DVD Dust-Off: Week 6 – 100% Bob Harper

“You love me, remember?” Bob grins into the camera, “I’m the Nice One!”

The Nice One from The Biggest Loser bought out a series of workouts in 2010 called Inside Out Method. I have three and gave them a spin for this 100% Bob episode of the Great DVD Dust-Off.

I reckon Bob must get sick of being called the Nice One all the time. Nice is one step away from dull and snoozy. I think Bob wanted us to know with these workouts that he’s actually cool and badass.

They’re very stylised compared to a Jillian DVD, for example. There are funky slow motion shots and occasional split screen bits, kind of like the opening credits of Law and Order. There’s edgy music throughout, even the yoga one. I thought they’d been filmed in a sepia tone at first, but then spied a stray fluro water bottle in the background. It’s just that the whole set is shades of brown – the carpet, the punching bag, the lockers and all their clothes! Très edgy.

As well as sexy styling and Bob hilariously growling, “you said you wanted me as a trainer, well now you’ve got me”, they’re great workouts. Bob explains the moves very clearly, starting with a more simple move then adding on stuff. He counts down the seconds like he does on the show too… threeeee tewwww wuhn! 

Yoga for the Warrior - Amazon link16. Yoga for the Warrior by Bob Harper (2010)

I didn’t like this one when first purchased – the guitar riffy bits don’t really get me in a zen mood. But I enjoyed it more this time around. I particularly like how he kinda picks on Robert, the only bloke. Are you okay back there Robert? Robert, you can do this modification if you need to.

It’s not a Om kind of yoga workout – it moves faster and is more about strength than relaxation. I couldn’t really keep up but enjoyed it anyway. It reminded me of how Bob does yoga with his Biggest Loser contestants. All I have to do is develop a creepy crush and expect him to rescue me from my emotional issues then it would be just like being on the Ranch.

Verdict: MAYBE


Body Rev Cardio Conditioning17. Body Rev Cardio Conditioning by Bob Harper (2010)

It’s called “Cardio Conditioning” but there’s a lot of resistance work here. There are some cardioish jump squats, jumping jacks, mountain climbers etc, but also compound moves with dumbbells. Since you don’t really stop moving you get the heart rate right up. I had to modify the jumps obviously, but overall it was a nice workout and you only need some dumbbells and a small amount of space.

Verdict: KEEP


Pure Burn Super Strength - Amazon link18. Pure Burn Super Strength by Bob Harper (2010)

I really like this one except for the Orgasmic Girl. She’s the one on Bob’s right and she never stops grunting and groaning and gurning throughout the whole bloody show.

It’s a great total body resistance workout using dumbells and simple moves. I liked the isolation ones, where you just hold a dumbbell out until you feel like your arm is going to fall off. We used to do that at kickboxing and it’s awful in the good way. Again I couldn’t really keep up with this workout, but it’s something to aspire too!

Verdict: KEEP

DVD Dust-Off: Week 5

I’m still huffing and puffing my way along in the Great DVD Dust-Off. This week took 8 days. Shhh!

Cathe Boot Camp and Muscle Endurance13. Muscle Endurance by Cathe Friedrich (2002)

This is a good old-fashioned 64 minute full-body resistance workout using a barbell and plates, dumbbells and a medicine ball. I did the 45 minute upper body premix. That sounds like a lot of equipment but you can adapt: I don’t have a medicine ball so used a dumbbell instead, nae bother. Also, if you didn’t have a barbell you could easily substitute with dumbbells.

The disc also contains an excellent 60-minute circuit workout called Boot Camp so it’s great value.

This is another goodun for Body Pump fans as it breaks up the moves into separate segments for chest, back, shoulders, triceps and abs. There’s a nice variety of moves and Cathe seems to be in particularly cheery mood so it feels like a gym class in your living room. More details and reviews here.

Verdict: KEEP

Cathe MMA Boxing14. MMA: Boxing by Cathe Friedrich (2009)

This is a good workout if you miss your kickboxing classes like mad but no longer have the knees to do them. I still get my RAH! KAPOW! fix without the soreness. Running for 49 minutes, it’s got shades of a Body Combat class where a sequence of moves are broken down slowly then put together. I’d call it an Intermediate workout by Cathe standards which suits me just fine!

