Although I shy away from DVDs with "weight loss" in the title, this one looked so appealing, I couldn't resist giving it a try. Element: Pilates Weight Loss For Beginners ($15) did not disappoint. Hosted by Brooke Siler of Re:Ab Pilates studio in New York, this 51-minute video splits its time between Pilates mat work and "cardio" moves, all filmed soothingly by the seashore.
Rather than explain the moves in the moment, Siler delivers directions via a voiceover. But I can't complain, since the voiceover is one of the most detailed and helpful I've ever heard. You could pretty much follow the entire workout without ever looking at the screen, allowing you to focus on maximizing the moves. She offers constant reminders — at just the right times — for what you should be pulling in, tightening, or thinking about, yet the reminders never feel repetitive.
For details on the workouts, read more.
I prefer to start with the prep and mat workout, which is fairly low-impact yet lively and varied. It really is a perfect introduction for beginners, but veterans won't be bored, especially if you use the workout to ease into the day. The different variations on the rollup move were particularly challenging.
The "cardio" portion isn't cardio the way you'd think; rather than get your heart rate pumping, you're working on midtempo moves mostly from a standing position. But for Pilates, it does feel like a moderately high calorie burn, and it's a great way to get moving after the more focused mat work. I've done both portions a number of times and will definitely keep this one around. Interested? You can get the DVD on Amazon for $7.49.