Friday, August 27, 2010

Review of Shiva Rea: Yoga Trance Dance

The DVD packaging for Shiva Rea - Yoga Trance Dance says it’s a “high-energy movement meditation to liberate your creative life force.”
   I say it’s a great way to relieve stress!
   If the tension of life is getting to be too much, this DVD just may help get rid of some of it.
   There’s something about dancing wildly about one’s living room that is incredibly freeing – liberating, like the packaging says.
   There is no set pattern to follow in the DVD’s dance sections. Shiva Rea gives you some meditation cues, imaginary playgrounds on which to dance, but the rest is up to you.
   For example, in the rhythmic movement meditation, Rea encourages a follower to “visualize a drummer’s paradise, with drums of every shape and size,” surrounding him or her. Then, she says, “begin to play the drums in all directions.”
   I felt just a little silly the first time I did this DVD, but that feeling very quickly faded away. I let my body go and let the DVD’s great music lead it where it wants to go.
   As Rea says, “Allow your whole body to become brilliant, illuminated.”
   There are also several pure yoga sections on the DVD, from the school of prana yoga.
   Like some of Rea’s other DVDs, this one has a “yoga matrix,” in which all the dance and yoga sections can be mixed and matched in your own designer workout.
   There are also several “pre-set” practices in which the sections are combined in different patterns.
   My favorite is the “energizing flow,” which begins with a water salutation, warming the body with sweeping motions, then moves into a “twisting kriya,” which has nothing but twisting from the waist in a standing position with hands outstretched. It continues with a couple of freeform dance sections and concludes with deep relaxation.

Yoga Trance Dance at

Another good Shiva Rea DVD: Flow Yoga for Beginners

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Review of Yoga Booty Ballet: Light & Easy and Latin Flavor

Yoga Booty Ballet: Light & Easy / Latin Flavor are two DVDs that let your inner dancer out in your living room.
   And while you dance, your heart is pumping and your body is getting toned.
   I turn to these DVDs when I want to work out, but not for too hard or too long. They are great on those days when a rigorous cardio or toning workout seems like it would be too demanding on me physically and mentally.
   That’s not to say that these DVDs are a piece of cake – they will work up a light sweat and do require some level of concentration.
As Teigh McDonough says during Light & Easy: “It’s light and easy, but we are workin’ it.”
   McDonough leads the workouts along with Gillian Marloth. The two co-created Yoga Booty Ballet (YBB).
   Light & Easy begins with an opening meditation done sitting on the ground. Straightened arms are pumped up and down to “polish the energy field.”
   After a terrific warm-up (all YBB DVDs have great warm-up segments that get you in the mood to work), an approximately 22-minute long dance segment follows.
   Exercisers are encouraged to go “light on their feet and joints” – hence the workout’s title.
   The dance moves, which include step taps and marches, are easy to follow.
   Next is an abdominal toning segment on the floor, done with a squishy ball, but the moves can be done without a ball.
   A stretch concludes the workout.
   Latin Flavor follows the same format as Light & Easy.
   It begins with an opening meditation. The dance section follows, with steps inspired by such dances as salsa and samba, and then the workout moves to the floor, with leg and abdominal toning exercises inspired by Pilates. A stretch finishes things off.

Yoga Booty Ballet: Light & Easy/Latin Flavor at

Another good YBB DVD: Total Toning Basic and Advanced Fat Burning

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Review of Get Ripped! with Jari Love: Slim & Lean

Get Ripped! with Jari Love: Slim & Lean is tough, and leaves no body part unturned.
   This DVD has quickly become one of my new faves. I've seen an improvement in tone with my arms and butt since I started using it.
   Jari Love (whom I was pleasantly surprised to find is a fellow Canadian) has designed a no-nonsense sculpting workout that gets into the legs, arms and core with nine five-minute sections.
   Each of the section has a high number of repetitions, which Love says prevents bulk and promotes lean muscle mass.
   In fact, it’s a little astonishing how high the number of repetitions are. The number is listed at the start of each section.
   The first section, squats, for example, has 76 reps plus pulsing.
   The number can be a little off-putting at first, but after getting through a section, knowing how many reps you did leads to an immense sense of accomplishment.
   Dumbbells or barbells are used all the way through the workout, except the abs and concluding stretch. Weights are even used in the warm-up.
   With the challenging exercises accompanied by weights, this workout has the exerciser sweating buckets all the way through.
   The weight loads used by Love and the three other people helping her lead the workout are amazing. How much they are using is also listed at the beginning of each section.
   I ignore these numbers and use only what I can. Love says as long as you feel the burn in your muscles, the weight load is appropriate.
   Each five-minute section has variations on one core movement. They are: squats, lunges, chest presses, dead lifts with rows, push-ups, tricep lifts, biceps curls, one-legged squats, overhead presses and abdominal crunches.
   If each move is done properly, the core muscles will work constantly through the whole routine.
   I recommend this DVD to those looking for a toning challenge that builds up a good sweat.

