Fat Burning Fusion

Ellen Barrett
Year Released: 2008

Categories: Ballet/Barre, Pilates/Core Strength

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Ellen leads this 46 min barefoot pilates, cardio, and mind body fusion workout. Ellen works out in a spacious room with hardwood floors & a stage in the background. There are two background exercisers, one showing easier modifications. You wont need any equipment for this workout. Great music! The dvd is chaptered & you play all or select the desired chapter from the menu.

This is a very unique fusion workout. All the moves were very flowing and all transitioned very smoothly. Ellen does a great job of adding in some cardio to standing pilates work. She does an excellent job of providing form pointers & stressing how important good form is in this workout.

Exercises include: warmup, travelling pliets w/ arm movements, swan extensions, wrapping twist, glute squeezes, up-down zig zags, squat circles, pilates threading, mermaid with knee pulls, butterfly, reach up- punch across, torso circles, spider reaches, shifting side lunges, and finishes with a quick stretch.

I would rate this a low intermediate fusion workout that is perfect for days you want to do a pilates type workout but also want to burn some calories. Great in whole or in parts as an add-on to other workouts. I really really like Ellen, great sunny disposition, great cuing & form pointers. I look forward to trying more from her. Received this dvd to review.



This is one of the three original Studio workouts put out by Ellen Barrett (she has also done several Crunch Fitness, Flat Belly, and Self Magazine workouts). It is 45 minutes of all standing Pilates-inspired fusion, non-weighted cardio workouts, with a lower body focus.

If you have used Ellen’s workouts before you will recognize her signature moves such as breathing plies, butterflies (plie squats with “heart opening” arm movements), and swan extensions, and for her exercising barefoot. She emphasizes the mind-body connection, finding your “heart center,” and shaping the “female physique” without the use of heavy weights (or any weights in this workout).

If you are not familiar with Ellen, I would highly suggest her workouts for a “feel good” outcome more than a “feel the burn,” “puke in a bucket,” or “sweatfest” outcome, and to steer clear of her if you do not like the mind-body connection, or if you do not like plie squats! Also if you are a Pilates or Ballet purist and do not like fusion workouts, this might not be to your liking, although I think she succeeds at incorporating the elements of those principles correctly in her workouts. She constantly reminds you about core engagement and about proper form.

For what it is, this is a highly treasured DVD in my (large) collection. This is one of my best “feel good” workouts that lifts my spirit and makes me feel more elongated and elegant, and just happier and more content with life. I like to use it as a vacation workout (because it is not too taxing and there is no equipment needed, except an exercise mat which is optional), or as a recovery cardio day (because it is all low impact), or like I said because I need an emotional boost (or all of the above!).

The moves include (in no particular order): plie squats with breathing arms (arms making a wide circle up and down), faster paced plie squats elegant arms (arms straight out to side), or traveling with long reaches (swan extension); standing mermaid; several variations of standing twists to work the core as well as knee repeaters; lateral reaches on the diagonal which stretch and tone the side waist muscles; lots of unweighted arm work using a full range of motion to maximize the lack of weights; standing glute lifts, outer thigh, and inner thigh pulses with corresponding arm movements. This is really a great unweighted lower body workout and will get your heart rate into a moderate aerobic range.

There are two background exercisers and one of them performs beginner modifications. The workout takes place in a spacious and uncluttered studio and the music is GREAT – she has a knack for picking out upbeat music that really works with the exercise moves. Collage Video lists this as intermediate and I think that is an appropriate rating, especially if you really pay attention to form on the arm and leg movements, which are easily full range of movement because there are no weights involved. I always work up a gentle sweat, enough to know I’m working (and the DOMS will sneak up on you) but not so much that I feel taxed or overexerted. The chaptering is good (every tune lasts about 10 minutes and you can skip to each tune) and you can play the entire workout or skip to one chapter from the DVD menu. Grade A+!

