I mentioned a few posts ago that I started doing Callanetics and said I might post again after I'd done ten sessions, to see how Callanetics' "10 years younger in 10 hours" claim holds up.
It should go without saying that nothing can make you younger--relentless march of time and all that--but Callanetics can firm you up faster than anything I'm aware of. It won't make you fit, it won't make you lose fat, and it won't improve your upper body strength. It will firm you up noticeably in an amazingly short time, though, so the "10 hours" claim isn't mere hype.
I'm doing Callanetics three times a week, and I've now done ten sessions. I've lost about one and a quarter inches off my waist and about three and a half inches off my hips. My underarm area (not the triceps, but where ladies who aren't super-thin get a little roll of fat between their bra and the edge of their arm) has firmed up considerably. (This is odd actually, because I assumed when I started that the underarm tightener exercise wouldn't work and it still doesn't feel as if it's doing anything to that area.) I think the sides of my thighs are starting to slim up. My abdomen is MUCH stronger than when I started. I still can't do the full set of reps on the stomach exercises, but I never thought I would improve this much so fast. All of these results in about three weeks and without the loss of one pound; and to be honest, there were two sessions where I was running short on time and had to cut my session short, so my time spent is well under the "10 hours" of the claim.
Callanetics also lives up to its claim to be easy on the back. I don't have back problems myself, but I have tried to assess it as if I did and as far as I can tell there's no strain on the back. There's more talk about back safety in the Callanetics book; I believe there was even another Callanetics book specifically for people with back problems.
There is strain on the neck, however, when you do the abdomen exercises. Callan Pinckney claims it will disappear after a few sessions, and for me at least this seems to be the case. She does recommend putting your hands behind your neck if it's a problem for you, and of course it helps if you try not to pull with your neck.
As for the other negatives, in the reviews I read before I purchased the DVD, I saw that some people didn't like the instructor's manner or her accent and that they thought the exercises were boring and the looks & musci laughably dated. I like the instructor, think the look of the hair and leotards holds up much better than most '80s area stuff, and don't mind the music (it reminds me of Mister Rogers neighborhood for some reason). As for boredom, well, most exercise is boring, that's why people prefer to sit on the couch watching Andy Griffith reruns; right now I'm too busy trying to improve to be bored by this, but when I start to get bored, I think the great results will keep me at it for quite a while after.
The only other "negative" I can think of is that it seems a little odd to have the relaxing stretches before the final exercises; it may be because of my experiences with yoga exercise, but it just seems the tape ought to end with the relaxing lower back stretch. On the other hand, I love the placement of the ab exercises immediately after the warm-up; with this you don't have to go through the tape dreading the ab part.
Upshot: I definitely recommend this exercise video and the accompanying book. It may be nearly twenty years old and the exercises may seem odd, but it works.