Video Review: Double Down with Amy Dixon and Paul Katami

It has been a while since my last review, so I am very excited to gush about Amy Dixon and Paul Katami’s latest collaboration. If you have seen my reviews in the past you know I am a fan of both Amy and Paul’s workout DVDs.

Doubledown is a 50 minute combination of total body strength and cardiovascular plyometric exercises. The circuit set up is unusual, but in a good way. Each circuit consists of two minutes of total body exercises and two minutes of cardio work. So that is four minutes per circuit with 8 circuits. The two minute strength segment is split up into two parts. Paul starts with one exercise for one minute, then in the second minute you “doubledown” and add onto the move. This gets your heart pumping and the targeted muscle group(s) burning. Once you complete Paul’s two minutes, Amy takes over the cardio portion of the circuit. Her circuit is split into three 40 second intervals. With each interval the intensity increases. This gives you a little time to recover from Paul’s intervals before you start gurgling your heart again with high impact plyometrics.

I did this workout twice last week. The first time alone and the second time with my HIIT sister. Both times I was amazed by how fast this workout goes by. It is a shot in the arm, then you are off to shower and continue with your day. I did have to add some of my own stretching after the video to attack my legs a little better. I often find videos don’t give the legs enough attention when it comes to stretching.

If you bore easily with workout DVDs and want to burn some fat and calories in a short amount of time I definitely recommend this DVD. I purchased the digital download for just $15, which is a steal for how often I will do this DVD in future years. As a workout DVD whore I have recently been turned off by the videos being put out. They are getting too short and lack creativity. My faith is restored.

I give this workout 5 stars for sure. I hope there is Doubledown 2 coming out soon…

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5 Day Fitness Blender Challenge

It’s been a while since I have reviewed a workout and I am excited to share with you my experience with Fitness Blender’s 5 Day Challenge to burn fat and build lean muscle!

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I came across the challenge on Sunday August 17th via Instagram and decided to add it to my workout regimen for the upcoming work week.  I was in a bit of a workout rut and becoming bored by my strength training routine so It was a welcomed change.  You can find all the workouts on YouTube and they are 100% free.  Start with Day 1 and you will easily find Days 2-5 on their channel. 

The workouts are all about 50 minutes long, which includes a warm up and a cool down.  This challenge is definitely easy to fit into a busy schedule and requires minimal equipment, all you need is dumbbells.  I supplemented a bit by adding barbells, kettlebells, a weight bench and a step  to increase the intensity of strength routines.  When a HIIT Exercise was not taxing enough I added some weight as well. 

Day 1: HIIT Routine & Total Body Strength Training

Day 2: Fat Burning Cardio Intervals with Upper Body Strength Training

Day 3: HIIT Cardio & Abs

Day 4: Cardio Kickboxing & Upper body Strength Training & Yoga Segment

Day 5: HIIT Cardio & Butt and Thigh Strength Routine

Overall I think the program was beneficial to my fitness routine.  It was nice to check out mentally for a week and perform another fitness professional’s program without having to design my own workout schedule.  I definitely had some soreness but the program is designed to create a balance of work and rest, so while one muscle group is healing you are working another part of the body. 

The HIIT Routines were fun and presented in a tabata style on most days.  On day 2,3 & 4 I skipped a lot of the rest periods and continued with the HIIT/Cardio moves to increase intensity.  This challenge is made to cater to a range of fitness levels so in order to keep my heart rate up I modified exercises and skipped rest intermittently. 

I found the workouts to be a little on the short side, but I still sweat my butt off and finished with my heart thumping. Day 4 was definitely the easiest day.  In Kickboxing you get out what you put in, so you really have to push yourself to get your heart rate up and feel the workout the next day.  Kickboxing is a great way to rest a bit without taking a day off, and I love that Daniel and Kelly used it as a way to recover along with some yoga exercises. 

Day 1 was my favorite workout and Day 5 was too short for my liking.  When adhering to my own workout schedule my workouts never really fall short of an hour, so 40 minutes including the warm up and cool down just doesn’t feel like enough.   However, I had gone paddle boarding with my Storm Fitness team for 3 hours on Friday morning and a short workout was welcome after all the core work I did while on the Potomac.  Plus there is something about spending time on the water that just wears me out, in a good way. 

Kelly and Daniel show modifications for every exercise they perform, so whether you are a novice or a fitness fanatic, this challenge can easily be added to your weekly routine.  They also show you how much weight they are using for each exercise. I like this concept, but they lift pretty light. Be sure you are challenging yourself without comprising your form.  I found myself lifting the same as Daniel if not more and I am not a heavy lifter by any means. 

