Lotte Berk Method: Hip Hugger AbsKristen Lilley, Suzanne Cook
Year Released: 2003
Categories: Abs/Core , Ballet/Barre
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I bought this about a year ago, worked out to it a few times, then stopped - something irked me about the routine or the instructor.
I finally hauled this out last week, just to see if I still wanted to keep it. Lo and behold, I warmed to it this time. I don't love-love-love it, but it's not bad for an abs workout.
And I usually can't stand more than 10 or 15 minutes working on my abs. I can't say how many times in total body workouts that I've carved out abs routines, even the shorter ones, because they're such a bear to me. (I'm used to using videos like The Firm's 5 Day Abs, for instance.)
All the sections work my abs in a big way, even the elbow plank, but the lying on the side and raising the upper then lower leg...eh. I didn't really feel much with that, but it could be that my form was off (the stretch after that *did* feel quite nice). Also, during I guess what would be considered a Pilates roll up, I watched the modifier, but I don't think her modification (holding on to lower thighs, just above the knees, pull up to a straight up sitting position) took into account those who can't get up to that final position. Instead, I modified so that I'm about halfway up, figuring that once (hopefully) my abs are stronger, I'll be able to get to the point where I'm sitting up straight.
So in 26 minutes (more or less) for the main body of the workout, I felt like my abs were challenged (and you *must* pay attention if you're going to get anything out of this), even though the exercises aren't held a long time (it was long enough for me! :-)). Since this is a Pilates-ish workout instead of straight-out Pilates, and since it's not overly long, I don't dread pulling out this video.
I don't have any other Lotte Berk videos as yet, so I can't compare this instructor to any others, but she's not bad. Yes, she'll exhort you to hold on as you struggle to keep your position while she furiously counts up or down, but this didn't annoy me, because I was too busy trying to keep the tuck. Her counting counting did allow me to keep my mind on my form instead of worrying what rep I was on.
The Lotte Berk Method is a form of exercise developed by Russian dancer Lotte Berk and brought to America by Lydia Bach. Drawing from dance and other similar disciplines, many of the exercises require the use of a ballet barre, and the focus is on making small, precise movements to facilitate the development of long, lean muscles. Unlike the other videos in this series, however, the movements in Hip Hugger Abs, which work the abdominal area, are performed entirely on the floor without the use of a barre.
Like all of the Lotte Berk videos, this workout begins with high knee lifts to warm up. Instructor Suzanne Cook leads two other Lotte Berk instructors, one of whom shows modifications. Also included in the warm up are push-ups: 2 sets of 10 on your knees, and then 2 sets of 10 "reverse" push-ups, performed with your hands behind you and your chest up to switch the work to the triceps. After the warm up, the workout moves to the floor. Starting in a seated position with your knees bent, you lean back, tilting your pelvis, pulling in your abdominals, and holding a sort of isometric contraction. You perform several repetitions and also several variations, such as holding one leg in the air. By the end of this segment, I could definitely feel my abs working!
Next comes a series of Pilates inspired movements. Beginning on your back, you lift your bent legs in the air and dip your toes to the ground; you then perform the same movement with straight legs. Moving on to your side, you do a single set of side leg lifts, and to finish, it's on to your stomach for a few brief holds of elbow plank. Although all of the above are effective movements, I don't think that enough time was devoted to the individual exercises, and I didn't feel very worked out after this segment. The workout ends as all the LBM videos do with a "Shape by Stretch" section in which you perform several different stretches to finish at a total of 26 1/2 minutes. While there are certainly some merits to this video, better abs and Pilates workouts are available.
I found Suzanne to be more tolerable than some of the other LB instructors, although she still says some things that make her sound like she is working from the same script. She does offer good form pointers and cues the movements well.
I wanted to like this video, but unfortunately, I did not. It's not that the workout wasn't hard and that I didn't feel it. I was just "bored". This is my first Lotte Berk video, so I have yet to make a ruling on her program altogether. It is a combination of Pilates and stretching (sort of yoga-like) where you HOLD positions for a period of time to get maximum results and then stretch out the muscle. I did feel my abs burning when doing the exercises, but they were not any better than the workouts I've done on the numerous Pilates tapes out there. The instructor was VERY enthusiastic, trying hard to motivate you and make the workout fun, but it just wasn't fun for me. I wound up fast forwarding through some of the stretches just to get to the meat of the ab workout. I would prefer my stretches at the very end after I've exhausted my abs.
I don't recall the twenty-something year old instructor's name, but she was pleasant, although a little TOO enthusiastic for these type of exercises (she had a pumped up, aerobic attitude which felt strange for a MIND/BODY video).