Instructor Comments:
Ellen is enthusiastic, encouraging, and bubbly, always smiling and clearly enjoying the workout with you. She does have several “Ellenisms” including “opening your heart center” and “creating the female physique” that she refers to quite often and that might annoy some but it doesn’t bother me. Like I said she highly emphasizes the mind-body connection. She smiles a lot and it is hard not to smile with her! I also enjoy that she looks very healthy and fit, and her wardrobe is more conservative which might be an important detail for those that don’t like the midriffs, low cut pants, or cleavage.

Emily B.


This is the type of workout that you have to get good at in order for it to be more challenging than, say, a Beg/Int. level. I say this because when I’ve done this workout sporadically, I tend to think of it as a workout to do on a “light” day. Now that I am currently doing lots of Ellen Barrett workouts, they have become a lot more challenging. So, I would say that you can either use this dvd as a “light” cardio and lower body day (really, it’s most AWT with the W being lower body) or you can really invest in the whole Ellen-Barrett-approach and make this a good workout even on an Int./Adv. level. Also, when I say that this type of workout takes practice to get good at, I think it means, at least in my experience, being practiced at Ellen Barrett or fusion workouts and not just mind-body workouts in general (although that helps). I think a lot of people like to use this dvd for a low-intensity cardio day, which is nice too. If you are not in great lower-body shape, this workout might give you DOMS in the quads and inner thighs. It is all standing (unlike some of Ellen’s other dvds), so if you’re looking for a good Ellen style workout for cardio, this is probably the best bet.

What I liked about this workout: no lunges (yay!!!) – also very, very few squats (and none done in the traditional style of squat). So, this workout is kind of unique in that it gives you a lower body workout that has a cardio effect, but that is not chalk full of lunges and squats. What does it have instead? Lots of plies in second position, lots of stepping to the side in second position plie and closing in first position, lots of tondues and degages (pointing to the side, small leg lifts to the back, etc.), and lots of spinal twisting and stretching. (Others have posted better breakdowns than I am capable of giving.) The other thing I like about this dvd (when I compare it to other Ellen Barret dvds) is that it seems less repetitious. Yes, you do a lot of the same signature Ellen moves here too. But, with a lot of Ellen’s other dvds, I think she makes it a lot more obvious that you’re doing a long combination of moves to one side and then are going to do the same long combo to the other side. While this workout is technically structured this way too, it doesn’t seem as obvious to me when I’m doing it – it just flows more. Also, Ellen’s Studio series has been compared to her Crunch series in such a way that this dvd is supposedly comparable to Crunch: Fat Burning Pilates. While both dvds have standing lower body, low-impact cardio, I find them to be quite different because they serve different purposes in my rotation. Crunch: Fat Burning Pilates only has about 20min of standing work, and the rest is on the mat and is traditional pilates mat work (and the 20min is just a tad too repetitive for me to want to do twice). Fat Burning Fusion, however, is a full 45min of standing work, so it has almost twice as much standing lower body cardio – which makes a difference in terms of how I feel after doing this dvd vs. the other. Of course, I don’t find the standing ab work in this dvd (Fat Burning Fusion) to be as tough as regular pilates mat work, but I don’t mind that, and I do feel it in my core when I do this dvd – especially in my waist.

What I didn’t like about this dvd: I like the idea that she wants to give you a little bit of everything and so includes some weightless arm work. But, I thought it was very weak and kind of disjointed. I may be spoiled by Tracy Anderson’s weightless arm work, but since Ellen is kind of going for the same thing, I can’t help but compare the two. I just don’t feel Ellen’s (other than maybe one exercise, and that one only slightly). The other thing I sometimes don’t like about this workout is that there is one series of torso circles that lasts a good while – or too long for me to keep the morning head-rush a bay. When I do the workout later in the day, I don’t get as dizzy, though, so it’s not really a big deal.

All in all, if you like Ellen, you’ll like this workout – some VFers have even posted that it’s Ellen at her best. If you have never liked Ellen you may or may not like this workout. If you liked the idea behind her workouts and have liked a lot of the moves, but have just not “clicked” with the overall workouts (perhaps because of the Crunch or Magazine vibes), you might really like this one. If you don’t like fusion workouts, you might like this for a cardio – but probably not if you’re above an intermediate level in cardio. If you like workouts where you can just tune out and go through the motions, I really don’t think Ellen’s workouts (including this one) would be a great genre to pursue because you would kind of be missing the point.

