Video Fitness

Reach

Kari Anderson

Set: Reach is filmed in a large, open room with gray floors and big yellow windows. The participants are all wearing shades of green and brown and have orange mats.

Music: The warm-up starts with music from Karen Voight’s Circuit Training workout. The rest is all familiar, upbeat instrumental stuff.

Time: The warmup is 7 minutes, standing work is 20 minutes, floor work is 22 minutes, and stretch is 10 minutes.

About me: I consider myself relatively advanced, though I don’t always like knocking myself out. I liked Kari’s original Angles, Lines, and Curves but somehow the second one just didn’t appeal to me. I’m the type of person who has a hard time figuring out how to incorporate something like Reach into my weekly schedule. I concentrate on strength and cardio. I’ve used Reach as a bonus afternoon workout, which is even kind of a stretch for me because it’s long. You could easily do just one chapter, but I’ve enjoyed it so much I don’t feel like just doing part of it.

Workout: The warmup consists of gentle movements that take you through a range of motion to gradually warm you up. It starts with shoulder rolls, overhead reaches, and gradually incorporates squats and leg lifts. Kari does a few light stretches, mostly for the back. She then shows you a transition move used throughout the standing work, where you have your feet wide apart and alternate lifting each foot and standing (sort of a side touch keeping your feet out to the sides).

The moves are kind of hard to describe. The standing work is mostly ballet-inspired, with some yoga. The floorwork is more yoga, with a little Pilates, but if you’re looking for pure versions of any of these, you’re not going to find them here.

The DVD is chaptered into Standing Work, Floor Work, and Stretch. It’s a great production; I didn’t have any audio or visual issues with the DVD.

Standing work includes the following (Kari uses the ballet terms I've included):
Plies – First you plie up, lift one leg and tap that foot on the floor, then you move to lifting the foot entirely up off the floor.
Developpe – Start in first position (feet in a V with heels touching). Tap your toe in front of you, bend your knee and lift it up with the foot pointing straight down. Extend the leg straight in front of you. There are a few variations of this and eventually you extend the leg behind you. You balance on the other leg, bending and straightening to work balance and strength.
More plies – lift one leg up and rotate internally so the knee comes towards the other leg, then rotate outward to move back away from the leg.
Warrior and lunge positions –Kari moves up and down and move your arms while in a lunge to work balance and strength through dynamic movements.

Floor work includes the following:
Start with squats, then go to down dog and plank position.
Side plank series—move from one side to the other working your obliques.
Push-ups and side leg lifts (done lying on your side). V-sit (teaser) or boat pose. Some ab work including a slow roll down and up with legs straight out in front of you. Dead bug, and a sort of crunch where you start lying flat on the floor, then lift up turning towards one side and bring that knee towards your upper body. Bridge work with variations.
Back extensions- start lying face down with legs bent at 90°angle so feet point straight up. Lift upper and lower body, then repeat with arms and legs both straight.

Stretch: Includes bow pose, cat/cow, and other back stretches. Kari also does some great stretches for the hips, thighs, quads, and hamstrings.

I paid really close attention to form throughout the workout and could feel it in my thighs and abs the next day (I LOVE side planks!). Kari emphasizes grace and range of motion, but she also encourages you to modify if necessary. One exerciser shows some modifications.

I wouldn’t recommend this to someone who has never worked out because I think it’d be hard to get the form right. It might appeal to Lotte Berk/Callanetics/Bar Method fans because it seems to work the body in similar ways. I think ALC relaxes me, and ALC 2 didn’t work me or relax me, so I was disappointed. Reach definitely seems like work, but it’s done so gracefully that it’s not the same feeling as lifting weights or even doing a LB or TBM workout.

Reach is definitely a workout you should check out if you’re looking for something different. Kari’s style of teaching and her blend of yoga, ballet, and Pilates were exactly what I was looking for.

Instructor comments: Kari is her usual self in this workout—encouraging, cheerful, and graceful. She demonstrates perfect form and gives very good explanations, both of which are very important in this type of workout.

