This is a toning workout led by Ellen Barrett, a Pilates instructor who is well-known for her Crunch Pilates videos (Pick Your Spot Pilates, Fat-Burning Pilates, and Burn & Firm Pilates). Here, she combines more traditional weighted moves with Pilates principles to provide a light full-body toning workout with an upper body emphasis.
Ellen works out with two background exercises on a beautiful beach. They begin with a quick (3 minutes) warm-up that includes plies combined with upper body movements; there are a few static stretches to finish. In the first segment of the workout, Ellen does "giant sets," doing a series of mostly upper body weighted exercises and then repeating the entire series three times, each time with a slightly different twist on the movements. Exercises included in this segment are bicep curls, side raises, squats, and a sort of 1-armed scoop move that is supposed to work the abs in a standing position. For most of the exercises, Ellen does one set of eight and then a second set of smaller pulsing moves. This entire segment was about 6 minutes long, and Ellen finishes with some back stretches.
Next Ellen moves into a second toning segment that seems inspired by the Pilates upper body series; this segment is taught in two separate sequences. In the first sequence, you do another 1-armed scoop moves for abs; again, I didn't really feel it in my abdominals, and Ellen doesn't give much instruction here. Other exercises included are rib cage slides, flies, tricep French press, a "splice" move (stepping to the side and raising your arms to the side with your thunbs up), a torso circle, and a half moon stretch, all performed with the weights for a total of about 6 minutes. In the second sequence, Ellen does single arm figure 8s, "butterfly" arms, upright rows, a lat pull, and lunges for another 6 minutes.
In the final segment, Ellen begins with plyometric jumps to the side, first fast, and then slower, holding for balance. She also includes a single-thigh figure 8 and then a single leg squat, and finally, she repeats the series, substituting a knee lift crunch for the thigh work. This segment comes in at about 5 minutes, and then there is a very brief (<2 minutes) series of cool-down stretches for the upper body only, which brings the entire workout in at less than 30 minutes.
Throughout the workout, Ellen and one of the other exerciser used 2-3 lb. weights, while the third woman used 5 lbs. I used 5 lbs. also, and while this sometimes felt too light (I'm an intermediate exerciser who sometimes does heavier weight work), I'm not sure that I could have gone higher with the weights given the type and pace of some of the moves featured (eg, the pulses). Therefore, I think that this workout is likely to provide a light toning effect at best, mainly for the upper body; I felt the moves very little in my other "bikini" areas, including my hips, buttocks, thighs, and abs. The DVD does include a very brief (<5 minutes) Pilates abs workout with Ellen working solo; this was enough to get the abs warm, but that's about it. Also, I was very surprised to see that Ellen wore her sneakers for this segment, as sneakers are not traditionally used for Pilates matwork and definitely are not used by Ellen in her other videos.
If you like high rep/low weight format workouts and have enjoyed Ellen Barrett's other videos--particularly Crunch Burn & Firm Pilates, which shares many moves with this workout--or are a beginner to weight work, you might like this DVD, but others will probably want to look elsewhere. Overall rating: three and half stars for a decent workout but with limited applicability.