DVD Review: The Pilates Master Trainer Series by Jennifer Kries

Article first published as DVD Review: The Pilates Master Trainer Series by Jennifer Kries on Blogcritics.

Pilates and Yoga teacher Jennifer Kries and I have been orbiting around one another for the past two decades. When she was in New York City I was in Philadelphia, and then when she relocated to Philadelphia and opened her Hot Body Cool Mind Studio I was already in the Caribbean. My first recollection of Jennifer Kries is from her very well known and then widely distributed "The Method" pilates videos. She has trained under first-generation pilates instructors Romana Kryzanowska, Ron Fletcher, and Eve Gentry.

As a pilates teacher trainer I am always on the lookout for great teaching resources both for myself and to recommend to newly trained teachers. There are simply not enough great teaching tools out there. So when I saw her Pilates Master Trainer DVD set, I just had to check it out.

This collection covers the classical Pilates exercises on the mat, chair, reformer, cadillac, and barrels. Each DVD covers beginning, intermediate, and advanced exercises with model Kim Reis demonstrating the exercises as Kries teaches and talks about what she is doing and why.

If you need visual stimulation there is not much. Literally you are looking at Kries and Reis in a beige studio setting with just them and the equipment or mat. The set up is more like a lecture; it's as if you were at a seminar in Kries' studio.

Kries focuses on cues and hands on assistance, breathing, proper form,
explanations of different breath options, tempo, and why we do each exercise. She discusses using language to help clients visualize what they need to do for the exercise — “growing”, “lifting”, "lengthening", "energizing", as well as offering a basic checklist of movements and spring tension for each exercise.

I am a hands-on teacher and I enjoyed Kries' demonstrations and explanations of when, where, and how to place hands on a client along with a discussion of why. Additionally, Kries notes conditions that will benefit from an exercise as well as contraindications, and offers variations for different purposes (i.e., single arm backward press on chair for people with scoliosis).

Kries is engaging, funny, and clear, while Kim Reis' form is so perfect you can see every adjustment and movement perfectly. Watching Kries take exercises and break them up into tiny component parts while discussing exactly what is happening with teacher, client, and equipment will make even complex exercises seem easier to teach for pilates teachers of any level. These DVDs will also help teachers learn to take clients into exercises that they may not be comfortable teaching, such a tendon stretch on the chair.

I highly recommend this series for any Pilates teacher of any lineage and experience level. You will learn something new in almost every exercise that will be of value to you and your clients.