Friday, July 3, 2009

Review: Yoga Booty Ballet

Yoga Booty Ballet is a pretty cool concept. They combine dancing with basic yoga and ballet leg lifts to give you a lean, more dancer-like physique than more traditional workouts. I loved it.From the descriptions, I thought that it was going to be more of a fusion of yoga, ballet and dance, but in reality, the workouts include a dance section, a ballet section and a yoga section. They're all in one workout, but they're still separate sections of the workout. The end result is a workout that doesn't feel overly intense, but still gets you results.

  • If you like dancy workouts, the cardio videos are a lot of fun. The first time or two, you're more into learning the choreography. Once you learn the moves, though, you're free to embellish and add intensity. I like that you get out what you put in.
  • The ballet moves really target the booty. Really, the "ballet" is just leg lifts, but Teigh and Gillian altered the moves a little to get you results in the areas you want it.
  • The music is very rhythmic (mostly drumming), and the moves always follow the rhythm of the music.
  • The cooldowns always include a bit of stretching, and I really saw a difference in my flexibility after doing these workouts.
  • The ab workouts utilizing the squishy ball are great for working your inner thighs and targeting your lower abs a bit. I was surprised when I started feeling the burn.
  • I enjoyed working out with Teigh and Gillian. They're happy and encouraging. And for the most part, their cuing is good. They name different moves and call out the name before the move comes up so that you know what you're about to do.
  • They dont put a lot of emphasis on reps (when applicable), so half the time you don't know how many of something you did. That doesn't work for everyone, but it works for me.
  • Every workout starts and ends with meditation/mudras. Some people find these encouraging (you set intentions for yourself at the beginning of each workout), some wont get into it. Personally, I skipped them.
  • Teigh and Gillian are kind of kooky. During the workouts they tell you to "aspire to your highest potential" or "imagine your heart is sparkly". I thought it was cute. The hubs made fun of it.
  • Some of the editing in the Basic workout is pretty off. During the cardio sculpting portion, they frequently cut into close ups of Teigh's arms so that you can see her muscles working. These aren't done very well and are often off count or off beat. It threw me off the first time I did it. Every time after that I just followed the beat of the music and ignored the close up that was playing. The voice over for the yoga workout in Basic is also not the best. It didn't screw me up as much, but it could have been done better.
  • Teigh sometimes mixes up left and right while she's cuing. There's even a time where she doesn't think fast enough, so instead of calling out which hand to use, she just lifts up her right hand (which would mean your left hand) and calls out "this hand! this hand!" It's understandable since her right is your left, but that may throw people off.
  • The cardio dances aren't really the style the claim. Cardio Cabaret is cabaret enough, but I didn't find it burlesque except for a few moves. I found little to no hip hop in the Hip Hop Abs. They're fun workouts, and they're still very dancy. Just don't expect to bring those moves to the club.
  • You need a squishy ball. I attempted to do the ab workouts with a pillow at first, but I really didn't feel it. Once I got myself a cheap baal to use, I saw the beauty of the squishy ball.
  • Teigh and Gillian use really light weights (2#). They say you'll feel it anyway, but I have my doubts about that. I was using 4#, and while it was a definite challenge for me during the tricep and shoulder exercises, the bicep and back exercises were way too easy at 4#. I can't imagine you'd feel anything at all with 2#. I have very weak arms, btw. If you have relatively strong arms, I would recommend more weight.
  • The ab workouts are very crunch based. If you like crunches, you'll like it. The crunches ended up giving my stomach a 6-pack-ish look. Most people like that. I'm one of the few that don't.
  • While they do name the moves, some of them are just kooky. Like "hand thing".

I really enjoyed YBB. It had this weird quality of feeling intense while working out, but afterwards I didn't feel like I worked out super hard. At first I thought it was a bad thing, but I kept it up because it was fun and I didn't want it to go the way of The Wedding Workout. Surprisingly, I started seeing results. My stomach got noticeably flatter and my arms toned up a bit more. I also increased my flexibility, which was really important to me.

I would add this to my list of favorites because I think it's a nice change from more intense workouts like Turbo Jam. The emphasis on flexibility and lean muscle would make a nice addition to a rotation of videos. Plus, it's fun. And what better motivator is there to keep workout out besides actually having fun?

