Callanetics Express

Lacey Kondi
Year Released: 2017

Categories: Abs/Core , Athletic Stretch , Ballet/Barre, Lower Body Strength , Total Body Workouts, Upper Body Strength

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As most VFers probably know, Callanetics is a fitness method developed by the late Callan Pinckney. Pinckney was a dancer who had experienced chronic back pain issues, and she developed Callanetics from ballet and similar movement methods (what we now consider barre). Callanetics has a loyal following, with a limited number of teachers approved to use the name.

As a long-time vidiot, I have dabbled in Callanetics through the years. I have owned several of Callan's original workouts (dating back to VHS); although I liked the exercises, the sets/attire was too dated, and I never clicked with Callan's personality. The next generation of routines--this time on DVD--was released by Sandra Hanna, and I tried her Callanetics Evolution, a supposedly updated workout. Again, I liked the routine, but the video felt stiff and robotic to me.

The latest round of DVDs is instructed by the young Lacey Kondi. This Express DVD appealed to me for its inclusion of short segments that I could add on to my other workouts, so I picked it up from my local library to try. Kondi instructs in a rather sterile room with 2-4 background exercisers (depending on the workout). She gives decent instruction with helpful form pointers, but she does not mirror-cue, and she tends to make many of the same statements over and over again--this can get especially tedious when you use the video repeatedly.

The main menu lists the following options: PLAY FULL BODY EXPRESS - PLAY ABS EXPRESS - PLAY LOWER BODY EXPRESS - PLAY STRETCH EXPRESS - PLAY UPPER BODY SCULPT. I have provided times for each section below and have given general breakdowns.

FULL BODY EXPRESS (17:32) ~ uses a chair
Kondi starts with an "up and down" warm-up. She then moves into the Callanetics triceps and waist exercises. Next comes a forward fold with a hamstring stretch, adding in a stretch to one side. She and the exercisers come to the floor for abs pulses with bent then straight legs. Coming back to standing, they do pelvic curls, and they return to the floor seated behind the chair for leg work (pretzel) with a bent and straight let. The workout finishes with a wide leg seated stretch, kneeling pelvic scoop, and the inner thigh squeeze with the chair.

Kondi again begins standing, this time with the waist exercise. They then move to the floor, seated in a C-curve shape for an arm wave, performed for two sets. Next they move to a lying C-curve pulse, first with the knees bent, then straight. The last lying move is a single leg lift (bridge) with pulse. Kondi comes to a side elbow plank, holding for 30 seconds, and then moving to a forearm plank. After 8 push-ups, she repeats on the second side, and then holds front elbow plank. She stretches the abs in sphinx and concludes with a brief child's pose.

LOWER BODY EXPRESS (25:02) ~uses chair
Kondi leads this lower body-focused class with four background exercisers. They begin using the chair for the pelvic wave followed by plies. Coming to a standing kneeling position behind the chair, they perform bent leg pulses (forward-back) and then straight leg (up-down). Next, the group sits with their chairs behind them, holding on to the tops of the chairs for open-close. Turning back around to seated behind the chair for pretzel, they do bent and then straight leg pulses on both sides. This is followed by the inner thigh squeeze, souls of feet on the chair. From kneeling, they do pelvic rotations and the pulsing thigh stretch. The final sequence of stretching includes cross-legged seated forward bend, wide leg stretch, and lying hamstring stretch. The workout concludes with the single leg twist with pulse.

Although mostly for stretch, this sequence includes moves that will also provide strength/toning benefits. After the up-down warm-up, Kondi starts with the triceps and waist pulses. Next is a standing neck stretch and standing hamstring stretch. They move to the floor for sphinx pose and a brief child's pose followed by the pulsing thigh stretch (kneeling). This is followed by the cross-legged seated forward fold, a lateral stretch, and full seated forward fold. The final lying stretches include hamstring and the single leg twist with pulse, and then Kondi concludes the stretch with a kneeling runner's lunge to optional splits. This is my favorite segment for getting a great stretch with a little bit of "work" too.

UPPER BODY SCULPT (15:27) ~uses resistance band
Kondi is again jointed by all four background exercisers for this routine, which begins seated with the band around the feet of the outstretched legs for high row and pulsing triceps. Coming to a cross-leg seated position, they perform a shoulder stretch out and single arm overhead triceps reach. They then set the band aside and come into a side plank with rotation. Additional moves here include plank, V (down dog), and "upside down push-ups," or down dog push-ups. The group comes to kneeling, and the band is again used for bicep curls and side reaches. Quick triceps and shoulder stretches conclude this workout.

Overall, I really liked the shorter segments of this DVD. This allows me to fit in the routines and to have variety without a "dread" factor. I do wish that Callanetics was able to find better on-camera instructors. Kondi seems personable enough, and yet I still found her demeanor rather forced. Furthermore, I have the same pet peeve with her that I have had with virtually all Callanetics instructors, including Callan herself--i.e., they will SAY "move no more than a quarter of an inch," but what you SEE is them moving 6 inches or more! Finally, Kondi's counting seemed off in all the routines. Despite these issues, this DVD might make a good introduction to the Callanetics method for someone who has never tried it before.

Instructor Comments:
See comments above. Lacey seemed to be trying hard to be natural but somehow came across to me as artificial. And her use of "one more time on the other side" is really starting to bug me. ;)

Beth C (aka toaster)