Thursday, September 2, 2010

DVD Review: Total Body Makeover - Sculpt-ilates Express

I have been partnering with CSN Stores in recent months, offering product reviews of some of the many items that are available on their website.  In addition to the fitness equipment that I prefer, CSN also sells many products for the home, such as dutch ovens, bookshelves, small appliances and more!

CSN graciously sent me a copy of Total Body Makeover by The Firm on DVD, which includes four complete workouts.  Recently I reviewed the first workout, Total Body Time Crunch Express. Today's review will focus on Sculpt-ilates Express, the second routine on the DVD.

Like Total Body Time Crunch Express, Sculpt-ilates Express is derived from a previous Firm workout.  The original Sculpt-ilates DVD is 50 minutes. The express version of the workout is only available on Total Body Makeover, and it is 31 minutes.  In both DVD cases the Firm provides the sculpting band required for the workout. If you happen to buy the DVD as a used product and the sculpting band has been misplaced, a standard strength training stretchy band will work just fine.

Sculpt-ilates Express is led by Master Instructor Robyn Johnson with cast members Kelsie Daniels and Alison Davis-McLain.  To my knowledge, this is the only Firm video that has featured Robyn as lead instructor.  However, given the way she cues the workout, it feels like she's been involved with or a fan of the program for a long time.  Die-hard Firm fans will recognize terms like "lateral flexion" and "peak hold", which are used in Firm videos going back many years.

Sculpt-ilates Express is primarily a strength and flexibility training workout.  During the short introduction, Robyn refers to it as "Pilates Sculpt", which may have been the program's working title at some point.  This is a good description of the routine, as it has many elements of Pilates within it. While I consider myself a fitness video "vidiot", my forte does not come in the yoga/pilates workouts that I do.  This program was very reasonable for me.  Robyn offers moves that are challenging, but not beyond my intermediate abilities. 

She begins with a very relaxing warm-up, getting your entire body limber and stretched out.  This leads into the main workout, which includes balance training, more flexibility moves and of course moderate strength training.  All of the major body parts are covered-- arms, legs and core. While I didn't break a huge sweat during the workout, it did get my blood flowing.  There is absolutely no high-impact activity, and the ladies in the video don't even wear shoes.  And if you find some of the moves to be difficult (as I did in some of the floorwork moments), cast member Kelsie offers beginner options for the moves.

This workout would be great to do while out of town, after a long stressful day of work.  Only a small amount of floor space is required, and the stretchy band fits right into the DVD case itself.  Assuming your room is carpeted, no other equipment is required.  If you're doing the workout on a hard floor, you'll need a mat for padding during the floorwork.

While I don't find Robyn's demeanor to be my favorite of all the Firm instructors, she does a fine job leading the class.  She has a pleasant, calm personality, and it's evident that she's comfortable in what she's doing. 

My only quibble I have with the program is in some of the camera work.  Every once in a while Robyn introduces a new move, and the camera is focused only on Kelsie.  In moments like this, we should be able to see the main instructor and the beginner-option cast member at the same time.  If I can't see Robyn during a new move, I have to wait until the camera shifts to adopt her version of it.  

Overall I found this workout to be pleasant, challenging (at my personal level) and invigorating. The following day I was just a bit sore in my core, but it was a "good kinda hurt".  I could tell that I'd challenged my body the day before without overdoing it.  The 31 minute time period is great for those days when you don't have the 50 minutes or the strength required for the original version.  It's a great addition to Total Body Makeover and rounds out the entire DVD very well.

Coming Soon:  My reviews of two other workouts on this DVD, plus a unique kettlebell workout!

These materials were provided to me by CSN Stores. No obligation other than an honest review was required.

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