The day after the challenge I did  a 50 minute Yoga video to hit my reset before button getting into another week of intense fat burning workouts.  I had a lot of fun trying something new and I felt great by the end of the week.  I was not overly sore or tight but that is in part due to a daily foam rolling ritual.  I will say, I went for a 5 mile run on Sunday and my body felt great. I would recommend this challenge to friends, clients and even my crazy fit mom 🙂

 

A Video Review: Get Extremely Ripped & Chiseled with Jari Love

It has been a while since I did a workout video other than YogaDownload.  In the past month I have picked up a new weight lifting routine which includes heavier weight and lower repetitions compared to my past circuits.  Being … Continue reading

Yoga Review: Yogadownload.com

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If you fall into any of the below categories, you will LOVE YOGA DOWNLOAD

  • A yogi with a busy schedule
  • A yogi on a budget
  • A yogi who travels
  • A yogi without a worthwhile studio nearby
  • Love to sweat
  • Need a deep stretch
  • A runner
  • A beginner
  • Enjoy Pilates

I discovered Yoga Download through Groupon a little over one month ago and have been practicing through the site 2-4 days/week ever since.  The site is stocked with hundreds of yoga classes and even Pilates, cycling, kick boxing, dance and running classes.  They even have yoga with weights!  My Groupon gave me the “Yearly Elite” package which allows me to stream and download unlimited videos for one year.  The regular price for this pass is $90 annually.  While this sounds steep, it is going to cost you $7.50/month if you break it down.  That is the cost of one [cheap] brunch cocktail per week.  You can also chose to pay for 1, 3 or 6 months at a time, click here.

It’s easy to find the type of class that will serve you on any particular day.  You can search through classes via your objective (detox, sweat, weight loss, recover, etc); focus (yoga for athletes, morning yoga, yoga for seniors, etc); body part; pose type (arm balances, twists, sun salutations, back bends, etc); featured channels and through studios/brand.  You can also locate classes by scrolling through the various yoga styles as well.

Each video comes equip with a description, preview and reviews you can study before deciding to stream/download.  I love having the ability to read customer reviews.  There is nothing worse than getting half way through a class and realizing it is not challenging enough or too advanced for your practice.

The ability to download a class to your own device means you can practice yoga anywhere (with or without WiFi)  as you travel for work or leisure. 

I use the site to sweat, stretch, detox, meditate and wake up.  I have been able to find classes for all my yoga objectives and I have not had the need to repeat a class with so many options to chose from.  With a busy schedule, I am often squeezing classes in between clients and the ability to just open my lap top and step onto my mat allows me to flow much more often.

Yoga studios can be intimidating to beginners, I think this site is great for people who want to try yoga without committing to the prices of a studio they may not even like.  In addition, a site like Yoga Download allows you to hand pick your classes to fit your instructor and style preference.  I absolutely love the experience of visiting my local yoga studio, but I am usually with clients the during the time slots I enjoy.  In addition, studios are expensive. One year of yoga download would not cover the cost of a monthly membership at your average yoga studio.  So if you practice regularly, you cannot go wrong purchasing this service.

In addition to personally using the site, I have had clients and friends purchase the service in the past month after my recommendation.  The site is a value and worth every penny.

Review: Cindy Whitmarsh UFIT Series

On Monday I received Cindy Whitmarsh’s UFIT series from 411 Video Information to blaze through and review.  The series consists of three separate videos: The Ultra Lean, The Ultra Tight and The Ultra Burn.  Each DVD is 4o minutes long, with two 20 minute interval training workouts.  These workouts are based on the principals of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and are designed to blast calories and tone in a minimal amount of time.  There are three exercises per circuit; 1 minute of cardio and two minutes of strength/toning exercises.  Each circuit is performed only once, with no repetition of exercises.  If you want the short version of this review, scroll to the bottom and read my “Takeaway”. 

Cindy WhitmarshTuesday I started with Ultra Lean.  This DVD consisted of two 20 minutes interval training workouts.  The first segment focuses on the upper body: working biceps, triceps and shoulders. There is one minute of cardio exercise  for every two minutes of strength training.  Cindy uses a number of traditional strength exercises and drills that are easy to catch on to if you are new to strength training or just a little rusty.  The upper body segment requires dumbbells, I used a set of 8lbs.  While 8 lbs worked well for most the exercises, I could definitely have used a set of 10-12 lbs for some of the shoulder and bicep work.  I would recommend having a range of weights handy depending on your ability.