Pratima

8/30/2005

I am at an intermediate level and my balance is much better than my flexibility or strength. I found the floor section of this video more challenging than the standing portion. The standing portion is similar to Yoga Booty Ballet toning or Balletone in that you mostly work on balance and lower body toning and strength. The floor work uses your body weight and challenges your upper and lower body and your abdominals. I felt I was working pretty hard during this part. The stretch at the end is wonderful.

This is a very enjoyable fusion workout; different enough from ALC and ALC2 that you might want to get this one too if you really love those.

Instructor comments: Kari is one of my favorite instructors. She is incredibly graceful and has a warm and friendly manner. She really has a talent for teaching.

KathyS

September 6, 2005

This is an hour-long strength workout. It has 30 minutes of standing work, 20 minutes of floor work, and a 10 minute stretch at the end. The DVD menu lets you choose the standing work, the floor work, or the stretch section, so you can go straight to the floor work easily.

The standing work is ballet- and yoga-inspired versions of classic strength moves like squats and leg lifts. This work targets all parts of the lower body – butt, quads, outer thighs, and some hamstrings. Kari combines several exercises into a little set that flows together nicely, and you then repeat that set a few times. For instance, you’ll do a plie squat then push up on one leg, lifting the other leg out to the side, bring that lifted knee in towards the standing leg with a little twist and squat, and then return the leg out to the side and down. The sequences work balance as well as strength. The floor work has planks, so pilates-inspired ab work, some outer thigh work lying on the side, and some lower back work lying on the stomach.

This is a really enjoyable and nicely challenging workout for the lower body and abs, and for balance and flexibility. It’s similar to Kari’s ALC 1 and 2, but it flows more as a single workout rather than the sections that the ALCs are broken up into. It still has the flavor of having short combinations of several exercises that you repeat for a bit, though. It feels like a more thorough lower body workout to me than the ALCs, and I think people who *wanted* to like the ALCs but weren’t sure what to do with them might like Reach better.

I generally do heavier weight workouts with Cathe or P90X, but this is a really nice change of pace. It challenges me in a different way, makes me feel strong and streched, and doesn’t require me to get out any equipment other than a mat. (They don’t even wear shoes in the workout!) It is tough enough that I feel like it counts as a “real” workout for the day – some fusion workouts leave me feeling like I should do some cardio or weights in addition. It would also be great for people who like to do recovery weeks (a la P90X) – it would be a good substitute for Core Synergistics (though there’s minimal upper body work – just a set of pushups during the plank sequence).

There are 6 or so background exercisers. The background exercisers are wearing brown capri pants and lighter tan tops, and Kari is in brown pants and a brown tank top. They use deep orange mats and the set is backlit with yellow-orange light. The set and outfits give a calming, earth-tone feel, though the set is still well-lit and bright enough. I liked seeing the browns as opposed to the usual black bottoms and colored tops. The music is instrumental and good; Kari does a nice job in all her videos of using music that complements the movements. Some of the songs are from Cathe’s CTX series to give you an idea of what the music is like.

Instructor comments: Kari is her usual wonderful self. She gives clear instructions and is very encouraging. She’s also really graceful and inspiring to watch.

KathyW

September 17, 2005

Level: Intermediate/Advanced
There are beginner modifications offered, but not all the time and often well into the move. I would not have been able to do this tough of a workout for a while after I started working out.

Workout Time: 58 min (8 min Warm-up, 20 Min standing toning, 22 min floorwork, 8 min stretch)

Set: This was almost a deal-breaker for me. I am not the biggest fan of oranges, yellows, browns. It was a drab change of pace from the bright colors of YBB Live. The tanks they are wearing remind of the army brown t-shirts. (Future military wife and not terribly fond of seeing that color)

Cast: All in shape, I would guess most or all are former dancers.

Music: Upbeat with a definite beat to it. Didn't love it or hate it. The routine fits nicely with the music.