Up next...Hip Hop Abs

Monday, June 15, 2009

Yoga Booty Ballet: The Rundown

DVD/Set- Yoga Booty Ballet (Complete Workout System)
Instructor- Gillian Marloth and Teigh McDonough
Released by- Beachbody
Style- Fusion of yoga, ballet and choreographed dance

Although I bought each DVD separately, I ended up with what is sold on amazon as the Yoga Booty Ballet Complete Workout System. This set is different than the one that is sold directly from Beachbody (that set is a compilation of a bunch of YBB Live workouts). The Complete set includes The Rehearsal and Guided Meditation, Total Toning Basic, Advanced Fat Burning, Cardio Cabaret, and Hip Hop Abs. Since I bought the DVDs individually instead of as a set, I didn't get the nutrition plan or the workout guide, and for some reason, I can't find the workout schedule anywhere on the web...yet.

The Rehearsal and Guided Meditation-- YBB is actually pretty big on the meditations, kriyas, mantras, and mudras. This is just an intro into that as well as some common YBB moves.

Total Toning Basic-- For this workout you need a set of light weights (they use 2#s, I use 4#s, but they say you can do without weights), a "squeezy" ball or pillow, and a mat or towel if you prefer to use one for yoga and ab work. This workout starts with meditation then moves to a quick warm up. After the warmup, it cuts directly into the ballet leg lifts. From there you cut into sculpting/cardio. You use light weights to tone the arms and back, but you're moving fast enough to get your heart rate up a bit. Next it's onto yoga with a few simple, basic poses performed vinyasa style. Then it's onto ab work using the ball before you cool down and finish with more meditation.

Advanced Abs and Booty-- No weights or ball are needed for this workout. It consists mostly of longer than usual dancing and ballet sections. The initial mudras and intention setting segment of the video are a bit longer than the other workouts and are followed by a more intense warm up that leads straight into the dance routine. Teigh and Gillian lead you through a long chunk of choreography before starting from the top. That chunk then leads straight into a second set of choreography that they repeat only once making this dance segment more difficult than the others where they start from the top after adding only a couple new moves. The long dance segment leads into a long ballet segment with a bit more variation than any of the other workouts. Next comes a yoga segment with some pretty intense stretches. If you're not particularly flexible, be ready to use the variations they suggest and have a towel or pillow on hand to assist you in the stretches that may be a bit too deep. Finally, after all that, comes the relaxing cooldown followed by some ending meditation.

Cardio Cabaret-- This dancy workout is labeled as "Burlesque Style", but, really, there are only a couple racey moves in the routine. If you can't tell by the name, this is a choreographed dance cardio workout. This is about a medium intensity routine that'll get the blood and sweat pumping, but it might not get you out of breath. The moves are pretty simple and easy to follow. After the cardio you do a bit of ballet leg lifting before some yoga cooldown and stretching.

Hip Hop Abs-- This is the second choreographed dance cardio in the set, and it's more intense than the Cabaret workout. Though the title is Hip Hop Abs, it would be better described as hip hop AND abs. You start off with cardio with a challenging sort-of-but-not-really hip hop routine before moving on to ab work with the squishy ball. There's no ballet in this one.

Every workout (even the cardios) starts and ends with the kriyas, mudras, meditations and intention setting. If you don't like it, you can always skip it. Their ab work calls for what they call a squishy ball. If you look online, they sell a blue YBB/ Beachbody squishy ball. They use that ball in Hip Hop Abs. However, in the Basic video, the ball they use looks more like a 7in dodgeball ball. If those are cheaper, I'd recommend getting one because using a pillow doesn't add enough resistance to really feel useful. I'm using a $3 dog toy ball. :-)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Review: The Wedding Workout

I know I cut my time with this one short, but I think one week with it is enough to give it an honest review concerning the workout itself.

As I mentioned before, for the week that I used The Wedding Workout, I followed the schedule set out for Strapless Dresses. The pre-built workout was scheduled as:
Mon- upper-body, cardio
Tues- abs & core
Wed- lower-body, cardio
Thurs- upper-body, abs & core, cardio
Fri- lower-body
Sat- upper-body, cardio, love your honeymoon
Sun- rest

I normally take Thursdays as my rest day, so I switched that around. Also instead of one of the lower body days, I did a custom workout with abs & core followed by cardio.