The 20 minute lower body portion of the Ultra Lean DVD followed a similar sequence working in cardio and strength training.  Again, most of the exercises are ones you have likely seen/done in the past, making it easy to catch on.  I wish I had  heavy weights on hand for the dead-lift intervals because I did not feel challenged.  Most of her lower body strength exercises focus on the butt.  At the end of the video she burns out your tush with a lot of glute work.

Wednesday Morning I jumped right into another DVD from Cindy’s Series.  I went with Ultra Tight to start my day.  You can see a trailer above.  Hard Body is the first of the two workouts included in Ultra Tight.  This was a total body workout that focused on multi-joint functional movements all while keeping your heart rate up with cardio intervals.  The Hard Body segment  kept my heart rate medium/high for the full 20 minutes.  6-Pack Abs is the second workout in the Ultra Tight DVD.  It includes both standing and mat work with one minute of cardio for every two minutes of toning.  I liked the fact that the cardio moves worked the core, allowing you to really burn out your middle for the full 20 minutes.

Tip: If you own a kettlebell or a dumbbell 12+ lbs, I recommend having it handy for the swings performed in Hard Body (if you are familiar with kettlebell swings).  A 8-10 lb dumbbell was too light for me in that movement.  If you are new to weights, an 8lb dumbbell will work fine.

I really enjoyed the Hard Body workout because you are working your upper body, lower body, core and cardiovascular system simultaneously for the full 20 minutes.  I also appreciate that Cindy implements cardio into the abdominal routines for the 6-Pack Ab workout.  I often find that abdominal workouts get a little slow and relaxed, but that was not the case with this routine.  The Ultra Tight cardio moves were a little more advanced than the Ultra Lean DVD, which made it my favorite of the two strength focused DVDs.  Overall, I enjoyed this workout and I would definitely continue to make it part of my fitness regimen.

Thursday I woke up sore, tired and groggy so before I began my UFIT series I did a short yoga practice to wake up.  The last DVD in the series is called Ultra Burn.  This DVD consists of a cardio workout and a workout called Sculpt and Stretch.  I sweat my butt off during the cardio.  It consisted of  athletic moves like jump squats, lunges and kicks.  I made a few modifications to increase the intensity; adding weights and by making exercises pylometric.  Sculpt and Stretch was an active recovery.  It was a mixture of exercises to lengthen muscles and tone.  Cindy used a lot of modified yoga postures and added pulses and movements to make the stretches more athletic and dynamic.  The stretches were paired with strength exercises to tone and improve balance.  I would recommend doing the cardio portion right before the Sculpt and Stretch because your muscles are really warm and it makes for a good recovery sequence.

Takeaway

After several weeks of this workout series you would need to up your weights and add dumbbells to body weight moves to continue to challenge your body.  For me, 40 minutes is just a little bit too short.  But keep in mind, this does not include a warm up or cool down.  I did like how the workout was broken up into two segments.  It is great for people with a time pinch who cannot dedicate an hour each day to a fitness routine or for those who are not physically ready for an hour long interval training workout.  It also allows you to mix and match workouts, depending on your day or cardiovascular exercise regimen. The series is $40 and includes a meal plan and exercise schedule which unfortunately I do not have access to.  I think beginners could start with one 20 minute workout in addition to their running/walking/biking routine and progress to completing 2-3 workouts at a time.  If I were advising clients, I would recommend they start with the Ultra Lean, move onto the Ultra Tight and finish with the Ultra Burn series.

I was afraid that the series would not be high enough impact for me, but I experienced muscle soreness from the first DVD on Wednesday and I am still sore today (Thursday).  I think this series is effective because of it’s pace.  There is not time for rest or too much instruction between exercises.  In addition, the exercises are athletic and uncomplicated so you can easily modify them to increase or decrease the intensity level if you need to.  This is a great DVD to break out when you are crunched for time as well.  It is a relatively flexible series and could meet the needs of a wide range of fitness levels and lifestyles.  Since it appeals to a large audience,  I could see myself recommending this to my clients as a routine for their off days.

I want to advise you to warm up and cool down. There is no warm up in any of the workouts so please take about five minutes to heat up your body before you  begin.  I did a short 10 minute yoga flow before beginning since I roll out of bed and workout in the mornings. Below I have posted a good 4.5 minute warm up from Fitness Blender. You can do this prior to any of the UFIT workouts if yoga is not your thing.  In addition, you need to be cooling down.  Cindy gives you a 1-2 minute stretch and no cool down.  Chose an easy exercise that keeps your body moving and brings your heart rate down before you static stretch.  Don’t skip stretching, your muscles will pay for it the next day.

