Have you decided to start doing Pilates at home and thought a DVD might be helpful? Or are you practicing Pilates at home already and just want to have more variation in your workout? Then you have surely asked yourself ‘what’s the best Pilates DVD for me to use at home’. But is there such thing, is there THE best Pilates DVD that everybody should have?
When I bought my first Pilates DVD, at a time when I had finished an introductory Pilates class and learnt that it wasn’t going to continue, I thought I just buy one with good reviews, and that’s what I did. However, I was a bit disappointed when I finally tried it out – it was more of an Aerobics than a Pilates workout DVD, so great for people who were after some tough fast-paced exercises, but not so suitable for those who actually wanted to do Pilates. While that DVD might have been the best choice for some, it wasn’t for me.
This clearly shows that you need to look for something that is best for you and to do that you need to establish what your exact requirements are – what sort of Pilates exercises are you looking for, mat-based, equipment-based and, if that’s the case, what piece of equipment? Also, do you want it targeted at beginners, intermediates or more advanced people? Do you need exercises for particular parts of the body – core and back, arms and shoulders, legs and bum or particular muscle groups? Once you know what exactly you are after, you can fine-tune the search for the Pilates DVD that is best for YOU. Here are some of my findings.
Best choice for beginners
A beginners’ Pilates DVD should start with easy exercises and provide clear and easy-to-follow instructions as well as an explanation of the basics. It should focus on correct breathing and the correct posture during your exercises. Also, it should allow the user enough time to understand and to perform each exercise and not rush through them.
For this reason, I quite like the First Steps Pilates Course which comprises 3 DVDs with 6 Pilates classes of around 45 minutes each. Unlike with other DVDs, there is one instructor explaining each exercise and another person demonstrating them making sure you have enough time to understand what you are supposed to do. Throughout each class, you are reminded of the correct posture for this exercise, so you can check and correct it when necessary.
The exercises of each class target the whole body which means you get an overall workout. In addition, the lessons are progressive and each one builds on the previous one, so you actually progress as you go through the classes. The best approach here is to repeat a class until you feel you have mastered its exercises before you move on to the next one. As a bonus, you get a voucher code for access to the numerous exercises on PilatesOD.com.
Best choice for back pain sufferers
When you are suffering from back pain, very often the reason for this are short and tight muscles that bring the body out of alignment thus causing poor posture. To tackle this problem, you need to do exercises that stretch those muscles and that make them more flexible. These exercises need to be gentle, so you don’t cause any damage and make things worse.
A very effective DVD offering Pilates-based exercises specifically designed to work those muscles that are causing the problem is Secret Back Pain Cure. This one-hour-long DVD comprises 8 exercise units with clear and easy-to follow instructions, all targeted at the short and tight muscles that are causing back, neck and shoulder pain. I also like the fact that you are provided with easy to understand explanations by a postural alignment specialist on the different muscle groups and how to target them effectively and sustainably. It feels a bit like getting exercise instructions from your own physiotherapist at home.
While the individual exercises are generally quite effective and really improved my neck/shoulder/back issues, they may not be suitable for everyone, depending on the cause of the problems. But for those with mild and moderate back pain due to prolonged sitting and incorrect posture, this might be a good solution to alleviate and prevent back pain.
Just one down point: The audio quality of the DVD is not quite 100% and could certainly be improved. Having said that, it’s clear enough to understand easily and doesn’t really affect the overall quality of this DVD.
Best choice for body toning
If you are doing Pilates mainly for toning your body, you need to follow a good routine that is challenging enough to work your body in the best possible way without the risks associated with high-impact exercises. For any long-term results, you have to work out regularly and persistently following a structured routine that targets each part of your body and that keeps you motivated.
One Pilates DVD that ticks all the boxes for me is 30 Days to Flat ABS. One of its strong points is its 30-day-plan helping you stay focused and motivated, although you have the option of just choosing individual workouts that suit you best. All areas are covered, including core, ABS, posture, alignment etc. While some exercises are more suitable for intermediates, many can be done by beginners/improvers.
It also includes a Pilates tutorial that goes through the main principles of Pilates, such as correct alignment, neutral spine and what to observe when performing the exercises. If you stick to the schedule laid out in the DVD, you will be able to notice and feel a clear difference – a flatter tummy, toned arms and legs, stronger spine and better posture. And you don’t even have to leave the house to achieve this result.
Best choice for relaxing muscles
As mentioned earlier, one of the main reasons for neck, shoulder and back pain are short and tight muscles. Therefore, relaxing muscles will release such pain and tension in your body and feel quite therapeutic. One Pilates accessory that’s very effective in helping relax muscles is a mini stability ball. Exercises with a mini stability ball are ideal for all ability levels and ages as they are very gentle and low impact.
A good way of learning about ball exercises is to follow the exercises of the Mini Stability Ball: Focus on Breathing and Muscular Release DVD, specifically targeted at beginner levels. The DVD offers 16 gentle exercises focusing on breathing and relaxing body and mind. In total, it’s about 45 minutes long and includes exercises that stretch your muscles as well as some that give you sort of a mini massage with the help of the ball.
As the main purpose of these exercises is to relax body and mind and to gently stretch and soothe muscles, they are a perfect choice on days when you feel tired and exhausted and your muscles or back are aching from prolonged sitting or standing. So, this is best when you mainly want to relax and not do a challenging workout.
Conclusion: There are many best ones
As Pilates as an exercise regime caters for all age and ability groups, it is clear that there can’t be the one DVD that is best for everyone. When choosing a Pilates DVD, you need to make sure it suits your needs. For example, as a beginner you will want a very different workout from the one an advanced Pilates practitioner would go for.
Also, you need to be clear about the purpose of the DVD – is it more about increasing your general fitness level or does it focus on alleviating and preventing neck, shoulder and back pain? In addition, some will comprise mat exercisers only while others center around exercises that include certain Pilates equipment, such as a fitness ball, magic circle, resistance band or reformer. There is a lot of choice out there, so you will find something whatever your need.
Just a word of caution: Should you suffer from any health issues of any kind, you should consult your doctor or physiotherapist before taking up any sort of exercise.
Do you like the idea of exercising with the help of a workout DVD?