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Athletic Conditioning with the Fitness Circle

By Marguerite Ogle as published on About.com, September 2012

Although there is a young woman on the cover of this athletic conditioning DVD the workout is actually taught by John Garey, a STOTT PILATES® instructor and an accomplished fitness instructor. This is not a Pilates workout but it uses the Pilates magic circle to good effect and overall I enjoyed the balance, flow, and pace.

Athletic conditioning is a fairly broad term so let me tell you how I think it is used in this context. The workout on this DVD is a general workout intended to support the fitness of a person who is actively engaged in other activities. Those could be golf, horseback riding, hockey, swimming, skiing -- whatever. The program could be used as a major warm up or the exercises can be incorporated into a larger fitness routine. It is a well balanced DVD workout.

They say the workout is 47 minutes but I must say it went by fast for me. Being a Pilates person and a bit of a purist, when you put a Pilates magic circle in the picture I get a little suspicious when it's not a "Pilates workout", but I liked it. John Garey uses the circle in effective and interesting ways. There is a very nice lower body stretching sequence as well as upper body toning and core exercise with the circle that I thought were very appropriate ways to expand the use of the magic circle in fitness. I think all of you will appreciate that part and those who teach will get good ideas.

I would have liked it better if there had been more instruction about how to use the fitness circle. In my mind it is important to explain to people coming to it from other disciplines that we're not trying to smash the thing (first instincts, you know). We use is for light resistance and we engage it on both the exertion and release phases of the movement. Read more in Before You Buy a Magic Circle.

But John Gary has many DVDs under his belt already and his expertise shows. He gives clear instruction without overwhelming one with cues, the pace is good, and I didn't have to look at the screen too much in order to follow along (a pet peeve of mine). I also enjoyed the personable way that he related to the two other people demonstrating to both encourage an uptick in the energy of the class as well as to highlight certain aspects of good exercise technique.

How Athletic is It?

The level of difficulty on this is listed as 4 out of 5 but I think that is pushing it for an athletic conditioning workout. I would say it is more like a 3 out of 5. The reps are low and the exercises are moderately difficult. It is, however, a very good workout. There is a nice alternation in it between strength and stretch, core focus and full body exercise, as well as balance, coordination and focused muscle engagement. Developing the body mechanics needed to move in shifting dimensions is also addressed with moves that change levels and work in different planes of motion. I think athletes in training will agree that is an important and often overlooked part of a conditioning routine.

What You Get

  • Just the DVD, not the fitness circle -
    You will need a fitness circle and a workout mat
  • The Athletic Conditioning Workout -
    with verbal instructions or music only (a feature I appreciate)
  • An introduction to 5 Movement Principles
  • A heap of Merrithew Corporation advertising -
    We tolerate this because they generally do a good job with their products.

Other than the specific workout, these features are part of all the new Merrithew Entertainment DVDs. Watch the movement principles. By the way, STOTT PILATES®, a name many of you are familiar with and the reason I was introduced to this DVD, is now a brand of Merrithew Corporation.

Cost: $14.95 at Merrithew.com

Read the article on About.com