Recommended Warm Up:

Video Review: Sweat Unlimited with Sara Haley

Yesterday I received 11 videos from 411 Video Information   to complete and review.  I pretty much ran to my leasing office after work so I could pick up the package and get started.  I was predictable and started with the video that looked the most difficult, SWEAT UNLIMITED with Sara Haley.  The DVD contained 5 different workouts:

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  1. Sweat Extreme 5: This was a 5 minute video containing Sara Haley’s “Favorite Moves”.  In my opinion, 5 minutes is too short to have separate from the longer routines.  I would have preferred this tacked onto Sweat Strength 15.  There was a fantastic “Surfer Burpee” exercise in this segment that I will definitely revisit in designing my own workouts!
  2. Sweat Strength 15: This was a sculpting segment.  I would describe it’s intensity level to be low for someone with an intermediate-advanced fitness level.  However, for most women, I think it has some great sculpting moves.
  3. Sweat Cardio 30:  This cardio workout is actually 35 minutes long and consist of dance inspired exercise moves.  I would describe it as a fusion of dance and traditional sculpting exercises.  She uses lunges, squats, and some kickboxing to up the intensity.  Again, this video was not high intensity for my fitness level, so I modified the workout by adding on jump squats, burpees, and other plyometric movements.  I was definitely squirting sweat by the time I finished.  For women with a more general fitness level, I think this video would bring the heart rate up and keep it there to provide a good cardiovascular challenge.
  4. Sweat Box 45:  Tabata inspired kickboxing, now this was fun! I love kickboxing and I love tabata, so Sara won me over with this one.  Her tabata consisted of four rounds of two exercises with 20 seconds on and 10 seconds rest.  She included a good amount of core work on top of the kickboxing and I feel it in my upper abdominals today.  I personally would have preferred to have the tabatas be at least 30 seconds long and ideally closer to 40-45 seconds. I was naughty and I worked through the rest interval.  I don’t recommend skipping the rest unless you 1) regularly partake in intermediate-advanced  HIIT or Tabata workouts or 2) are doing the modified movements.
  5. Sweat Stretch 5: Five minutes of stretching after the dynamic workout you just completed is not enough! I would have liked to see a yoga style stretch or something with more emphasis on the legs.

I did the Sweat Box 45 last night after I got off work then completed the Cardio 30, Strength 15, Extreme 5 and Stretch 5 before heading to work this morning.  My workout this morning came to exactly one hour which worked out perfectly.  I am happy to report that my back is sore from all the jabs, uppercuts and hooks from last night.

This DVD is dynamic, it has a little bit of everything which is great for anyone with a short attention span or those who get bored easily.  Sara has some creative exercise moves, especially in the Sweat Cardio 30 and Sweat Box 45 workouts.  While the DVD advertises that there are a total of five workouts, three of the segments are under 16 minutes and two of them last only five minutes, one being a stretch.  I think you could easily create two complete workouts with this DVD, but I don’t think it would be overkill to knock out the whole series in one day.

I am not usually into dancing or dance workouts.  Anyone who knows me, is aware that I am a terrible terrible dancer.  My coordination is fine as long as I have a dumbbell, jump rope or kettlebell in my hand. As soon as there is some hip swaying involved I look like a fool. I lack finesse for sure, but I am trying to go outside of my fitness bubble to test workouts that could benefit my clients.  I will be recommending SWEAT UNLIMITED to clients who enjoy dancing, zumba or kickboxing.  Another great thing about this DVD is that it is equipment free, making it a great travel companion!

Another bonus that came from this experience was finding Sara Haley’s Blog!   I love finding reputable fitness industry professionals to follow via social media.  Go ahead and like her Facebook page too for recipes and fitness tips.

 

 

Video Review: Amy Dixon’s Raise Some Bell

Lately I have been in a rut with my workout DVDs.  After a while the same workout on a regular basis gets repetitive and dull.  So I have become consumed in creating new and creative circuit style workouts for myself almost everyday.  I do start to miss being instructed, and since I have been lacking a workout buddy the past couple of weeks, the gym is getting a little lonely.  So last night I had the company of Amy Dixon, a 15 lb kettlebell and my puppy Petey during my sweat session.

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Raise some Bell is a kettlebell routine, which I am sure you could have guessed.  The workout is a total body routine that lasts 40 minutes including warm up, cool down and a stretch.  There is also a 7 minute “Ultimate Kettle bell Core Workout” on the DVD.