Instructor Comments:
Ellen is the same here as always. She's very positive and upbeat though also somewhat soothing. I think she cues quite well.



I did The Studio Fat Burning Fusion and am impressed! This is the second time I've done it and it's really a gentle, wonderful workout. It's 45 minutes of standing stretches, twists, plie's, ballet leg work, and a variety of flowing moves.

I never took dance lessons when I was growing up. I always wished I could take ballet. There are some cues of "first position" or "second position" which are ballet talk, but it's not hard to see what they're doing. None of the ballet leg moves are difficult, but they stem from the core and work the lower body muscles.

If you have knee issues, like I do, you'll want to be cautious on a few moves that have you lunging from side to side or doing a plie' and a twist at the same time. I really watched what I was doing and was fine, but I did have to be mindful of it.

The set is a dance studio and has hardwood floors, wooden floors on the stage behind, and white walls, windows and draperies, with white lattice screens & drapery on the stage. It's very pleasant and peaceful. Ellen and her cast do the workout on yoga mats, but I did mine on the carpet yesterday without a mat and it worked just fine. I did notice a little bit of movement in my feet sliding a few times on plie's, so a mat might be nicer to use. I think I used it the first time -- my only problem with the mat is sometimes it comes up with my foot and interrupts the flow of my movements. Perhaps I need a mat that isn't so sticky. (I actually think I do have a Denise Austin yoga mat that I bought really cheap at Ross -- It isn't as sticky and I don't use it much, but it might work for workouts like this).

The music is gentle -- almost jazz-y. It reminded me of the music on Karen Voight's Streamline Fitness (which is probably my favorite of Karen's).

I will admit that I watched the clock about 14 minutes into it. Ellen is wonderful and the moves felt great, but for some reason, my mind was anxious and wandering. I got past that and enjoyed the rest of the workout.

At the end, I watched the Special Feature where Ellen talks about her Studio workouts -- the concept behind them. There were testimonials by women who come to Ellen's studio to workout with her. Ellen emphasizes that the mind-body connection is key in her workouts to feel and receive the benefits. She also mentioned in her workout and in this feature that the dance/Pilates fusion moves she uses help beautify the female physique. From looking at Ellen and her cast (and testimonials), they all have curvy lean (and toned) figures instead of super firm like you might see in Cathe's workouts

Instructor Comments:
Ellen has definitely found her nitch in the Video Fitness world, instilling that essential mind-body connection. Ellen's workouts are either pure Pilates or have Pilates inspired moves. She incorporates ballet, yoga, strength, and cardio, while keeping the mind engaged with that core center. Ellen has a pleasant, fun personality. She's a joy to work out with.



Set: Pretty inside studio setting, visually appealing.

Music: Instrumental music that works well with the workout.


Traditional aerobic type moves intermix with ballet and pilates. Ellen will work through each combination often utilizing multiple muscle groups and graceful movements (the larger muscles groups of the legs will help raise the heart rate and increase fat burning). All fitness levels can participate and no prior ballet experience is needed.

Done barefoot like a traditional ballet or pilates class, you'll blend the toning/aerobic movements together working through lots of lower body exercises. The emphasis for this workout is mostly lower body and abs, however the continual movement and flowing progressions will ensure fat burning. (plus the big arm movements will tone and tighten the muscles of the arms and shoulders)

The workout will also tone the core as many of the moves work from the center. (Ellen always encourages you to keep the abs fully engaged with every movement) Lots of variety: from traditional punches and knee lifts to pilate stretches to flowing ballet arabesques and plies.

If you are looking for a fun, pilates/ballet inspired workout, this is it! You'll look (and feel) leaner, longer and more flexible.

Instructor Comments:

Ellen's cuing is deliberate and concise, making it easy to follow. She also encourages good form which will benefit beginners and ensure participants get the maximum toning benefit from the moves.