Your Best Body Circuit is part of the Your Body Breakthru series by instructor Michelle Dozois. This was my first video in the series, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The DVD Main Menu offers the following options: Full Workout, Express Workout, Chapters, Testimonials, More on Your Body Breakthru, Michelle's personal message, and Contact. The Full Workout is 58-minute workout consisting of a warm-up, seven cardio/strength circuits (7-8 minutes each), and a cool-down, while the Express Workout provides a shorter (35 minutes) version of this. Equipment used includes 2 sets of dumbbells (medium and heavy) and a resistance band (Michelle and crew use a straight band, but my handled one worked fine).
Here are the chapter breakdowns with my brief descriptions:
Warm-Up. Just under 5 minutes; marches with step touches, punches, hamstring curls, and knee lifts; finishes with moving stretches.
Circuit 1 (Back and Biceps 1). Cardio: Step-touch, cross-back with optional hop, knee up w/twist and punch, plie squat with jump into squat. Heavy weights: side step with row to bicep curls; double row. Medium weights: bicep curls. Band: single arm back row in plie.
Circuit 2 (Chest and Triceps 1). Cardio: same as above, left lead.
Chest: push-ups w/alternating knee drops; full push-ups. Heavy weights: lying chest press. Band: seated tricep extension; standing chest press.
Circuit 3 (Back and Biceps 2). Cardio: march/jog w/tap out or jacks, lunges, samba, scissor step, alternating or power lunge. Heavy weights: row with rear lunge. Band: bicep curls, wide row, seated row.
Circuit 4 (Chest and Triceps 2). Cardio: same as above, left lead. Band: shoulder rotation adding tricep extension, push-ups w/resistance. Heavy weights: chest flyes adding leg extensions. Plank work: lower to forearms, raise and lower knees.
Circuit 5 (Shoulders w/Legs). Cardio: side-to-side hips (single then double), alternating knee lifts, alternating kicks, front/back kick combo, power jacks. Moderate weights: slow wood chop, 1-arm shoulder press with leg extension and curtsey dip. Band: rotating kneeling shoulder raise.
Circuit 6 (Legs). Cardio: same as above, left lead. Heavy weights: squats. Moderate (or no) weights: forward/rear lunge adding back leg extension and knee lift. Band: side-to-side step touch adding leg extension.
Circuit 7 (Abdominals). About 6 minutes: side elbow plank crunch, side crunch with leg lift, half roll-up with arm extension (holding band), double arm/leg extension (holding band), oblique crunch adding arm extension, pulsing crunches.
Cool-Down. Stretches with band (about 5 minutes): lying hamstring and IT band, thread the needle, seated cross-leg forward bend, chest and triceps stretch, kneeling hip flexor with side bend/side extension.
Each cardio sequence is repeated 3 times for approximately 2-3 minutes total. Although there was a bit of impact to some of the exercises plus a few plyometric moves (such as the power jacks), one of the four background exercisers always shows a low-impact option (I chose to follow the modifier at times and still had no problems keeping my HR in my target zone for almost the entire workout).
I especially enjoyed the strength work for assorted reasons. First of all, the exercises were quite varied and different, especially the band work. However, Michelle also offered new twists on more traditional exercises, such as lowering into a squat, pulsing while lifting one foot, and then raising back up. For further variety, Michelle varied the count of the exercises, doing 2-2, 4-1, 1-4, etc. (similar to Jari Love's Ripped workouts). Furthermore, I liked that there was a functional fitness component to many of the moves, with twisting exercises like the wood chop as well as balance work. I also appreciated the strong emphasis on back work, as this is an area that is often overlooked. The only complaints I had about the weight segments were that 1) Michelle moves very quickly, sometimes making it difficult to set up the next move in time (particularly when working with the band), and 2) in Circuit 2, the push-up series was extremely challenging--although a modification was shown, the difficulty level of this exercise seemed out of proportion with the rest of the workout.
I consider myself to be an advanced intermediate exerciser, and I found this workout to be perfect for both my level and my preferences. However, given both that modifications are shown and that you can always vary the amount of weights used (I used mainly 8# and 10# dumbbells), I think that this DVD would appeal to a wide range of exercisers, from advanced beginners to intermediates to those at a full advanced level. Michelle has done an excellent job in creating a challenging workout that is both interesting and fun to do; highly recommended!
I haven't been crazy about Michelle's workouts in the past, and I've found her personality a bit too over-enthusiastic for my tastes. I had no problems with her here, however: she comes across as very professional, she is encouraging without being over-the-top, and she cues well using mirrored cueing.
Beth C (aka toaster)
June 27, 2007