Stand with feel slightly apart, toes forward, hands on hips or one hand on a wall/chair for support. Shift weight to right leg, keeping knee slightly bent and spine straight.
EXHALE: Slowly lift the left leg, keeping it bent until thigh is parallel with floor. From here, extend leg straight out from the knee until entire leg is parallel to floor and straight.
INHALE: Slowly and with control, lower entire leg down to the ground, keeping it straight. Repeat for all reps and switch sides.
If you can't lift leg parallel to floor, lift as high as you can and complete exercises at this level.
Muscles Worked: Hips, Quads
This is Ellen Barrett's third Crunch Pilates video and the first which incorporates weights into the workout. Similar to in her previous video, Crunch Fat-Burning Pilates, many of the traditional Pilates floor exercises are performed here in a standing position, although Burn & Firm Pilates does include a separate matwork section (see below). The workout begins with a 5-minute warm-up consisting of simple movements such as marches and plies (there are A LOT of plies in this video!). Following this, there was a 7-minute segment that is difficult for me to define; it was slow-moving to be cardio and might best be described as light toning. In this section, there are additional plies plus some basic ballet-inspired leg movements.
Next comes the "meat" of the workout, a 24-minute cardio segment using light weights (I used 3 pound weights but it can be done without) to increase the workload. The first series includes alternating side leg lifts (the "saw") with a "swan" movement that involves raising one arm overhead and lifting the opposite leg. Although Ellen stated that we should be feeling this in our inner thighs, I found that it was actually my OUTER thighs and hips that were burning! Next comes more plies interspersed with two moves from the Pilates side series, rond de jambe and leg circles, both performed in a standing position. Continuing on, there is a segment involving knee lifts which turn into lunges and combine with a front arm raise. After that, it's back to MORE plies! This time, a standing Pilates arm zip is performed in-between sets. The final cardio segment provides even more work for the arms: you will do a front and side mambo that turns into a front and side lunge (a bit awkward to the side) while performing bicep curls the entire time. The cardio section ends with a few additional exercises for the arms such as circles. Overall, I found the intensity of the cardio to amazing. I was sweating like crazy & could feel most of the muscles I was supposed to be working. The weights probably made it more intense!
The final 8 minutes of the video are performed on the floor, starting with arms and abs work in a seated position with the weights. Next, you move on to your back for two additional exercises, knee drops and leg straddles, using the weights as anchors. Finally, there are just two traditional Pilates matwork exercises, the single leg stretch and the single straight leg. The workout ends with a very short (1-2 minutes) cool-down in a seated position for a total of approximately 44 minutes.
I enjoyed this video and liked the addition of the weights, especially since I have been trying to add light weights to many of my cardio routines. Although the exercises are a bit repetitious, most will probably enjoy this video. Some people don't like repitition but I do as it gives me plenty of time to master each move.