Progressive Pilates: 4 10-Minute Target-Tone Workouts, part of the Liz Gillies Core Fitness program, offers exactly what its title suggests: four ultra-short Pilates workouts. Each workout focuses on a different area of the body: buns, thighs, arms, and abdominals, with a fifth "bonus workout" (also ten minutes) providing a "total body" workout.
I applaud the idea of encouraging people to find time in their busy schedules to exercise. It really is essential to good health. DVDs like this one, though, make me wonder where it's all going to end, though. Just how short can a workout be, and still pretend to offer something of value? I certainly agree that ten minutes of toning-up a day can have beneficial effects (and it's certainly a lot better than zero minutes), but when Gillies cheerfully asserts that ten minutes a day is all you need for a great body... well, I think that's letting positive thinking get the better of reality.
That said, there's nothing to stop viewers from using these ultra-short workouts as just one part of a more extensive exercise program. So how good are they?
Well, there's some good and some bad. The good is that the exercises themselves are quite well-chosen, offering distinctly targeted exercise to the different parts of the body, as promised. The difficulty level ranges from fairly easy to moderately challenging for a reasonably fit person like myself; one of the participants also demonstrates modifications to make the more strenuous exercises slightly easier. My general impression is that Gillies knows her stuff as a Pilates instructor, and her other workouts are probably quite good.
The downside comes from the extreme brevity of the workouts. There's no time for Gillies to explain the moves at all: instead, she just offers the briefest of descriptions and launches into the exercise. This makes the program suitable for experienced Pilates participants, but not for beginners, since it's quite easy to do the exercises incorrectly in these workouts. The few stretches that are included are really worse than nothing, since they're held far too little time to do any real good (as in, two or three seconds rather than twenty or thirty seconds).
All in all, the workouts have a very rushed pace as Gillies tries to jam-pack a decent workout routine into ten minutes. Since the exercises themselves were reasonably good, viewers could pick out specific ones that they want to work on and basically create their own exercise program... but then, why not buy a different, less rushed, workout DVD? Probably the best argument for getting the Target-Tone Workout DVD is its specific focus on different parts of the body, which is something I haven't seen in other Pilates programs, and that I think most viewers will indeed appreciate.
Progressive Pilates looks about standard for workout programs on DVD. It's presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, and looks fine for what it is. The image is fairly soft and blurry, with heavy edge enhancement, but colors and contrast look good.
The Dolby 2.0 soundtrack gets the job done. Gillies' voice sounds a bit flat, but it's always easy to understand. The background music is perky but stays appropriately unobtrusive.
There are no special features, unless you want to count the fifth "Total Body" workout as an extra.
I found Progressive Pilates: 4 10-Minute Target-Tone Workouts to be a mixed bag. On the one hand, the fact that the workout offers tightly focused exercises for buns, thighs, arms, and abdominals is nice, but on the other hand, the workouts themselves suffer from being too rushed. It's not a workout that I'd recommend at all for beginners to Pilates, but others who are interested may want to borrow this (or pick it up for very cheap). Rent it.