Callanetics Evolution

Sandra Hanna
Year Released: 2007

Categories: Abs/Core , Ballet/Barre, Lower Body Strength

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I had this workout over 5 years ago and didn't wind up keeping it. I liked it at first, but it developed a higher dread factor after awhile, as it felt so long and boring. Below are comments from my original review on Amazon back in February 2013.

Callanetics Evolution, an updated version of Callanetics featuring instructor Sandra Hanna, has been around for some time now. However, given my prior experiences with Callanetics, I had been reluctant to give a try earlier. I am so glad I did, as I found the moves MUCH easier to execute in this workout, and I like it SO much better than the original! Hanna teaches live to three background exercisers who each show a slightly different level of modifications. Other than during the warm-up, Hanna does not perform the exercises herself; she is mainly walking around the other woman, reminding them to contract their pelvic floor muscles and to take "breathers" when needed.

The Main Menu of the DVD offers options for Introduction (1.5 minutes), Play All (63 minutes), Body-by-Design Programs (chapter menus), Callanetics Concepts, Callanetics to Go, and Bonus. The Callanetics Concepts (13 minutes) serves as a sort of tutorial and covers the following key ideas behind the program: no pain, the pelvic floor, alignment, spinal stabilization, changing muscle memory, pulsing, and working relaxing. "Callanetics to Go" shows some Callanetics moves from the full program that one might incorporate when short on time. Finally, the "By Design" offers the option to selection individual chapters of the workout, which I have described below. (NOTE: During the "Play All" option; there are no breaks between segments as there were in the original Callanetics; the workout flows seamlessly.)

WARM-UP & UPPER BODY (11.5 minutes)
The brief warm-up consists of arm swings, adding a knee lift, and steps into wide plie. Next comes upper body work, starting with triceps pulses to the rear. Moving to a plie position, waist work follows, again performing little pulses, repeating on each side. Stretches for shoulders, neck, and hamstrings finish this segment.

LEGS (13 minutes)
The first move is standing in a wide plie and performing a pelvic tilt then sinking lower an repeating, for a total of five times. This is followed by a series of leg lifts with tiny pulses--to the front, then side, then back, then repeated with the second leg. The final leg is a deep plie, starting at knee level and slowing rising up, again repeating five times. A twisting stretch for the inner thigh and then the hamstrings completes the leg section.

HIPS & BEHIND (15.5 minutes)
Hanna starts this section with another stretch for the hamstring and the waist: seated with one leg into the body, you'll turn towards the bent leg but twist towards the opposite leg. For the first glutes move, you are leaning on your forearm in a pretzel-like position with your bent knee behind you and perform small pulses; after repeating with a straight leg, you repeat on the second side. Coming to your back, you perform a Figure 4 hip stretch on both sides and then a pelvic tilt with pulse. Returning to side-lying on the forearm, this time you are in a L-shape, again pulsing first with the leg bent, then straight, then repeating on the other side. This section concludes with a stretch, a seated cross leg forward bend, pulsing to either side.

PELVIS & THIGHS (4.5 minutes)
This section starts in a kneeling position for a kneel, curl, and (pelvic) scoop move, ending with pulses. This is followed by a brief stretch in downward facing dog, from here moving into pulsing triceps push-ups (option of being on the knees). Next comes additional thigh work in a kneeling position, with the heels together, toes up, thighs pulsing. Finally, the thighs are stretched from a lunge position to finish.

ABS (14 minutes)
This is another segment that begins with a stretch: this time, a butterfly stretch, adding in a neck stretch as well. This is followed by c-curve abs work that is somewhat similar to the work in Barre3 in that you will do a "wave" with your arms and then reach from side-to-side to work the obliques. However, unlike in Barre3, you are not using any support, which I found too rough on my lower back, so I used my small squishy ball (one of the background exercisers actually does use a rolled up towel). Following the c-curve work, you'll come down to your back for pulses with one leg in the air (option of lifting the other leg) and the pulses with the legs in straddle position to work the inner thighs. You'll finish with several face-down moves, including a pulsing triceps press and then a brief hold of both the arms and legs raised.

The first move here is a great lying twist to stretch the back; unfortunately, Hanna only has you hold for 20 seconds per side, and there are no pulses (this is one thing that I DO miss from the original Callanetics). This is followed by some stretches for the next and then a final relaxation of about 2 minutes.

Again, I really enjoy this workout. As noted above, the moves are easy to execute, but I find that I REALLY feel them after! I do find the set and the music a bit on the bland side, and the camera angles are a bit odd at times (i.e., the camera sometimes focuses in on the preternaturally smiling face of the participants rather than showing what they are doing). However, these things don't matter to me very much, especially given that I can use the "Body-by-Design" feature to do short segments of the workout.

