Center FloorKari Anderson
Year Released: 2011
Categories: Athletic Stretch , Ballet/Barre
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I'm glad I waited to review this workout, because the first time I did it, I thought it wasn't that difficult. This is a workout that really relies on exact form, so it tends to get harder as you do it and pick up on more of the intentions of each exercise. Kari and two background exercisers are in a well-lit studio-if you've done any recent fitness videos, you'll definitely recognize it. Kari herself has used it before, and I've seen it in Patrick Goudeau and Petra Kolber videos as well, to name a few.
This workout is divided into three sections: Standing Center Floor Challenge (an all standing workout about 31 minutes long), Full Body Mat Work (around 13 minutes of sometimes challenging mat work), and Stretch (around 11 minutes of stretches that are not always peaceful and relaxing.) Each segment is further chaptered in blocks around 5-7 minutes each. You can navigate to any chapter from the main menu, but you cannot program your own workout.
Kari used to be a dancer (16 years of ballet and dance training, including with the Joffrey Ballet, according to the back of the DVD), so her form and instruction are precise. The Standing segment grows more challenging as time passes, moving from ballet exercises like ronde de jambe to plies, squats and a fair amount of balance work to a final segment called "Lunges and Depth" that had my legs shaking. There are no modifiers, but Kari gives excellent instructions. She introduces a small number of higher impact moves, but only to moves you're currently doing at low impact, so there is no need to worry about modification.
The Standing segment is tougher than it looks, as with all ballet workouts. Particularly if you are holding in your core, as I find it really raises my temperature. Thus I find myself already a little worn out when she moves to the floor for mat work. There is a plank sequence, some tough ab work, and it closes with some leg work. There is a bridge segment I'm not able to do because of my knees, so I have to substitute something else. As a side note, I have some OA in both knees and that is the only move I had to modify for this workout.
By this time, you've worked out for around 45 minutes, so stretching might sound good. This is the only part of the workout I don't totally care for. This certainly could be because I am tragically lazy. But, when I see "Stretch" at the end of a workout, I think, "Ahhhhh, I am DONE y'all! Nothing but shoulder rolls and gently elongated hamstrings in my future." Alas, not in this case. Kari does stretch you, but the moves are convoluted, and sometimes challenging. I just worked out for 45 minutes, Kari. I don't wanna use my core to lift my butt off the floor in a hamstring stretch! The closing standing stretch is a little easier.
While there is some ballet terminology, Kari explains very well and you can certainly learn a lot just by watching her form. I don't think this would be intimidating or too complex/abstruse to someone new to ballet workouts. I know I don't have anywhere near perfect form, but I can listen to Kari's cues and get an idea of what I should be trying to do in each exercise. There is no equipment needed, other than a mat if you choose for the floor work. So all of the barre work is done without a chair to hold onto. Your core will be working almost the whole time, yet you'll feel relaxed and energized afterward.
Kari as usual cues well, and is composed and natural on camera. Her form is excellent.
Center Floor is one of Kari Andersonís two new videos. She hasnít done any new videos for several years so itís a delight to see her making videos again. Welcome back Kari!
First the DVD. It is very well chaptered. There are three major chapters: 1) Standing Center Floor Challenge, 2) Full Body Matwork, and 3) Lengthening Stretch. Within each chapter are subchapters. Each is clearly labeled within the menu so you can easily pick and choose the segments you want to do, in the order you want to do them. Each section is about five minutes long. This is a great DVD for designing your own workout.
The video features Kari, her daughter Danielle (all grown up) and her friend Stacey. They are in a room with a wooden floor and pastel shades in the background. Theyíre wearing mint green tops with black pants, and are barefoot. Kari is in great shape as always.
The warm-up begins in the standing position. Kari mentions that center work without the barre is the hardest part of a typical dance class. Thereís nothing to hang onto, so balance is continually tested. Kari starts in first position then starts to shift her weight from one leg to another along with ballet arm movements. She then proceeds to do plies and tondues.
She starts the second section in a turned out position moving one leg at a time pointing and flexing the toe. She then lifts her leg to the front, side and back going higher as the segment progresses. At the end of this segment she does grapevines and starts gently jumping off the floor. You can follow along or stay grounded. This is the only segment that has any dance movements across the floor.
The next section is done in a parallel position. She starts with squats and then ads in side leg lifts as you rise up from the squats. I found these very challenging. The segment ends with a series of curtsey (cross back) lunges.
The next section is also done in a parallel position, and contains many lunge variations; pulsing, static, deep ones with the back leg straight and leaning forward over the front knee. This section ends with a deep stretch.
She goes to the mat in the next section. She starts with front planks alternating with downward dog. Then she stretches one leg into the air for a one legged downward dog. After working each side, she throws in some triceps push-ups. Thankfully she does them on her knees. She ends the section with a very challenging side plank variation where you have the option to lift the nonworking arm and leg into the air.
The next section is ab work. There are roll downs, roll ups, bicycle legs, straight legs etc. all the while crunching with your upper torso.
The final section before the stretch starts with bridgework. She starts with both legs and then moves to one while extending the other leg in various positions, graceful as always. She then does side lying work moving both the arm and the leg, while lifting her hips off the mat. I found this to be very challenging. She ends the segment with a seated stretch facing forward gently stretching out the legs.
