• Step. For brief step aerobics interval, for one-legged squat series, as a weight bench, as a seat. You could omit the step and do everything on the floor, or you could even substitute a BOSU for the last three purposes (knowing that it will add a greater challenge to the workout!).
• Light to medium dumbbells. If you don’t have dumbbells, you could just use the standard alternatives (soup cans, water bottles, etc.), although I’d wonder why you allowed yourself to be tempted by a workout that’s up front about needing everything but the kitchen sink.
• Body bar. You could substitute a light barbell for some of the body bar exercises but not all (in particular, the single-arm French press done with the bar vertical, since the lower weight plate might hit you in the back). For this exercise, a dumbbell would work fine. Dumbbells would not work so well for all of the biceps and shoulder exercises, but in those cases, you could use a sculpting stick or broom handle.
• Rubber tubing. For back, triceps, and biceps. You could easily just use dumbbells (knowing that you would miss out on the special benefits for the eccentric phase), except for the back segment, in which you would have to substitute different exercises.
• Medicine ball (doesn’t need to bounce). For warmup, some leg exercises, and abs. You could use a light dumbbell instead, provided you don’t have to worry about scratching the floor when you set it down quickly during some exercises.
• Stability ball. Mostly you just lie on it (supine and prone) for weighted chest and back exercises, or use it as light resistance for abdominal exercises. There is one segment where you roll out on it for decline pushups and knee tucks.
• Mat. You definitely need this—Patrick has some long sections where you’re lying on it, and the cushioning helps tremendously.
• Optional equipment: weightlifting gloves to protect your hands from the rubber tubing (which gets wrapped around the hands), pushup stands.
• Other: A large enough workout space where you can keep all the equipment littered on the floor in between exercises, since you’ll be picking things up and putting them down constantly for different needs.
This is predominantly a muscle-conditioning workout that follows the traditional large-to-small muscle sequencing (legs, chest, back, arms, shoulders, abs), with two aerobic intervals tossed in during the leg segment, a brief return to the legs at the very end, and a quick ab sequence added in after the chest segment. What’s different about it is the variety of equipment and exercises used for each body part. For example, Patrick uses the rubber tubing creatively to work the rhomboids in a particularly enjoyable back segment, anchoring the tubing around one leg raised in front of you for standing lat rows, or pulling on double-wrapped tubing like an archer about to shoot an arrow. He also adds tubing to the body bar for bicep curls, increasing the resistance in both directions. An unusual, “no-equipment-needed” sequence for the triceps simply relies on holding chatarungas in between resting in downward-facing-dog.
I’m not sure how appropriate it is to classify this workout as “functional fitness,” which occasionally pops up in descriptions. Some of the exercises incorporate a greater focus on balance than traditional workouts, requiring you to stand on one leg for a while. However, these are mostly static rather than dynamic balances, as you might find in yoga or ballet, where you have to maintain balance while changing positions. The leg exercises include some more lateral movements than is traditional, but the other compound-muscle exercises merely combine lunges with bicep curls, rather than requiring you to integrate the use of muscles that need to work together. There are also some exercises that utilize a greater range of motion in different directions, such as a pleasant medicine-ball warmup involving standing twists and woodchops, and a brief shoulder series with circular motions from lateral to front raises. But the overall workout doesn’t truly focus on the smaller supporting muscles nearly as much as other instructors do, so I would look elsewhere to meet those goals.
Some other unusual features worth noting are that the workout provides two different warmup options, one medicine-ball warmup (as previously described) and one aerobic warmup. Patrick does get a bit chatty between segments, and unfortunately the DVD does not include enough chapter points to skip ahead if you’re pressed for time. Nor does it let you skip the aerobic intervals (which I don’t like having in a muscle-conditioning workout).