The boxing combinations are simple but if you really put your all into them you’ll get a good workout. There are cardio intervals that involve some jumping so I just did my own low impact shuffle-around kind of thing. There’s a killer core section that uses a dumbbell and it’s pure torture. More details and reviews here.

There’s also a bonus 20-minute punching bag workout if you happen to have one of those. I wish I did!

Verdict: KEEP

Cathe Cardio Core Circuit15. Cardio Core Circuit by Cathe Friedrich (2009)

This advanced cardio interval circuit workout requires no equipment aside from big lungs and a good set of knees. It was way, way too much for me. It came as part of Cathe’s Shock Cardio System series (which also included MMA: Boxing above) and I love most of the others workouts in that series so don’t feel bad that this one has to go. More detail and reviews here.

Verdict: REHOME

DVD Dust-Off: Week 4, with bonus pointless stats

This is the 900th post on Dietgirl! The blog has been alive for 11 years and 11 months, or 143 months, or 621 weeks if you prefer. So that’s an average of 6.293 posts per month or 1.44 posts per week.

I also have an enormous spreadsheet that documents the weekly weigh-ins since it all began on 15 January 2001 (albeit with sizeable gaps due to travel, illness and/or denial). I could tell you my average weight loss over those 621 weeks but the number is so small you’d all have to go out and buy a microscope…

. . .

The Christmas HAM Plan is now 11 days strong and strangely enlightening! I lost weight in Week 1 while thoroughly enjoying cake-related festivities. I’m finding the HAM “rules” to be strangely freeing. I’m still blogging up a storm every day… swing by and say hello if you fancy?

. . .

Back to the Dust-Off. The Mothership emailed to “bagsy” the Tai-Chi video from last week. That’s one orphan with a new home.

Yogalates for Weight Loss10. Yogalates for Weight Loss with Louise Solomon (2008)

The instructor has a very odd way of saying the word “body” and she says it a lot in this workout. She elongates the bo then the dy fades away. Like BAHWdy. Bahhhhdy? Bohhhhdee. I was so busy trying to figure out just what she was doing to that word I wasn’t doing the moves properly and had to start over.

But once I got used to her voice I remembered that this is a fab workout; a hybrid of pilates and yoga as the name suggests. The first half is called Core Toning and features many classic Pilates moves and the second half is called Cardio Enhancer which is more lower body and ab stuff. It’s gruelling but her daughter does an modified version which I followed a lot. A worthy home substitute for a class.

Verdict: KEEP

Cathe Travel Fit11. Travel Fit by Cathe Friedrich (2009)

I always recommend this one if you don’t have a lot of space or dosh – a resistance band only costs a couple of quid. It’s 50 minutes of resistance band toning with short cardio intervals. Because it’s designed for hotel rooms, there’s no jumping around so it makes a great low impact workout. I bought a stronger resistance band to harden it up a bit.

There’s no repetition under the rules of the Dust-Off so I’m sad I won’t be doing this for awhile. It’s so good for when you can’t be arsed with equipment. It’s a good one to get in the download form for a laptop, phone or tablet for easy travels.

Verdict: KEEP

Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown (Amazon link)12. Yoga Meltdown by Jillian Michaels (2010)

This isn’t a traditional yoga workout – it’s more like yoga intervals. It’s fast paced and I was utterly knackered afterwards. It felt more like a body-weight resistance workout than yoga. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but if I’m in the mood for yoga I like it quiet and meditative. If I want something more intense I’d rather lift weights. Check out the Amazon trailer to see what you reckon.


DVD Dust-Off: Week 3

This is a slacker Week 3 DVD Dust-Off Update but I wanted to get caught up since I’m nearly finished with Week 4! I’m enjoying this project but I hope this is more helpful rather than batshit boring for you guys. I have non Dust-Off posts coming very soon so don’t worry!

Element: Tai Chi for Beginners7. Element: Tai Chi For Beginners with Samuel Barnes (2008)

This was an impulse buy because I loved other DVDs from Element and felt a mad compulsion to collect them all, like I once did Baby-Sitters Club books (even the Super Specials) or obscure Radiohead singles. It’s beautifully made with serene music but the verdict is unchanged from years ago: I find tai chi more a snooze than serenity now! I may revise my opinion when I’m 70 but for now it’s time to pass it on. Also, the bloke reminds me of that bloke in Star Trek whose name escapes me and it was kind of unsettling. Profound, I know!

