transitions between exercises flow more quickly here, and the workout time is a bit shorter, about 16 minutes total. Although the reps are even here and it is a well-designed workout overall, I definitely missed Romana's presence, and so I will turn to this version only when I am short on time. Finally, the DVD offers a few bonus exercise segments, including "Wall Alignment Warm Up," which has three students demonstrating some simple stretches at the wall, and "Around the Clock with Kathi," in which student Kathi performs the double leg stretch while revolving in a circle (ie, the outline of a clock).

I'm not sure that I'd want to collect all the DVDs in this series (this is the only one I've tried so far), but I'm definitely happy to have acquired this one. Although the workout itself probably only rates 4 stars, working out with Romana is definitely a 5-star experience.

Instructor Comments:
I agree with Jane that Romana is a diva--in a good way, of course! I can see her influence on Mari Winsor in particular, but she exudes more warmth and humor than Mari. I just loved seeing her in action!

Beth C (aka toaster)

12/15/2006

I’m reviewing this workout after doing it a couple of times in the months that I’ve had it.

General workout breakdown: There are actually two versions of the same workout on this DVD. Both contain the same exercises (although there may be a slight difference in the number of some repetitions), but “One on One with Romana” features Romana instructing the moves with a student demonstrating them and lasts 20 minutes while “Workout with Petie” features the student performing the entire routine with Romana’s voiceover and lasts just over 16 minutes.
The latter is intended to be the workout proper. This workout doesn’t just focus on the abs; there are a good number of exercises for other parts of your core. The exercises and the transitions between them are fairly quick during the second version of the routine.
The exercises are controlled sit down, the hundred, roll up, leg circle, rolling like a ball, single leg stretch, spine stretch forward, open leg rocker, corkscrew, the saw, neck roll, swan dive, shell stretch, single leg kicks, double leg kicks, neck pull, jack knife, side kicks (front & back, up & down, and bicycle), teaser (1, 2, and 3), hip circles, swimming, shell stretch, leg pull facing down, leg pull facing up, kneeling side kicks (front & back and bicycle), mermaid, seal, around the world, and running.

Level: I’d recommend this to an intermediate level Pilates exerciser. This is not for beginners; it assumes preexisting strength (and flexibility) and contains a number of intermediate to even advanced exercises (e.g. swan dive and kneeling side kicks). At the same time, anyone ready to move onto advanced Pilates videos would find this too easy. I first got this when I had just about finished my transition from beginner to intermediate, and it was tough. Now that I consider myself low intermediate (about 2 years of experience but still limited strength & flexibility), I find this to be a more appropriate challenge.

Class: one student only. (Petie wears a rather unflattering purpley/hot pink full body unitard. She seems tense, which is understandable if you’re in a video for the Romana.)

Music / Set / Other Production Notes: There is no music. The workout takes place in the corner of a room with hardwood floors and sheer curtains covering large windows with some cityscape views. This is a Natural Journeys video, so the sound and picture quality are very good. The camerawork sometimes appears to have been done with a handheld camera.

Equipment: mat (or equivalent). Petie performs barefoot.

Comments: You don’t need much space for this workout. You should be able to lie down with your arms and legs extended and have a little room around your mat.
Yes, the title is shocking given this comes from the queen of Pilates purism, but I have a hunch the Natural Journeys’ marketing department overruled any objection anyone could make. There are a few mentions of burning fat, getting your heartrate up, etc. I found that the workout does move quickly enough to get me sweaty, but I wouldn’t drop my cardio workouts just because I’m doing this.

DVD Notes: The DVD allows you to play the full program (which is an odd choice given the way this DVD is set up) or select your segment (“History of Pilates,” “Basics,” “One on One with Romana,” or “Workout with Petie”). You can choose to play the DVD in Dolby Digital 2.0 or 5.1, if you’re into that. The Special Features include “Around the Clock with Kathi” (which shows Kathi doing double leg stretch while scooting around her mat as if she were the hands of a clock), “Wall Alignment Warm Up” (with 3 students demonstrating moves on the wall: rolling down and up against the wall, sliding down the wall into a squat with a towel behind the back, footwork, ), “Romana: Keeper of the Flame and Force of Nature” (a short documentary on Romana), a photo gallery taken during the filming of the Romana Pilates series, and trailers for the other videos in the series.

Conclusion: Eh, I just can’t seem to get into this one. I got it because I really wanted a chance to work with Romana, since she is, well, who she is. And I like to think I’m a purist, so learning Pilates straight from the horse’s mouth appeals greatly to me. But this video just seems to lack something. Is it the absence of music? Is it the fact that Romana’s personality gets so lost via voiceover? Is it something else altogether? I don’t think I’ll be keeping this video long enough to figure it out.

Instructor Comments:
Romana is inspiring; she is certainly fit and active for someone of any age, much less hers! She definitely enjoys the position of the “wise old woman” who was privileged to be so close to Joseph Pilates himself, and she claims to pass his workouts on exactly as he taught them. As an instructor, she’s not bad—definitely better in person than by voiceover. She tends to focus more on cueing the move than breathing. Her instruction and cueing is better in the One on One segment, but she’s also more prone to wax nostalgic about ol’ Joe there, too. She has a distinctive way of talking, peppered with those Joe-isms.

KathAL79

09/29/2005

at $11.99 or whatever at Deep Discount DVD with free shipping there is NO excuse not to pick up one fo the new Romana's Pilates DVDS.

i'm blown away. she's an inspiration. she's 80 years old and pure diva. BE SURE to take a look at the "Romana - A force of Nature" section in the special features and you'll travel with Romana as she meets Uncle Joey, allows her lover to marry her and whisk her off to Peru, where she lives "high and wide". You'll see Romana with Lamas, Romana with Jill Clayburgh, Mari Winsor gushing over Romana - and you'll start to see - much more clearly then in the Collage clips - how deeply intelligent, fun loving and authentic she is.

As Karen W. described (if memory serves), all the DVDS have a "history" section with J.Pilates footage (and teenage Romana), a "Basics" section where she gives detailed technique, a workout w/Romana section where she twists some hapless, but beautiful student into deep pilates moves, and a "Routine" section where the student goes solo with a femal voice over.

You see the 80 year old diva whipping around doing backbends on the cadillac - her granddaugher tells us that grandma enjoys being twirled around by men. Her family is extremely devoted to her - she's just brimming with "a life well lived".

Optimum Weight Management is maybe 23 minutes - its intermediate. Its not a routine I'd start a beginner with, but for someone who has some pilates basics down its a real treat. I "worked out" with Romana - so I can't really speak to the solo routine - I believe its identical.

Romana shows a much more sweeping, artistic, intense pilates practice than I've ever seen - it is definitely *not* for the faint of heart - there's *alot* of back bending, alot of fast leg moves. she is just little miss pilates party - she's what I want to be when I grow up.

fyi, the production values are quite nice - the Collage clips don't do her justice. She's in a pristinely clean dance studio with polished hardwood floors and beautiful loft windows with gause curtains - you can see an urban landscape through them - its not unlike the early kari anderson sets. The dvds are loaded with added features. She likes silk blouses and slim pants - you have to see her move to take in how filled with exhuberance she is.

Did I say I liked it?

Instructor Comments:
like they say - a force of nature. 80 years old. very vibrant

Jane C

12/29/2003