The Pilates system of stretching and exercises, focusing on the "core
stability" muscles of the back and abdomen, seems to have become
quite a fashionable form of exercise lately, and several different
Pilates exercise programs have made it to DVD. Pilates Body
Control and Weekly Workout has the merit of being the most
complete and well-thought-out of the ones I've reviewed.
One of the merits of Pilates Body Control and Weekly Workout
is that it is very useful for beginners to Pilates. The Body
Control program begins with two sections, totaling about 15
minutes, that introduce the concepts and fundamental moves and
postures of Pilates. The Weekly Workout also starts with about
12 minutes of introduction on the basic posture required for the
exercises, and the Pilates concepts of alignment, centering, and
breathing. For viewers who aren't also enrolled in a Pilates class,
or who want reinforcement of the basic moves to be sure they're doing
them correctly, this introductory material is extremely useful.
However, since each is a separate chapter on the DVD, it's easy to
skip over them if you don't need them any more.
Lynne Robinson, the instructor for this Pilates program, does an
excellent job of explaining and demonstrating all the various moves,
including not just how to do the move, but also why it's important.
Her voice is distinct and also very calm and soothing, which is
appropriate for a workout that emphasizes relaxation as a key feature
Pilates Body Control and Weekly Workout is actually several
workouts rolled into one program, which provides even more substance
for viewers. Body Control runs a total of 90 minutes; after
the introduction, Robinson leads viewers through a 40-minute
"warm-up" program that, she points out, can be performed
separately as a short workout if desired. This part of the program
focuses heavily on stretching and some mild exercises. After that,
the remaining 35 minutes or so involves various exercises of the
back, shoulders, abdomen, and legs, finishing with a short relaxation
The Weekly Workout program is composed of three 25-minute
workouts, intended to provide a maximum benefit in a short period of
time. The first workout focuses on the "girdle of strength"
(core stability muscles), shoulders, and arms. The second focuses on
the buttocks, legs, and feet, while the third workout combines
various exercises to do more complex actions that develop
coordination, balance, and sensory awareness. There's also a short
relaxation session at the end.
Pilates Body Control and Weekly Workout is a very mild,
low-key, low-stress exercise program. Athletes, or anyone who does
regular exercise and ordinary stretching on a regular basis, will
probably find this program to be much too easy. It's quite clear,
though, that this is an excellent program for the average non-athlete
who wants to improve flexibility and strength, and I would suggest
that it's particularly recommended for viewers in their 40s and
older, or anyone who is recovering from injury. The stretches are
excellent, the exercises are straightforward and not intimidating at
all, and the program is easy to schedule since it is made up of
several shorter sessions.
The image quality for the Pilates Body Control and Weekly Workout
programs is very good, certainly on the high end for exercise videos.
The print is very clean and bright, with colors looking natural and
rich. Part of why it looks so good is the well-thought-out choice of
backgrounds and clothing for Lynne Robinson. She wears bright, solid
colors and performs the exercises against a very plain background,
usually either plain white or a pastel color. This makes it very easy
to see exactly what she's doing.
The Dolby 2.0 soundtrack is satisfactory; the instructor's voice is
always understandable, and the music remains low-key and in the
background. One odd thing about the soundtrack is that some parts
were clearly recorded and inserted later: there's a distinct
difference in the way Lynne Robinson sounds when she's giving
instruction "live" as she performs an exercise, and when
she's giving the instruction through a voice-over on the DVD, with
the latter sounding slightly louder and flatter. In both cases, it's
perfectly understandable, though.
The only special features are production credits and information
about a DVD newsletter.
Body Control and Weekly Workout is an excellent workout program
for people who are intimidated by working out in general. It's a
clearly explained, straightforward introduction to the Pilates style
of exercise, and offers a very gentle and low-stress way for viewers
to improve their flexibility and strength. While it's a bit too
low-key to be particularly useful for those viewers who already
exercise and stretch on a regular basis, it's ideal for older
viewers, non-athletes, and people recovering from injury. Considering
that there's a lot of content here (the 90-minute Body Control
program as well as three 25-minute programs that make up the Weekly
Workout), this DVD offers an excellent value, and I'll give it a
"highly recommended" for viewers who are interested in
getting started with Pilates.