The video ends with a final section that consists of standing stretches similar to various warrior positions in yoga. When itís all over, you feel youíve worked all of your body. Youíve worked on balance, flexibility, and strength with even a little cardio thrown in.
I recommend this video to intermediate and advanced exercisers who love elegant dance style moves with some yoga and Pilates variations. Beginners could to this video with modifications, but many of the moves are harder than they look. All in all an excellent effort from Kari and crew.
What is there to say about Kari? She is grace and elegance personified. She makes even the toughest moves look easy. However, itís more than that. Other instructors are also former dancers, but they donít have the ethereal quality that Kari has. There is just something special about her. She also has an excellent voice for video. I hope she continues to make videos.
Kari begins introducing you to a workout designed to help develop balance, stability, precision, flexibility, strength and endurance. After doing the workout a few times, I agree that this workout includes all these elements.
Center Floor gracefully blends ballet, yoga and Pilates for a toning and stretching workout divided into a standing and a floor segment.
Standing segment: 30 minutes divided into five 6-minute segments.
- Warm up: 6 minutes of flowing moves and some stretching.
- Turn out: You begin in first position doing side leg lifts with bent knee, then with straight legs, releves, degages, front lifts, side to side plies and side to side taps. Each sequence becomes more challenging by adding elements of balance and hops (which are optional).
- Paralel: to work the side hips. It does! You start with static squats, move on to side-to-side squats, add leg lifts with a bent knee, then add a little kick (which Kari calls the frosting on the cupcake. They hurt!), add a toe tap and lift again. Then you move on to curtsies, add arms, reach to the floor, add a hop in each transition. These first two segments have a slight cardio effect with the larger movements and the hops.
- Turn out: Start in first position doing rond de jambes, first ďpainting the floorĒ with your toe, then with your foot in the air. Move on to leg lifts, lift and tap and lift again, toe to knee, rotate from the hip and open again. Straight side leg lifts, with tap, attitude-develope- attitude back and same move but adding a plie with the supporting leg and arm moves. .
- Lunges and first stretch: This segment feels like a stretch but there are lots of rear lunges in it, both static and alternating legs or repeating. You start rolling your shoulders like you are shaking it all out, then move on to alternating back lunges, static back lunge with pulses, add a forward sweep, deepen into runnerís lunge, bring hips up to the ceiling for a great hamstring stretch, then open into ballerina lunge (I think! itís a very deep side lunge). Repeat on the other side. Roll up, lift knees to chest alternating, shoulder rolls again to shake it all off.
Each 6 minute sequence flows beautifully, adding more challenge and bringing it back to the basic move.
The mat section of this workout is divided into three 4-minute segments.
- Plank: You begin in forward plank, go into downward dog, repeat, then do dog splits lifting the knee to the side then stretching straight up, pulling back in, repeat, and transition to the other side doing six (or 8?) slow mountain climbers. Then comes a set of triceps pushups on the knees, move on to side plank with the option of doing a passe and extending leg straight out. Bring leg back down, and move to the other side by going back into forward plank and lifting the other arm. Repeat side plank and moves on the other side.
- Mat on the back: You start with a Pilates roll-down, bend one knee and lift torso reaching to one side and the other of the knee alternating knees. Move on to bicycles starting by lifting one foot off the floor and then the other, then do full bicycles, leg scissors, ballerina criss-cross lowering the legs and bringing the knees in with a reverse crunch, extend legs and repeat, toe dips, and end with a roll-up.
- Mat on the back 2 : begins with a reverse plank with bent knees, move on to straightening legs bringing the hips through the arms (if you can!), bending knees again, all while keeping the hips up (itís hard to explain and a difficult move!). Roll back and move on to a bridge sequence that begins with both feet on the floor, moves on to one leg bridges adding a bend and extend working leg combo. Repeat combo with the other leg.
Roll onto the side and do some sideline leg and oblique work. Sit back up for some more sitting ab moves alternating lifting legs, lifting both legs together and lowering while criss-crossing then pulling knees back in. This segment ends with a seated forward bend.
Stretch: There are two 5-minute stretching segments. One on the mat, and one standing up.
- On the mat: You stretch your hips and hamstrings one leg at a time, sit up for mermaids (I think!), lean over to the side for a good quad stretch on each side, then onto all fours for cat and cow.
- Standing stretch: Start with both legs straight, one stepping forward and bend forward (great hamstring stretch!), bend back knee and straighten a few times, then bend both knees and move into a lunge. Repeat on other side transitioning with some side bends. Squat, open knees, bend forward, straighten legs, bend over to one side with flat back, then to the other. End with some side to side lunges and deep breaths.
The workout is more intense than it looks. I think itís great for every level of fitness, but beginners donít have a modifier to follow. Kari does give form pointers for beginners or the less flexible. Kari and her companions are amazingly flexible and strong, and all three move gracefully and with control. They are beautiful to watch!
The music is ok. You wonít find me plie-ing my way across my kitchen while humming the music, but Iím not wishing for a no-music option either.
Iím glad I have this workout and look forward to doing it when I need something that will make me feel both worked but also relaxed and refreshed. It works great both as a morning and evening workout.
Kari is professional, cues very well and doesnít add any unnecessary chatter. She is encouraging but not perky at all. She makes some funny comments, like ďthis is the frosting on the cupcakeĒ (when it HURTS!), and establishes a connection with the home exerciser when she says things like ďI wish I could see you, then Iíd know what I have to sayĒ. I really like her style!