Note: Jari Love and the people accompanying her during the workout use a Step platform for some of the exercises. I don't have one, but I easily adapted those exercises to the floor.

Get Ripped! with Jari Love: Slim & Lean at

Other good toning workouts:
Personal Training with Jackie: Power Circuit Training
Core Fusion: Lean & Toned

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Review of Self: Sculpt Sexy Legs Fast

Self - Sculpt Sexy Legs Fast has a section specifically labelled “cardio.”
   That’s a puzzler, because the entire 55-minute routine, though geared toward slimming and toning the legs, is a rip-roaring cardio workout.
   Instructor Violet Zaki takes the exerciser through a series of squats, lunges, plies and kicks in creative combinations, and the heart rate soars.
   After a warm-up comes a section labelled “legs.”
   There are some neat moves here, such as a dead lift by raising one leg and reaching the opposite arm to the ground, then returning to a standing position and changing sides; and plie squats, then dragging a leg back in to a standing position to work the inner thighs.
   Zaki’s martial arts background is evident, too, as many of the moves involve strong forward kicks. One challenger is doing a reverse lunge, then lifting the leg up with a kick.
   The aforementioned “cardio” section increases the pace a bit, with jumping jacks and rapid leg kicks.
   The “legs with weights” section adds some dumbbells to the mix and involves the upper body much more.
   In this section are moves such as deep plie squats with bicep curls, reverse lunges with shoulder lifts and tricep lifts with side leg lifts.
   The workout moves to the mat with the “floor work” section. On the hands and knees and facing the floor, Zaki leads such challenging moves as lifting one arm up and the opposite leg, which challenges the core; and bent and straight leg lifts.
   A thorough stretch concludes this challenging workout.

Self - Sculpt Sexy Legs Fast at

Other good lower-body workouts:
Shiva Rea: Creative Core & Lower Body
The Firm: Tight Buns & Killer Legs

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Review of Shiva Rea: Creative Core & Lower Body

Shiva Rea: Creative Core & Lower Body is a lower-body workout unlike any other.
   Forget lunges, leg lifts and kicks.
   Rea, a world-renown yoga teacher, has chosen two poses as the basis of the workout: standing hip opener and side angle pose.
   You will feel your thighs and lower abs burn, but the workout’s pace is relaxed, almost mesmerizing.
   The first 13-minute section of the DVD is called Creative Roots, and it begins with the standing hip opener, which Rea calls “a very powerful way to strengthen the lower body.”
   Standing with legs wide apart and toes pointing out, Rea encourages the viewer to draw up from the pelvic floor, and feel a sense of the hips being suspended between the legs.
   From this position, she leans forward until her back is line with her hips, and for several minutes in this position, sweeps the arms forward and back. It’s a challenging pose.
   Then comes side angle pose – body facing forward, one leg is bent while the other is straight – and the variations on it. Most involve leaning toward the bent leg, and freeing the arms creates balance challenges that work the core.
   Rea moves into a free-form routine to finish off this section, moving from side to side and encouraging exercisers to do the same.
   The next section of the DVD, called Creative Core, is seven minutes long. Rea moves to the mat for this part.
   She starts by lifting up her hips from the floor, legs bent, with arms together and moving forward and back. Then the legs are pushed upward, one at a time.
   These moves morph into the rocking bridge, which is propelling oneself to an upward position between the legs, hands on the ground, and lifting up. While Rea effortlessly lifts herself off the ground, I was unable to do so.
   Next comes reverse push-ups, with the body facing up and arms straight behind on the floor, knees bent. From here, Rea moves into side plank and plank position (a push-up held in the top position or on the elbows).
   If it sounds hard, it is. The core will burn, and the arms will be challenged as well.
   But with many of Rea’s workouts, her calm, encouraging voice propels a person to keep trying.
   The routine finishes with a short savasana, or deep relaxation pose.

