Skinny Sculpt

Ellen Barrett
Year Released: 2010

Categories: Pilates/Core Strength

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This is the third workout I've tried from Ellen Barrett's Studio series. I first picked up FUSION FLOW and really enjoyed it, so then I moved on to SLIM SCULPT, which uses light weights. I found that workout to be just okay, but I thought I might prefer SKINNY SCULPT, another one of Ellen's workouts which offers the option of using very light dumbbells.

Ellen works out here in the same large, open studio used for FUSION FLOW. She is joined by Natalie and Michelle, with Michelle modifying the moves by using no weights. The Main Menu offers options for "Play All" or "Chapter Selection." I have provided detailed breakdowns for each of the chapters (including approximate times) below.

Warm-Up, 4.5 minutes
After a few deep breaths with plies, Ellen begins the warm-up with side overhead reaches and side punches, moving these into a combination. She adds a large Figure 8 move which stretches the entire shoulder girdle before repeating the sequence on the other side. This section had a nice flow and felt very good!

Series One with Weights, 9.5 Minutes
Here Ellen starts by repeating the same combination of side reach, side punch, and then Figure 8s, this time holding the weights. In between most of the movements, she performs "breathing arms," which involves simply lifting the arms up over the head with the weights, palms up, and then moving the arms back down, palms down. She moves into "star arms," spreading the arms on a diagonal while performing a moving plie from side-to-side. This is followed by an arm squeeze back to the rear, adding in a plie mambo to the side.

Series Two with Weights, 14 minutes
Ellen begins this series with a warrior lunge to the side, adding in a biceps curl. From here she goes on to a pulsing chair move. Coming back to standing, she performs shoulder presses both up and forward and then adds in side leg lifts. After repeating this sequence on the second side, Ellen finishes this section with some work in a wide legged forward bend position, including heel lifts and rear delt arm raises with a twist.

Abs with Weights, 2.5 minutes
This short series is performed in a slightly leaning seated position ("bucket seat"). Still using the weights, the moves include pull backs with both bent and straight arms as well as a rowing exercise.

Dancer Mat Work, 9.5 minutes
Ellen starts the mat work lying on the back for some bridges, adding pulses to these. Next comes heel beats: Ellen performs a total of 3 sets, alternating wide-legged straddle moves in-between. This is followed by a set of knee drops to each side, adding in a kick. The final move in this section is a wiper leg drop to further work the inner thighs.

Finishing Series, 5 minutes
For the stretching, Ellen begins seated in a side-saddle position for a thigh stretch; she performs a seated forward bend with knee pumps between sides. She concludes the workout with additional seated stretches for the shoulders and neck.

I definitely enjoyed this workout more than Slim Sculpt, as the arms work felt more balanced and there seemed to be more targeted leg moves overall, particularly in the floor work. I used 3 lb. weights, and I definitely would not go any heavier than this; in fact, I had to put the weights down for most of the "breathing arms" repetitions.

Overall, I think that SKINNY SCULPT is a very nice 45-minute workout that offers a bit of everything (i.e., light toning, a bit of cardio, and plenty of stretching) and is likely to appeal to a wide audience; I would definitely recommend it!

Instructor Comments:
Ellen is definitely bright and cheerful, but I certainly don't find her annoyingly so. I think she offers very good mirrored cuing in all three of the studio workouts I have tried so far. In her introduction, she does mention that this workout is specifically designed for women, so guys, you may be out of luck! ;)

Beth C (aka toaster)


Ellen leads this 45 min toning workout in a open white room w/ 2 background exercises, one shows modifications. The dvd is nicely chaptered. You will need a set of light dumbbells for this workout. This workout contains a balance of strength and flexibility work done standing and on the floor.

The first 30 minutes of this workout is done standing with light dumbbells. Ellen leads you through exercises such as: pliets with big arm movements (star arms, punch across, inhale arms), side mambo w/ a rhomboid pinch, side toe taps with big arm movements, travel pliets, warrior lunges w/ bi curls, etc. The standing portion has a very flowing, energizing feel.

The remaining 15 minutes is lower body & core floor work. Exercises include: V pulls, V rows, V side raise, bridge variations, long leg beats, scissor drops, knee drops adding in a side kick, and leg wipers.

I would rate this a low intermediate workout. A great w/o to do in whole on "light" strength days or to break up to add on to other strength workouts. Ellen is a fantastic instructor who provides great cuing and has a wonderful demeanor. I put this w/o in the ballet/ barre/ low weight category. Good to add in our routines from time to time to keep our bodies guessing. I received this dvd to review.



I really enjoy this workout by Ellen. I've tried most of her Crunch offerings and all of The Studio workouts; Skinny Sculpt is -by far- my favorite.

