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Review by Alana Chandler on Jun 29th 2010
I have quite a library of fitness DVDs in order to keep my motivation, attention, and keep my body evolving as well. However, if you prefer to own very few or even just one, this might actually be a great pick because of both the variety and the good workouts.
I wear a Bodybugg (the arm devices you see on the contestants of the Biggest Loser) which tells me my exact caloric burn not only during a workout, but the entire day. I only mention this so you know that when I mention the calorie burn it is not via perceived exertion but, instead, what I measured scientifically. It allows me not only to see the burn during the workout as compared to other workouts, but any metabolism boost gained after the workout as well.
The DVD is put together so that the viewer can choose a different workout 5 days a week. However, because these are only 20 min. workouts and some offer light caloric burn (but good strength training), I would suggest you might want to either do 2 segments or combine this with walking etc. for optimum calorie burn.
First, STRENGTH TRAINING workout portion is from a DVD I have already reviewed on Amazon and is one of my favorites. They have taken the best parts of that DVD and made it into one 20 minute workout so it still feels like a new DVD to me although I've done it many times before. I love the trainer Violet Zaki for her great cueing, great instruction, but even more so REALLY good workout. The caloric burn here is an A plus for a 20 minute strength training workout. Typically strength training results in burning less calories during the workout, yet increasing your caloric burn long after the workout is over. This one actually does both. Because she combines the strength training with cardio, you have a great burn for 20 min and it continues after the workout. It's a HIIT workout meaning you do bursts of cardio and strength resulting in double the gain in less time. Anyone can follow her instruction, even if you've never done it before, just start with lighter weights and increase as you go. The setting is in a cool urban loft. You won't feel a heavy exertion but she works out 2 body parts during all moves and boosts your burn with cardio so you get a big bang for your buck. Handweights needed.
The YOGA portion, also at 20 minutes like all the others, is by Hemalayaa. This is one I do when I don't feel the motivation to workout after a long stressful day because it actually de-stresses you and then you suddenly find yourself enjoying the workout, especially with her setting of candlelight and her calm voice and smooth instruction. This section is done on a yoga mat, concentrates on bending and stretching, moving energy through your body, destressing, and lengthening your muscles. The caloric burn is low but that's not the prime benefit. For a well-rounded training, the benefits to both your muscles, mind, and even flowing oxygenated blood through your internal organs and aiding digestion is all in this segment. There are times during this segment that her instruction, wasn't clear enough to me without looking up at the tv to understand what she was doing...and looking up isn't what I was supposed to be doing at the time. This won't matter after you do the DVD a few times as it was easily learned, but the first time I needed greater clarity when I couldn't look up. Mat needed. All levels.
The next segment was the PILATES segment. This is a great way of doing Pilates because the instructor, Kristin McGee, mixes the Pilates moves with upbeat cardio blasts so she upped the calorie burn of this to high...not because it was high during the whole workout (it was medium) but because the strength training was so good that my metabolism & caloric burn stayed elevated far after the workout was done. This one is GREAT for your abs. She really incorporates moves to hit all your ab muscles in addition to all your other needed body parts as well! Pilates concentrates on your muscle tone through strength and stretching but the cardio burst meant fat burn as well. Her cueing was wonderful. Even during the times I was looking away from the tv the instruction was very clear. The setting was in the same modern loft as the strength training portion, though redecorated Eastern style & with added candles and greenery, yet some cuts were to her on a rooftop balcony garden. Really hit muscles I don't often get and her personality was very warm and enjoyable. Easy to follow even if you've never done Pilates before.
The dance portion is a fun merengue, salsa, step and rumba but don't be daunted. I am the LEAST coordinated person on the planet and so I rarely enjoy dance fitness DVDs due to their frustration level for me. However, I liked this one. It was upbeat, kept me moving, had a B plus calorie burn because I kept moving the whole time with arms and legs and even worked out the tummy with the twists. However, I have to say the instructor...hmmm, really odd. She is a voice over while you watch the dancers and I swear she must normally teach little kids to dance. She would insert fake giggles constantly as though trying to sound fun and cute but it was quite strange because it would be in a part that you couldn't figure out why it happened and in a voice as though talking to kids..."Now you take that left foot and put it forward...he he he he he. Give me a big smile now! All the way up the corners of that mouth! he he he he" You look wonderful!" First time I have ever been told I needed to smile bigger for my empty room when working out but hey, it probably eases stress. Still, she could tone down the obviously fake giggles a notch and I would love this more. I forgive her, it was a great dance portion and fun. The setting was an outside dance gazebo-style stage with Latin music.
And finally the CARDIO portion was another great segment. In fact, I liked it enough to want to buy the DVD this edited version came from. The calorie burn was an A for just a 20 min workout (but again, 20 min workouts are always going to not quite get your target heart rate up there long enough, you may want to add on an extra 15 min of something else sometime that day). She keeps your arms AND feet moving at all times to up that burn. This is taught by Petra Kolber. The setting is a penthouse. There are 3 instructors here and 2 are not "hard bodies" which can actually be motivational to see them still move with such ease. Her cueing is wonderful and easy to follow. She offers good safety instructions for beginners and if you hate cardio DVDs that have floor work, this one will keep you moving upright and getting just as much benefit.
Conclusion: They truly chose workouts edited in 20 minute segments that give you the most bang for your buck and work perfectly together for full-body benefit. I loved this DVD and there isn't one segment that I wouldn't recommend. Additionally, the change in instructors, music, moves, and scenery can keep up your motivation and attention span and give you tastes of several workouts that may lead to you deciding of which ones you might want the full version.
© 2010 Alana Chandler
Alana Chandler, is ranked by Amazon.com as their #1 reviewer on the site. She is also a professional Weight Loss Coach, with her Masters degree in Counseling, & has a strong interest in fitness & healthy cooking.