  • The pre-built workouts take the guesswork out of workout scheduling. You're not left trying to remember which day to do cardio and which day to do sculpting. All you have to remember is what day of the week it is, and you're workout is all planned out
  • The option to custom build your workouts is pretty darn cool. If you wanted to do the cardio five times in a row, then you just click on cardio five times, press start, and go. If you like your cardio before your sculpting (instead of how the pre-built workouts are programmed), then you can use the custom feature to build the workout the way you like it.
  • I really liked some of the moves in the sculpting routines. I've never seen angled bicep curls (not that I've done many workout videos), and I loved them. All in all, I found the moves in the sculpting routines to be effective, and my muscles did feel fatigued after most sets.
  • Marie is great at cuing. She always cues ahead of time, so it was easy to keep up with her the first time through.
  • The workouts all followed the tempo of the music (which reminded me of video game tunes, fwiw), so it was easy to keep my mind off reps. I just concentrated on keeping with the beat.
  • Marie breaks down the moves slowly before taking you to tempo. This helps a lot with form and technique, and it helped me ensure that I was doing to moves correctly.
  • I liked that the workouts were broken down by body area. Even if the workouts were only about ten minutes, the full ten minutes were dedicated to that one area of the body.
  • The workouts were too short to feel very effective to me. Even though my muscles felt like they were being worked during the video, after I was done I didn't feel like I had worked out at all.
  • Marie is perky and upbeat, but I was over her after the first couple days. Her cues were like annoying songs that get stuck in your head just because of the rhythm. Really. I had "grapevine! grapevine!" and "over to the right right here!" stuck in my head some mornings. Not something I really want stuck in my head, honestly.
  • The cardio wasn't very intense. It had a couple good moments, but the majority of it was very easy. If you're more into the sculpting than the cardio, then you probably wont mind, but I like a bit more cardio in my routine.


Overall, it looks like the good things outnumber the bad, but the bad characteristics were enough to make me give up on this one early. While I honestly think that the workouts in this set are good, the fact that I wasn't feeling any effects of working out was very discouraging for me. Since the whole point of my doing this challenge was for me to find videos that would encourage me to keep going, I felt that the doubts I was having about The Wedding Workout were enough to warrant giving up on it. Even before the week was over I was discussing my doubts with the mister and trying to figure out ways to make it work. In the end, it was my solution to the problem that caused me to decide to stop using The Wedding Workout after only one week.

All in all, I think that The Wedding Workout is a good, solid workout, but it just wasn't for me. It may be better suited to those already in good shape since the workouts didn't seem strenuous enough to cause any great weight loss.

The replacement: Yoga Booty Ballet

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Kick in the Muscles

Uhhh, yeah...remember how I said that The Wedding Workout cardio wasn't working for me? Well, on Saturday I decided to do Turbo Jam Cardio Party in lieu of The Wedding Workout, and on Sunday I woke up SORE. That frustrated me because The Wedding Workout feels challenging while I'm doing it, but I didn't get sore at all. It made me feel like the video wasn't working me hard enough. At first I thought that maybe it was just all in my head and that if I stuck with it I would start seeing results, but this weekend proved to me (in my head, at least) that I would have had to stick it out for quite a long time.

I'm not entirely sure if soreness is a good measure of how good a workout is, but in my head, if my muscles get sore, it means that I worked them and pushed them beyond what they're normally used to. The Wedding Workout's cardio/toning total body workouts didn't make me sore. Turbo Jam's cardio alone made me sore.

Even if my logic is flawed, I'm going to stop The Wedding Workout and move on to something else. The point of putting this challenge upon myself was to force myself to try new workouts to find those that would keep me working out continually. If I don't think The Wedding Workout is doing anything to improve my fitness level, then I'm not likely to be compelled to press play, especially since it's not entertaining enough to do just for fun. But I'll save that for the review.

