Newest Review: ... problem and use too little lordosis and tend to flex our spines instead. This means the Callanetics method of tucking the pelvis unde... more
Safe for some and not for others
Member Name: Tracy_1127
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At some point during my adult life I've been through just about every exercise fad there has ever been. Callanetics didn't pass me by either and in the eighties when it was all the rage and I was a teenager I bought several of the books written by Callan Pinkney on this new, exciting form of exercise that was supposed to tone your body beyond recognition. I still have the books but they now sit dusty and unused on my bookshelf.
I was unable to decide if I should choose one of my books to review but as they are all very similar in the exercises I decided to plump for this "general Callanetics" section instead.
Callan Pinkney created Callanetics after she herself had back problems but something I didn't realise at the time is her back problems were from excessive lordosis which is too much arching of the lumbar area of the spine and of course she designed the exercises to suit her particular problems.
This is a problem for lots of us because nowadays with our sedentary lifestyles and spending hours sitting at the computer (typing reviews for Dooyoo...) lots of us have the opposite problem and use too little lordosis and tend to flex our spines instead. This means the Callanetics method of tucking the pelvis under into a posterior tilt is actually exactly what we don't need to be doing.
The exercises use a series of tiny movements to achieve the toning, so you would position yourself so the muscle is contracting and then move it further into contraction by a movement about a quarter of an inch to push the muscle further. The books and DVDs vary in the areas they cover but usually it's the common problem areas such as the glutes, the abs, the bingo wings and the legs. Some programs are an hour long and some less and some require 100 reps of each exercise and some less than that.
When I was a carefree, pain-free teenager these exercises were something I did when I got home from work. I'd do them before I ate and after a few weeks of doing them I did indeed have a fairly flat stomach but sadly not the peachy buttocks she claims you will have. The exercises are hard, don't ever assume they are easy because they are such small movements. The whole holding the position so the muscles contract leads to cramps if you're not careful and the muscles aren't used to doing these particular types of movements so they fatigue rapidly.
After your first few sessions of Callanetics you will have pain! The muscles groan at the thought of another session and areas hurt that you previously were unaware of!
I would say if you have too much of an arch n your lumbar spine these would be ok for you to do until that problem decreases but if you have a neutral arch or a back prone to flexing or being flat these are dangerous for you. I notice a few reviewers have compared Callanetics to Pilates and say Callanetics tones much better. It does but the pelvic position of Pilates is much better for your back. It's much more advisable to do Pilates style positioning and if you need extra toning use resistance bands to do the exercises. As far as abdominal work goes Pilates will tone the abs just as well as Callanetics anyway and teach the muscles to support the spine in its proper position instead of a flexed one.
The whole craze of Callanetics has died down now, these days the majority of people recognise the neutral spine position is far superior so I'm sure lots of people have dusty, unused books on their shelves too! However lots of the books and DVDs are still available online for a few pounds even if classes of Callanetics aren't commonplace anymore.
Overall it's a good method of toning the outer muscles and will make a difference to them in a short space of time but the amount of difference is limited. After a few weeks of Callanetics whatever you have achieved is pretty much as far as it goes, or that's what I found anyway. It's fine for people with too much lordosis but if you're a spine flexer and let your back slump into a C curve shape when you sit you should give Callanetics a wide berth.
It's hard to rate it really, I'll have to give it about 2 stars as it is effective for some and dangerous for others. I won't be pulling my Callanetics books out anytime soon except maybe to take them to the charity shop to make space for more up to date and safe exercise books.
Summary: Not for me