Most Pilates videos and DVDs are relatively calm, subdued workouts; if you're looking for higher energy, consider our picks for the
Perhaps the most well-known Pilates instructor is Mari Winsor. This Los Angeles-based fitness guru pioneered a variation of the discipline based on what she calls "dynamic sequencing." The otherwise low-intensity workout moves quickly from one move to the next. As a result, Winsor's routines provide more cardiovascular benefit and burn more calories than other Pilates programs.
Her classic Mari Winsor: Pilates (*Est. $14) is praised for its excellent cueing and helpful instruction, and reviewers say she's one of the most professional instructors in the industry. Users at Amazon.com say the video is suitable for beginners, but those with prior Pilates experience may find the routines too simple. In 2010, Winsor released the Slimming Pilates Kit (*Est. $60) , which includes three DVDs and the Accelerator tool, a combination of resistance bands, hand weights and exercise bars. The six 20-minute routines provide enough variety to ward off boredom. Kristen Seymour at ThatsFit.com finds some of the moves new and innovative, but says those familiar with Winsor Pilates will recognize many of the sequences.
Another well-recognized brand, Stott Pilates, is a slight deviation from Joseph Pilates' original program. Pioneered by Moira Stott-Merrithew, Stott Pilates focuses on the stabilization of the upper back and shoulders, and promotes a neutral spine position to minimize strain through the shoulders and neck. The program has 17 DVD series ranging from the popular mat work to weight loss to Pilates for kids. A professional series includes highly advanced moves.
Winsor Pilates and Stott Pilates represent two of the more classic Pilates video series on the market, and while they're popular among purists, many reviewers find them boring. Their reliance on focused, concentrated movements and a calm, subdued atmosphere and instruction aren't always ideal for those who want to energize their workouts. These programs may help tone the body, but they don't elicit the calorie burn many viewers desire. In fact, experts are more receptive to fusion Pilates programs that incorporate other exercise elements along with Pilates.
In many reviews of the Stott Pilates and Winsor Pilates DVDs, users complain that the routines don't provide enough of a "true workout." Viewers say they feel toned, but the programs don't burn as many calories as they hoped. Pilates fusion workouts, on the other hand, deliver the lengthening and toning moves of Pilates with more energy, fun and cardio. A plethora of fusion videos and programs have emerged in the past five years, and the Exhale: Core Fusion series gets particularly high marks.
Exhale: Core Fusion combines elements of the Lotte Berk method, Pilates and yoga. Various DVDs from this series rate highly in exercise video guides from some of the most prominent fitness and women's lifestyle publications. Fitness magazine names Exhale: Core Fusion -- Lean & Toned (*Est. $15) one of the top 10 fitness DVDs of 2011 and "top trouble-zone tamer." The DVD focuses on five common trouble spots: upper body, thighs, core, butt and abs. Reviewers say the routines feel different and unique, and offer great instruction, cueing and motivation. ThatsFit.com and Organic Spa Magazine both name this title a top pick for 2010.
Testers also like Exhale: Core Fusion -- Pilates Plus (*Est. $15) , our best-reviewed Pilates video; it's also named runner-up best exercise video for abs in our recent