So, I guess I'm going to get in more than one video this month. Stay tuned for info on the replacement video.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Wedding Workout: The Rundown and a Few Thoughts

As you can tell from my sidebar, I'm currently working out using Women's Health: The Wedding Workout. Before I get into my initial thoughts on this, I thought it might be a good idea to give a quick rundown of the DVD. (I know I didn't give initial thoughts on Turbo Jam, but that's because 1-I didn't really do it for that long,2-I liked it and felt results right away)

DVD/Set- Women's Health: The Wedding Workout
Instructor- Marie Forleo
Released by- Women's Health/ Gaiam
Style- Traditional workout style with a few twists

The Wedding Workout is a single DVD that contains six chapters or segments-- Warm Up, Upper Body, Abs & Core, Lower Body, Power Cardio, and Cool Down. There's also non-workout bonus segments called Eat Smart, Walk Gracefully, and Love Your Honeymoon.

Warm Up-- This is a quick 4 minute warm up to get things moving. They do a few moves to warm up your legs, arms, chest and hips, as well as some light stretching.

Upper Body-- Weights are a definite must for this workout--you rarely put them down. This workout flows quickly from one move to the next. Marie starts each move at half speed so that you get the feel of the move before you go up to tempo. The moves are a great mix of traditional moves and moves I've never seen before. Just as a warning, there ARE pushups involved, and four of them are half-time.

Abs & Core-- This starts with a little standing ab work then moves to some floor work with planks and crunches.

Lower Body-- This workout uses variations on plies, lunges and squats to get your bottom half into gear.

Power Cardio-- Very simple, light cardio. You start out with some pretty easy steps and arm movements, move on to some jack-style moves and jogs and end with kick boxing.

Cool Down-- This combines a little bit of light movement to get your heart rate down as well as some yoga to stretch you out.

Eat Smart-- This is just a quick run down of foods to eat prior to a big event that will help you look your best.

Walk Gracefully-- I haven't seen this one yet.

Love Your Honeymoon-- Marie quirkily takes you through the basics of stripping. That's right, this is a mini- tutorial on some basic moves for a strip tease.

The DVD menu is set up so that you can choose between pre-set workouts, or you can customize your workout by selecting the six segments in any order you choose. The two pre-set workouts are geared towards Strapless Dresses (focus on upper body) and Body Hugging Dresses (focus on lower body). If you choose a pre-set workout, the specific menu is broken down by days of the week, so there's no guesswork about which workout to do in which day. Just choose Thursday if it's Thursday. Pretty nifty.

It's been a week, and while I find the workouts are pretty good, they're VERY short at 11ish minutes each. You can work out a single area (say, Upper Body) with a warm up and cool down in under 20 minutes. For the targeted workouts I think this is fine. You can complete a total body workout in in about 45 minutes without cardio. The problem lies, for me, in the cardio itself. It'does have a few intense moves, but overall, it's not a very challenging cardio set. Plus, it's only about 10 minutes long. I don't know about you, but ten minutes of cardio every other day (as set out in the schedule) doesn't really cut it for me.

Because of this, I've decided to stop trying to make the cardio work for me. I did the Strapless Dress pre-set workout for a week. Next week I'm going to do the Ab workout and Upper Body workout on one day followed by Turbo Jam Cario Party the following day. I want to give The Wedding Workout a fair shot, but I know that the cardio is not working for me.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

More on Turbo Jam: The Rundown

I realize this may have been good info to know in or before the review, so I'm posting it now. Better late than never, right?

DVD/Set- Turbo Jam
Instructor- Chalene Johnson
Released by- Beachbody
Style- Choreographed cardio kickboxing with encouragement to add your own flair

The set I have is the small set of 5 workouts on two DVDs. The first DVD contains Learn and Burn, 20 Minute, and Turbo Sculpt. The second DVD contains Ab Jam and Cardio Party (mix 1).

Learn and Burn-- This is a run through of the Turbo Jam signature moves followed by a quick workout.

20 Minute-- Quick and fun choreography that works the whole body in just 20 minutes. This thing works you pretty well in such a short amount of time. My first time through it, I was sore the next day.

Turbo Sculpt-- Light weights are recommended for this workout, but you can do the whole thing without weights. Chalene uses a mix of traditional sculpting excersizes with a few variations to keep things interesting.

Ab Jam-- A mix of standing ab work and floor excersizes, this workout starts out pretty easy (IMO), but turns up the level of difficulty near the end. There seems to be quite a bit of oblique work involved, so if you're not into that, you've been warned.

Cardio Party Mix 1-- This one has great pace. Just when I feel tired of a set of choreography, they move on to something else. I find the music in this mix especially fitting/motivating, which workout out well for me since I found it hard to workout for 40min. Every time I finished Cardio Party, though, I was glad I put in the time.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Review: Turbo Jam

Look! It's my first video review!

