Video Fitness

It Figures Series - Vol. 18

The best series yet, shot in the Kananaskis in the Canadian Rockies; from 1996-97, incorporates a great deal of the latest in exercise physiology (for instance, stabilizing exercises for the abs). Charlene continues to provide research reports in a low-key way while giving safe and adaptable exercises, so you get your health news letter as you develop strength and aerobic capacity. As always, fabulous esp. for women over 40. Definitely aerobics/muscle building for boomers with respectable I.Q.s!

Peggy Sue

This is a REALLY LONG review of Charlene Prickett’s Low Impact Aerobics three pack video series, #18. Let me explain where I am coming from so you can gauge this with your needs. If you don’t care about this, skip to paragraph six. :-)

I am 41 and have been a committed exerciser for three years. I flirted with advanced for a while, but really couldn’t keep up with the demands of this level (I have a busy schedule, but not as busy as some of the moms out there, who, by the way, have all the respect in the world from me--how do you DO it!?).

The most important thing to me in a workout is the workout itself. I have a low irritability threshold as long as the workout is well made. Kitteny voices, constant chatter, whooping and yelling, bad sets (let’s face, most are really bad), garish workout gear and the like really don’t bother me (too much) as long as the workout is good.

On average, I consider myself advanced intermediate (and I feel very comfortable with this level). I do Cathe’s BodyMax, MIS and Pure Strength with a 30 and 35 pound barbell respectively. I break up BodyMax and MIS, never doing the entire tapes in one day. I love the Firm and have many of their tapes. I do Tough Tape with a 25 pound barbell (I use less weight with this tape because the pace is faster and I find I tucker out and have to pause with anything heavier). I am certainly not trying to brag or anything (I know there are bona fide Goddesses out there!), but just trying to give you information that will help you measure this review to your needs.

Actually, this should all be phrased in the past tense because I am recovering from overuse tendinitis in my inner thigh and elbow. I don’t think I could do Tough Tape without pausing with NO weights at this point. My tendinitis was intense and I did it to myself! If anyone out there is injury prone, learn from me! Alternate light days with heavy days and give yourself at least one day off after a really killer workout. It’s February and I have been “out of commission” since October because I ignored my injuries. I went to a doctor at the end of December and was prescribed physical therapy for a month. I was given the okay to do low impact aerobics (the PTs were GREAT and very sensitive to my video addiction) and this is another reason I researched Charlene Prickett and bought this series (which I actually bought when I was unsuccessfully trying to heal myself).

I LOVE Leslie Sansone’s Two Mile Walk for light days. However, no matter how much I love a tape or an instructor, I can get royally sick of a routine if I do it too often. I was looking for low impact aerobics, basic choreography and VARIETY for my light days and Charlene’s series looked like it would fill the bill. I must say that it does and I am very happy I bought the series (total cost a little over $50).

There are three videos with a total of 13 half hour low impact aerobics routines. The routines are taken from her “It Figures” television shows, which I have never seen. This is important to know because she has had to replace commercial breaks with informal interviews and information segments. This might irritate some people, although I did not find it so. The break segments range from informative (Charlene showing form pointers or giving exercise tips or interviewing her fitness buddies) to benign (interviews with various people involved in the tourist industry of the Canadian Rockies--golf people, hotel people, etc) to a bit silly (segments where she and her friends trade favorite jokes--bad jokes).

Before each break Charlene gives you a “homework assignment,” a simple routine to continue doing as you watch (or endure) the break segments.

The choreography is basic and easy to learn. Marches, grapevines, step touches, kicks, hamstring curls, lunges, dips, squats are choreographed in various combinations. Charlene provides alternatives to the more intense moves. She goes quite low on her squats and lunges. I cannot go as low at her pace. Charlene’s form is good, but she is not as graceful as many instructors.

These routines are taken from a television series and must cater to a broad audience, from first time viewer to devoted fan. I think, my opinion here, that the basic choreography caters to the needs of the new exerciser and Charlene’s personality (her famous “chatter”) keeps the devoted fan coming back. She and her fitness companions do talk constantly and this may be irritating to some people. I actually find her personality engaging and am not bothered by all the talking. The continuous conversation consists of health and nutrition tips, form pointers, meticulous cuing, and (sometimes, but not often) silliness (a giggling kickline is formed in one routine--this is the only time I became uncomfortable with the tapes).

Charlene’s cuing is excellent. This is important to me because I become easily frustrated when I can’t get even the most basic choreography (it takes me on average three times with ANY tape to get the choreography down).

What really helps with the potential boredom factor is: 1) you are doing a slightly different routine each time and must do 13 before you recycle. 2) the scenery is gorgeous--the Canadian Rockies in sunshine and rain are the backdrop. I find this very refreshing. No matter how other producers of workout tapes try, I personally find most sets, even the Firm (or especially the Firm?) very silly. Out of control murals, fake potted plants, phony windows and books just don’t engage my interest. The outdoor scenery of Charlene’s tapes (and “Your Personal Best,” by Karen Voight and the model) is both relaxing and inspiring to me. I live in an urban setting, maybe this is the reason.

This is a breakdown of one of the routines selected at random:

Warm-up: 3.5 minutes
Stretch: 1.5 minutes

Build up low impact: 5.5 minutes
First “commercial break”: 2.5 minutes

Most intense low impact: 6.5 minutes
Second “commercial break”: 2 minutes

Cool down low impact: 2.5 minutes
Third “commercial break”: 2 minutes

Stretch: 3 minutes total

The end stretch is brief and done to the closing credits. This is the one thing I really don’t like about the series--the ending stretch is interrupted with credits, rapid paced voiceovers and longshots of the set. I like the ending stretch to have a relaxed ambiance that is not found here. You might want to do your own extra leg stretches, I find I usually do.

So, give or take a minute depending on the specific routine, it’s all about 30 minutes. Routines do vary a little in intensity. Some are definitely more demanding than others. One is remarkably less intense, but I think this was the theme of that day’s show. The show highlighted a new mom returning to exercise (one of my favorite routines in the series because of all the close-up shots of the baby--really, really cute).

When first doing these routines I purposefully alternated other tapes to measure comparative intensity--casually, mind you--this is not scientific research! The routines are more intense than Two Mile Walk by a significant notch but less intense than the Firm’s Volume 4 done with no weights. I hope this helps.

Please forgive the length of this review! Fifty bucks is a big investment and, although I was very pleased with my purchase, I have provided all this detail so that others won’t have to purchase “blind” as I did.

In the final analysis, this series would be excellent and even challenging for a beginner. The routines are excellent for someone working back up to a previous fitness level (for whatever reason). The tapes would also be great for a decent, albeit not very intense, aerobics warm-up to any tough strength tape for an intermediate to advanced intermediate exerciser. Advanced exercisers might only need these tapes if they were starting back after injury or something.

I feel confident that I can highly recommend Charlene’s series #18, Low Impact Aerobics, for these reasons.

Instructor comments: Please refer to the review for instructor comments.

February 5, 2000

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