by Mari Winsor (Instructor) Gaiam, 2011 Review by Christian Perring on Aug 7th 2012
This workout consists of two 20-minute sections. It is set in a studio with props brought in. Mari Winsor explains how to do the exercises while three women demonstrate them. One of the women shows modified versions for people who have less strength or flexibility. The exercises focus on the abs and if you can do them, then they are bound to be helpful. The women are on exercise mats on color coordinated podiums with some screens in the background. There's generic up-tempo music in the background. So this is a low-budget production, with clear audio and professional editing: it looks like they used 2 cameras and the image switches between them frequently. It looks artificial, but it could be useful for some people.
I had some reservations about the way that the exercises are shown. First, there is no discussion of what to sit on when following the program. The women are sitting on firm 2" high mats that don't indent much when they put pressure on them, and so they must provide good support. I tried doing the exercises on a yoga mat over a carpeted floor, and when I did some of the ones where you are on your side, putting pressure on your hips, I found them it painful. Maybe it is easier for people who are built differently from me, but it is an issue worth addressing. Most people are not going to have such a thick mat available: indeed, I didn't see any for sale on the Gaiam website. It probably just takes some getting used and toughening up, but discomfort is a strong disincentive to continuing an exercise. Another concern is that not enough modifications are provided. I found that I didn't have enough strength or flexibility to so some of the exercises (having, like many people, limited flexibility in my hips). So I would definitely specify that the exercises are not for beginners. A third, related, concern is that sometimes sitting on the floor in some positions I was not able to see the TV and yet Winsor did not give very detailed descriptions of what to do, so I had to look. There were a few points where the camera did not show the models doing the exercises, but instead focused on Winsor, and that was not helpful, since one needs to see how to do the exercises as much as possible. So I had to spend more time waiting for the camera to switch to the models.
The strength of the DVD is that the exercises are simple and there is plenty of variation, so you get a good workout. Winsor has plenty of enthusiasm and she is encouraging. She includes stretches and rolling on the spine to help you relax. So this DVD will be good for people who are already pretty fit, and who just want help working on their abs.