I recently tried some barre type classes/DVDs, and found it to be a new, interesting form of exercise that I wanted to keep in the mix of my regular gym visits. A friend who teaches barre classes in another state recommended Physique 57 DVDs, so I purchased the first volume (which includes 3 DVDs and a workout ball) for $60 plus shipping from physique57.com.
The first volume of the workout series includes the full-body 57-minute workout, a 30-minute abbreviated workout for when you’re pressed for time, and a 30-minute arms and abs booster workout. The workout ball was clearly made of phthalates and the smell bothered me, so it’s been airing out in my garage since it arrived. Instead, I used my kids’ playground ball from Crocodile Creek. You’ll also need some hand weights (I use 5 lbs and 8 lbs). If you visit their website, you can download a workout for $5-7 for 48 hours, which is what I did to sample it before purchasing the program. Continue reading »
I recently tried a one-month unlimited membership to a Dailey Method studio in Northern California. I had never tried a barre class before and had read good reviews online. It was created in 2000 by Jill Dailey, who has a B.S. in Kinesiology (as do I) and was a certified personal trainer (as was I). She created an exercise program that incorporates Pilates (which I love), yoga, the Lotte Berk method/barre/dance, and orthopedic exercises (which I desperately need for my hip pain and poor posture). It really seemed like a good match for me, other than the cost! Continue reading »
It’s been over six months since I’ve posted and I’m hoping to start writing more regularly. My family has moved to a new state and I’m in the process of trying lots of new workout programs and DVDs. About two months ago, I stumbled across a DVD from Jillian Michaels that I liked so much, I bought three more of hers. I have to say that overall I find them very impressive. Impressive enough to review and recommend here!
The first DVD I tried was Killer Buns and Thighs. What I love most about this DVD is that there are three workouts. What bang for your buck! They are all about 30 minutes, with each level more difficult than the one before. I was impressed with the variety in the moves. I work out a lot, and have for almost two decades, and I’m always amazed when I see new moves I’ve never tried. The video was short, but challenging, and to my surprise, I was incredibly sore the next day. That’s the best way to hook me–make me sore! Then I know it’s working. The Level 2 workout is my favorite, and I love switching up which ones I do. On days when I have less energy, I do Level 1. When I really want to hit it hard, I’ll do Level 3 and then immediately after do the Level 2 or Level 1 workout. I also do her moves without pausing (so when Jillian finishes a set and begins to describe what to do for the next exercise, I keep working through that break).
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Those of you following this blog for 2011 know that this has been my year of experimenting with working out at home. I’ve done three DVD programs–Tracy Anderson’s Metamorphosis, P90X, and Insanity. I wasn’t able to complete Insanity because my body couldn’t handle high impact exercise 6 days/week. Ultimately, none of the programs was perfect for me and left me searching for another great workout.
Well, I’ve found something that I truly love. It’s challenging, low-impact, and leaves me sore in places I didn’t even know I’d exercised. It’s called SPX Fitness and is like a Pilates reformer class, but is done on a modified machine called the megaformer. Apparently, it’s all the rage in LA, including amongst celebrities like Brook Burke. The classes are either 40 or 55 minutes, so it’s a pretty small time commitment, especially considering that the designer of the program, Sebastian Lagree, recommends doing it only 2-3 times/week. Because of the expense of the class, I have only done it once each week, but then I try to do similar modified movements at home. The entire class is strength training, with a huge focus on glutes and core. However, the moves are done so quickly that it’s also a bit of a cardio workout. Each exercise is done for one-minute and by the end of that time, the goal is to have the muscle completely fatigued (which it almost always is for me). Each move also encourages a full range of motion, so there is a lot of stretching and elongating of the muscles. I expect this to create a very long, lean, toned look. I am almost always shaking by the end of the workout and find myself sore for days. I consider myself to be in very good shape, so I’m really pleased to find such a challenging workout that doesn’t bang my joints.
The biggest drawback to my new favorite workout is that it can only be done in a studio on a very specific machine. And the classes are expensive (in my city, about $25-30/class). I have yet to figure out how this program will be sustainable for me, since going even once per week will cost me $100/month.
About a month ago, I tried the Insanity at-home exercise DVDs. I had just finished P90X and was looking for something equally as challenging but more cardiovascular. Unfortunately, three weeks into Insanity, I aggravated my hips and haven’t been able to do cardio since. They weren’t kidding when they called it Insanity–not so much in that it’s insanely hard, but that most people would have to be insane to pound their body like this. I have spent more money seeing doctors, chiropractors and acupuncturists to treat my injury than I spent on the DVDs. And for the record, I’m 32, a former Strength and Conditioning Coach who knows how to execute proper form, and have never hurt myself in an exercise program before that forced me to stop.
So based on my limited experience with the program, here are my pros and cons.
- The workouts, at least for the first month, are about 35-40 minutes each. This is totally manageable and much easier to fit into my schedule than the 60+ minutes of exercise many other DVDs require each day. I believe the second month of DVDs are about 45 minutes each.
