Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Brooke Siler's new Pilates dvd

I just finished Brooke Siler's new Pilates dvd from the Element series, Pilates Weight Loss for Beginners -- First of all, Yay for Brooke finally making a dvd! I bought her first book, The Pilates Body, long ago and loved using it at night when I didn't feel like doing a dvd -- it's packed full of moves and information. Then I bought her Pilates Body Kit and have used those cards (and the Intermediate CD -- photo down much lower - not enough room here) many, many times. (Her newer book, Your Ultimate Pilates Body Challenge, didn't thrill me as much -- I liked the exercises in it, but there was much dedicated to Pilates form in activities like Golf that didn't really interest me). I've also enjoyed seeing Brooke sharing Pilates on TV shows from time to time, and she's been a contributer to Pilates Style Magazine. (I especially the September/October 2007 issue with her on the cover -- with a 6 week Pilates ball regime by Brooke inside. She also talked about having to get her own body back into pre-pregnancy shape after training so many others to do the same -- how she saw it in a new light being the one whose body went through the changes).

I rarely write reviews anymore, but I'm too excited about this one not to talk about it!

Anyway, Brooke recently teamed up with Andrea Ambandos (whom I worked with on the Slim Series Express -- she's produced most of the exercise videos on the market over the past 15+ years) and made a 51 minute Pilates dvd. My only hesitation when I saw this at Collage was that it says it's for Beginners (the title is even Pilates Weight Loss for Beginners). It makes me wonder if any of the Collage staff has done this video (or if they've done others and can compare).

Generally, Pilates videos for beginners spend time setting up each move and often take them slowly. This one doesn't do that at all. The only thing I saw that seemed more beginner-ish than intermediate was the leg circles (she did them with a bent knee on the floor instead of a straight leg), the teasers (we did teaser preps, but never full teasers -- but even the teaser preps were tough), and when we did the push-up preps, we had bent knees instead of a plank position- - but later I realized this was because it's a prep -- she did full planks at the end.

So I just have to get that out of the way. It's a solid Intermediate Pilates workout. The first 1/2 is done standing. On the menu, it says "Cardio" but it's nothing like Ana Caban's Cardio Pilates or Energizer Pilates. You're not doing jumping jacks or knee ups or anything like that. It's more like Ellen Barrett's style of standing Pilates. But it's different. It's more precise than flowing. It does flow, but you don't feel like you're doing Ballet moves -- you feel like you're doing Pilates moves while standing. From the very start (warm up moves), I felt completely conscientious of what each part of my body was doing -- even in shoulder circles. Brooke's just very precise and good at giving imagery for what to do and does her moves with precision so you can see what to do.

The menu gives you the option to do just the Cardio (standing work) or just the Mat work -- or both. I chose to do the complete program, which is unusual for me. I can do yoga for an hour or even an hour and a half, but I usually want to stop doing Pilates after about 1/2 hour. I had hopes though that Brooke would keep my interest. I was right.

The second 1/2 is on the mat and it's mostly traditional Pilates moves. I was interested to see her form because she was trained by Romana Kryzanowska (who was trained by Joseph Pilates -- I'm sure most of you know that). Anyway, it was interesting because on the seal exercise -- Brooke doesn't clap her feet together so her soles meet -- they are still in Pilates position -- so she's clapping the inner edges of her feet. (Brooke has VERY long feet, btw :)).

I've always loved Brooke's voice (from hearing it on her CDs). It was just a pleasure to hear her voiceover throughout. She has amazingly helpful cues -- like when we were preparing to sit up straight for roll over -- she said to pretend that the mat had hot coals and you were lifting your bottom up as much as you could (I'm butchering how eloquently she said it, but you get the general idea). Another one I liked was in a side series move (I think it was leg circles) -- she said to imagine you're brushing crumbs off the lower leg as you circle around.

It was really wonderful to do Pilates with Brooke. It's really obvious that she's spent her life studying (and teaching) Pilates. It's much different than doing some of the videos that are by less experienced fitness instructors who decided to get Pilates training along the way. The production (scenery, music, sound) was just perfect. For $9.10 (free shipping, even) at DeepDiscount, it's a steal.

I hope Brooke continues to make more Pilates dvds. But for now, I'm plenty happy to do this one a few times each week.

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