Verdict: Total REHOME

Cathe Friedrich's Gym Harcore Series: Gym Style Legs DVD8. Hardcore Series: Gym Style Legs by Cathe Friedrich (2005)

Despite the cheery faces on the cover this is a serious lower body resistance workout – over an hour with barbells, dumbbells, resistance band and stability ball work. I thought this would be a definite Rehome as there’s so much squat and lunge work, but I’d forgotten there there’s a good 25 minutes of floor stuff using just a resistance band which was doable with my dodgy knee – great moves for the hips and glutes. There’s an evil calf raise section which I could do no worries. So a surprise keeper! There’s lots of info, reviews and a clip on Collage Video.

Verdict: KEEP

Cathe Friedrich's Low Impact Circuit9. Low Impact Circuit by Cathe Friedrich (2006)

This workout contains three circuit cycles, each with a step aerobics routine, a step interval blast, a compound strength exercise then an upper body move. Cathe is so creative with her workouts – there’s some great variety in the resistance moves, including some natty resistance band work.

While the step work is low impact on this one (Cathe has some seriously crazyass step DVDs out there), the movements did not feel good on my knee so I just the resisty bits. I only have this DVD as it came as part of set, so I’ll find someone who actually likes step work to make full use of it. If you’re after an efficient mix of cardio and resistance work and like a bit of step action, give this one a burl! More info here.

Verdict: REHOME

Back tomorrow with November Challenge wrap-ups and the lowdown on my big December Challenge!


DVD Dust-Off: Week 2

Another week of getting reacquainted with old friends for the DVD Dust-Off

Element: Ballet Conditioning (Amazon affiliate link)4. Element: Ballet Conditioning with Elise Gulan (2007)

  • Description: A lower body workout with ballet-inspired moves.
  • Duration: 49 mins
  • What I did: The full workout
  • Equipment: A chair to assist with balance and act as your barre.
  • Space required: Not too much – you’re standing in place. The biggest move is sticking your leg out behind you (I forget the Frenchy name), so it depends on how long your legs are!
  • Pros:
    • It’s fun pretending to be a ballerina. It’s also bloody exhausting!
    • I like the Element brand of DVDs – the productions are elegant and tranquil and as per last week’s Pilates DVD the instruction comes via voiceover.
    • It’s pitched as advanced, but I found it easy to dial it back to my level
    • This really worked my hips, glutes and outer thighs which are all areas that the osteopath says I need to strengthen – great way to make rehab exercises more interesting
  • Cons: Some of the moves are harder on the knees. But it’s straightforward to modify, e.g. doing a very very demi-plie rather than a grand one. Not that what I did would be remotely recognisable as a plie, hehe. I also skipped the jumping on the spot moves. It’s just a matter of using common sense.
  • Further reading: Watch a video snippet at Amazon.
  • Ideal for:
    • fans of yoga and Pilates – it’s a great core workout and knowing how to find those muscles will help you get more out of it
    • anyone who was ever told they were too fat for ballet 😉
  • Verdict: A definite KEEP

Zumba Fitness DVD Exercise Kit5. Zumba Fitness DVD Exercise Kit (2010)
You might remember I wrote a big review of this in 2010 – lots of detail there. As predicted the time I got bored with the tunes so it had been many months since I’d last touched them. This week I did the 20 Minute Express and the LIVE! one. Enjoyable, but it felt really old. It made me pine for sexy Sue and Samantha‘s brilliant class at Fitbloggin this year, sniff sniff. But this is a fab set of DVDs for someone new to Zumba or someone who can’t get to a class, so I’ll pass them on.

Verdict: REHOME

Cathe Muscle Max (Amazon affiliate link)6. Muscle Max by Cathe Friedrich (2005)

  • Description: A total body resistance training workout
  • Duration: 68 minutes
  • What I did: Upper Body Premix (about 45 minutes?)
  • Equipment: Barbell and plates, resistance band, dumbbells, step bench (for chest work)
  • Pros:
    • I reckon Cathe makes the best resistance workouts – so much variety in the moves and she fries your muscles from all angles.
    • Like BodyPump, you can never really outgrow this one – just up your weights.
    • The premixes are great too – there’s options to do an express version, upper body only or lower body only. Great value.
  • Cons: Quite a lot of equipment required. After favouring Jillian’s fast-paced one-set-of-dumbells workouts for so long it felt annoying to faff around with changing weight plates etc. But as the workout went on I enjoyed the She-Ra feeling of doing a proper grunty weights session.
  • Further reading: Watch a snippet on CatheDownloads.com.
  • Ideal for: BodyPump fans
  • Verdict: I can’t make full use of this one – the lower body stuff (which I used to love; it’s brutal) is too much for my knee, so I’m tempted to pass it on. But…  I have a soft spot for Muscle Max as it’s the first Cathe DVD I bought. It’s on the MAYBE pile!