The warm up was great.  I loved how Amy warmed up our  wrists.  It is not your first thought to prepare your wrists, but I pulled my right wrist during kettlebell workouts in the past so I can appreciate the attention to detail.  We dynamically moved through stretches and exercises that prepared us for the powerful moves to come while bringing our heart rate up.  I can definitely see this warmup working in more than just a kettlebell routine.

The Workout consisted of powerful ballistic moves such as swings as well as exercises you would typically do with your basic dumbbell.  The way Amy creates a combination flows well and I enjoyed putting together the exercises.  It allowed me to get a feel for each more before adding on.  My favorite exercise from the workout was the “Rainbow”, It’s a swing with a 180 degree continually pivot on one leg, I felt it over my entire body.  I am a sucker for anything ballistic.  I used a 15 lb kettlebell for the entire workout, but I wish I had a 10 or 12 lb bell for both the hammer curl and the jerk.  I found myself struggling to balance the bell by the horn during the curl.  15 lbs was not to heavy for my right arm during the jerk, but I struggled a bit on my left arm.  I should probably invest in a lighter bell not only for my clients, but for myself as well!

Some of the moves were a little complex, and it took me a few reps to get them down, surely my second time completing this video will be more beneficial than the first.   The moves were powerful and challenging, I felt like superwoman while I was jerking out my reps.  Kettlebell training definitely gives me a high that is different than running and plyometrics and I cannot get enough of it.  I will say, I am pretty sore today.  I need to make a commitment to break out my bell more often after experiencing my body’s reaction to the workout the next morning.

The workout takes a lot of thought and coordination to safely complete the exercises, so the time flew by quickly.  I did not believe Amy when she said we were on our last move of the day.  I do wish the workout was a little longer. I prefer my workouts to be about an hour.

The ab workout is separate on the DVD menu so I completed the 7 minute routine after I cooled down.  I would have liked to tackle abs before the cool down.  The exercises were functional and an all over core workout rather than targeting the superficial muscles, which I liked.

All in all, I give this Kettlebell routine 4 out of 5 stars.  I really loved the exercises and combinations but it was just a little too short and I wish the ab routine came before the cool down.  I will definitely be doing this workout again though.  It is great for when you need a solid workout and you have less than an hour to fit it all in!

Video Review: Paul Katami’s Burn & Build

A huge part of my own personal exercise regimen is videos. Not only do videos allow me to workout from home, but they also introduce me to new exercise styles and bring variety to my library of moves.   As I test out new videos I will be sharing my experience with you.  A great resource for finding new workouts is Collage Video.  Collage ranks videos by their skill level, but they also provide reviews and clips from the workout.

Untitled-2Last night I took my puppy to our family vet and decided to workout in my parent’s home gym since I was already in the area.  My mom has been wanting me to try Paul Katami’s Burn & Build for a couple weeks now so I gave it a try.  The Burn & Build Workout is an aerobic toning workout that combines  kettlebells with a high step.   The workout itself is 70 minutes which includes an 11 minute warm up and a 5 minute cool down.  There are 7 intervals which mix fast past aerobic moves with toning.  I used a 15 lb kettlebell for the majority of the workout, but found myself switching to a 10 lb weight in the one armed bur-pees.  The video also comes with a 25 minutes instructional for some of the more complex moves and kettlebell maneuvers. I did not watch this to save time, but I wish I had.  I probably would have caught on to some of the combinations a bit faster .  After you complete the 70 minute workout there is an option for a 20 minute ab workout.

This video is considered advanced, so I would recommend being in  shape and having experience with a kettlebell before giving it a try.  The warmup itself is a workout, so by the time you eject the DVD you have done at least 60 minutes of high intensity interval training.  This is a sweat squirting heart pounding workout that takes concentration and skill.  I found myself getting frustrated with a few combinations because I had not practiced the 3-4 part moves in the instructional video.  I’m sure that I will get more out of this workout the second time around.  I definitely recommend this video to anyone who wants to challenge their body and coordination. I would give this video 5 out of 5 stars. Not only did I feel like I was getting my ass kicked, but I am sore today.    Below is Clip from the Workout:

If you do not have a step, I recommend purchasing one to reap the benefits of a bi level workout.  Incorporating a step works more muscle groups and increases your aerobic work and inevitably burns more fat.  In addition, your coordination can improve with step aerobics training.  For this workout you should use a high step.  Here is a great high step I found on Amazon that will not take too much space to store.

If you have any particular questions or a video review suggestion please leave a comment!