by Lee Holden Exercise to Heal, 2007 Review by Beth T. Cholette, Ph.D. on May 13th 2008
This DVD from Exercise to Heal is part of a series of videos offered by Lee Holden, an instructor of both Qi Gong and Tai Chi who has appeared regularly on PBS. Qi Gong for Weight Loss is intended to stimulate the metabolism while also building strength, particularly in the core area of the body. Holden instructs via voiceover, providing mirrored cueing, and the workout is filmed outdoors upon a tranquil lake setting.
The Main Menu of the DVD offers options for Play All, Introduction, Routines, Bonus Features, and How to Use this DVD. The Routines submenu is designed to provided parallel programs for beginning and more experienced students. Therefore, the Beginner's Routine offers a shorter (26 minutes), easier sequence, whereas the Standard Routine offers a longer (42 minutes), more complete workout which includes additional challenging exercises. Both routines are divided into Standing, Lying Face-Down, and Lying Face-Up sections. The Standing Routine focuses mainly on exercises to get the body moving, increase blood flow, and begin to build strength in the legs. The Standard Standing sequence is 15 minutes long and contains a total of 15 exercises; the Beginner's routine leaves out 2 of these and is 5 minutes shorter. (Note: The entire list of exercises is printed in the DVD insert.)
The Face-Down series actually begins with some prone exercises but consists largely of work from an all-fours kneeling position. This segment moves along very quickly, and the 9-minute Standard routine includes some moves which are quite challenging, such as a Tai Chi Push-Up (same as yoga or triceps push-ups) and dog pose/mountain with leg extensions (in contrast, the Beginner's segment is only 3.5 minutes). Finally, the Face-Up sequence focuses mainly on core strengthening work. This segment contains the greatest disparity between the Standard and the Beginner's routines, with the former being 14 minutes and the latter only 3 minutes. This series reminded me very much of yoga instructor Rodney Yee's Yoga for Abs video, as many of the exercises are held while focusing on the breath as in yoga. The Face-Up series ends with an advanced bicycle exercise.
The Qi Gong for Weight Loss Bonus Features include Qi Secrets for Weight Loss, Interview with Lee Holden, a Music-Only option, Behind-the-Scenes Footage, and onscreen Guidelines & Tips. The bottom line: will this DVD help with weight loss? The most likely answer is maybe. I think that the routines provided here, particularly the Standing series, could be beneficial in helping someone who is inactive to gently begin increasing their physical activity and to slowly begin building strength and endurance in their lower body. On the other hand, those who are new to a physical fitness program may struggle with some of the exercises here, as even those in the Beginner's routines might feel quite intense. A better choice for absolute beginners might be Lee Holden's Qi Gong for Healthy Bones and Joints, which I would rate as gentler overall than Qi Gong for Weight Loss yet still able to provide an excellent means of stimulating blood flow to the entire body.