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This DVD is a new release from Gaiam which features Trudie Styler, wife of the musician Sting, in a workout led by James D'Silva (who has also worked with Madonna and other stars). The setting for Pure Sculpt is Styler's and Sting's beautiful Tuscan villa; the workout segments are filmed either on an outdoor patio against gorgeous mountainous scenery or in a handsomely styled indoor marble area. The music (as one might guess) is provided by Sting: soft, instrumental selections from his Songs from the Labyrinth album.
The basic design of this DVD is that there are six distinct workouts, each of approximately 10 minutes in length (actual times are below), which can be used either separately or together. Sub-menus off the Main Menu allow you either to select individual workout chapters or to customize the chapters in any order. The Main Menu of the DVD offers the following options: Play All – Workouts – Custom Workout – Bonus Materials (the bonuses include interviews with Styler, D' Silva, and Sting plus a segment on Styler and Sting's organic wine making). D'Silva instructs all of the routines via voiceover (note: he does not mirror-cue) while both he and Styler perform the moves. I have broken down each of the segments in detail below.
Warm-Up (10 minutes)
For this first segment, Styler and D'Silva have their mats perpendicular to the viewer. The majority of the warm-up is performed standing, with D'Silva strongly emphasizing cuing the breath as he leads a series of gentle, flowing stretches; towards the end of the warm-up, he moves to the floor for some brief work on all fours, down dog, and cobra. Unfortunately, the music is a bit loud in this section, and because D'Silva is so soft-spoken, I sometimes had trouble hearing his instructions here.
Core Conditioning Routine 1 (10 minutes)
This floor segment is based on traditional crunch-type exercises, but D'Silva executes them in a slower, more deliberate pace throughout. He includes both curl-ups and reverse crunches (hip raises), and he intersperses pelvic lifts, performed as a sort of stretch or rest in-between some of the other moves. There are also some Pilates-like exercises, including leg circles and criss-cross.
Core Conditioning Routine 2 (8.5 minutes)
In this section, D'Silva incorporates even more Pilates-like moves, beginning with a variation on the Pilates roll-up in which he flows up and into a side stretch, first with the legs together, then with the legs apart. This is followed by a version of the Pilates rollover (or yoga plow pose), made more advanced by keeping the arms overhead rather than by the sides for support. D'Silva then increases the difficulty level even further by instructing you to grab your ankles while in plow and roll forward; eventually, you are rolling from plow to a Pilates teaser position, a very advanced move.
Lower Body Toning Routine 1 (12 minutes)
For this segment, you will set up on the floor in a side-lying position and perform a series of movements emphasizing the hips/outer glutes. D'Silva starts with a bent leg lift, but he moves through a long sequence of both bent and straight leg work, including tempo changes. Influences of both the Pilates side kick series and ballet can be seen here.
Lower Body Toning Routine 2 (12.5 minutes)
This routine focuses more on the rear glutes. D'Silva and Styler start in a face-down position, and D'Silva cues small pulsing movements, first with a single leg, then both legs. Next comes about five minutes of leg lifts performed on hands and knees; you'll start with straight leg lifts, then move on to bent leg before switching to the other side. For the final few minutes of this segment, D'Silva and Styler are in a kneeling position for side leg lifts.
Pure Arms Routine 1 (9.5 minutes)
In this segment, both Styler and D'Silva are wearing wrist weights. D'Silva begins by warming up the shoulders with shoulder rolls and side delt raises. He then continues with less traditional exercises (many have distinctive names such as "waitress," "engine," and "disco arms"), keeping the arms in constant motion throughout the entire segment.
Pure Arms Routine 2 (9.5 minutes)
Styler and D'Silva are again wearing the wrist weights here, but Styler is also holding small dumbbells in her hands. This segment is fairly similar to the one preceding it, and in fact it includes many of the same movements (e.g., waitress, engine arms). However, you will also perform some more traditional upper body exercises, such as tricep extensions (although D'Silva cues these moves in a more flowing, continuous manner).
There are a few important critiques to note about this DVD. First, although there is a separate Warm-Up, there is no cool-down. D'Silva does incorporate some stretches within each of the individual workout segments, but this is not sufficient. The second issue is more significant. I would rate the overall level of this DVD as being appropriate for low intermediate exercisers and above (and even fit experienced beginners should be able to handle most of the moves). However, as noted above, some of the exercises included in the second core segment are quite advanced—I consider myself to be a high intermediate exerciser, but I was reluctant to follow along for fear of injury. No modifications are shown or suggested by D'Silva.
This series of DVDs from Styler and D'Silva certainly has plenty of appeal—D'Silva is a competent, likeable instructor, and both D'Silva and Styler are graceful and inspiring in their movements. While Pure Sculpt offers some innovative and effective exercises, the difficulty level of some of the segments may limit its utility amongst home fitness enthusiasts.
© 2011 Beth Cholette
Link: Fitness DVDs from Gaiam’s website.
Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students.