Pilates is a full-body conditioning exercise program that uses a series of machines and exercises. It works the entire body, both the right and left sides, in unison. It focuses primarily on what Joseph Pilates called the "powerhouse," the group of muscles that begins two inches above and below your navel, then wraps completely around your front and back--kind of like a corset. It also includes your buttocks.
The DVD features the Pilates Beginning Mat Workout, plus a bonus workout and interview with instructor Ana Caban.
"Remember what Joseph Pilates said," instructor Ana Caban says. "'You will feel better in 10 sessions, look better in 20 sessions, and have a completely new body in 30 sessions.'" Pilates has become very popular and for good reason. By working the core muscles (the abdominal and back muscles in the center of your body) you improve strength and posture and develop a lean, long line.
Certified Pilates instructor Ana Caban is a splendid teacher. First she demonstrates alignment and technique for 10 minutes, explaining the cue words you will hear and how to do the basics, emphasizing how to use the core muscles to strengthen the abdominals and back throughout the workout. Then she introduces a challenging 20-minute series of Pilates moves, instructing clearly, demonstrating beautifully, and continuing to advise you about technique, breathing, and form.
Even though this is a beginning Pilates workout, Pilates is never easy, so these moves will feel extremely difficult if you're new to this kind of exercise. For example, you learn to hold your abs tight whatever move you're doing, and you move only the muscles you're working at the moment, using your stabilizing muscles to hold the rest of the body still (much harder than it sounds!). Another participant demonstrates modifications throughout in case Caban's moves are too difficult or your muscles fatigue. If you've been wanting to explore Pilates and you're willing to put in the effort and concentration, this video gets our top rating. --Joan Price
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