I’m trying to get my ass in shape by firming up and leaning out. I’m not fat or overweight by any means – I am probably 5 feet 7 and weigh 120 lbs although when it’s that time of month, I can easily put on 5 to 7 lbs of water weight. But I’m really looking to tone up! I have an apple body shape, meaning most of my weight is carried in my midsection but I have incredibly slim arms and legs. The upside is that I can disguise my belly nicely with skirts (to show my legs) and long tops and shirts. As long as my arms are exposed, people think I’m skinny but that’s not really the case. The downside of this body type is that since I can easily disguise my figure, I’m less inclined to workout hard since in the back of my head I think, “Oh well, with the proper clothing I can look skinny.”
NO NO NO. Not anymore! That’s the old me. The new me just wants to be healthy, toned, and balanced! So I’m sticking to my plan of doing “one active thing a day” and am aiming to keep this up for the rest of my life. That’s a big commitment, I know, but then again it’s not. Doing one active thing for me can be anything from a 45 minute walk after work to a 3 hour home cleaning event to a one hour dance fest. Just something that gets me off the couch and moving!
For cardio, I am dancing, walking, jogging, jump roping, and doing cardio kickboxing at home to one of my many workout DVDs. But for strength training, I’m saying bye bye to the bootcamp style workouts with weights and using four well known programs that I know will garner much success and results if used consistently: Physique 57, Core Fusion, Fluidity and Cardio Barre. All three of these programs are pretty similar – they combine yoga and pilates with dancer-type ballet bar workouts to yield long, leans muscles, good posture and extra core strength. Also, I have these as DVDs…I don’t go to the actual classes. For one thing, I don’t have the money to blow on classes (average is $25 per class) and secondly, I love to work out at home!! In the mornings, I roll out of bed and turn on a DVD and get my workout over with. At night, after dinner and before bed, I punch out a session and hit the shower. It’s so convenient and I don’t have to deal with other people, parking, bringing water bottles and towels, etc. I loathe gyms because they remind me of sweaty prisons with heavy machinery (although here in LA it’s more like a meat market-slash-model/actress fest while wealthy and thin soccer moms read US Weekly while chatting on cell phones on the treadmill). Below are my reviews so far as I have used all of these DVDs thus far:
Kelly Ripa swears by Physique 57 as her primary workout and there is a reason why. It kicks your ass. Literally! I just got the Physique 57 set of three DVDs in the mail two days ago but have already tried their 57 minute Full Body Workout and the 30 minute Express Workout (I still have to try the Arms and Abs workout later next week.) And boy, my legs and abs were SORE!! You go through some intense thigh and seat work (a nicer word for ass muscles) while holding onto a ballet bar or chair. Tons of squats, tiny pulses, and up-and-down moves while squeezing your heels together being balanced on your toes. OUCH! A fair amount of push ups, arm work with light and heavy weights, and some great moves using a light medicine playground ball (for example, keeping it between your thighs and squeezing it while shaking your hips to the left and the right. Did I mention this whole time you have to keep your heels touching together and stand at the top of your toes??) Oh, the pain. But it’s good pain. The instructor is kind of silly and goofy but she’s very motivating and says visual things like, “Squeeze the cellulite out!” Haha. Gotta love it. I heard classes are not only pricey but they only exist in NYC so the DVDs were the next best thing.
Physique 57 Rating: 8 out of 10 stars. I felt the burn. I like the energy. I love the music.
The Core Fusion series is a specialty held at the Exhale Spa in NYC and LA. I first heard about it from a friend, who swore that in two months, her body became a whole different machine. She went from out of shape to toned, firm, taut and her figure completely changed. Her waist whittled down, her thighs became long and lean, her posture was amazing and because of that, she looked like she grew two inches! Awesome results. Well, there’s nothing better than word-of-mouth referrals so of course I had to get the DVDs.
I got the three Core Fusion series DVDs: Body Sculpt, Pilates Plus, and Thighs & Glutes. I have tried all except the Thighs & Glutes. Like Physique 57, the Core Fusion concept uses a blend of yoga, pilates, light weights and the ballet bar or chair. However, I feel like Physique 57 focuses more on thighs and butt and Core Fusion focuses more on…well, the core. While my thighs and glutes burned like crazy doing Physique 57, my abs are seriously on fire when I do Core Fusion. The great thing about the Core Fusion DVDs is that it is 50 minutes broken down into five 10-minute sets. So it doesn’t even seem like a long time! You get a male and female instructor (I think hubby and wife?!) and they are perfect at cueing and instructing you what to do. Calming music, zen envrionment, simple yet effective. I REALLY like this series a lot and can see why people would get such success following these DVDs along with a good diet and a nice blend of cardio on the side.
Core Fusion Rating: 9 out of 10 stars. I can feel my abs sculpting themselves when I do these moves. Love the breakdown of 5 sets (10 minutes per set) and I cannot wait for the Abs & Arms DVD to come out in December 2009!
I got the Fluidity bar package as a gift and that’s actually how my love affair for ballet bar exercises began. This package came with three DVDs (beginner, intermediate, and advanced) as well as a playground ball and exercise bands. So it’s a complete package and well worth it since I use those bands for other strengthening moves like toning my arms and stretching my back. Excellent value. What I like about this program is that it utilizes the exercise bands, which can really lend alot to your strengthening and stretching routine. The instructor is not my favorite, and I can’t figure out why. Maybe it’s her leotard thong that totally shows her butt lol or just the way she talks but she kind of gets on my nerves. However, she did say something that really stuck with me: as long as you strength train using your own body weight (yoga or pilates), your body will shape to how it’s naturally supposed to look. No bulkiness, no thick arms, no meat-head style muscles. Just long, lean, firm limbs. Other than that, the workout is just like Physique 57 and Core Fusion but not as intense with the ab work.
Fluidity Rating: 7 out of 10 stars (but only because of the packaging). Take away the bands and ball and bar, and I’d give it 6 out of 10.
Cardio Barre is actually in Studio City, CA which is still quite far for me. But I first heard about this place when a male friend told me his girlfriend was taking the class there and “her butt literally got, like, three inches higher!!” Um hello, that’s all it took for me to buy this!
I actually really like the workout itself but cannot stand the male instructor. He’s just weird to me so I’d rather turn the sound off and blast music while following the moves on the screen. I like the Cardio Barre workout because it’s more cardio-based. It definitely gets my heart rate up way more than Physique 57, Core Fusion, or Fluidity. Also, you use weights in this program so if you enjoy utilizing 2 or 3-lb weights, then this is for you! Alot of stand-up style pilates, which is another favorite of mine.
Cardio Barre Rating: 8 out of 10. Gets your heart rate up and keeps it up. Good arm work for jiggly triceps!