DVD Dust-Off: Week 1

Arrgh! The first week of the DVD Dust-Off was eight days long. I was away for much of it and forgot to pack any discs. So I did a lot of walking then played catchup today.

Jillian Michaels Kickbox FastFix1. Kickbox FastFix by Jillian Michaels (2012)

  • Description: 3 twenty minute kickboxing-inspired workouts in a circuit style that will be familiar to fans of JM’s DVDs.
  • Duration: 20 mins per workout.
  • What I did: Workout 1, which has an upper body emphasis.
  • Equipment: one set of dumbells (I used 4kg)
  • Pros: Short but highly effective workout, brief intervals so you never have to do the same thing for long, minimal space and equipment required, easily modified for a dodgy knee, some resistance work thrown in. If you’re new to kickboxing watch Jillian’s tutorial first as she does not really pause to explain the moves in the actual workout.
  • Cons: Occasionally squeally background exercisers.
  • Further reading: Detailed breakdown of workouts on this Amazon review.
  • Ideal for: time-strapped BodyCombat fans.
  • Verdict: KEEP

 Stretch Max by Cathe Friedrich2. Stretch Max by Cathe Friedrich (2005)

  • Description: 3 twenty minute athletic and yoga-based stretch routines
  • Duration: 20 mins per workout
  • What I did: Workout 3, resistance band
  • Equipment: nothing for Workout 1, stability ball for Workout 2, resistance band for Workout 3
  • Pros: Short workouts providing a good solid stretch, poses held long enough to do the job, and it’s kinda fun wielding the resistance band.
  • Cons: If you’re hardcore about proper yoga terminology and moves you probably wouldn’t like this one.
  • Further reading: Lots of reviews on Collage Video.
  • Ideal for: popping on after a cardio session for an extended stretch/cool-down.
  • Verdict: KEEP

Element Pilates Weight Loss for Beginners3. Element: Pilates Weight Loss for Beginners by Brook Siler (2008)

  • Description: Pilates workout combining standing and mat work.
  • Duration: 48 mins divided into two chapters consisting of 15 mins standing and 33 minutes floor work.
  • What I did: The whole shebang.
  • Equipment: A yoga mat or friendly floor.
  • Pros: I bought this DVD because the lady has red hair and looks a bit like Julianne Moore. She is very elegant so you can let envy fuel your workout. Her clear, calm instructions are delivered via voiceover. I like the variety of classic moves like the Hundred and roll up. I got a thorough Pilates workout and my abs were talking the next day.
  • Cons: Stupid title. I hate when they stick “Weight Loss” on there to make people buy it. I also dispute the Beginners label. I’ve done lots of classes so I understood the concepts
  • Further reading: Watch a snippet on YouTube.
  • Ideal for: those who’ve done a bit of Pilates before and want a good home alternative.
  • Verdict: KEEP
The overall theme of Week 1: Why did ever stop doing these ones? They’re fab. I’ll be getting stuck into some weight training titles for Week 2.

The Amazing Adventures of Diane Carbonell

Diane Carbonell

Diane Carbonell

Fourteen years ago Diane Carbonell lost 150 pounds and she's kept it off ever since.

That's a sentence that intrigues my pants off, as someone bamboozled by the keeping it off part! Diane's story at Fit To The Finish fascinates me being such a large weight loss sustained over a very long time… and she seems to be so serene about it, all with seven children, no less!

When I learned she had a book coming out I asked if she'd minding sending a review copy, and she kindly agreed. 150 Pounds Gone Forever is more an instructional book than memoir. Normally I'm more interested in the Why rather than the How, loving when an author spills their guts all over the page in juicy detail. But since this topic (mega maintenance!) is personally interesting, and I'm now down with my Whys and have moved on to the new Hows, I appreciated her straightforward and practical approach.

