Thursday, July 7, 2011

My favorite (and not-so-favorite) DVD trainers

The trainer – for me, he or she can make or break a workout on DVD.
   I can’t stand trainers that are mean, and I will only tolerate ones that are boring or never smile if the workout is good or technique is well explained.
   One very popular American trainer immediately fell out of favor with me when I felt like I was being yelled at in boot camp during her workout. I gave away her DVDs to others.
   For me, a good trainer is one who motivates a person to push harder while staying positive all the time. Good trainers are always cognizant of the different fitness levels of people in the home audience and cater to them by showing exercises at different fitness levels.
   A good sense of humor or a sparkling personality never hurts, either.

With that in mind, here are some reviews of the trainers on the DVDs I own. Some reviews are good, others not so much:

Best overall trainer: Chalene Johnson, creator of Turbo Jam, TurboFire and ChaLEAN Extreme from Beachbody wins this by a landslide.
   Johnson is cheerful and energetic without being annoying. She constantly and firmly encourages people to push harder, without making the workout feel impossible. Her crew always has people demonstrating exercises at different fitness levels. She explains proper form well, especially in the weight training program ChaLEAN Extreme.
   When Johnson says it has been a treat to work out with the person doing her DVD, I believe her. I think she really does care about her exercise audience and how people are progressing day to day.
See the Beachbody Chronicles for reviews of TurboFire and ChaLEAN Extreme

Most charismatic: Shaun T, the affable creator and leader of Hip Hop Abs and Insanity from Beachbody, could get a smile and laugh from anyone. Although his easygoing manner is sometimes non-existent on the Insanity DVDs because the workouts are so tough, people can see his motivating level of happiness on Hip Hob Abs.
See The Beachbody Chronicles for reviews of Insanity

Best explainers of technique and proper form: Elisabeth Halfpapp and Fred DeVito, the married couple who created the Core Fusion exercise technique, wins this title for their earliest DVDs. While their latest DVDs assume some knowledge of their technique, their first ones do not, and they take a lot of time explaining to the viewer how to properly do the exercises to make them most effective. 
Reviews of Core Fusion DVDs

Trainer that shows even the fittest will sweat: Bob Harper’s recent DVDs have an extremely fit-looking crew that is drenched with sweat and breathing hard mere minutes into the workout. I like that Harper makes a point of showing this; it’s motivating to exercisers at home who are busting their butt. Although Harper constantly pushes his audience, I find he is generally understanding about different fitness levels. He shows modifications for jumping jacks, which scores instant points in my book.
Reviews of Bob Harper's DVDs

Best “no-frills” trainer: Whenever I feel like I need a good old-school calisthenics-style workout delivered in a no-nonsense way, I turn to Jackie Warner. She crams a lot of punch her DVDs, but has an engaging, tomboyish manner that makes the challenge more fun.
Reviews of Jackie Warner's DVDs

Funniest: Tony Horton of P90X always manages to crack me up, no matter how corny the joke. According to Wikipedia, Horton once did stand-up comedy, and this makes complete sense to me.
See The Beachbody Chronicles for reviews of P90X

Most easygoing: Four trainers make their way into this category.
   - Shiva Rea, the famous yoga teacher, can always be counted on to make the day feel more relaxed. Her calming voiceovers on her DVDs, shot in gorgeous locations, explain well the yoga moves, so you don’t need to constantly be looking at the TV. Reviews of Shiva Rea's DVDs
   - James D’Silva, the trainer on Trudie Styler’s workout DVDs, is also a master of the calming voiceover. His narration, in combination with the classy, relaxing music, make Styler’s DVDs a great way to check out of the world for a awhile. Reviews of Trudie Styler's DVDs
   - Gillian Marloth and Teigh McDonough, creators of Yoga Booty Ballet from Beachbody, have created workouts that have a “do-what-you-can-and-enjoy-it” quality that’s great for beginners. Reviews of Yoga Booty Ballet DVDs

Trainer that seems to expect you’ll be able to whip through the workout the first time through (not a good thing): Carrie Rezabek, creator of the Pure Barre exercise technique, takes this title because all of her DVDs seem to have the expectation that the workout will seem easy to you, the exerciser.
   This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Pure Barre is really tough, the kind of workout that will seem nearly impossible for complete exercise beginners. Though each DVD comes equipped with a section that demonstrates technique, the actual workouts have no mention of doing the easiest form of an exercise, and modifications are extremely rare.
   Rezabek smiles a lot, but it’s little consolation to those trying to get through her tough workout. And, as I’ve grumbled about before on this blog, Pure Barre warm-ups are the absolute worst.
   But, all in all, Pure Barre workouts are darn effective, and that’s why Rezabek gets to stay around.
Reviews of Pure Barre DVDs

Most boring: Tracy Anderson never cracks a smile on her DVDs. Her narration is humourless, unmotivating and at times doesn’t keep up with the action that is happening on the screen. Her Perfect Design Series DVDs are shot in a studio that looks like a piece of industrial hell. If you are an eternal pessimist, you may just like this workout.
   Anderson’s DVDs will keep being played by me, though, because her Tracy Anderson Method technique is innovative and challenging.
Reviews of Tracy Anderson's DVDs