modern pilates

DVD Review: Lisa Johnson Modern Pilates & Body Physica: Intense


Two Great New Fitness and Pilates DVDs from Boston-based Pilates Pilates teacher, Lisa Johnson

Social media has been one of the most effective Pilates networking tools I have ever used. In the past I joined professional collectives, forums, and training organizations to meet other trainers, and none brought me as many solid, practical, and talented connections as Twitter. One of my Twitter compatriots, and a fellow blogger of fitness and food, is Lisa Johnson (@lisajohnson), an established (15 years) Pilates and fitness instructor, and owner of Modern Pilates (@modernpilates) in Brookline, MA. When she put out a call for reviews of her new DVDs on Twitter and Facebook, I answered.

Note that even though I teach at a fabulous Pilates studio, and certainly do many of my workouts there, I do on occasion workout at home, and I prefer having an audio and/or video guiding me through. Seriously, after creating other people's exercise programs all day, the last thing I want to think about is my own!

Body Physica: Intense

I'm starting with my favorite of the two, the high intensity interval training segments on Body Physica: Intense. Four short, but really intense, workout routines that combine many variations on body weight exercises and cardio. Lisa's use of a chair as a workout bench is brilliant!

I find Lisa Johnson to be engaging and informative without sounding too cheerleader-like. The exercise routines were safe but challenging, with modifications given. I give this one 5/5 Stars.

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Modern Pilates

The older I get, and the longer I teach Pilates, the more I return to the Classical work. While I used to love the latest redesigned Pilates equipment with smooth ball bearings, extra light springs, adjustable ropes, and all kinds of bells and whistles, now I prefer a good old Gratz or Basil reformer with no ball bearings, leather straps, and four heavy springs.

And while I used to do lots of mat warm-ups and such, I now prefer to get right down to business. The concessions I do make to contemporary theories are significant, however. I limit most legs over head movements, such as roll-over and jack-knife, since they become compressive for most people and are completely contra-indicated for osteoporosis, and I will often introduce spine extension earlier than normal in the classical series, since people seem to need more of the back strengthening.

In general, Lisa's style is clear and conversational, with little background chatter. Her two assistants, who demonstrate the beginning and advanced versions of the exercises while Lisa does the pure intermediate, have great form and a clear knowledge of the exercises. I found the introductory comments on neutral pelvis and safe technique to be useful. But for a home video, I had issues with roll-over being taught, instead of something safe, functional, and in the same vein, like bridging.

Lisa comes from the more contemporary side of Pilates, and so her Pilates mat series is slightly different from the classical. Not huge, but doing the Pilates abdominal series (single leg stretch, double leg stretch, scissors, double leg lower/lift, and criss-cross) out of order was disconcerting.

That said, this is a generally safe and effective home Pilates routine. Advanced home exercisers will find this challenging, but it is still approachable for beginners. Just note that if you are expecting the stritctly classical Pilates series, you will not find it here. I give Modern Pilates 4/5 stars.

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