Michelle Dozois and Lisa Wheeler
I am, what I like to call, a knowledgeable beginner. I’ve been around on the Videofitness boards for over a year and had a little experience with videos before that. I like mixing up my exercise, but my preferences lean toward strength training and yoga over cardio. I’m somewhat of a klutz and a slow learner when it comes to complex choreography.
I am reviewing this DVD after using it four times (except for the cardio bonus which I’ve only done once).
DVD Notes: This DVD includes four separate toning segments of about 15 minutes each (hips/buns, abs, upper body, and legs) and a 20-minute bonus cardio workout led by Michelle. Lisa and Michelle alternate between the four toning segments (Lisa does abs and legs; Michelle does upper body and hips/buns). You have a lot of choices with this DVD. 1) You can pick and choose which segments you want to do and in which order you’d prefer to do them; or 2) you can play the workout as is (as ordered above); or 3) you can have them ‘shuffled’ for you. Also, you can shuffle the exercises within each toning segment. Because of this shuffling feature, there is an ever-so-brief pause between each exercise (about 2 seconds). Each segment also has a short introduction screen, and sometimes there are brief fitness/health tips between segments. During the workouts, form tips will flash on the screen (reminded me of the ...for Dummies workouts, only not quite as obtrusive). And I do mean ‘flash’ because I’m a slow reader and sometimes found it difficult to read the message before it flashed off. While somewhat helpful, I suppose, it was annoying to hear the flash message sound when, for example, I’m in plank pose and didn’t feel comfortable looking at my TV screen. Some of those messages, therefore, were only good for previewing.
The workouts, in general: Mostly ballet mixed with traditional in the lower body segments, and Pilates mixed with traditional in the abs segment. The upper body were mostly traditional weight moves, but not always very commonly seen exercises. On my first try with these workouts, I really didn’t feel much of anything (no DOMS) except, perhaps, with the abs segment. However, after doing this entire workout four times and increasing my poundage where weights are called for, they seem to get more effective with each workout, and here’s why (IMHO): many of the exercises require coordination and balancing (I’m talking lower body here) and, particularly in Lisa’s leg segment, she did several combination moves that were tricky and wouldn’t really be effective unless you know what you’re doing or you are extraordinarily coordinated. For example, she’d do a forward lunge, followed by drawing up your knee on the working leg, turning it out, and then moving that leg back into a curtsy squat (I hope I explained that right!). But once I got the hang of it, I found these moves to be fairly effective on my not-so-in-shape body.
Instruction: Michelle does a better job of cuing when you can’t look at the screen, but for the most part, I have few complaints. However, I don’t think this would be good for absolute beginners. The instruction isn’t always very detailed, and it’s not always easy (or possible) to watch the flashed message form pointers. Also, as I said, some of those combo moves of Lisa’s were pretty tricky. Beginners might get frustrated easily by them.
Fitness Level: advanced beginner to low intermediate who prefers nontraditional toning over weight-training. There are three background exercisers and one of them shows modifications where called for.
Fun Factor: OK, if you like ballet inspired lower body workouts and Pilates-based abs.
Music: Forgettable, although I know I’ve heard some of those tunes before, in other workout videos.
Set: Looks like they’re in the walkout basement of a large, nice house.
Bonus Cardio: This is a 20-minute interval workout led by Michelle. She has two background exercisers and one of them does low impact modifiers. I stuck with the low impact because of my bad knee (meniscus tear). I think if you do the high impact workout, you should get your heart rate up. Michelle keeps you going at a quick pace. When I previewed this workout, I thought it looked a little too frenetic for my taste, but when I did it, it wasn’t difficult to keep up and I actually didn’t feel as winded as I thought I would (but as I said, I did the low impact). It was an average 20-minute workout with basic, athletic-type choreography that would be a good add-on or for a day when you are short on time but need your cardio!!
Overall, I’d give this DVD a B (above average, but room for improvement)
I’m reviewing this workout after doing the cardio portion several times and the toning portions once each.
General workout breakdown: see Sollamyn’s great review. I want to add that there’s a very short warm-up and cool down for each segment.
Level: I’d recommend this to an experienced beginner through low/mid-intermediate. Michelle and Lisa include moves that require great form and balance in order to execute properly with not a ton of form instruction and tips. I consider myself a solid to high intermediate in weights (having lifted on and off for about a decade but only about a year and a half ago introducing heavier weights into my at home routines), almost a solid intermediate in Pilates, and at least a high intermediate in cardio. I found these workouts on the easy side, even with heavier weights during the toning portions, although I did feel a nice slight burn in my inner thighs after doing both lower body segments back to back.
