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…

Advertisements

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!

maxresdefault

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 🙂

 

Fat Burning Spin Routine

Being a personal trainer, I have to create cardiovascular routines for a wide variety of fitness levels, injuries, muscle imbalances and age brackets.  I often see my clients slacking off when I prescribe time on a stationary bike or elliptical, … Continue reading

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

Avocado Protein Pops

photo (23)

A Popsicle just screams summer to me.  Like everyone else, I grew up downing Freeze-E pops and chasing the ice cream truck.  Today there are tons of healthy pops you can find in the grocery store that do not contain high fructose corn syrup or unnatural dyes.  It can still be a little more fun to make your own sweat treat.  I wonder how well muscle milk freezes? Tehe

A friend sent me this link via Facebook for an Avocado-Lime pop last week.  I doctored it up and improvised with ingredients I already had at home.  Here are the ingredients I used:

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Throw all your ingredients in a blender and run until smooth
  2. Pour into a Popsicle mold and store in the freezer for a minimum of 2 hours
Look at that green creamy goodness

Look at that green creamy goodness

I tried a pop after a very very hot and humid run with my good pal Amanda Bacon, who’s mom actually supplied the recipe.  What would I do without Bacon women?It’s creamy, delicious and actually pretty filling. It tied me over until my dinner date at 8:00 pm.  The healthy fats in the almond milk and avocado keep you satiated while the whey protein feeds your muscles after a hard workout.  The potassium in the banana helps prevent cramping and adds sweetness. Every part of this recipe (my version)  is wholesome and natural.  The original recipe I referenced uses Stevia, which is a processed zero calorie sweetener that is advertised as all natural.  However, Stevia is only all natural when you extract  oil straight from the Stevia plant.  The granulated Stevia you buy in the store has been spliced and processed to create another zero calorie product, which is why I added the banana for sweetness and omitted the Stevia.

As for the protein powder, I would have used vanilla if I had it. But I only had chocolate and a few samples of Warrior Whey’s special flavors, one of which was green tea.  I will definitely make a variation of this Popsicle in the near future, or as soon as I finish all my Avocado Pops.

Have a safe and fun 4th of July weekend!

Take Your Workout Outside

In honor of Earth Day, today I am going to give you 5 reasons to take your exercise routine outside.

After a harsh winter we are all a little low on Vitamin D.  So why not get your tan on while you are shredding those abs and sculpting those glutes? On a beautiful day I take my body weight circuit to the soccer field across the street, along with my workout buddy when she is free.  Ordinarily I would be logging miles on these beautiful spring days, but a running injury has me wising up and trading my 8 milers into burpees while I heal.   If you are #blessed enough to live by a beach, take a body weight circuit to the sand.  This past Saturday I created a 45 minute plyometric circuit to complete with two friends on the beach.  By the time we were finished our quads were screaming, we had plenty of spectators and some sand in our pants.

As seen on my runs:

I can understand a long treadmill run (and sometimes engage in them) when we have 8 inches of snow,  ice storms and unbearably low temperatures. But why in the world would you choose a stagnant treadmill over the great outdoors this spring?  Unplug the headphones from your Netflix and go gadget free outside, it will leave you feeling revitalized and probably a little more exerted! Read on:

More Dynamic Workout

  • Studies have shown that running outside expends more energy than the treadmill when covering the same distance
  • Outdoor running requires you to battle hills, wind and the change in terrain (proprioceptive gains)
  • If running is not your thing, you better bet that squat jumps and lunges require more effort in grass, sand or other surfaces less predictable than your gym floor

Vitamin D Boost

  • Sunlight is a natural source of Vitamin D
  • Aids in preventing cancer, hormonal problems, obesity, and inflammation
  • Strengthens your immune system

Catch Quality ZzZz

  • Natural sunlight helps set your internal clock
  • It helps with normalizing hormones and tells us when to eat and when to snooze
  • Increases overall quality of sleep

Lower Stress Hormones

  • Studies have shown that blood levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) are significantly lower after outdoor exercise versus indoor exercise
  • Study participants score higher when measuring vitality, enthusiasm, pleasure and self esteem after outdoor exertion when compared to it’s indoor counterpart

Decrease Boredom

  • Florescent lights and dull walls sound miserable compared to a blue sky and birds chirping
  • Inclement weather creates an interesting challenge
  • Make it social by exercising with a buddy every now and again, or better yet on a regular basis

 

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: 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.

71AWF2erY5L._SL1500_

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!