The Pilates Pro at Home DVD series from Balanced Body is taught, and designed I am sure, by Elizabeth Larkam. Elizabeth is greatly respected as Pilates educator and this DVD series makes it abundantly clear why. Each DVD is meticulously crafted. Whether it be posture, abdominal strength, flexibility, core stability, or abdominal work the workouts are carefully built with specific exercises that support that goal.
What You Get
The DVDs are: Core Control, Create Flexibility, Perfect Posture, Upper Body Challenge, and All About Abs. They can be bought as a set or individually.
Movement Principles: All 5 DVDs follow a set format. Each one starts with an introduction called Pilates principles. These are not "the" Pilates Principles as in centering, concentration, control, precision, breath, and flow. This section is a review of the fundamentals of Pilates movement -- which do include the breathing but also ideas like neutral spine and scapular stabilization. The Principles section is the same on each DVD and is one of the best reviews of Pilates movement fundamentals I have seen on a Pilates DVD.
Tutorials: Each DVD includes an in-depth tutorial on the exercises that will be in the workout. The tutorials include suggestions for exercise modifications and ways to make the exercises more comfortable as one builds the strength and flexibility to do more advanced versions. This section will be especially valuable for beginners and anyone who wants to be a extra careful such as seniors and those with physical concerns. Two of the DVDs, Perfect Posture and Core Control, are labeled as safe exercise for osteoporosis and osteopenea.
Workouts: The workouts are much like the tutorials except that they move a little faster and don't include all of the modifications. It makes sense to have the tutorial first, but if you have some Pilates background and are ready to move, you might do the workout and see where you had trouble or questions, then go back to the tutorial for that. Do take advantage of the tutorials at some point.
Each workout is highly specific to the topic at hand, whether it be flexibility or core control or one of the others. The longest is 32 minutes. There are a few select exercises in each workout and they build up in difficulty through variations, so you do get some intensity. The packages for all 5 DVDs say "intermediate to advanced" exercises. My experience was that Perfect Posture and Create Flexibility were more beginner and the other three DVDs were very beginner friendly but definitely moving into intermediate with some advanced work. I found All About Abs, which includes full teaser; and Upper Body Challenge, which builds to a straight leg side bend to be hardest.
Bonus Workout: These are short but more flowing and include advanced versions of the exercises from the workout. I was a little disappointed to have the same exercises repeated in the bonus workout because it made doing the workout and bonus back to back too repetitive for me. Nevertheless, what you do have then is the slow tutorial with lots of modifications, moving into the workout which has little more pace and builds the exercises up, and then the bonus ups the pace and takes the exercises a little further.
Who Will Like Them
You might guess by now that these DVDs are probably not for those who are after a faster paced Pilates workout. However, this kind of intensely focused Pilates mat work does sneak up on you. The workouts will build strength, flexibility, and balance. Also, Elizabeth Larkam with her expertise and steady, melodious voice is a master at quietly amping things up until you are doing the advanced version of an exercise.
The bottom line is that these are fabulous DVDs to learn from. Anyone, beginner to advanced, who enjoys detail oriented instruction will appreciate how well these DVDs serve their topics. I also recommend them to teachers. Those of you who have clients who need some extra modifications or support will find great tips here. You will also see very clearly how to build on ideas throughout a workout.
Buying the Pilates Pro at Home DVDs
Series of 5: $89.75
Individual DVDs: $19.95
Buy Balanced Body DVDs Direct