Class: three young women join Michelle or Lisa for the toning portions, while two join Michelle for the cardio. One background exerciser shows modifications.
Music: typical upbeat instrumental exercise video stuff.
Set: The set is a brightly lit large room, made up in the corner to look like part of a living room with a patio overlooking the ocean (which is obviously just a painting in the intro segment).
Production: The picture and sound are good, and the camera angles are more helpful than not. Form tips flash across the screen before some exercises; I’m a fast reader, and I had to read very quickly to catch everything.
Equipment: For the Abs part you need a mat (or equivalent). For the Butt & Hips you need sneakers, a mat (or equivalent), and a pair of dumbbells. For the Upper Body segment you need a chair and several pairs of dumbbells. For the Thighs / Legs and cardio workouts you’ll sneakers.
Space Requirements: enough room to lie down with your arms and legs extended and take a couple of steps in each direction.
DVD Notes: The menu lets you choose “Overview,” “Play Program,” “Select Multiple Zones,” “Choose Exercise Order for One Zone,” and “Bonus Features.” If you choose to play all, you can skip through the intro and blurbs between segments with your DVD remote. You can also choose to have the DVD player shuffle the exercises. The bonus features include “Meet the Instructors” (written bios of Lisa and Michelle), the “Fat Burning Interval Workout” segment, “About Shape,” and credits. The long introduction and warnings that can’t be skipped are mildly annoying.
Conclusion: This would be a nice video for someone who likes “toning” rather than “weights” workouts. Personally I’ve moved away from “toning” videos, preferring instead videos that promise me increased strength, but that’s my priority. I was hoping that maybe this would replace Tamilee Webb’s I Want that Body, but Shape Toning’s not quite as intense, even if it does have some less traditional moves and some work for the shoulders, back, and chest. The cardio workout is a nice 18-minute add on, but I’m not sure it was worth purchasing the whole video just for that.
Michelle and Lisa have similar personalities: encouraging and upbeat without being annoyingly perky. I happen to enjoy working out with both a lot, as I find their on screen personae pleasant. Both instructors mirror cue. Their cueing is adequate, but somehow the moves are still a little tricky to pick up, especially during the cardio portion. They do seem to work in mentions of “toning,” “burning fat,” or a “bikini body” into each segment.
March 17, 2006
I’m reviewing this workout after doing each segment at least once.
General workout breakdown: This DVD contains 3 30-min. workouts: one cardio, one strength, and one that’s a little bit of both.
*Cardio Interval is an all-cardio workout with progressively building intervals. Michelle builds the simple, athletic moves (lunges, squats, knee pulls / repeater knees, tire runs, burpees, ski hops; a few slightly dancey ones like hip shakes or chasses also appear) into combos which are done pretty much evenly on both sides, then condensed and repeated again on each side, before going on to the next one. The moves increase in intensity throughout the combo, hence the “hill” description of the interval. In between combos a few moments of a filler move (e.g. hamstring curls) allow you to catch your breath. Higher impact moves (e.g. jumping jacks, jogging) are included, usually to boost intensity, but lower impact modifications are often shown. The workout concludes with a short cool-down (4 min.).
*Sculpt Plus is an all-strength workout that uses both a resistance band and dumbbells. After a short cardio- and dynamic stretch-based warm-up (4 min.), Lisa introduces a number of multi-limbed / compound moves (i.e. moves that work both the lower and upper body simultaneously), like a squat with an overhead triceps press or a plie squat with biceps curls; a number of the moves also have a more functional flair (i.e. multi-planar and/or mimicking everyday moves), like the exercise that involves reaching down as if to pick something up from the floor and then reaching across the body to put it away above one’s head. The reps tend towards high (maybe 10-12 or so reps), so this is more of an endurance workout; that said, a lot of focus is spent on keeping things moving to make sure the heartrate gets up and stays up, so it’s even more of a cardio sculpt workout than a strength-building one. The final 5 min. are done on the floor; here the moves tend to be less focused on working the entire body at once. Oh, and there are no straight up crunches. T he workout ends with a short total body stretch (4 min.)
