DVD Review: The Method: Pilates Target Zones (Upper-Mid-Lower Body), Jennifer Kries (2003)

Monday, November 21st, 2005

Ab-solutely Awesome Mix of Pilates & Yoga!

five out of five stars

Although I mainly stick to Tae Bo and kickboxing, I also like to throw the occasional yoga and/or pilates workout into the mix for flexibility and strength. I love Jennifer Kries as an instructor – she’s always peppy and cheerful without becoming annoying, and she does a great job of explaining the poses in such a way that even yoga newbies like myself can easily understand. Because I’ve enjoyed Kries’s DVDs in the past, I chose The Method: Pilates Target Zones: Upper-Mid-Lower Body when I needed a dedicated abdominal routine. As usual, Jennifer does not disappoint!

The workout is divided into three 25-minute segments: Abdominal/Centering, Lower Body/Grounding, and Balanced/Lengthening. The segment titles are a bit misleading, however; the first two, Abdominal/Centering and Lower Body/Grounding, focus on the abdominals via a series of “roll ups,” while the last portion, Balanced/Lengthening, is an interesting mix of yoga and ballet. The distinctions between Upper, Mid, and Lower Body aren’t as discrete as the titles would have you believe. Nonetheless, each segment is challenging and effective – I’ve noticed a definite improvement in my abdominal strength and overall flexibility since incorporating this DVD into my fitness program.

Abdominal/Centering, the first segment, begins with some breathing exercises, and then alternates between yogic stretching and increasingly difficult pilates “roll ups” that really (and I mean REALLY) challenge the abs. Lower Body/Grounding is more of the same, but this series incorporates the use of a lightly weighted bar to assist in the standing stretches and give a point of focus in the “roll ups.” Even so, you don’t have to run out and buy extra equipment in order to take full advantage of this workout – you can very easily substitute a broomstick or similar object for the bar (I use my Richard Simmons Ab Roller!). Finally, the Balanced/Lengthening section leads you through various yogic postures, including the Sun Salutation, the Proud Warrior series, and Awkward Chair (this one really works your legs!). Kries also includes a few ballet exercises, such as pliĆ©s and ankle presses (again, great leg work!).

I have absolutely no complaints about this DVD – which is very rare for me! The exercises are great, the instructor is engaging and encouraging, and the DVD format is suitable (i.e., each segment is its own chapter on the DVD, so you can easily customize your workout). Upper-Mid-Lower Body is especially worthwhile for those looking to firm their tummies. Along with Tae Bo: Billy’s BootCamp: Ab BootCamp, this is my favorite ab workout. And it shows – my six-pack is coming in quite nicely!

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DVD Review: The Method: Precision Yoga, Jennifer Kries (2002)

Tuesday, May 31st, 2005

Great Stretching/Strengthening Routine

four out of five stars

I’ve been working out for almost two years; mainly I stick to Tae Bo, but I enjoy yoga as well. I find that it’s especially helpful for flexibility, and I often find myself incorporating different yoga exercises into my warm-up/stretching routine, prior to doing Tae Bo.

The Method Precision Yoga,” featuring Jennifer Kries, is a great introduction to yoga for newbies. Jennifer explains and demonstrates the poses very well, and she illustrates different levels of the same pose so that novices don’t get frustrated and the more advanced students don’t become bored. The workout is divided into three segments, each roughly 20 minutes in length: Strength & Vitality, Flexibility & Balance, and Serenity. I love each of the first two, especially Flexibility & Balance, but hardly ever do the Serenity portion. Jennifer walks you through such poses as Warrior I and II, the Sun Salutation, Downward Facing Dog, The Cat, Child’s Pose, etc. – mostly your standard yoga fare.

I own a number of yoga DVDs, and “The Method Precision Yoga” is invigorating without becoming impossible, like some of the ones that I’ve bought and hardly ever used. More advanced yogis might want to stick with another series, perhaps the longer Rodney Yee ones (sometimes I swear Rodney gets a little help courtesy of Adobe Premiere – no one should be able to do some of those moves!). However, “The Method Precision Yoga” is great for newbies and moderate-level students, and very useful if you just want a great stretching routine (some of the twists are awesome). I’m knocking one star off for its short running time, though – I’ve seen a number of more interactive DVDs with twice the number of segments.

(This review was originally published on Amazon. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)