Instructor Comments:
Sandra was okay, but I found her to be overly formal. In general this DVD felt over-produced to me with bland set, matchy-matchy outfits, and plastic-y smiles of the participants. I liked the workout initially, but these factors prevented me from keeping it.

Beth C (aka toaster)


I recently purchased this workout having had success with Callanetics and Super Callanetics when I was in my late teens/early twenties (just over 10 years ago). I had dance training as a teenager and from then on have tried many types of fitness programs, including: Callanetics, Pilates, Yoga, T-Tapp, kettlebells and various barre workouts e.g. Yoga Ballet Fusion (another favorite of mine) and Core Fusion).

I have however found that Callanetics has given me better and faster toning results than any other program I’ve tried, and I tend to re-discover it every year or so. I do enjoy other barre workouts, but Callenetics is my favourite.

I was pleased to discover Callentics Evolution, I expected the workout to be the best of the original Callanetics, in a modern production and with some new elements, and I was not disappointed.

Note: I think it is important to watch the Callanetics Concepts section at least once before trying the workout.

The main workout is just over an hour long and is as follows:

Warm-up and Upper Body (just over 10 mins)

This starts standing, swinging the body up and down, similar to the “up and down” exercise from original Callanetics. I find this a little too fast, so I go a bit slower (I’m sure in the original program it was done slower). There are also some leg lifts and plies, plus variations on the underarm toning exercise, the waist stretch and neck stretches. Overall a good warm-up and preparation for the following exercises.

Legs (just over 15 mins)

The plie section is now done in a second position, instead of with the feet together. Then there are some standing exercises involving pulses forward, to the side and to the back. This is not my favourite section, but I don’t mind it. The original leg exercises used to leave my legs well worked and shaking afterwards, but these don’t. Either I’m doing something wrong or they are not quite as intense.

Hips & Behind (just over 15 mins)

I really like this section, it includes my old favourite Callanetics hip & behind exercises, but modified so that 1) you no longer need a barre/furniture, 2) you no longer do the kneeling variant. I still feel they work as deeply however. This section finishes off with some nice hip stretches.

Pelvis & Thighs (5 mins)

I like what they have done with this section, with Super Callanetics, I usually skipped the pelvis exercises because I found them too difficult, but the new version of the pelvis (a “knee dancing” style) exercise is a little easier, but still works the thighs and pelvic muscles. This section also includes a pulsing triceps pushup exercises, which I think is a great addition for a bit of extra upper body toning.

Abs (just over 15 mins)

I really like this section too. It includes the advanced abdominal exercises described in Callan’s book and in Super Callanetics, but they have been modified slightly to include more work on the obliques, plus some stretches.

Finishing Stretch (5 mins)

This section includes the original reclining twist, plus some reclining neck and shoulder stretches.

I do the full workout on Sunday mornings, and it feels like a lovely relaxing treat for myself, whilst still working all my muscles quite deeply and improving my posture for the next day or two after.

I think this would be a great workout to do in full 3 times per week, but as I’m already doing other workouts most weekdays (yoga and/or kettlebells), I don’t really have time to fit it in, which is why I do it in full just on Sundays.

Throughout the week, I do a section from the workout here and there as time allows. I have found however that doing a section from this workout is most effective when the warm-up section is done first, e.g. creating an abridged workout by just doing warm-up + legs, warm-up + hips or warm-up+abs. I should note though that the DVD does not allow you to create your own sequence, you have to either play each section from the menu, or play the whole workout and skip any chapters you don’t want.

In general I really enjoy this workout as it includes the best exercises from the original and advanced Callanetics programs, with a few variations here and there and with more stretching interspersed throughout.

Instructor Comments:
I liked Callan Pinkney but also like Sandra Hannah just as much, she has a pleasant manner, voice and tone.



This is a one hour, total body “barre” (Lotte Berk style) workout.

Callanetics Evolution ("CE") is an update of the 1986 original Callanetics ("OC") video workout. A quick history lesson: In the early 1970’s Callan Pinckney taught in a Lotte Berk studio, but found several of the exercises as presented were painful to her own back and knees and, she suspected, those of some of her clients. Callan modified the exercises and incorporated the concept of very tiny pulses to work the muscles. She began teaching Callanetics out of her home, word spread, and her iconic videos and books followed. For many of us VFers of a (ahem) certain age, Callanetics was our first exposure to home exercise videos.

If done faithfully, the original Callanetics exercises do work, and often very quickly. However, there is little denying the OC routine is not a party in a box. You get into a position, do 100 pulses, get into another position, do 100 pulses, etc. The 1986 video (now available on DVD) appears very dated today. Also, the original Callanetics exercises have, well – evolved – over the last 20 years. Enter Callanetics Evolution.

