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Pilates Weight Loss for Beginners

Posted Nov 13 2008 6:06am
With my diverse experience with workout DVDs, it surprised even me that I’ve never done an actual Pilates video. I’ve done Mr.P-inspired workouts (yes, Pilates is a person ), like when Denise Austin throws in some moves, but never the real deal, beginning to end. Anything marked “for beginners” is a good place to start when engaging in a new endeavor, so Pilates Weight Loss for Beginners is where I began.

The scenery is beautiful, with a green lawn, bright flowers and beautiful ocean in the background. The 51-minute video contains two segments: Pilates-conscious cardio, and Pilates prep and matwork. I was interested to see how cardio and Pilates intermingled, so I let the rockin’ redhead instructor Brooke Siler show me the light.

The video starts off with some standing, breathing and stretching. Pilates is all about lengthening, so each movement mixes breathing and lengthening . Arm stretches commence, as well as side bends to stretch out the waist. Standing twists, a standing saw and standing sweeps get the blood flowing. A series of squat moves does increase the heart rate noticeably, but you won’t mistake it for a sprint. Interestingly, I always think of doing things more quickly to get the heart beating, but I learned that by putting your hands on your head while doing the squats, your heart works harder to get the blood to your extremities. With some repeating lunges and active stretching lunges, I really felt like I was getting the Pilates experience. The star move, a side plank with one leg extended definitely worked my waist, and planks were great for core strength.

This section focuses a lot on the mid-section. Rollbacks—think holding a high crunch position —get pretty tough. And I’m not entirely sure how one keeps one’s feet planted on the ground while doing roll-up ab exercises. I know Pilates is all about control, but I had to throw some momentum in there most of the time to get up. The hundred—think mid-crunch, legs at 90 degrees, and “slapping the water” with your arms—gets your abs burning after, oh, 75 or so. Leg circles work your “powerhouse,” as do the bicycle crunches, but my favorite were the lying side leg kicks, which really work the obliques. The rolling “ seal ” movement had my dog attacking my flippers.

In both sections, instructor-Brooke voices over with her cues so that performer-Brooke can breathe effectively. The cuing is spot-on, and she gives great tips for positioning and alignment, such as “like you’re wringing water from a wet towel” and “imagine you’re a crane lifting a load” and “balance on a thin wire.”

FBG Rating (Out of 5):
Instruction: ★★★★
Long-Term Likeability: ★★
Music: ★★★
Fun Factor: ★★★
Meets Expectations: ★★★
Overall: ★★★

Fit Bottom line: As my first Pilates experience, I felt like it was a solid introduction to the practice. A great mix of stretching and toning, it would challenge a beginner. If you like active yoga, it may be worth a shot. —Erin

Want to try it out for yourself? Email us at and we’ll pick one lucky winner. We’d love to hear back from you after you try it!

Want more reviews? Check out our take on Yoga Booty Ballet! For more on how our ratings are determined (it's not a science, but we do have some method to our madness), read our review criteria.
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