I started off with Turbo Jam because it's a video series that I already own, I've done a couple of the videos already (two or three years ago), and I remember having fun. I don't remember why I didn't keep going. Probably that laziness factor again.

I remembered that I had Turbo Jam halfway through May, so I was only able to do two full weeks of the routine. The recommended schedule starts out with Learn and Burn a couple times before finishing out the week with the 20 Minute Workout. Because I had done these workouts once or twice before, I was able to skip the Learn and Burn, start directly with the 20 Minute Workout (or Cardio Party on a day that I had a little more time) and finish the week with Cardio Party Mix 1.

The initial workout had my muscles burning, and I was definitely sore the next day. I did the 20 Minute Workout everyday the first week except for one morning when I had a little more time (I did Cardio Party instead). By midweek, I was still sweating, but my muscles were recovering a lot faster. Since my body seemed to take to the workout pretty quickly, I decided to throw in Turbo Sculpt and Ab Jam the following week even though the recommended schedule tosses in Turbo Sculpt a little later. Week two for me consisted of alternating Turbo Sculpt on one day and 20 Minute Workout with Ab Jam the next day (I also had a rest day).

At the end of the two weeks, there isn't too much change in my body (I mean, really, it was only two weeks). There's a little more muscle definition in my arms (probably only visible to the hubs and myself :-P), and my body feels tighter overall. I don't think it LOOKS tighter, but I definitely feel better. I also noticed that my kicks are higher and more controlled than when I started.

  • I really like Chalene. She's bubbly but not over the top, and her attitude really motivates and encourages me. Her personality may not be for everyone, but for me it was just right.
  • The pace of the workouts was good. They were just the right amount of challenging at first, and when they started to feel a little too easy, I could just jump more, kick higher, punch harder and the intensity was right back up there.
  • The arm work in Turbo Sculpt was killer for me. It honestly made quick work of my lack of muscles.
  • I love that everyone gets all sweaty. It makes me feel like they're all getting a good workout, too.
  • The music in Turbo Jam may not be everyone's tastes, but I loved the tempo of the jams Chalene chose. They're paced very well and got me to the point where I wasn't thinking about how many kicks and punches I just threw, I just wanted to keep to the beat and choreography. :-) Some of the songs with lyrics seemed perfectly placed to me, too. Just when I'm tired of kicking I hear "I'm gonna knock you out! Mama said knock you out!", and I think "heck ya! I'm gonna knock you out!" Or when I really just want to be done with squats I hear "it feels good, baby", and silly as it sounds, it somehow makes me keep going.
  • I loved that the moves were choreographed directly with the music and tempo. Loved it. That might throw some people off, but it was perfect for me.

  • The standing ab work is kinda of easy. The floor work is tough, but for some reason, to me, the standing work doesn't compare. I started skipping it and going straight to the floor work.
  • Correct form isn't emphasized a lot. She takes you through the Turbo moves in Learn, but you're a bit on your own for Turbo Sculpt. She does try to help you out with form a little, but for some of the moves a different camera angle would have been helpful.
  • There isn't a lot of stretching. I'm not sure if it's common to have a very short cool down without much stretching in workout videos, but that's what Turbo Jam is like. The Sculpt has a little more stretching, but it's the only workout that does. I like stretching.
  • The Turbo Sculpt is a total body sculpting workout. It's great for getting everything worked out in one go, but it wasn't very evenly distributed. There was a ton of arm work (or did it just seem like it because I'm weak?), a decent amount of leg work, then a teeny little smidgen of chest work.


Overall, I loved Turbo Jam. It was fun to workout to. On the days when I really just wanted to hit the snooze button a few more times, I was able to push myself out of bed because I knew I was going to have fun if I did. It got my heart pumping, and I had good energy throughout the rest of the day.

This one definitely makes my list of favorites. I only have the small set (Learn and Burn, 20 Minute workout, Cardio Party Mix 1, Ab Jam, and Turbo Sculpt), so I know there are a bunch more Turbo Jam videos that can be thrown in the mix when I want more. I can definitely see myself doing Turbo Jam long term (if I get more videos) because I enjoy doing it.

Up next...Women's Health: The Wedding Workout.