April 2007

Hot Body Cool Mind: The Life Force Power Workout-level 1 – ***1/2
(2006) 150 min. DVD: $19.99 (booklet included).

Jennifer Kries is the real deal. Her award-winning The Method series still sets the bar in the instructional fitness genre. In her new series, Hot Body Cool Mind, Kries has combined the disciplines of Pilates, yoga, and dance with a deep appreciation of Eastern philosophy (including the body meridian theory-concerning the energy paths that carry the life force or chi throughout the body-adopted by acupuncturists). After an introduction describing the yin/yang of body wellness (correlating outer and inner health), Kries kicks off the instruction with “The Waking Energy,” an interesting warmup exercise based on elements of Chi-Gong (waking up the body by rubbing her hands together, and slapping, punching, hammering, and massaging her torso-which is meant to be invigorating, not painful). In the next section, Kries shares the secret of “The 5 Tibetans” (five yoga poses that help stimulate the body’s chakras), followed by a fairly standard workout series combining Pilates, Vinyasa yoga, and jazz/ballet moves, before closing with cool down and meditation segments. An accompanying booklet briefly outlines the program and includes helpful tips from Kries. Although some will find the “harness the energy of the universe” chat distracting, Kries’ fitness instruction is still right on target. Offering several workout combination options from the menu, other DVD extras here include a discussion of meridian theory. Highly recommended. [Note: Kries’ companion program Hot Body Cool Mind: