A Mixed Review for My Fitness DVDs

Modern PilatesI got a mixed review on my fitness DVDs -- specifically my Pilates mat DVD. I'll be honest: I'm not happy about it! Nor was I expecting it. Sadly, I don't think my ego had thought of it as a possibility before it actually happened. (Ah, learning experiences ... lol) Marguerite Ogle and I have followed each other on social media for quite a while. We don't know each other well, but have always been friendly. Marguerite is the Pilates Guide for About.com and is quite influential, something I didn't even know until I started my outreach efforts. She reviewed my "Modern Pilates with Lisa Johnson" DVD and gave me 3.5 out of 5 stars. She said some truly great things like:
Lisa Johnson has a winning personality online and it carries over onto the screen. I immediately felt comfortable in her class, albeit a DVD class.
Lisa keeps the energy light and encouraging, and she has a knack for making you feel like she's with you which is a great quality in a Pilates DVD.
Those are great, right?  That was the second paragraph of her review ... and then the rest of it was pretty much:
  • It wasn't really for beginners, only intermediate students.
  • Her feeling that "there's nothing exceptional here" for advanced-level Pilates practitioners.
  • I spend too much time in extension during one segment.
  • Kegels don't belong on a Pilates DVD.
Ouch, right? Yeah, that smarted a little. So I put on my big girl panties, took a deep breath, and gave her critique some serious thought.

It's Only Intermediate

Marguerite's comment has some validity. On the DVD, I "cue and do" the intermediate level, while my two "back-up dancers" behind me perform the beginner and advanced variations. I made a conscious decision not to go slow at a true beginner pace. Initially a newbie will feel rushed, but they should quickly catch up after a viewing or two, and I didn't want anyone to outgrow the video quickly. As for advanced level, there are 40 exercises in my 50-minute long video, and 10 of them have very clear advanced variations that are significantly harder than the intermediate version. So I'm not sure what she was looking for.

Too Much Extension

This is something that comes directly from my Pilates studio and the clients that I teach daily. Yes, I still teach "real people" ... something MOST fitness DVD stars don't, and something that differentiates me from the pack. My extension series on the disc is about five minutes long and includes breaks in "neutral" spine (not bending forward or backward, just the normal S-curve). I also heavily cue the entire series so that people can take additional breaks if they need to. It is not five minutes of straight extension!

Kegels Aren't Pilates

A Kegel is a deepening of the muscles underneath your pelvis, the "stop your pee" squeeze. I am different from most Pilates instructors in this regard because I do use them regularly to cue form. Here's why: over the years, I've noticed some confusion from clients when using standard Pilates cues.  When I switched to saying Kegels, two things happened. One, my clients actually made the connection I was looking for, and two, that little pooch that you can sometimes get over the lower abs disappeared. Boy, do those suckers work! My clients were happy and looked better and I was happy because their form improved. Once you've trained with Kegels for a while, you'll find there's a lot of nuances there and you can really get great results. I wish Marguerite had asked me about them instead of just declaring them bad. I feel as if the mixed review has more to do with our different training styles. Marguerite is Boulder School-trained and I'm Stott. There's nothing I can do about that. A mixed review from a really influential website, that's what I got ... I've shared every moment of my DVD experience with you, and I'm going to keep sharing. I wonder if Marguerite has ever had one of her reviews reviewed?  This probably won't be my last mixed or even negative review either. Thoughts? Lisa      

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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11 Responses to A Mixed Review for My Fitness DVDs

  1. Tammy February 11, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    Congratulations on not allowing the mixed review to affect how you perceive your videos. The pride for what you have done shines through.