Overall, the workout includes lots of little bonuses for various favorite body parts: the medial glutes (all the lateral movements), the chest (multiple sets of pushups), the back (the tubing section), the biceps (again, for the tubing), the triceps (the chatarungas), and the abs (a full 10-minute segment, in addition to the brief set of V-sits right after the chest presses). However, this necessitates compromising the workout in other ways, by minimizing the focus on larger muscles, reducing the total weight lifted, decreasing the number of sets and repetitions, and neglecting some smaller muscles. I would rather that Patrick had chosen one approach and stuck to doing it thoroughly and well, instead of starting with a traditional weight-lifting structure and tossing in bits of ideas from so many other sources. For functional-fitness routines that address smaller muscles in integration, or for a core-focused ball workout, I’d go to Tracie Long Productions, Core Secrets, some Body Bar workouts, or Adam Ford. Instead of using the medicine ball and rubber tubing only occasionally, I think Patrick could have addressed an unfilled niche in the market by creating a workout that focused on just one accessory. All the equipment means different gadgets to juggle and different objectives to reconcile, so that the workout suffers from the problem, “Too many conflicting goals spoil the broth.”
Patrick is warm, cheerful, and friendly as always, with a natural and engaging screen presence. He interacts plentifully with his background exercisers, pointing out the modifications and the good form that they’re demonstrating, praising them frequently and identifying them by name. His laughter (or giggles) can be endearing or borderline irritating, depending on your mood and preferences. But it’s always good-natured laughter.
I am an int/adv, and with the exception of a few Firms, I do functional fitness stuff almost exclusively (I tend to think it’s more fun) – well, in addition to running. If you’re looking for an intermediate (maybe int/adv) workout that is TONS of fun, this one is for you. The time flies by, and you really do hit every muscle with new and creative exercises. As every exercise is different from traditional ones, and you do so many moves, I won’t go through them.
Patrick and gang use: dumbbells, a body bar, a stability ball, a medicine ball (doesn’t need to bounce), tubing, a step, and a mat.
The first time I tried this I used:
dumbbells, a broom or dumbbells (instead of the body bar, depending on the exercise), a dumbbell (instead of a medicine ball), tubing, a stability ball, a step, a mat.
The second time I tried this I used:
dumbbells, a broom or dumbbells (instead of the body bar, depending on the exercise), a 6 lb. medicine ball, tubing, a stability ball, (no step – I substituted the stability ball or the floor), a mat.
In conclusion, I liked it better without the step; the medicine ball makes it better and much more fun; I don’t feel the need to buy a body bar. You definitely need tubing and dumbbells, and I’m not sure about the stability ball (I don’t recall).
The music is clubby, and mood is very upbeat, so, as other reviewers have noted, the workout is over before you know it. This is my no-dread strength workout, despite the fact that it is rather long. The one negative is that the dvd is not well chaptered. I would have liked it if there were premixes or the ability to select certain parts of the workout. In fact, you only have 4 choices: 2 warm-up options, the main workout, and the abs section. This workout is less challenging (especially in terms of balance work) than say, TLP: Core Foundations. It is more thorough with the back and less with the biceps – I don’t remember anything else standing out in this sense. I definitely feel this workout later more than I think I will while doing it, but it’s not a true advanced workout. Basically, the positives FAR outweigh the negatives for me – it’s too fun to pass up!!!
I was taken aback at first by his spunkiness, but since the first time, I have realized how much is personality adds to my general enjoyment of the workout. He makes me smile!
I’m reviewing this workout after doing it twice (once with each warm-up).
General workout breakdown: See Kickdancer and alikrueg’s reviews. Here’s a list of the exercises:
- Warm-up 1 (8.5 min.) begins with an introduction of the background exercisers, equipment, and “key ingredients” (3 min.). You use the med ball for moves like twisting side to side, wood chop, and squat & raise ball overhead; push-ups are interspersed. Patrick includes dynamic stretches for the torso and lower back.
- Warm-up 2 (5 min.) is the cardio warm-up, done on the floor, with moves like step touch, march, 1 2 3 hold, lunge back, and a kind of modified burpee (lunge back, put hands on step and extend other leg back, then come back up). A short series of push-ups follows before static stretches for the side torso, lower back, and quadriceps.
- Total Body (about 47.5 min.) includes 7 different segments:
Legs 1 (11.5 min.) = traveling squats, squat w/ tap in, cardio interval (shuffle, jumping jacks, side step), skaters (w/ tap out), 1-legged squat series (1-legged squat, balance w/ knee up, standing in low squat w/ non-supporting leg moving up & back), cardio interval (run up & down), and plie squats.