I was teary at times reading Diane's story, as her success made me see all over again where and why I faltered. She really did have that essential "this is not a diet, it's a plan for life" mindshift. She figured out a common sense and mindful way of living that suited her. She was not distracted by trends or what others were doing or thinking, she just quietly, consistently followed her plan. And she kept it simple and sustainable. For example, on Day One of her plan she decided walking was the exercise she could do for the rest of her life, and decided she would move every single day. So she did, and she still does. 

I felt a real calmness after reading the book. Diane reminded me that you don't have to get crazy or complicated, you just need to be consistent.

I asked Diane a few questions about her book…

Continue reading

Review: Zumba Fitness DVD

My latest fitness love affair is Zumba, the hip-wriggling Latin-inspired dance class that seems to be sweeping the world with a swiftness that swine flu would envy.

Alas with my kickboxing schedule I can only make one Zumba class per week, so I'd been stalking these Zumba DVDs for months. I decided not to buy them as my workout DVD collection is out of control… but then I got an email out of the blue from the Zumba PR person asking if I wanted to try them. Maybe they had hidden cameras in my room and caught my longing gaze?

I spent the next SEVEN WEEKS trying to decide whether or not to sell out*. Gareth cackled at the gradual crumbling of my lofty ideals. Finally I caved and said, "DUDE. Surely after 9.5 years of blogging I can get a little something?".

Yes folks, turns out I can be bought for the low price of £39.98 plus postage and packaging – a.k.a. the Zumba Fitness® DVD Kit. It contained:

  • Zumba Fitness® Basics
  • Zumba Fitness® Cardio Party
  • Zumba Fitness® 20-Minute Express
  • Zumba Fitness® Sculpt & Tone
  • Zumba Fitness® Total Body Transformation Guide
  • Two Zumba Fitness® Toning Sticks
  • Zumba Fitness® LIVE! Workout

Zumba Fitness Basic DVD Kit
At first I thought Zumba was a poor man's BodyJam class, but it has grown on me. Most of all because it is very inclusive. There is a genuine feel of "anybody can join this party". In my Saturday class everyone laughs and grins the whole way through. There are people of all shapes and sizes and ages. There is no posing. There is no demand for perfection. In fact there's not even much in the way of instruction – you just kinda bumble along and find your own style and let the music move you.

There is, however, a nerdy part of me that wants to do things correctly. How exactly am I meant to shake my hips? Where are my feet supposed to be? WTF Salsa?

The Zumba Fitness® Basics DVD has quenched that thirst for knowledge. It's an hour long and goes through all the basic Zumba moves, breaking each one down into three stages. You start out basically moving your feet to get the rhythm then they add on the trickier bits. LOVE.

Then you move on to the Zumba Fitness® Cardio Party, an hour long session. If you go to classes you'll recognise all the tunes. The best thing about this DVD is that if you forget how to do a move, there's an option to pause the workout and pop up a little reminder sequence from the Basics DVD. Very handy.

Zumba Fitness® 20-Minute Express is a good cardio workout if you're pressed for time. Zumba Fitness® Sculpt & Tone is great fun – a simple total body strength workout with serious rhythm. I felt like a twit using the Toning Sticks – they're bright green and you shake them like maracas! I just could not get coordinated… doing a bicep curl and shaking my hips at the same time!? But after a few attempts I got the hang of it and now like to shake my butt like I'm in a trashy music video. I can feel my muscles getting a workout when I concentrate and really put my all into it, but I think I could upgrade to some dumbbells in place of the Toning Sticks to get a more intense workout. Then again dumbbells don't make maraca noises!

I didn't really look at the Zumba Fitness® Total Body Transformation Guide beyond a quick flick – it's basically a booklet with a workout plan to help you incorporate all the DVDs. There's a total beginners plan and a more advanced one. There's meal plans and some recipes and has a generally upbeat and not bossy diety tone.

My favourite DVD is probably the Zumba Fitness® LIVE! Workout because it's a live class. The crowd has svelte ladies in little outfits, old ladies, little kid and a few token blokes who seem to be going the wrong way – it captures the all-inclusive, hyper party, bordering on cult-like atmosphere of a real Zumba class. It has the best energy of all the DVDs so I seem to get the most intense workout out of this one.

Requirements: A good pair of trainers. A fluid pair of hips. And not a huge amount of space – you mostly travel side to side movement rather than forward/back so I'm doing it in a patch of living room about three metres wide (let me measure and get back to you!). 

