Video Fitness

Vertical Pilates

June Kahn

I am an intermediate/advanced exerciser, and am reviewing this workout after doing it twice.

This DVD is produced by Sara City Workouts; as another reviewer commented in relation to June’s “Cardio Pilates”, SCW are not known for their high production values. “Vertical Pilates” suffers from the same problem. The set is the same one used for Kimberly Spreen’s “Play Ball”, tricked out with cheesy pink, blue and mauve lighting which gives the workout a washed-out, unnatural look. Also, the video quality is rather fuzzy.

But don’t let the production values put you off. This is a great workout! It is aptly titled “Vertical Pilates” as it draws strongly from conventional Pilates, with some influences from tai chi, yoga and ballet. The workout is suitably labelled intermediate/advanced. June works out with two background exercisers, who she introduces as “certified Pilates instructors”, but no modifications are shown. According to the back of the box (the DVD menu gives slightly different times) the breakdown is:
~ Introduction – 1 minute
~ Warm-up – 6 minutes
~ Activity – 17 minutes
~ Balance Sequence – 11 mins
~ Flowing Sequence – 9 mins
(Total time 44 minutes)

The warm-up starts with some breathwork and standing roll-ups. Then there are some moves which June describes as “ribcage isolation” (moving your upper body from side to side while keeping your hips stable) moving into spinal rotation, while still keeping your hips stable. I really feel this in my obliques. This is followed by a series of side lunges while rhythmically moving your upper body. I recognised the tai chi “brush push” here.

The next session starts with what June calls a “balancing act” as you stand on one leg, raise the knee of the opposite leg, then swivel that leg out to the side. This section is fairly lengthy and will challenge your balance and core stability. After a brief stretch, June moves into standing versions of the single leg stretch, the neck pull, the swan and the double leg stretch. Then there is more unilateral work as you stand on one leg, extend the other leg straight out in front, move it to the side, then behind you as you reach forward with both arms; this requires a lot of strength in the supporting leg.

Moving into the “Balance Sequence”, June recommends a chair, dowel stick or weighted bar for support, commenting that eventually you should be able to do the sequence without any props. I find the use of props a bit odd; if you can perform the exercises in the previous section without added support, you won’t need it here. This is a ballet-like sequence, ending with a standing version of “the saw”.

The “Flowing Sequence” is the most challenging. After some more standing unilateral work, June and her assistants move to the floor. They start off in plank, then in one graceful movement, move into tabletop, back into plank, then back into tabletop. “I told you it was challenging!” June says at this point. Then in tabletop position, you stretch your legs out straight, then do some hip lifts. This is followed by fun sequence in which you move into what June calls “teaser” (it’s actually the yoga half boat pose), then quickly move into a jackknife, then back into the half boat pose, then back to jackknife several times. After a child’s pose stretch, there’s a bit more work for your abs as you kneel then lean backwards. The workout finishes with a brief stetch.

I would recommend this workout to intermediate/advanced exercisers who enjoy Pilates and are looking for something a bit different, as well as those who enjoy standing ab work. I find it very enjoyable and fairly challenging; I always break a light sweat and really feel it in my abs, particularly my obliques, afterwards. The workout moves at a brisk pace, and the time goes by quickly. The music is pleasant and suits the workout.

Instructor comments: June’s impressive form and strength make her background exercisers look almost sloppy. She doesn’t waste any time setting up the exercises or explaining terms, although she does focus a lot on breath. She counts in a stage whisper, as though she doesn’t want to come across like a drill sargeant, which I find funny and endearing.


January 2008

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