Shiva Rea: Creative Core & Lower Body at

Other DVDs led by Shiva Rea:
Flow Yoga for Beginners
Creative Core & Upper Body

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Review of The Firm: Tight Buns & Killer Legs

Instructor Kelsie Daniels leads an efficient 30-minute workout that gets the heart pumping and the butt working with The Firm - Tight Buns & Killer Legs.
   Like many of The Firm’s workouts, it is fast-paced, but not hard to follow.
   Armed with a set of dumbbells, Daniels uses a series of squats and lunges combined with kicks and lifts in an effort to tone the glutes, hamstrings and thighs. In between these weighted sets are spurts of pure cardio.
   One of the women who leads the DVD with Daniels demonstrates beginner versions of all the moves, and does them without weights.
   After an effective warm-up, the workout begins with curtsy lunges. Just as the name implies, one leg is sent back at a diagonal, rather than straight behind.
   Soon a knee lift, then a leg extension to the front, are added to the curtsy lunges.
   Later strength moves include a squat with toes pointed outward, then moving into a standing position and lifting one leg to the side; and dead lifts, which is leaning forward with weights in both hands, then lifting up the leg to be in line with the back.
   The cardio sections which alternate with the weighted work are tough. First there are high knees – bringing the knees up one at a time in a running motion; then hamstring curls; and finally, jumping jacks – but on the ground. In a pushup position, the legs are pushed out and in with a slight jumping motion.
   A cooldown and stretch concludes the routine.
   Those looking for a lower-body workout that is not extremely intense, but which has a good bit of sweating involved, will find it with this DVD.

The Firm: Tight Buns & Killer Legs at

Another good workout from The Firm: Core Solutions
Another good lower-body workout: Trudie Styler's Sculpt & Tone Ballet

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Friday, August 6, 2010

Review of Trudie Styler's Warrior Yoga

Although I don’t mind a yoga workout that is challenging for my fitness level, I also certainly don’t mind one that is relaxing at the same time!
   Such is the case with Trudie Styler's Warrior Yoga, a calming, easy-to-follow yoga routine that has the warrior series of poses at its core.
   Although I feel relaxed and centered while doing the DVD, beads of sweat always form on my forehead and neck.
   And although the main routine is 50 minutes, it positively flies by.
   James D’Silva, Styler’s personal trainer, designed the routine and leads it along with Styler.
   Although the DVD is called Warrior Yoga, and there are definitely warrior poses to be found, they don’t dominate.
   There are plenty of other poses in between, including pigeon, tree and cobra. I never feel “warriored out” by the time the routine is over.
   Like Styler’s other three DVDs currently available from Gaiam, Warrior Yoga is filmed on the estate of the Tuscan villa she owns with her husband, Sting.
   The incredible background and lovely accompanying music from Sting’s classical album, Songs from the Labyrinth, adds to the calming ambience of the routine.
   The DVD also contains an express 25-minute warrior yoga workout.

Trudie Styler's Warrior Yoga at

Other workout DVDs in the Trudie Styler series from Gaiam:
Trudie Styler's Cardio Dance Flow
Trudie Styler's Sculpt and Tone Ballet
Trudie Styler's Core Strength Pilates

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Review of Leisa Hart: Sexy Arms Upper Body Toning Workout

One of the things that causes me to call a fitness DVD one of my favorites is if it contains something innovative that I’ve never done before.
   That’s the case with the DVD Leisa Hart: Sexy Arms Upper Body Toning Workout, which has a five-minute section called “Sexy Sculpting.”
   Using a towel, pillowcase or scarf, exercisers sweep their way through lateral bends and figure eights with their arms, letting the flow tone their arms.
   It’s a far cry from using dumbbells, and it’s a lot of fun!
   However, Leisa, of the Buns of Steel series, does pick up a resistance band (or dumbbells) for other types of arm work in the DVD’s four sections. All of them, which range in length from five to seven minutes, are fun and effective. Each has a quick warm-up and stretch.
   Although Leisa uses a resistance band with handles on each end, I much prefer using one with no handles. I found it gave me more freedom to create or lessen resistance as I chose.
   The “Strong and Sexy” section uses a lot of arcing motions, that is, pushing the arm forward, then arching it around in a circle back to the original position. There are also traditional moves such as bicep curls, done by stepping on the resistance band and pulling up the ends.
   Bra-Line Smoothing” goes to work on the back muscles, with the majority of the work centered around row movements, with one hand resting on a chair and one leg forward.
   “Chest Pick-Me Up” starts with push-ups with arms on a chair, and moves to tricep dips, with an exerciser’s back facing the chair and the arms moving up and down to making the ‘dipping’ motion.
   Although I like all of these sections, one of my favorite parts on the DVD is hiding in the special features, and it’s an intense stretch.
   Approximately five minutes long, this section has exercisers use a resistance band to stretch the chest, back and arms completely. I like to use it after I’ve done a workout that uses the upper body a lot.
   There’s just one thing I would change about this DVD, and that’s Leisa’s pace. It’s quick, and sometimes a person needs time to learn the moves! Even some of the women who follow Leisa on the DVD look confused at times.
   However, after doing the DVD a few times, the moves fell into place.

Leisa Hart: Sexy Arms Upper Body Toning Workout at

Other good upper-body workouts:
Shiva Rea: Creative Core and Upper Body
Kim Kardashian Fit in Your Jeans by Friday Amazing Abs Body Sculpt

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