The 30 minute standing portion uses a variety of lower body (plies, toe taps, leg lifts) and upper body movements (reaches, "punches", weighted arm work). I find the weighted arm work quite challenging (perhaps I have weak shoulders). I use 1-2 pound weights for this, and I still drop them part-way through.

I do modify several movements that do not feel good for my body. A few movements I cannot safely do (quick side-to-side plies) and some that just don't feel good on my knees. I found them easy to modify, though.

I *love* the floor work portion. It starts with some ab work, then moves to your back to do some floor-barre type movements. It ends with a nice stretch.

Instructor Comments:
Ellen cues very well and is always cheerful & encouraging. She does make some inane comments in this dvd (trying to explain the title "Skinny Sculpt.") But overall, the chatter isn't pointless talk.



This workout is one of the new Studio offerings, and is a follow up to Slim Sculpt from 2008. Like Slim Sculpt, this workout utilizes very light hand weights (1-3# with a modifier using no weights at all) to intensity the standing yoga/pilates/cardio fusion followed by Pilates-inspired floor work. The workout clocks in at 45 minutes with a 5 minute warm up, 25 minute standing series with the weights, 2 minute floor series with weights, 10 minute floor series without weights, and a final 3 minute cool down.

I was greatly anticipating this workout because Slim Sculpt is my very favorite Ellen Studio workout and one of my favorite overall workouts. Ultimately I think Slim Sculpt is more enjoyable and varied, but Skinny Sculpt is very good as well. The music in Skinny Sculpt is definitely different than the usual instrumental, but seemed slow moving and not particularly motivating to me. It seemed like only one or two tunes were used throughout the workout, could have used more variety. Very much like the original Studio workouts, Ellen works out with two female background instructors in an open studio set with bright windows to the side.

The exercises were somewhat repetitive – it seemed like Slim Sculpt just had a lot more variety. And thanks to that variety, the arms are not fatigued quite as quickly as they were in this workout. I used 3# weights which is definitely the highest I would recommend. I use 3# weights very comfortably with Slim Sculpt but the moves in Skinny Sculpt are a little harder to execute with this poundage-mostly because Ellen moves quickly through the moves, combined with the multi-planar moves they can be tricky to execute safely with poundage. I do not have 2# weights but would have gone down in weights if I had (I had to take a couple of quick breathers or go at a slower rate at times).

It seems like there was a lot of shoulder, chest, and back work (standing star-a diagonal shoulder raise, and variations of that; lateral raises with breathing plies; shoulder presses moving upwards and forwards, standing chest presses, and another set of bent lateral raises with twisting torso). There was really no triceps work at all, and biceps were only worked once during a warrior pulse and biceps curls move. For this reason, the arm work felt unbalanced and my shoulders and back wore out rather quickly, making the workout seem tedious. I enjoyed the multi-planar work but just wish there had been more balance. She did have a figure-8 arm move with side lunge which felt very Ellen-flowy (in a good way) and not as tedious as the other work. There were some plies, chair squats, and lateral leg lifts sprinkled throughout but this was mostly an arm focused section.

The floor work was very leg and core focused and included some twisting core moves (with weights), then drop the weights for bridges, several varieties of heel taps interspersed with lateral leg work using the inner and outer thighs, one leg “windshield wiper” lateral movements, and a final stretch. The leg emphasis in the floor work felt balanced against the arm focus of the standing work. There was minimal work for the core (only really worked secondary to the arms and legs) but overall this could be used as a total body strength workout.

As usual Ellen is smiling and enthusiastic and cues nicely, and seems to be really enjoying herself. In general this workout will appeal to people who already know and love Ellen (there are many VFers who do!) or those who like a yoga-pilates-ballet fusion or maybe barre style workouts. Those little weights do pack quite a punch and I was sweating by the end. Overall I do not think this is as good as Slim Sculpt or the other original Studio workouts (Fat Burning Fusion or Yogini) but it is an adequately good workout and I will use it on occasion. Collage Video rates this workout intermediate, and I would agree with that rating. It can be easily modified to beginner by using no poundage but cannot feasibly be modified to an advanced workout. Overall grade B.

Instructor Comments:
Ellen is very enjoyable. She does have several sayings that she uses in all her workouts, talking about the female physique and how smaller weights with multi-planar moves will make you lean and defined, and skinny, and not too muscular. I love Ellen but don’t really like or agree with her message that heavy weights will bulk you up and a “female physique” can only be attained with light or no poundage. That’s an old myth which has been disproved over and over, and hopefully newer exercisers will not take this to heart and miss out on great systems like CLX, STS, P90X, or any number of other workouts. There is definitely a place in my collection for her fusion workouts, but I would never use or recommend them as my sole source of strength work. Ellen does smile and show a lot of enthusiasm and overall she is very charismatic and a great instructor.

Emily B.