  2. Lisa Johnson February 11, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    Awh, thanks Tammy … yes, I do still think they’re very good videos. I believe in my work and my years of experience. L–

  3. Larry Czerwonka February 11, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

    If we celebrate and embrace the “good reviews” then we should do the same with those we call “negative” … they both have their value but neither should be seen as the “truth.” they are simply the opinions someone has, their view of something … if all you ever get are good reviews then the only people using your products are friends and family …

  4. Lisa Johnson February 11, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

    LOL, Larry thanks so much for your thoughts. Critiques always have some validity and I’ve actually been asking people to tell me what they would change about the videos I put out because I do want to do more and I do want to improve on what I’ve already done.

    But I have to admit it was a surprise. I really wasn’t expecting it and that was silly of me. Of course not everyone will like it … (thunk to the head).

    Definitely a learning experience for me and now I’ll hopefully do better next time.


  5. Drew February 11, 2013 at 4:04 pm #

    The good thing is it will help in future videos- in the notes or extra sections you can discuss things like the Kegel information. You know why you included it, but sharing might help and encourage the viewer. The same with the “conscious decision” Share those. It is hard when we are doing things as we know why WE do them, but sharing the reason is a great teaching tool.

    No matter what there will be those that don’t see your vision, and you have to follow your path, and I am so proud of you for getting this one done, I know it was no small feat!

    Look at it this way, the only way to get mixed reviews is to have something worth reviewing, so Kudos!

  6. Lisa Johnson February 11, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

    Thanks Drew ((hugs))

  7. Jack Sh*t February 11, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

    Don’t worry about it. I got some critical reviews for my yoga DVD, too (mostly reviewers prudishly said that I should have worn pants). Buck up!

  8. Lisa Johnson February 11, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    LOL … thanks Jack and are there any outtakes to that video ;-)

  9. linda lopeke February 11, 2013 at 5:44 pm #

    I think you did a super job of taking the review in stride. Whenever we do something *public* there will be mixed reviews. Just getting reviewed by someone influential is a big thing. And, she did give you an entire point about the mid-point (2.5 stars) which is also very good.

    Of course, when we really care about our work, we think carefully about our reviews to see if there’s anything we can take away that’ll make the next product even better. And you have done that. We can always communicate better; sometimes we have to do something first, then get feedback to learn where we need to tweak.

    Now, you could make whatever improvements you want to the next DVD and it’s always possible that someone could give it the same rating. Therein lies the danger in taking reviews too deeply to heart (which I don’t think you did by the way).

    But what I think carries the most weight is our own opinion of our work. We always know in our hearts if we gave it our best effort, it the work is worthy of the gifts/talents/skills we had when we created the work. (After all, we are continuously improving, gaining more experience, learning and then putting all that into our next product, right?)

    And, if we look at the bigger picture here… how many people talk about making a DVD and then NEVER do it. You not only had a great idea, you actually brought it to life, packaged it with excellence and are now sharing it with the world. This is an amazing achievement all on its own.

    Whenever we look at a review that is less than what we’d secretly hoped for, the best thing to do is examine to see if there is anything at all in it we can apply to our next effort. The rest is only someone else’s opinion; nothing more. You’ve already done that by sharing with us.

    It’s just one of those facts of life that while we may have garnered many five star reviews for our work, we will spend more time thinking about the one that wasn’t. We must train ourselves not to do that (and I’m not saying it’s easy).

    I have no doubt that you’ve produced a wonderful DVD. Just as I have no doubt that your next one will be even more awesome. Because, at the end of the day, that’s who you are. A person committed to professional excellence. ;o (The world needs more people like that!)

    Keep up the great work!

  10. Lisa Johnson February 12, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    Linda thank you so much for those incredibly kind words. Yes, I think you have to examine the negative to see what you can learn from it and yes as someone suggested I should do a view videos explaining my point of view on some Pilates points that are outside the norm. And I didn’t lose sleep over it which was a good thing … :-) ((hugs)) it was great of you to take the time for that answer.

  11. Stephen Wilson May 5, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

    I don’t how I got on your mailing list but it must STOP NOW! Because of you taking my money out of my account, two bills did not get paid. You have seriously screwed me.Take me off your list NOW. Contact info 765-481-5530 Steve

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