The Element series by Anchor Bay features yoga and Pilates DVDs that are set outdoors in a gardenside setting with the Pacific Ocean in the background. Most of the DVDs in this series offer two workouts, but this latest release, "Targeted Toning Pilates for Beginners," actually provides three Pilates routines, each approximately 20 minutes in length, plus a shorter, bonus abdominals session.
These practices are led by certified Pilates instructor Elizabeth Ordway, founder of Movement Studio LA. She teaches via voiceover and provides mirrored cuing. The only prop required for these routines is a mat. Unlike the other Element DVDs, Ordway does not offer an Introduction; only the workouts themselves are listed on the main menu. I have described each in greater detail below.
TOTAL BODY LENGTHEN & STRENGTHEN (21:25 minutes)
Ordway begins in a seated position for breathing, lengthening, seated chest expansion, and seated side stretch. Remaining seated, she also performs bicep curls, triceps turns, arm circles, and roll back (light weights could easily be added for these moves). Ordway then transitions to the floor for bridge/single leg bridge. Abs-focused work follows, including abs curl, hundred, face-up frog, roll-ups, single leg bicycles and circles, and scissors. After performing back extensions, Ordway stretches with spine stretch forward and saw and then finishes with rolling like a ball.
LONG & LEAN WAISTLINE (23:10 minutes)
For this abs-focuses routine, Ordway starts with the single leg and double leg stretches to warm up, then continues with a move she calls "barre legs." For the obliques, she performs an oblique crunch and criss-cross. Seated moves include a spine twist and roll-up with rotation. Next, Ordway moves into "elephant" (a.k.a. down dog), pulling in the knees to work the abs. Coming back down to the floor, she performs single leg teaser and single leg rocker prep. The final sequence includes tick-tock, cobra kicks, and in a side kneeling position, leg lifts and passé. Ordway concludes with a mermaid stretch.
LOWER BODY LIFT & SCULPT (21:30 minutes)
This workout starts with a lengthy, thorough side kick series. Ordway includes standard moves such as front/back, up/down, leg circles, and inner thigh lifts, but there are also some lesser-seen exercises, including knee dips, clamshells, and princess kicks. For the last 5-6 minutes of this routine, Ordway performs an all-fours series that includes rear lifts, knee ins, and side karate kicks; between sides, she does a bird-dog, or alternating arm-leg balance, and this is how she concludes the workout.
CORE STRENGTHENER BONUS (10 minutes)
The section starts with a simple abdominal curl. Ordway gradually ups the challenge, first lifting the feet to chair position and then to raised perpendicular to the ground. Additional crunch versions include four-point crunch and targeted oblique touch. Ordway then moves through criss-cross and single leg extension, and for her "grand finale," she combines these two moves. She finishes with a lying full-body stretch.
I enjoyed these routines. I like adding on Pilates to my other workouts, and so the length of these sessions felt just about perfect to me: Ordway moves along at a nice, measured pace, and the time went by quickly. However, as someone who has been practicing Pilates for over ten years and who considers myself to be at an approximately intermediate level, I disagree with the "for beginners" label of this DVD. Ordway does offer some modifications, particularly during the total body workout, when she performs fewer repetitions and other easier versions of some classic Pilates moves. Otherwise, however, Ordway includes some much more challenging exercises (e.g., corkscrew), and she does not provide the level of instruction that would be necessary for those truly new to Pilates. Thus, I would recommend this DVD mainly for experienced beginners and above.
© 2013 Beth Cholette
Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students.