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One DVD in this set is devoted to
Pilates, and the other is devoted to yoga.
Each has a basic and an intermediate workout. As part of the "for Dummies" series, they explain ideas
in simple terms with exercises that are easy to follow. On each DVD, as the presenter demonstrates
the workouts, boxes pop up with hints about how to do them, or with variations
for more or less challenging versions of the exercises. Jargon is kept to a minimum and is also
explained via the pop-up boxes. Several
myths about yoga and Pilates are debunked through these boxes too. The production qualities are high, with the
presenter giving instructions while demonstrating the exercises and also in
voice-over. The voice is always clear
and distinct. The studio is very
neutral, with a wooden floor and a combination of wooden and black and white walls. The lighting is from above with studio
lights, keeping the presenter well illuminated. The camera work is professional, highlighting important features
of the exercises, and generally on the move, either slowly zooming in or moving
around. It looks like two cameras were
used, one showing the instructor from the side, and the other showing her from
above. In the background, bland new age
music plays, and when watching, it is hardly noticeable. It is possible to turn off the music with
the audio set up.
Michelle Duzois is the presenter
for the Pilates DVD, which was originally made in 2001. She starts off the basic workout with a
brief introduction about Pilates, explaining the concept of the
"powerhouse" and the "box." Pilates focuses more on fitness than mind/body connections, and
is especially aimed at strengthening abdominal muscles. It shares some postures with yoga and many
of these also aim to promote flexibility via stretching. The basic workout about half an hour long,
and includes 18 exercises. The
intermediate workout has 18 exercises and lasts about 24 minutes. For each exercise, Duzois shows how to do it
first, and then leads the viewer through a number of repetitions. The basic exercises are fairly
straightforward -- obviously different people will find some easier than
others, and some may be quite challenging.
However, this is an excellent introduction to Pilates. My only reservation concerns the regular use
of the DVD, since once you have become accustomed to the exercises, you will
not need them explained every time you do them, and you may want to skip those
initial demonstrations. Yet the DVD
does not provide any way to just have a workout, so you can either rest while
Duzois explains the exercises, or you can follow her as she demonstrates
them. The intermediate workout is a
little more challenging, going through a similar list of exercises, but making
them more difficult. It is possible to
do both workouts in one session taking about an hour.
The yoga DVD workouts, made in
2000, are presented by Sara Ivanhoe, and are structured in a very similar way
to the Pilates DVD. She calls her
basic workout a "daily dozen," and it proceeds quite slowly, taking
about 45 minutes. It goes through some
basic yoga postures, including mountain pose, foreward bend, a standing side
stretch, the downward facing dog, the cobra, child's pose and a seated spinal
twist. Most people who have done yoga
previously will be familiar with these and will find them fairly easy. The instruction includes some guide as to
when to breathe in or out, which is useful.
The intermediate workout is about 20 minutes long, and goes through the
movements in a sun salutation, or "sun salute" as Ivanhoe calls
it. Again, it is quite simple compared
to most yoga DVDs, and is not advanced as other yoga DVDs that label themselves
as at the "intermediate" level.
Nevertheless, the professional quality of the production makes it a
helpful guide, especially for people who want a thoroughly westernized version
On the whole, the Pilates part of
this DVD package is the more distinctive of the two, because fewer Pilates DVDs
are available on the market. It is good
to have a choice of yoga and Pilates to suit one's mood and needs on a
particular occasion, especially with the choice between basic and intermediate
levels for each workout. Neither DVD
spends much time on the mental benefits of the exercise, being more practically
oriented on how to perform the exercises.
Nevertheless, these yoga and Pilates workouts provide a good way to get
oneself into an exercise routine that will benefit both mind and body.
© 2006 Christian Perring. All
Christian Perring, Ph.D., is
Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island, and editor
of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on
philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.