Hit the Spot Pilates features Denise Austin, whose enthusiasm for staying fit and bringing the rest of overweight America along on the journey rivals that of the perennially perky and equally ageless Richard Simmons.
These exercises are based on the incredibly popular form of exercise (and occasional torture) known as Pilates. What those new to Pilates may enjoy about it is that unlike the aerobics trend of the 1980s, which required lots of bouncing around, Pilates is low impact, and its devotees swear by its significant results. The routines included on this DVD focus chiefly on the middle of the body: the abs, waist, hips, thighs, and buttocks. Workouts are divided into 10-minute segments, allowing viewers to customize their own workout by focusing on specific areas; this may also increase the likelihood of repeated use, because having the ability to change up the routine may lessen boredom, which is the enemy of consistency.
The workouts are challenging without being impossible. Many home workouts are either far too easy or very difficult to do; here, Austin hits just the right balance. Pilates can be deceptive; it looks somewhat easy to do, but like yoga, it takes time and practice to get it just right. The music is pretty standard exercise video stuff, which always reminds me of porno music. Overall, however, viewers can expect a fun workout that they will actually feel the next day.
Another great feature of this DVD is the set-up. Just one look at the on-screen menu and viewers will know that they are in for something very different. A special customization menu allows viewers to add the workouts they desire to play in succession, which negates the need to pause mid-workout to select another one. There is also a music-only option for those who do not wish to listen to the verbal instructions given by Denise.
Speaking of Denise, as easy as it would be to make fun of her perky, perpetual happiness, she truly is encouraging to viewers and appears to possess an understanding that the people who have purchased this DVD may not share her same level of fitness. She reminds me of the head cheerleader all the girls want to hate but can't because she's so genuine and nice. The other positive quality Denise possesses is that it is very clear she achieved her terrific, astoundingly muscular, body through exercise, rather than through the wonders of liposuction and silicone. All in all, Denise gives the appearance of a woman who believes in what she says, which is not always the case with exercise video hosts.
The setting of the workouts is absolutely gorgeous! In some segments, Denise works out on a wooden platform against a backdrop of palm trees, flowers, shrubs, and ocean. Others are filmed against a spa-like setting. For those of you who adore exercise, the backdrop may not matter, but if you're like me and exercise is a chore, it is nice to have pretty scenery to focus on while huffing and puffing away.
The high quality of the video is a pleasant surprise, considering the fact that many exercise videos come across as low-budget, with grainy pictures. The picture and colors are sharp and clear, and as I mentioned before the setting couldn't be better. It comes across great on DVD.
Compared to a feature film, sound quality may seem to be less important on an exercise DVD, but remember, it is necessary to listen to what the instructor is saying. The sound is quite good, but as is the case with many exercise videos, you may need to raise the sound more than you would when viewing a movie.
There is not much in the way of extras, save for a "bonus" workout which seems more like a marketing gimmick than a true bonus, but viewers will truly appreciate the custom menus that give them a great deal of choice about how to do the workout.
If you are serious about working out at home, Hit the Spot Pilates is a terrific investment. From start to finish, it is a top-notch production, and viewers won't be disappointed. There is a reason why Denise Austin has turned herself into a walking, talking brand name, and this DVD is proof enough.