Hot Body Cool Mind Level 1 contains several different kinds of workout, involving Pilates, yin yoga, Chi-Gong, the 5 Tibetans, jazz and ballet. At the start, Kries says, "In honor of you, my loyal and devoted fans, and your many requests, here is a workout that will change your life forever." She certainly has chutzpah. Here are the contents of the DVD:
1. Welcome to Hot Body Cool Mind (3:03)
2. Waking Energy Introduction (4:29)
3. Waking Energy (16:39)
4. Waking Energy Standing (12:55)
5. The 5 Tibetans Introduction (3:48)
6. The 5 Tibetans (9:00)
7. Pilates with Introduction (33:50)
8. Pilates without Introduction (27:03)
9. Yoga Introduction (5:03)
10. Yoga (22:24)
11. Jazz (17:54)
12. Ballet (13:35)
13. Yin Yoga and Meditation (21:01)
14. Meridian Theory (9:14)
In addition to doing the whole DVD, the "Full Force Workout," it is possible to use these different routines in various combinations. These are
· Jennifer's Original Method (8, 10, 12, 11)
· Hot (Yang) (4, 8, 10, 11)
· Cool (Yin) (4, 13)
· Hot & Cool (4, 6, 8, 12, 13)
· Dance to Fitness (12, 11)
· The Perfect Balance (8, 10, 13)
· On the Fly! (5, 8, 11)
The production quality is high. Kries demonstrates the workouts with several dancers, wearing color coordinated clothes. The workouts are shot in a circular studio with a wooden floor and a background that illuminated with different lights: sometimes pink, sometimes purple, and sometimes blue sky with clouds; there are several cameras: one is on a circular track and moves subtly around, one is above the group. The editing of the images is smooth. The background music is innocuous new-age with a natural flavor for the early parts of the full workout -- simple percussion, flutes, guitars -- and then more electronic and higher energy for the jazz portion, and a hint of flamenco for the ballet portion. Kries talks directly to the viewer from the studio, so there is no voiceover. Her voice is clear and her accent is easy to listen to. Her manner is straightforward and confident.
Most of this DVD is reasonably introductory, but the yoga and Pilates parts have some demanding sections. This is especially true for the sit ups. One of the dancers demonstrates the modified versions for people who have difficulty with sit ups, but even those easier exercises will be very challenging for those who haven't got quite strong abdominal muscles. The Yin Yoga section is very short, at just over 20 minutes, since often people will hold a single yin posture for 20 minutes or more, and Kries demonstrates several, as well as some meditation. Those who really want to try yin yoga will want to find a DVD devoted to it on its own.
The most unusual parts of this DVD are those on Waking Energy. The exercises here will be more unfamiliar to most viewers, and they will probably seem strange, because they are based on Chinese views of the body and its energy. They include finger pulling, arm slapping with a cupped hand, armpit slapping, hip, thigh and leg thumping, as well as various bodily movements that are meant to transfer energy from one part to another. Kries explains what she is doing in an introductory section and also gives explanation as she shows the exercises. However, probably most of us who are basically committed to Western models will find these exercises a little bizarre. Nevertheless, they can hardly do any harm, and they are fun to try a couple of times to see how they feel.
The jazz and ballet dance sections build on the exercises in the rest of the DVD, and are not very different, even though they use their own music and Kries uses more dance terminology in them. It is unusual to have such sections in yoga or Pilates DVDs, and this may make this DVD appealing to some.
On the whole I liked this Hot Body Cool Mind Level 1 DVD. It is unusual yet it provides good exercise, combining several different approaches, and the different routines allow you to try different combinations according to your mood. It takes a while to explore the whole DVD and find which parts are your favorites, and I would not recommend it for people who are just starting out. But for those who have tried a couple of yoga or Pilates DVDs already and are now looking for a change, Kries' approach may be appealing.
Link: Jennifer Kries Home Page
© 2007 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.
Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online Reviews. His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.