Woman Criticisms:

  • I can see me geting a little bored with the music as it's the same tunes from the class and some of the DVDs have the same tunes as each other. But will live with that for the novelty of being able to do Zumba in my own home.
  • The female instructors are lovely and their instructions are pretty clear. However I cannot stop looking at their abs. Honestly, there is one woman with this gorgeous curly hair and the most amazing stomach and I spend half the workout shouting at the telly "How can you exist? How do you DO that with your hips?". I should hate her but I just want to audition to be her adoring and slightly pathetic sidekick. She's very distracting.

Recommended for:

  • beginners looking for FUN cardio – but you need to be patient while you learn the steps. You have to let go of perfection and just enjoy the music!
  • Zumba veterans – if you want a backup for when you can't get to class and/or you want an encyclopedic knowledge of the steps.
  • anyone who likes to shake their booty!

Overall verdict: A great set of DVDs that I will be using for years to come.

Zumba Fitness® DVDs are available from ZumbaFitness.co.uk. I received a Zumba Fitness® DVD Kit and was under no obligation to review but decided to do so of my own free will. I received no other compensation. Blah blah blah legal schmegal. This is why I don't sell out too often 🙂

* N.B. This is just my own view – I'm not against giveaways and bloggers getting free stuff! I just personally find the whole process really uncomfortable!

ETA: Here's a USA link for the Zumba DVDs.

Review – Cathe Workout Downloads

CatheDo you like working out at home in your pyjamas? Good news – home fitness queen Cathe Friedrich has just launched Cathe Downloads.

Her entire 150+ workout catalogue is now available in digital format, so you can watch your downloads on any computer or video-enabled mobile device, like an iPod.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post or a PR conspiracy. I wanted to share this as I know many of you are fellow home workouterers. Cathe doesn't even know I'm alive! Sniff sniff.

I wasn't terribly excited by the Download idea at first – what's wrong with old-fashioned DVDs? But it's proved to be very, very handy:

  • No more shipping or customs fees – more affordable than DVDs, especially for non-US residents.
  • Extra lazy option – When I work out at home I usually play the DVDs on my computer, and cranking up a DVD takes so many seconds, man. Downloads are a mere double click into action!
  • Good for travel – a couple of workouts stored on my laptop squashes those feeble dang I left my DVDs at home! excuses.
  • Tailored to your taste – all Cathe's multi-disc series are broken down into the individual workouts – you don't have to purchase the whole set. I can skip stuff I don't dig (like high-impact Step) and just buy the bits I enjoy.

For example:

  • I got a fab 15-minute Stretch routine for $3.97 that is a wee component of her massive Shock Training System series ($299 for 40 DVDs). I like Cathe stretches when I'm not in the mood for proper, la-di-da yoga. Also good for a quick stretch when I get home from kickboxing.
  • I got the Kickbox part of her 4-Day Split series, $15.97 – I've wanted this one for ages but wasn't willing to fork out $79.99 plus shipping/customs fees for the entire 4-disc series.

image from www.dietgirl.org Shopping
You can browse all the workout categories via the Products menu. There's sample video clips too. You can purchase with PayPal or a debit/credit card. To download the workouts you need a good internet connection.

To view the downloaded files you need a computer or a video-capable mobile device, like a phone or MP4 player. Apparently you can watch them on television too if you have an iPod/Phone and an AV cable. There's plenty of support and tutorials on the website.

I'm not a technical person but the video and audio quality was great on my MacBook and Gareth's aging PC laptop. The workouts have chapter points like the DVDs, so you can skip past any too hard bits.

I haven't tried them on my iPhone yet – I don't know when or why I'd need that. Perhaps if I could listen to a weights workout while I lifted at the gym? Or watch a workout on the train and wiggle my feet around a bit?

I like my Cathe downloads – they're more affordable, convenient and ideal for trying out something a different, since you don't have to buy a bigass DVD series.

If you'd like some ideas, here are my favourite Cathe workouts:

And some ideal for beginners:

UPDATE June 2010: I've now become a Cathe Downloads affiliate, so if you purchase any Cathe workouts using this link, I'll receive a small commission. Any sales will go towards hosting fees for this blog so if you fancy supporting Dietgirl.org I will love you for life. Thanks for your consideration! 🙂

Review – Jillian Michaels: No More Trouble Zones

Jillian Michaels: No More Trouble Zones I don't really like the use of the phrase "trouble zones". A dimpled arse or a wobbly arm is not on par with Basra or the Gaza Strip.

