Fat Burning Pilates by Kathy Smith
The Kathy Smith DVD was the first exercise DVD that I had checked out at the library and tried (this was back in January). The photos on the front are a bit silly again (I don’t know what she’s trying to do in the center photo), and the back of the DVD promised2 pilates routines and a “fat burning breakthrough” routine. I liked the combination of routines involved and I felt hopeful that I could rely on this DVD for a multitude of exercise sessions.
The Rael DVD seemed very professional – the main image incorporated an instructor and student holding a pilates pose and it promised “expert” instruction and even “high definition” viewing. I had never heard of the instructor Rael Isacowitz, but the back of the DVD promised a “Pilates Master” of 25 years who had a
clear, soothing, one-on-one coaching style.
I grabbed this DVD with hopes that it would supplement the Kathy Smith pilates DVD and give me more moves.
I love pilates. I hadn’t heard of it before, and I was glad that I was unaware of such stellar recommendations from celebrities such as this:
“Now I have muscles of steel and could easily deal with giving birth.” – Hugh Grant
Grant trying to be funny is a painful thing. I view most exercise or diet recommendations from celebrities as dubious at best. My belief is that they are most likely to recommend something that promises quick results with little regard to the actual effects on the body.
However, after having tried the two routines on the Kathy Smith DVD I am now a firm believer that pilates is essential to any exercise routine. The focus on stabilizing the “core” and “engaging the powerhouse” meant that my abs and central body muscles were getting close attention. I could really feel it the first few times and now I feel more in control of my movements and the individual muscle groups involved. Not to mention the poses are actually fun to do.
The Kathy Smith DVD includes two routines: Pilates for the abs and Pilates for the lower body. Both routines are about 30 minutes long and both routines begin with the basics. At first, I found the repetition of the breathing and set-up routines at the beginning of each routine a bit tedious, but now I use it to focus and get my body ready. Kathy Smith is an excellent instructor and details each move clearly. I only had to watch it once to get it and afterward I could focus on my body with vocal cues from Kathy. This is wonderful since you don’t want to be looking up at your screen all of the time. She also has an assistant who demonstrates more advanced moves if you become really good.
The fat burning breakthrough routine is a step routine. I am a newbie at exercising so I only own a few sets of weights and comfy shoes. I don’t own a step or any other fancy equipment. I began the routine with skepticism since I wasn’t sure if I could follow along without a step. They do provide one member of the team who is without a step, but the camera person never focuses on them for long enough for you to pick up on the alternate steps (not to mention their moves are so different from Kathy’s that my feet became dangerously entangled trying to keep it straight). I gave up mid-way and I’ve yet to try it again due to my confusion. If I ever get a step, then I’ll try the routine and change my review.
I popped the Rael Pilates DVD in today and tried out the routine. I was very disappointed. The routine is only about 24 minutes long and it comprises of a series of poses all jumbled together and quickly executed.
I also found Rael to be annoying. The routine begins with breathing and during this time we’re instructed to relax. Unfortunately, Rael’s voice is so grating and loud that I felt like he was more drill instructor than “soothing” coach. Even if I were able to ignore his demands, his method of instruction involved alluding to the steps within the pose rather than walking you through it clearly. I had to really watch the DVD and ignore his commands since I found them distracting. This meant that I couldn’t focus on the actual pose because I never knew when he was adapting it to a new one.
Once I finished the routine, I felt like I hadn’t done anything at all. I liked how some of the poses were modified from the ones Kathy shows us, but the overall routine left me unsatisfied. I was also unclear as to why this was “System 7” and his other DVDs are “System 17” and “System 27” – there must be some logic to the numbering but the DVD doesn’t tell you. They include an interview of the man himself, but this only provides you with some background on Joseph Pilates and why Rael does the routines. I can’t believe that they only give you less than half the poses that Kathy Smith does but for more money.
Rael Pilates System 7 DVD Rating: 1 star
This seems to be more hype than anything else. I wish the poses flowed together instead of feeling disjointed. I also found his method of “handling” the student a bit disturbing (who knows – I’ve yet to go to a gym so perhaps his method of instruction is normal).
Fat Burning Pilates DVD Rating: 5 stars (pilates sections), 1 star (fat burning breakthrough)
The two pilates routines are wonderful. I now do both routines together for an hour of pilates, and I can do them without working up a sweat (this is excellent for days when I have to exercise in the evening rather than the morning). The poses flow together and they target two areas of the body that always need work.