Stott Pilates Firm & Fit DVD

With a level-2 difficulty rating, the Stott Pilates Firm and Fit DVD is a helpful, easy-to-use guide for anyone who is familiar with basic Pilates or yoga movements.

Stott Pilates has been offering Pilates and workout instruction for more than 20 years, and its Firm & Fit DVD is part of the Pilates Matwork Series. With a level-2 difficulty rating, it's designed for users who know the basics and are ready to intensify strength and flexibility requirements. Anyone familiar with basic Pilates or yoga movements will catch on to most of the moves in this DVD quickly.

Stott likes to spell it all out for users with an easy-to-use menu that breaks down various basics. The getting started section informs users of what they'll need to exercise and offers a menu for audio options. You can keep the instructor’s audio on, or turn the instructor's voice off and exercise with music. In the workout principles section, the instructor narrates and demonstrates five fundamentals that will be used throughout the DVD: breathing, pelvic placement, rib cage placement, scapular movement and stabilization, and head and cervical placement. It’s a good refresher if users are rusty on their Pilates moves, but it’s also a good primer for those not as familiar with this form of exercise.

Most of the exercises emphasize flexibility, firming and stabilizing through various stretches, leg exercises and ab work. In about 47 minutes, the DVD goes through 10 warm-up moves, and then transitions into 30 different exercises. The emphasis isn't on quantity, but quality, i.e. perfecting each movement for maximum result. That being said, the time spent on each exercise is brief -- on average, about six to eight sets per exercise -- then it's on to the next.

The instruction style for this DVD is to have Moira the instructor narrate and explain each exercise verbally, while Natalia demonstrates all the workout moves. Moira also points out small movement details on the demonstrator, corrects body position, offers words of encouragement and reminds her to breathe in, breathe out.

The DVD also offers a chapter selection breakdown of every single exercise, a feature we liked. When we didn’t understand an exercise sequence, like the one-leg rocker, we were able to select it and watch just that exercise to perfect it.

The DVD also offered "try the next level" exercises from the level 3 DVD, demonstrating six exercises during five minutes. It also showcases nearly 30 other DVDs in Stott's workout arsenal and offers a one-and-a-half minute snapshot from each one showing two to three different exercises. While brief, it gives users a taste of other DVDs and a chance to practice to see if they are ready for the next level.

This is a good primer on flexibility and stability, especially suitable for beginner to intermediate exercisers. Occasionally, it has an exercise that only the ballerina-esque demonstrator would seem to be able to master (like the scissors exercise) with her very flexible body and long legs. It is a bit staid, but isn't meant to be a rocking workout routine, so it succeeds in helping someone who is familiar with Pilates to take it to the next level.

SNEWS® Rating: 4.0 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)

Suggested Retail: $14.95

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