Seasons of FitnessSue West
Year Released: 2006
Categories: Athletic Stretch
Video Fitness reviews may not be copied, quoted, or posted elsewhere without the permission of the reviewer
This DVD presents a workout (broken up into chapters or “seasons”) which emphasizes stretching but also incorporates toning elements from Pilates, yoga and dance conditioning.
Sue West instructs all segments solo. She appears to be in her 50’s and looks very fit and limber. She instructs live. Thankfully, she avoids left/right instruction, instead saying “one side” then “other side.” Overall instruction quality is quite good (she is a teacher of classical ballet as well as a certified Pilates instructor). She does use a few ballet terms. In her earlier DVD, Santa Fe Stretch, I was a bit annoyed by Sue’s voice, which was very breathy and somewhat babyish (maybe that was habitual from teaching ballet to young children), but she sounds much more adult and natural in Seasons of Fitness.
Seasons of Fitness is, hands down, one of the most beautiful workout DVDs I own. All segments are filmed outdoors in various national parks. Unlike many workouts filmed outdoors, Sue's voice is very clear. The accompanying music is lovely, appropriate, and forgettable.
The only equipment needed is a mat and a strap (for the last section only). All sections are done barefoot.
The DVD is organized as follows. Each chapter can be accessed separately, and there is also a “Play All.”
Gentle Stretch/Spring (15:35): Begins on the floor with relaxing back and leg stretches. The stretches become more active as we move to standing, incorporating some static lunges.
Floor Work/Summer (14:45): Core strengthening and stabilization. This section is definitely Pilates based, but it appears Sue has added her own touch to some of the exercises. Sue emphasizes keeping a natural lower back curve (as opposed to pressing the lower back down into the floor).
Balance & Poses/Fall (16:50): Again, this section appears mainly Pilates based. Sue begins with lying front leg raises, then flips over for heel beats. She then moves to side series exercises, finishing with side planks. Down dog to front plank follows, then this section concludes with standing balance challenges.
Deep Stretch/Winter (22:35): This section features longer and deeper stretches, some of which require muscular strength to hold, Sue’s own flexibility is really showcased in some of the positions. She doesn’t always suggest any modifications, so us mortals are on our own here. A few poses might be hard on the knees. The section begins with standing stretches, then moves to the floor (the opposite of the Spring section).
The DVD rates itself as intermediate, which feels appropriate to me. Sue's overall instruction is very good and she moves at a moderate pace. However, she doesn't always suggest modifications. She also often tells us to "use the breath" without always explaining what she means by that.
Bottom line: Seasons of Fitness is a graceful, feminine workout, beautifully filmed and well-instructed. The emphasis is on stretch but it has toning benefits too so it may also appeal to those who love fusion workouts (Sue herself calls it “mélange”). Okay – so why do I hardly ever pull it off the shelf? Well, one problem is length. I confess that when I did the workout this morning I bailed out in the middle of the Winter segment, since by that time I had been working out for close to an hour and was frankly getting bored. I also have many other workout DVDs covering the same territory that I find more challenging and/or interesting, particularly Classical Stretch. I do feel the toning work in the Summer and Fall sections, but for the same amount of time invested I'd rather do, say, the Core section from Fitness Fix Intermediate or Mari Winsor's Bun & Thigh Sculpting.
Sue West is a very fit and limber lady who appears to be in her 50’s, with a background in classical ballet, Pilates and yoga. She has one other DVD I know of, Santa Fe Stretch. Her website is synergyvideoseries.com (but it doesn’t appear this site has been updated lately), and her DVDs are available at Amazon.