Denise Austin - Mat Workout Based on the Work of J.H. Pilates (VHS, 2000)

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Pilates: Inhale, Exhale, You can do it!

Jul 15, 2002 (Updated Jul 15, 2002)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Great workout for your abs and back, increases flexibility, low impact

Cons:No beginning stretch, challenging for beginners, Denise Austin

The Bottom Line: A decent Pilates workout for people who are looking to tone and strengthen your muscles without the sweat and jumping around.


I'm finally gaining that freshman 15 that everyone talks about a year after I'm graduated and done with college. Joy! So what does this chick do about it? She runs out to Target and checks out their exercise videos.

I wasn't in the mood to jump around and sweat like a hog so I steered clear of the aerobics workouts. I did want a nice looking tight tummy, but I didn't want to be doing sit-ups for an hour. So that canceled out all the Abs of Steel workouts. What was left? Yoga? Wait, what's this pilates? Is it ballet? I picked up Denise Austin Mat Workout Based on the Work of J.H. Pilates and checked out the back of the video. Hmmm...two 20 minute workouts, harden your abs, strengthen your back, lengthen your body, and relax your mind. Sounded great to me so I purchased the video for $9.99 and was on my way home.

For those of you that aren't familiar with Pilates exercises I have provided a little intro and then I will tell you all about my thoughts on the video.


Who is J.H. Pilates?

Joseph Hubertus Pilates, born in Germany, (1880 - 1967)is the founder of the Pilates method of exercise. He was very into his body building and is well known for his series of free-body exercises performed on a mat. He initially named this method of exercise Contrology which is the complete coordination of body, mind and spirit.

What is Pilates?

Pilates is an innovative system of mind-body exercise based on six principles:

1. Concentration ~ The first step that allows you to perform the exercises correctly
2. Control ~ From your concentration comes control over your body movement.
3. Centering ~ The pilates method will teach you how to stabilize your body by learning how to use your abs and back, also known as the "core" of your body.
4. Flowing Movement ~ Correct centering of your body will enable you to have flowing movements that are not stiff or choppy. Movements should be harmonious and graceful.
5. Precision ~ With control of your movements, precision comes it to play. Here you are taught to find the right balance of strength so that you will not waste surplus energy.
6. Breathing ~ In pilates, breathing and movements should be perfectly coordinated.

Sound difficult? Well, it actually isn't that bad. It does take a lot more concentration than an aerobic workout, but these exercises put less stress on your "joints" and can give you the same results without the sweat.

What the video promises you

~ relax your mind
~ build up your abdominal muscles
~ tighten your stomach
~ strengthen your back
~ lengthen your back

The video promises you all this without putting any stress on your joints and back. If you workout with Denise Austin 20 minutes a day you should see noticable results in three weeks.

Time to pop in the video!

Denise Austin Mat Workout Based on the Work of J.H. Pilates consists of two 20 minute workouts based on Pilates mat exercises mixed with yoga.

Workout #1 - Pilates mat workout (beginner level)
For the first workout you will need to grab a mat since they are all floor exercises. The first 20 minute workout is a series of stretches that will focus mainly your abdominal, back, and leg muscles. You will perform roll ups, leg circles, and the spine stretch forward. The hardest exercise is probably the Pilates Hundred where you lie on your back, lift your head and feet up, pump your arms up and down a hundred times, and control your breathing at the same time. Peronsally, I would of called it the "butterfly" or something like that.

I was able to do this workout without too much trouble. My mother on the other hand who is just starting out had a little trouble following along since the video is a little face paced (Denise Austin had a 20 minute time limit).

After doing this video about three times, my abdominal muscles were a little sore, which is a good sign that my muscles are getting the workout they need. The exercises are very relaxing and non-repetitive. I can't stand doing 50 reps of sit-ups at a time! The best thing about this floor exercise is that when you are finished working out you actually feel full of energy and not tired like you do with aerobics.

Workout #2 - Pilates mixed with Yoga (advanced level)
The second workout is a lot more challenging and I would advise if you are a beginner to wait until your muscles are more developed before you try this one. For this workout you are mainly standing and stretching. Some of the exercises require much concentration and balance of your body.

The first time I did this workout my thighs were beyond sore. I almost banned the second workout, but after sticking with it I was truly amazed at how these exercises really do work. The exercises will get easier with practice.

The Fugly Ugly

For people who are more experienced with pilates and yoga, you can tell that Denise Austin isn't! On some of her yoga stretching in the second half of the video you can see her struggling to balance on one leg.

There is a lack of instruction during both workouts. Sometimes you are unsure of just exactly how many times you have to do a certain exercise. I just know because I try to do the video every other day.

During the second workout, the scenes switch from the studio to the freaking desert! Who's idea with that. It's fairly distracting, but you'll live.

The last fugly ugly is Denise Austin herself! Yes, she can be annoying! She's actually tolerable in this video, so I can't really be that harsh.

TIP: If you really can't stand Denise Austin, check out videos by Jennifer Kries, she's a better instructor.

Does it work? Are you losing the pounds yet?

I've been doing this workout every other day alternating between workout #1 and workout #2 for 2 weeks now and yes, I see results!! My stomach is definitely getting tighter and my thighs are more toned. As for my flexibility, I used to be a gymnast so I was already pretty flexible to begin with.

I would not expect to see a six pack out of doing this video! It will just nicely tone your stomach and strengthen your muscles. If you are looking for a "cut" stomach get an Ab Roller and do at least 200 crunches on it a day. Crunches are very easy on the Ab Roller.

My mom who does this workout with me about twice a week (beginner level only) has seen small results. She tells me that the exercises are getting easier to do, which means that there has been an increase in her flexibility and strength, but no visible results yet. I keep telling her that she has to do the video more often to see the results instead of feel them.

Who do I recommend this video for?

I am recommending this video for anyone 13 years old and up who wants to increase their strength and flexibility.

If you are a true beginner, you might want to save your money and buy a different tape with better instruction. You might seem a little lost the first time you pop this tape in. If you keep with it though, you can get the hang of it real quick.

Lastly, if my mom can do it you can do it~!

Closin' Up

If you are curious about the Pilates method of exercise and don't mind Denise Austin, this might be a great find for you. Just stick with workout #1 for at least one to two weeks before you even attempt to do workout #2.

Pilates is a great method that works to shape and tone your body. Next to yoga, it's the best way to work your body without worrying about getting a bad back or putting too much weight on those ankles of yours.

You can find this video for $9.99 at Target. If you are interested try it out for a month. If it doesn't work out, fear not! Just put it up on eBay. You'll more than likely get your money back. You've got nothing to lose but time...

Thanks for reading! =)


Recommend this product? Yes

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