*Potpourri is a mix of cardio, strength, and cardio & strength. Lisa leads a short kickboxing segment (10 min., including about 2 min. that serve as more of a warm-up) that includes bob and weave, jab, cross, upper cut, jumping rope, knee smash, boxer’s shuffle, roundhouse and front kicks (beginning with chambers), jumping jack, and finally building up into a very short punching and kicking combo. Michelle leads a short toning segment (10 min.) that again focuses on movements involving multiple muscles, with a decent emphasis on the backside of the body. Tracy then leads a “skills and drills” segment where you hold a dumbbell while doing cardio and strength moves (e.g. shuffling while holding the dumbbell at chest, then stopping to do a chest press to the side), again focusing on more functional exercises that move around the body and challenge the balance, before moving to floor for moves like push-ups and dips (10 min., with a very short stretch, like 30 seconds, at the end). Again, no crunches appear; the core is worked during many of the standing moves, and the specifically abs moves are ones like a v-sit / boat / teaser prep with a rowing motion.
Level: I’d recommend this to experienced exercisers working out at the intermediate level. Modifications and choosing only one segment at a time could make this accessible to experienced beg./int., and savy int./adv. could probably make this work for them, too, especially if you do two segments back to back or even the whole shebang at once. I personally found the cardio more challenging than the strength portions, though.
Class: Michelle, Lisa, and Tracy (so when one is leading, the other two are the background exercisers). One of them shows some modifications for reduced impact / less complicated / less challenging moves. All three wear microphones throughout and contribute tips, encouragement, comments (like “Whew! I feel this one in my glutes”), reminders about how this will get you that bikini body, etc.
Music: upbeat instrumental with a beat that’s your typical exercise video fare.
Set: bright interior set that kind of looks like a brick warehouse, with all sorts of exercise equipment (treadmill, step, medicine ball, punching bag, resistance band, etc.) and a few potted plants arranged around the perimeter.
Production: clear picture and sound, with the instructors’ voices just a bit louder than the music. The camera angles are mostly helpful except for the ones that were shot through the cardio machines and from a couple of other funky angles (unfortunately these sometimes appear at a change in move – you know, right when you actually need to see the instructor and/or modifier).
Equipment: resistance band (one comes with new DVDs), 1 (or maybe 2) pair of light to medium (the back cover suggests 3 or 5 lb., but I found 5 and 8 more appropriate) dumbbells, and a mat (depending upon your workout surface). I’m not too fond of workouts that use only one set of dumbbells, but it’s tricky to pick up and drop weights during this video because there’s not a lot of down time.
Space Requirements: If you can take a step and kick all around you (front, side, and back) or can take a couple of steps to each side, you have enough space to do this program.
DVD Notes: The Shape promo (40 seconds) plays every time you pop in the DVD. The main menu offers these choices: Program 1 (= Cardio Interval), Program 2 (= Sculpt Plus), Program 3 (= Potpourri), and Extras (Meet the Instructors, About Shape, and Credits). Lisa, Michelle, and Tracy’s introduction to the workout philosophy behind the “Bikini Body Camp,” suggested rotations with this DVD and with the other Shape Bikini Body Bootcamp, and an overview of each segment, play each time the main menu comes up; the choices are off to the side.
Each segment has its own chapter, but there are no chapters within these segments, although one of my DVD players but not the other recognizes the Potpourri as having different chapters for each segment. Unfortunately, this means if you wanted to add just one of the Potpourri bits onto the Cardio Interval or Sculpt Plus parts you could be out of luck. There’s also no way to string workouts together; you have to go back to the main menu and pick the next one.
In addition to a green resistance band of mediumish strength, new DVDs also come with a “Back to Basics Meal Plan.”
Comment: In my opinion, this and Shape Bikini Body Camp: Transforming are the most advanced of Shape’s cardio and/or strength offerings so far.
All three instructors cue decently, although they (especially Lisa) tend to cue right on or just a hair before move changes and don’t always include a lot of (verbal) directional indications. They mirror cue (i.e. when they say “right,” they mean your right). They all contribute tips, encouragement, and other feedback even when they’re not the leads. Each has her own personality, of course. Lisa goes above and beyond fulfilling all contractual obligations to plug the bikini body shtick (“Talk about a butt blaster”), Tracy comes off as more down to earth (“And all you need is a dumbbell”), and Michelle cheers you on with some extra spunk (“C’mon; you can do this”).
September 16, 2008