Video Fitness

Core Secrets Upper Body Challenge

Gunnar Peterson

This is a half-hour workout for the upper body using a stability ball and dumbbells. It includes some ab work as well.

The set is a sort of brick loft, similar to Leslie's Walk Away the Pounds Express. Music is again by Daveed -- it's decent, if not special.

There are four background exercisers. I recognized Madison from previous Core Secrets workouts. The other women were new to me, but all looked strong and healthy. One woman is designated as the modifier, but there's really nothing for her to do (as discussed below).

The only chaptering is "Intro and Workout" and "Workout." Choosing "Workout" takes you past the opening warm-up (a couple sets of squats) and stretch. There is no bonus blast or other extras. At least they are finally packaging Core Secrets DVDs in regular plastic cases, instead of those cheapie cardboard ones.

Equipment used is a stability ball, one set of dumbbells (more on that later), and a mat for floor work. You could conceivably do this workout without the ball, but you would lose the extra core work needed to stabilize your body during upper body exercises, as well as range of motion in the crunches.

The exercises themselves are classic weightlifting moves, but Gunnar spices things up a little by tweaking most of them. For example, an overhead press is done with arms finishing out at an angle, rather than straight overhead. A front shoulder raise is done in a half-circle, from arms down along the side, to extended fully in front of the shoulder, on up to straight overhead. The ab work is mainly crunches -- not as innovative, IMHO, as the core work in previous Core Secrets workouts.

As usual, Gunnar briefly instructs/demos each move. Once you know it, you can squeeze in a few extra reps during this part. Since only one set is done of most of the exercises, this works out okay.

This workout delivered what I wanted: a light, thorough upper body workout in under half an hour, which I can pair up with a half-hour lower body or cardio workout. I do have a few complaints about this workout, however.

The participants use only one set of dumbbells throughout the whole workout, and light ones at that. Gunnar uses what looks like about five pounds, and the women even less. Excuse me, but that is just silly. A weight that is nicely challenging for shoulders and triceps will be way too light for bent arm rows and concentration curls. Of course Gunnar knows this. I wonder if he's been advised that using more than one set of dumbbells will somehow confuse or turn off the at-home exerciser. This workout would have made more sense if Gunnar had used at least two sets of weights, with advice on which set to use for each exercise. The modifier could have still done the workout with just one set of light weights, the idea being to learn form from her first before incorporating heavier weights. Fortunately, just because Gunnar only uses one set of weights doesn't mean you have to. His instruction before each exercise also allows you to change weights as needed. The reps themselves are at a nice deliberate pace, so I would think you could go fairly heavy if you wanted to.

There is also a serious editing error in the last exercise, which is side crunches. Gunnar does fifteen on one side, not counting his demo, then finishes with only four on the other side! Hey -- doesn't anyone "proofread" these videos before they are committed to DVD? When I did this workout this morning I just finished up by doing the missing crunches on the second side on my own, then joining the final stretch in progress. But at $20 for a single half-hour workout, I shouldn't have to make that kind of adjustment.

I haven't seen the other workouts in this series (Head to Toe, et al.) so I can't comment on any differences or similarities. Collage ranks this particular workout as beginning/intermediate, which is appropriate as done by the participants.

Despite its flaws, I consider this DVD a keeper. I just hope someday Gunnar will get to create the tough, innovative and fun workouts I know he is capable of.

Instructor comments: As always, I enjoy workout out with Gunnar. I really appreciate his humor and encouragement.

Sandra

August 10, 2005

This is a 30-minute upper body/core workout using a stability ball and dumbbells. Gunnar is with 4 background exercisers - 1 of whom shows easier modifications. He works back and chest, then does abs. Then goes to biceps/triceps and abs. And he finishes with shoulders and abs. The workout goes fast -- Gunnar demonstrates each move before the set, so if you are familiar with it you can add in extra reps.
He does some classic strength moves, with a functional fitness twist on them. The warmup is mostly stretches, as is the cooldown. The added twists keep it interesting, as does the ab/core work in between upper body.
I used 3, 5 and 8 lb weights, and got a nice intermediate workout, which is a good add-on to cardio or lower body work. I'm not a big fan of functional fitness type workouts, but I really enjoy the core secrets ---probably because they don't spen too much time on each muscle group.

Instructor comments: Gunnar gives good instruction, and is fun to work out with. He's not loud, and has a good sense of humor.

Jo

June 12,2006



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