But you can't blame Jillian Michaels – these products need magical all-promising titles to suck in the crowds. If she gave her DVD a more honest and accurate label, such as I Am Going To Kill You In Forty Minutes Flat, she would never make a living.

No More Trouble Zones, henceforth known as NMTZ like a failed boy band, is a full body resistance workout in a circuit format. There are seven six-minute circuits, each consisting of two sets of five 30-second exercises.

It's less complicated than that sounds. All you need to know is – no matter what torturous exercise Jillian throws at you, you only have to endure it for 30 seconds at a time! Just when you are swearing at the telly and spluttering up your lungs, POW! She moves on to something else. This is the beauty of circuit training – it is brief in its brutality. Unlike say a Body Pump class, where you must perform bicep curls for the duration of an unfortunate Bryan Adams techno remix.

The best part of NMTZ is its simplicity:

  • Easy to follow structure
  • Straightforward moves like squats, lunges and old school floor exercises
  • Minimal space – since it's weight training, not cardio, you don't move around too much. If you can step back and forward into lunges you've got enough room.
  • Minimal equipment – just some light dumbbells, a mat if your floor is hard, and your own body weight.

It's also efficient. Jillian bangs on about maximum calorie burn in minimal time, so she does compound moves like squat with shoulder press and lunges with bicep curls. Your whole body gets involved so your heart rate goes through the roof.

I was skeptical – she uses only three pound dumbbells in NMTZ. How was that going to achieve anything? But the relentless pace and big moves ensure a tough workout. I used 3, 5, and 8 pound dumbbells depending on the muscle group and was pleasantly crippled the next day.

Verdict: NMTZ is a tough and straightforward workout, perfect for those days when you can't be bothered fussing around with lots of dumbbells and barbells.

Jillian explains the moves well but it is worth watching the DVD on the couch first so you know what's coming, as they really fly through the circuits.

NTMZ is aimed at the more experienced exerciser but you can easily modify the moves. For example, I could not for the life of me safely perform a chest fly with a double leg raise, so just raised one leg at a time. Another modification is to just do each circuit once then skipping forward to the next, instead of repeating them. You'll still get a  good sweat going and you can gradually build up to the whole thing. This is also an option if you're pressed for time or a nice compromise for Cannae Be Arsed days.

My heart rate definitely climbed higher than with non-circuit weight training. That said, I've been missing lifting heavier weights like in Cathe Friedrich's DVDs so I'm planning to alternate the two for the next wee while.

Aside to the lads out there: I managed to persuade poor Dr G to give it a go. He can confirm this is not a wussy girl workout! Direct quote: "Hard, but good. I loiked it."

Here's a detailed breakdown of each circuit.

Note: This is just notes I scrawled between circuits so the exercise names may not be entirely accurate.

Warm up
March in place, jump rope, arm circles, skaters, jack jumps.

Circuit 1 – Shoulders and Legs
– squat and shoulder press
– chair squat with anterior raise
– back lunge with shoulder raise – left leg
– back lunge with shoulder raise – left leg
– press out

Circuit 2 – Chest and Core
– chest press with crunch
– chest fly with double leg raise
– bicycle crunch
– squirms
– push ups

Circuit 3 – Biceps and Bum
– deadlift with hammer curl
– static squat with concentration curl
– alternate lunge with wide grip bicep curl
– side lunge with bicep curl

Circuit 4 – Thighs and Triceps
– chair squat with kickback
– sumo squat with French press
– surrenders
– crescent (?)
– lunge & press

Circuit 5 – Core
– double crunches
– twisting plank
– plank with toe tap – left
– plank with toe tap – right
– windshield wipers

Circuit 6 – Upper Body and Core
– evil plank rows with dumbbell
– supermans
– scissors
– hip raise thingy left
– hip raise thingy right

Circuit 7 – Lower Body and Core
– side plank
– side raise
– inner thigh lift
– repeat above on other side
– donkey kicks – left and right

Cool Down
The usual cool down sort of thing.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored review; I just liked the DVD and want to convert you to my working-out-at-home-in-your-jammies religion. Cheers to Diana from Soap & Chocolate for first writing about Jillian's new DVDs – I was off to the shops in a flash.