Set: Pretty inside studio setting, visually appealing.
Music: Instrumental music that works well with the workout.
Traditional aerobic type moves intermix with ballet and pilates. Ellen will work through each combination often utilizing multiple muscle groups and graceful movements (the larger muscles groups of the legs will help raise the heart rate and increase fat burning). All fitness levels can participate and no prior ballet experience is needed.
Done barefoot like a traditional ballet or pilates class, you'll blend the toning/aerobic movements together working through lots of lower body exercises. The emphasis for this workout is mostly lower body and abs, however the continual movement and flowing progressions will ensure fat burning. (plus the big arm movements will tone and tighten the muscles of the arms and shoulders)
The workout will also tone the core as many of the moves work from the center. (Ellen always encourages you to keep the abs fully engaged with every movement) Lots of variety: from traditional punches and knee lifts to pilate stretches to flowing ballet arabesques and plies.
If you are looking for a fun, pilates/ballet inspired workout, this is it! You'll look (and feel) leaner, longer and more flexible.
Ellen's cuing is deliberate and concise, making it easy to follow. She also encourages good form which will benefit beginners and ensure participants get the maximum toning benefit from the moves.
This is the type of workout that you have to get good at in order for it to be more challenging than, say, a Beg/Int. level. I say this because when Iíve done this workout sporadically, I tend to think of it as a workout to do on a ďlightĒ day. Now that I am currently doing lots of Ellen Barrett workouts, they have become a lot more challenging. So, I would say that you can either use this dvd as a ďlightĒ cardio and lower body day (really, itís most AWT with the W being lower body) or you can really invest in the whole Ellen-Barrett-approach and make this a good workout even on an Int./Adv. level. Also, when I say that this type of workout takes practice to get good at, I think it means, at least in my experience, being practiced at Ellen Barrett or fusion workouts and not just mind-body workouts in general (although that helps). I think a lot of people like to use this dvd for a low-intensity cardio day, which is nice too. If you are not in great lower-body shape, this workout might give you DOMS in the quads and inner thighs. It is all standing (unlike some of Ellenís other dvds), so if youíre looking for a good Ellen style workout for cardio, this is probably the best bet.
What I liked about this workout: no lunges (yay!!!) Ė also very, very few squats (and none done in the traditional style of squat). So, this workout is kind of unique in that it gives you a lower body workout that has a cardio effect, but that is not chalk full of lunges and squats. What does it have instead? Lots of plies in second position, lots of stepping to the side in second position plie and closing in first position, lots of tondues and degages (pointing to the side, small leg lifts to the back, etc.), and lots of spinal twisting and stretching. (Others have posted better breakdowns than I am capable of giving.) The other thing I like about this dvd (when I compare it to other Ellen Barret dvds) is that it seems less repetitious. Yes, you do a lot of the same signature Ellen moves here too. But, with a lot of Ellenís other dvds, I think she makes it a lot more obvious that youíre doing a long combination of moves to one side and then are going to do the same long combo to the other side. While this workout is technically structured this way too, it doesnít seem as obvious to me when Iím doing it Ė it just flows more. Also, Ellenís Studio series has been compared to her Crunch series in such a way that this dvd is supposedly comparable to Crunch: Fat Burning Pilates. While both dvds have standing lower body, low-impact cardio, I find them to be quite different because they serve different purposes in my rotation. Crunch: Fat Burning Pilates only has about 20min of standing work, and the rest is on the mat and is traditional pilates mat work (and the 20min is just a tad too repetitive for me to want to do twice). Fat Burning Fusion, however, is a full 45min of standing work, so it has almost twice as much standing lower body cardio Ė which makes a difference in terms of how I feel after doing this dvd vs. the other. Of course, I donít find the standing ab work in this dvd (Fat Burning Fusion) to be as tough as regular pilates mat work, but I donít mind that, and I do feel it in my core when I do this dvd Ė especially in my waist.
What I didnít like about this dvd: I like the idea that she wants to give you a little bit of everything and so includes some weightless arm work. But, I thought it was very weak and kind of disjointed. I may be spoiled by Tracy Andersonís weightless arm work, but since Ellen is kind of going for the same thing, I canít help but compare the two. I just donít feel Ellenís (other than maybe one exercise, and that one only slightly). The other thing I sometimes donít like about this workout is that there is one series of torso circles that lasts a good while Ė or too long for me to keep the morning head-rush a bay. When I do the workout later in the day, I donít get as dizzy, though, so itís not really a big deal.
All in all, if you like Ellen, youíll like this workout Ė some VFers have even posted that itís Ellen at her best. If you have never liked Ellen you may or may not like this workout. If you liked the idea behind her workouts and have liked a lot of the moves, but have just not ďclickedĒ with the overall workouts (perhaps because of the Crunch or Magazine vibes), you might really like this one. If you donít like fusion workouts, you might like this for a cardio Ė but probably not if youíre above an intermediate level in cardio. If you like workouts where you can just tune out and go through the motions, I really donít think Ellenís workouts (including this one) would be a great genre to pursue because you would kind of be missing the point.
Ellen is the same here as always. She's very positive and upbeat though also somewhat soothing. I think she cues quite well.