Video Fitness

Four Ways Strong

Leigh Crews

The title itself is intriguing and it refers to four ways to increase functional strength - the hip hinge, active back extension, abdominal stabilization and upper body weight training. The exercises are based on Reeboks Final Cuts guidelines. But in plain English, I found this tape to be a combination of Yoga and Pilates - westernized. While I don't know all the Pilates moves, I did recognize some of these moves from other tapes and Leigh herself referred to Yoga on some moves.

There are no background exercises and no large moves so the set is a small space with wood walls and wood flooring with a barre in the back. To start, Leigh uses a step pointed towards the camera. She is wearing a red and black Reebok ensemble and cool Reebok shoes. She has a slight Southern accent and seems to be a very approachable person and her demeanor is friendly but not gushing. I liked her a lot and she's the type of person I would want to have as a trainer. So I liked the fact that it was just her.

The whole workout is approx 50 minutes. I don't have an exact breakdown but the workout looks like this:

A good solid warmup which included first some arm movements, then squats, then a rock on step/squat combo, then a lunge/balance combo and hamstring stretches.

Next were pushups - she said they were yoga-style with arms close to body. The pushup went into a lunge combo.

Then she went into some more compound movements but with weights this time. Chest flies as she squatted off the step, then shoulder presses as she came back on the step and went into a lunge back then standing again lifting one leg and straightening it as you do a tricep dip, then finally holding arms still while moving the leg in a circle. The same leg movements are then done on the other side with different arm movements.

The next set of exercises start in a lunge position. With your torso twisted, holding a weight, she has you lift your arm over head and then down into a 3-rep lat raise then a row and return to starting position. Like most moves in this tape, it looked deceptively easy when I previewed it. I was begging for mercy when she said "2 more to go". I was sweating.

After that , there was a Superman-type/hip hinge balance exercise. She packs so much into one exercise, you kind of have to see it for yourself. No weights for this one. Stretched out a little after this one.

Then my favorite exercise, a diagonal knee lift and press out while lifting and lowering weights in across the diagonally moving leg.

Then into bicep curls while balanced on one leg.

From there, she put away the step and went into abs. This was mostly Pilates-based. She did knee-lift and lower, the roll (can't remember the exact names) and planks. But not too many planks and not too long. And thank goodness for that because by that point, I was a little rubbery.

The cooldown was nice - not overly long. I liked when she mentioned to only do the deeper stretch only if we were loose enough. I hurt myself last week by stretching too deep after some muscle tightening moves - so it was nice to hear her advice on this one.

The music is MusicFlex and seems to fit in just right. It's definitely not overpowering. Just as the instructor and the whole workout are non-intimidating, but tough. One other note - Petra Kolber and June Kahn worked on this tape with her.

My only complaints were that I sometimes wished that the cues or advice were given earlier and at times, even she was off-balance. But this bothered me more during the preview than during the actual workout because where she was a little jittery, I was falling off the step. I'm looking forward to her new Yoga tape and also to trying out Y2K Yoga.

A++ for a solid intermediate workout that looked easy but ended up being pretty darn tough. This is definitely one to grow with because you can up the weights.

Instructor comments: I liked her. She's not a drill sergeant or a cheerleader. She's just friendly and down-to earth without being chatty and she gets right down to business.

Nat

2/4/02



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