Callanetics Evolution is taught by Sandra Hanna, who presents in a warm, ladylike, professional manner. (BTW, Callan herself does not appear in CE, although Sandra lets us know Callan is now living in Savannah and sends us “warm greetings.”) Sandra stands and instructs while three Callanetics instructors demonstrate beginner, intermediate and advanced versions of the exercises. Sandra instructs live, and she mirror-cues. Unlike OC there is no on-screen countdown. Sandra occasionally mentions doing "at least 75" pulses on a few exercises.

Collage Video rates CE as Intermediate, and I would agree.

The workout is done barefoot. Equipment is minimal – a mat plus a chair or barre (for balance only – unlike OC you do not put your leg or foot on the barre to stretch). An optional pair of light toning balls is used to give intensity to some of the exercises as well as provide additional upper body work. The beginner modifier uses a pillow for back support during some of the abs work. The set is a living room done in beige – lots of beige! – and there is soft piano background music.

OC fans will notice a lot of differences with CE. New exercises have been added and old ones dropped. Several exercises look somewhat like the originals, but have been modified quite a bit (I believe for better safety). A welcome change is the introduction of new pulses. Besides the traditional linear (up-and-down or back-and-forth) pulse, new pulsing options include spiral (circular) or rotational pulses. Each pulse style works the muscle slightly differently, and have a pulse option adds variety to the exercises. There is also a new emphasis on keeping the pelvic floor engaged, and Sandra will remind you to do so constantly.

The Main Menu has the following chapters:


-Play All

-Body-By-Design Programs: The workout chapters. Note that choosing a chapter from this section returns you to the menu rather than continuing on to the next chapter.

Callanetics Concepts (12 minutes): This is an important chapter. It explains the new options in pulses, and also discusses pelvic floor engagement.

Callanetics To Go (5 minutes): Using footage from the main workout, Sandra suggests how you can incorporate Callanetics moves throughout the day.

Bonus: Information on Callanetics teacher training.

As noted, the workout chapters are found under the Body-By-Design section, and are as follows:

-Warm-up and Upper Body (11:30 minutes): A warm-up fairly similar to OC is followed by the same underarm exercise, but holding toning balls is shown as an intensity option. The section concludes with neck and back stretches.

-Legs (12 minutes): All done standing, holding onto a support for balance. The section begins moving slowly up and down in 2nd position plie, pausing to curl the pelvis (pretty similar to an OC exercise). Each leg is then worked individually with pulses (traditional, rotational or spiral) holding the leg out front, to the side, and to the rear. The section concludes with more 2nd position plies, followed by a stretch. The advanced modifier holds toning balls with her arms in ballet positions instead of using the support, and she does the plies on the balls of her feet.

-Hips & Behind (16 minutes): Callan’s original Bringing Up the Rear (a variation of the Pretzel) and Out To the Side are here, but shown leaning out to the side onto the forearm. Next is an exercise where pulsing is done in a bridge position but on balls of the feet. Following that is more leg lifts, done in an L position. This section concludes with a nice hip stretch.

-Pelvis & Thighs (5 minutes): CE’s version of the Callan’s Pelvic Scoop (vaguely similar to LB knee dancing). I find both the OC and CE versions hard on my knees. I prefer a similar exercise taught by The Bar Method which involves leaning straight back from the knees rather than bending them. This is followed by a pulsing triceps pushup, another pulsing thigh exercise, then thigh stretches. To be honest, I skip this section.

-Abs (14 minutes): Remember that exercise in Super Callanetics where you lean back in a C-curve then wave your arms up and down? It’s back! The beginner modifier uses a pillow at her back, and sits out the second set (doing stretches instead). More C-curve pulses follow to work the obliques (using OC positioning). There is a set of pulsing crunches with the legs in a wide V position. Back extensions (done both pulsing and static) conclude the abs work. This is a tough section!

-Finishing Stretches (4:20 minutes): Has my favorite OC stretch, the one where you lie on your back and bring one knee across the body and over to the side (although in OC there are pulses while CE keeps it static).

Bottom line: Callanetics Evolution is much more polished production than OC, although somewhat bland (I kind of like Callan’s quirky style and her motley crew of exercisers, which included several beginners and featured a wide age range – including her mother!). Excepting the Pelvis & Thighs section, CE is very kind to my cranky knees. I like the option of the different pulse styles, and the idea of holding toning balls during the leg work is a nice intensity option. I have to admit, though, that while the CE exercises are undoubtedly safer, somehow they don't feel as intense as OC, or a lot of other barre workouts out there. I like CE okay, but don't "lurve" it as much The Bar Method or Classical Stretch.

There is a companion DVD titled Cardio Callanetics. It presents a half-hour low impact cardio routine (lots of plies), followed by a half-hour set of Callanetics, drawn from the same footage as Callanetics Evolution.

Callanetics Evolution is available at online sites such as Amazon, Collage, and Total Fitness DVDs (there are clips at the latter two sites).

Instructor Comments:
Please see above. The official website is