- These workouts are challenging. You breath hard. You sweat. I want an exercise program to be difficult initially and give me something to work towards. This program definitely does.
- I usually don’t enjoy cardio very much, but these boot-camp style workouts weren’t too bad. I liked how the 8-10 minute warm-up was almost a mini-workout in itself. Just when I was getting tired, it was time to stretch. It felt like I got a good break before ramping up again.
- Not all of the workouts, but many of them, are interval training. This is highly effective for burning fat and improving athletic performance. Not sure that the 30 second break is really long enough for most people to recover, but that’s what the pause button is for.
- The nutritional plan, while I didn’t follow it, is not bad. The advice actually is totally reasonable and do-able.
- Music is good.
- I like that the DVDs feel like you’re in the class. There’s a variety of levels, the gym setting is nice, etc.
- The abdominal move of being in a plank position while tilting your pelvis under works my lower abs better than almost any other move I’ve tried. Continue reading »
Most of us are already aware that regular exercise reduces your risk of death from several causes, including heart disease and cancer. But did you know that as little as 15 minutes each day can reduce your risk of death from any cause by 14% and extend your life expectancy by 3 years? And each additional 15 minutes per day after that reduces your risk another 4%, according to a study published in The Lancet of more then 400,000 people. Who can’t find 15 minutes a day for a longer, healthier life?
My husband and I just completed 13 weeks of P90X. For a thorough review after 8 weeks , please see my previous post.
Most of what I shared at 8 weeks I still agree with. I would probably drop my overall rating from 4.5 out of 5 stars to 4. Given the amount of time we dedicated to exercise during this program, I think we should have seen better results. I attribute this to the lack of cardio in the program. P90X classic dictates two days of cardio per week (plyo and kenpo). I would say only plyo was really cardiovascular for me. One day a week of cardio, no matter how much you’re exercising, is not going to produce significant change. I know I’m stronger after this program, but if you still have a layer of fat on top of your new muscles, you won’t be able to tell that much has happened. While we didn’t do the diet, I’ve done plenty of exercise programs without a dietary change and seen impressive results (for example, Tae Bo). With P90X, I lost a grand total of 1 pound and 1.5 inches (1/2 off my waist, and 1/2 inch off each thigh). I would have liked to lose 2 inches off my waist, and I don’t think that goal was unrealistic. My husband didn’t want to weigh or measure, but you can see from our before and after photos that he had better results than I did. However, he was sedentary before beginning this program. Continue reading »
I promised to review the P90X program 7 weeks in, but instead, I’m reviewing it after the first 8 weeks. My husband and I have been doing it very consistently for the past two months. We have 5 more weeks to go until we have completed it. Here are my thoughts on the program so far… Continue reading »
Three weeks ago, my husband and I started the P90X at home fitness program. We know four people that have used this program with great success. We were looking for a more convenient way for us to both exercise and DVDs really work well for us. This way we can both work out at the same time while the children sleep. It’s been surprisingly easy to carve out 60-75 minutes out of our weeknight evenings and weekend mornings to exercise.
My initial impressions of the program are quite good. Tony knows his stuff and his program offers a lot of variety. There is a good blend of strength training and cardio and the exercises are quite challenging. You can customize the program to fit your goals (there is a classic, lean, and doubles program depending on your desires and time commitment) and you can adapt every exercise to either build strength/size (fewer reps) or to tone and stay lean (12-15 reps). We are doing the classic program, with a couple twists (we don’t have 90 min for the yoga, so we’ve cut that back considerably, and we like core synergistics so we do more of it). So far, my favorite workouts are the plyometrics and core synergistics. This program is heavy on the pushups and pull-ups, which may be a turnoff for some women. I have modified (I use bands instead of doing pull-ups) and I just grit by teeth and push myself, quite literally, through the push-ups. The biggest downside so far was the purchase of all the equipment needed–bands, dumbbells, etc. Continue reading »
2013 Update: If you are looking for a DVD program to tone, tighten, and help you achieve a dancer-like body, I recommend trying Physique 57. See my review for more details.
The Tracy Anderson Method certainly has a lot of big celebrity supporters–Gwenyth Paltrow, Madonna, Courtney Cox, and Jessica Simpson. Tracy’s approach to exercise is unlike anything I’ve seen before and given all the endorsement of her program, I decided to give it a try for three months. I purchased her Metamorphosis DVD (hipcentric) as well as her post pregnancy DVD and read her 30-Day Method book. I followed her muscular structure work (aka toning) and did some of her dance cardio, although I mostly stuck to the cardio I enjoy (step class, running, cardio machines at the gym). I did not follow her diet, because I already eat incredibly healthy, but I did try to control my portions. After 90 days, I lost 5 lbs and 5 1/2 inches. I certainly have not achieved perfection, as she claims is possible with her program, but I am ready to fully review her method. Continue reading »