Chest (5.5 min.) = chest press, chest flye, push-up w/ legs on ball into knee tuck, bridge w/ chest press – overhead stretch, and v-sit with pulling knees into chest.
Back (7 min.) = row (w/ resistance band around foot extended up in front of you), bow & arrow pull-back, rear pull (while leaning forward on ball), and squeeze (arms bent, pull elbows while squeezing mid-back).
Triceps (6.5 min.) = overhead press (2 sets: 1 w/ tubing, 1 w/ body bar) and down dog - chaturanga (triceps / narrow hands push-up) series.
Biceps (6 min.) = biceps curls (w/ tubing around body bar), biceps curls w/ arms to side (focusing on working in the middle of range), and static lunge & biceps curl.
Legs 2 (7 min.) = “I Dream of Jeannie” side leg lift, side lunges, curtsy lunge & side leg lift w/ arms reaching overhead in opposite direction, and static lunges (focusing on upwards motion) into arabesque leg lift.
Shoulders (4 min.) = lateral raise – front raise series (lift up to side, move to front, lower, reverse, and then roll shoulders), overhead press balancing in v-sit / boat, and front raise & squat.
- Abs & Stretch (14.5 min.): The abs portion include little presses w/ med ball & legs extended upwards, extend limbs & return to center (think Pilates double leg stretch, but while holding med ball), v-sit with med ball toss from side to side, bicycle, lower & lift legs (a kind of scissors), v-sit w/ arms lifting & lowering, and crunch w/ stability ball (up & get ball from shins, extend overhead, then return to shins). The seated final stretch (5.5 min.) touches on the inner thigh, side torso, hamstring, lower back, and quadriceps before moving to standing for some final breaths.
Level: I’d recommend this to experienced intermediates through low advanced exercisers.
Class: 2 women and 1 man join Patrick, who instructs live either while doing the exercises or walking around and coaching. Sometimes 1 or more of the cast members shows alternatives or modifications.
Music: upbeat club-type music with a beat. It’s better than average.
Set: bright interior space, with a “brick” back wall and blank windows, and stairs off to the side. (Call me picky, but one of the window frames is painted and the other not. What happened, guys?)
Production: clear picture and sound. Patrick’s voice is louder than the music. The camera angles are mostly helpful, but there are a few shots of upper bodies when new lower body moves are introduced, for example, and a number of extreme close-ups of Patrick’s face. (He’s a sweater!)
Equipment: See Kickdancer and alikreug’s reviews.
The first time I used my (short) step, 5 lb. dumbbells, 15 lb. body bar, 3 lb. soft weighted ball, medium-ish resistance tubing, and a mat on the floor; the second time I substituted my Bosu for the step and some of the stability ball exercises and grabbed 8 lb. dumbbells for several of the exercises. Not having a stability ball meant I had to be very creative for that one push-up – pull in knees move, and I haven’t yet come up with a fantastic solution to that. My body bar is far too heavy for the upper body moves, at least in my current level of fitness, so I used just tubing or dumbbells instead.
Space Requirements: enough room to do work with the step, then enough space off to the side of the step to do lunges, push-ups on the stability ball, etc. On top of that, you need room to store your extra equipment so it’s not underfoot. Actually, I had plenty of room in my workout space of 8’ x 6’.
DVD Notes: The menu is awkward. You can only select “Personalize Your Workout,” which takes you to a screen that has four options: Warm-up 1, Warm-up 2, Total Body, Abs & Stretch. There’s no option to play all, so after each selection you’re returned to the main menu. The workout is actually chaptered (by body part), but the only way to access those chapters is to use your remote’s skip button.
Comments: I agree with Kickdancer that perhaps trying to juggle everything but the kitchen sink is a little too much of a few too many things. I personally like my workouts more focused; I just purged the last of the fusion workouts from my shelves, for example. That said, if you need lots of variety to keep you interested, this may be the workout for you!
Patrick has such a good-natured personality, very encouraging and upbeat; he’s definitely having fun. He doesn’t have as many “Oh my goshes” and giggles as in some of his other workouts, but they’re both there. He includes some instruction, including a few pauses to set up and demonstrate new exercises (which are great for those more unusual exercises, but after a number of run throughs you may not need them).
May 9, 2008 (written April & May 2008)