The workout is mainly ballet moves, but there are also pilates-inpired moves and a few yoga poses and some tradition moves. She teaches it slowly, then speeds it up, then flows it into the next move. I didn't have any trouble with the choreography.

Overall impressions: Collage lists this as intermediate/advanced. I think that is about right, though I really haven't tried any advanced workouts. I have been working out for about a year now and am in pretty good shape. I have no ballet training and am not at all graceful. It did make me feel like I was doing ballet, very long and sleek, I don't know....just made me feel strong and feminine. I really liked it. It was tough, my quads were begging for a break, but a good tough. Definitely want to add this to my "rotations". If you like the YBB Live ballet sections, you would most likely like this dvd.

Instructor comments: This was my first experience with Kari and I like her. She's very precise and business-like in her cuing. She's definitely no nonsense and gives really good form pointers.

Krista (benemma)

22 Sept 05

I’m reviewing this workout after previewing it once and doing it twice.
The video is subtitled “Upbeat Toning & Flexibility for a Dancer’s Body.”

General workout breakdown: See Pratima, Kathy, and Krista’s reviews.

Level: I’d recommend this to exercisers at the beginner / intermediate through intermediate / advanced stages. Several of the moves would be overwhelming to beginners, especially since few modifications are suggested. That said, truly advanced exercises may find this video a “light day” workout, but most intermediates to intermediates+ will find this appropriately challenging.

Class: six brunette women join Kari, who instructs live. The women appear to have come from Kari’s live classes rather than being professional dancers or fitness models.

Music: pleasant instrumental music, much of it with a beat. It’s lively when you’re moving quickly, quieter when you’re winding down. I’ve heard some of it before on Karen Voight, Jari Love, Shape, and Trainer’s Edge productions.

Set: somewhat dim vast interior space with grid pattern along back wall that’s light with yellowish lights.

Production: Good quality picture (not super crisp, but it’s very clear) and sound (not echo-y like Push). Kari’s voice is loud and clear over the music, but not too loud.

Equipment: Mat (or equivalent). All exercisers are barefoot.

Space Requirements: You’ll need to be able to move your limbs around in all directions while standing, on all fours, and lying down.

DVD Notes: The menu (on the original DVD, at least, which has the striped borders and Kari in a white outfit) allows you to choose the separately chaptered introduction, the full routine, the standing work, the floor work, or the cool-down.

Comments: Kari has a special gift for creating innovative workouts that are challenging yet refreshing.
If any beginner/intermediate through intermediate/advanced thinks unweighted lower body work is too “easy” or incapable of improving strength, I challenge them to try this video. I felt the burn for sure after both times I did it, if for no other reason than the routine contains a number of exercises I don’t normally do.
I’m a little disappointed that the “cool-down” had core work almost up to the end. I find it hard to wind down while doing planks…
As with most fusion workouts, this is challenging to work into rotations. It could certainly provide good contrast with more standard weights videos, however.

Reach vs. Angles, Lines & Curves 2: I did both just the other week and was surprised by how different these two really are, despite both being dance- and yoga-inspired fusion workouts of almost identical lengths. For starters, Reach has more lower body strength work; less abs, back, and upper body work; and fewer exercises devoted exclusively to flexibility. Angles, Lines & Curves drops many of the conventional ballet exercises after the warm-up in favor of flowing dance-inspired moves, but Reach keeps up the ballet theme, alternating with more traditional “athletic” exercises. Additionally, the yoga pedigree is more subtle in Reach; there’s even less that’s overtly inspired by Pilates or related disciplines. The moves are better coordinated with the music in ALCII, but Kari’s sense of rhythm and awareness of the music in Reach is still flawless.

Instructor comments: As always, Kari is the epitome of graceful movement. She makes it look so easy…and yet so doable. I love her calm demeanor and gently encouraging presence. She’s so comfortable in front of the camera and teaching, with her casual yet still professional persona. She doesn’t always spend a lot of time going over form, so beginners may not get sufficient form instruction and pointers. That said, the good news is that she’s not constantly talking, and her mirror cueing is good, even great.

KathAL79

February 13, 2007



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