More than Mat Pilates Advanced

Sarah Picot
Year Released: 2005

Categories: Pilates/Core Strength

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I’m reviewing this workout after doing the main workout twice and the Cardio Blast once.

General workout breakdown: This DVD contains two versions of the same Pilates workout. “More than Mat Workout,” or the main workout, is a 51-min. version that’s more instructional. A clip before each move shows Sarah performing the original exercise on a machine. Sarah encourages you to use this 3-5 times a week for at least 6 weeks before attempting to tackle the faster version, “Cardio Flow Workout,” a 29-min. version that eliminates the reformer shots and has more focused cueing and a quicker flow. (What a great idea! Why don’t more DVDs of Pilates and similar styles do this?)

• The fundamental warm-up segment (10 min.) is the same one also included on the Beginner and Intermediate levels. After a brief intro from Sarah, lower to the mat from standing for breathing on back, imprinting, head float, knee sway, bridging, ribcage arms, prone hip extension, and flight, ending with child’s pose.
• The exercises included in both workouts are controlled sit down, roll down (3 variations), foot work (3 variations), hundred, push through (2 variations), overhead*, coordination, rowing (6 variations*, including shave the head and hug a tree), swan (4 variations*), pulling straps (2 variations), child’s pose, backstroke, teaser, cat, stretch series* (3 variations), elephant (2 variations), long back stretch, stomach massage (4 variations), seated forward bend, tendon stretch (3 variations*), short spine, thigh stretch, water wheel, reverse triceps press, snake / twist, 3 part, balance control, short box (4 variations), climb a tree with leg stretches, long spine stretch, leg circles, leg springs (2 variations), knee stretches (3 variations*), pelvic lift (2 variations), arm press plie*, and running (2 variations). [Note: I’ve marked exercises that are either new or have new variations in the Advanced level with an asterisk.]

Most exercises are repeated 3-5 and no more than 10 times, emphasizing quality over quantity. The pace is neither too fast nor too slow, although the main workout goes through the exercises a little more slowly, especially during the first rep. There is more down time between exercises in the main session, but the pauses aren’t so long that you can’t use this as a workout. Sarah says the Cardio Flow workout will get your heart rate up; I found that it kept my heart rate at a steady pace but certainly didn’t boost it into the range my normal cardio workouts do.
These exercises are more about working the whole Pilates powerhouse / core. There’s a good amount of upper body moves and flexibility work here, too.

Level: I’d recommend this to someone around the intermediate plus to intermediate / advanced level of Pilates, whether you normally do mat work, machine work, or both. Those who are completely unfamiliar with Pilates machine exercises may want to rent, borrow, or trade for the Intermediate to get comfortable with them; however, Sarah provides good enough instruction that sharp Pilates fans will find these easy enough to pick up. Even though this says “Advanced,” those who are true Pilates masters probably won’t find this much of a challenge, especially the more start and stop main workout. This is one of those where you get out of it what you put into it, though, but then again isn’t that true for just about any Pilates workout?
I consider myself at the int. / adv. level of Pilates, comfortable with the all but the most advanced matwork exercises and somewhat limited in strength and/or flexibility in a few spots. I sadly have no experience working with the reformer or any of the other cool Pilates gadgets besides the magic circle / Pilates ring, but I’ve done several mat workouts using apparatus moves. I find this workout appropriately challenging and the modifications appropriate for my flexibility limits and well thought out overall.

Class: During the “More than Mat Workout,” another woman shows modifications while Sarah performs the full exercises. During the fundamental warm-up and “Cardio Flow Workout” Sarah works alone (with no modifications shown in the latter). Instruction comes via voiceover, although in the warm-up the video cuts back to Sarah sitting on some equipment and instructing live.

Music: upbeat instrumental music with a light beat, pleasant but repetitive (it plays on a loop and shows up in the other More than Mat videos). The “More than Mat” has a Celtic feel while the “Cardio Flow” has a bit of a country twang.

Set: what appears to be a living room in a lovely house. It’s brightly lit, with light-colored walls, hardwood floors, and furniture and plants pushed to the side.

Production: clear picture and sound, helpful camera angles, with close-ups focusing on helpful details.

Equipment: mat (or equivalent). Sarah and her background exerciser perform the workouts barefoot.

Space Requirements: enough space to lie down with your arms and legs extended plus enough space behind you for the many supine moves where your legs go over your head / behind you.

DVD Notes: The DVD has the following options: Play All (except the Cardio Flow and Interview; 67 min.), How to Get the Most out of This DVD (2 min.), Pilates Principles (4 min.), The Fundamentals / Warm Up (10 min.), More than Mat Workout (51 min.), Cardio Flow Workout (29 min.), and Interview with Sarah Picot (4 min.). You can skip the opening montage that begins after the usual warning. One complaint about this DVD: there is no chaptering within the workouts. You can’t skip intros, go back to the previous exercise, skip the clips of Sarah on the apparatus, or anything like that.

Comments: Approach this with caution if you have a neck issue or some other reason why you shouldn’t be doing inverted poses like yoga’s shoulderstand.

I bought this one when I bought the Intermediate after a very kind VFer let me try that level. I’m not sure why it took me so long to do the Advanced other worries over my lack of flexibility hindering my ability to perform some of the moves.
These workouts are well done all the way around: exercises, instruction, production, etc. They also give me some real variety within my Pilates DVD collection. I know people often ask why anyone would need more than one, but this one clearly sets itself apart from the standard matwork sequences.

Since I haven’t had the good fortune to work with Pilates machines, I cannot compare this workout with the originals in terms of accuracy, intensity, and so on. With maybe a few exceptions, the moves didn’t seem to be awkward or obviously missing something. You do have to be a fan of Pilates visualization, however, in order to get the most out of the moves; you have to pretend you’re using the equipment or else you’ll feel like your arms are just flopping around and this is ridiculously easy. I find the clips of Sarah with the moves on the equipment helpful in picturing where the resistance should be.

If you enjoy these moves and want more, I recommend Ana Caban’s Pilates Core Challenge, Mari Winsor’s Maximum Burn Super Sculpting & Body Slimming, and perhaps also Jodi Brennan’s P3 Pilates Plus Power Workout, Vol. 1. You can also find some reformer exercises in Ana Caban’s Energy Boost Pilates 1, Lara Hudson’s 10 Minute Solution Rapid Results Pilates, and Liz Gillies’ Progressive Pilates for Weight Loss (most of which are also on the bonus section on her Target Tone video).

Instructor Comments:
Sarah comes off as a pleasant instructor who’s serious about Pilates; her personality is upbeat and encouraging without being perky or patronizing. Her explanations of the exercises are clear and easy to understand. When she mentions directions, she cues for her right and left. Since she is with her side to the TV rather than facing the viewer, sometimes this lines up with the viewer’s and sometimes not.