I understood when I bought this tape that it was for beginners, and I knew I was intermediate. I got it so I could try Leslie's walk off weight system that she describes in the booklet that comes with this video and the weight loss walk video. I'm in good cardio shape and strong, but I am overweight (I know, some people will say I'm still not fit, but then they've probably never seen me working out either. So that's their ax to grind).
Anyway, she lists recommendations for distances in her book and I figured if I got her toning video, I could find ways to work other videos into the formula. So that gives you some info about me and why I bought this intro level workout. This is important because I think this disparity in fitness level probably colors this review. I hope a beginner will review it at some point, so I can find out if my impressions are justified.
Let's start with some non-workout comments. The set is attractive, and the production is fine. Leslie is very approachable. If its possible to be intimidated by a video, Leslie will be the one to win you back. She is very reassuring.
Okay... that said... The first segment is lower body, and I swear, all I can remember doing is leg lifts, leg lifts and more leg lifts. There is no warm up or stretches at all... just leg lifts and a few donkey type kicks at the end. Now I found this to be excrutiatingly boring, but I thought if I were a beginner, I don't think I could do that many leglifts at one time. For one thing, its not very balanced. And many beginners probably don't have the strength or muscular endurance to do that much repetitive isolation at one time. Also she teaches a variation that she says helps you get a better range of motion, but with it, you're in the dead zone for more than half the exercise, and it makes it very easy to use momentum and not strength on the lift phase.
So that's part one. No thrills here.
Part two is better, largely because it has heck of a lot more variety. This is upper body and with dumbbells, you sit on the floor with Leslie (she now has a few friends with her) and do the basic bicep, tricep and so on stuff. It's all very basic, and for the orientation this video has toward beginners, she doesn't offer many tips on form. Even in the push ups. I thought it was weird that they were sitting crosslegged on the floor for bicep curls (I stood) but it looked like they were in a short range of motion. Again no stretch. (I think this segment includes the ab work, but it might be with one of the other ones.) I'm sure beginners will appreciate the basics, but they won't hold attention too long because there's nothing really different or challenging to work up to. She also recommends using really light weights, even as you progress. (???) Again, no thrills in segment two.
The last segment is standing lower body work, and its the most interesting. She includes lots of lunges and squats, but again, she doesn't give much instruction. She motivates and encourages but those form pointers that I think are so important are just not there. Best I can remember, she had good form herself, but its been awhile. Still no stretches. Some beginners might find this challenging, but will outgrow it also because there's not alot of variety in the moves to keep challenging the exerciser.
I'm not sure the audience this video is directed toward. The moves are incredibly basic and Leslie is a great teacher for beginner's so I'd say true beginners are the target. However, there isn't a lot of actual instruction. And some of the moves are so high repetition that beginners will find them hard. And anyone with some resistance training in their background is going to be bored with the lack of variety and interesting moves. So I guess if you are a beginner who knows good form for squats, lunges, push ups, but you don't think you have much strength for a more challenging workout, and you want a modular workout with short segments to fit in your day, and you don't mind having a video that in a few months, you won't use because its too easy, then this is a good choice.
Overall, I'd say nice effort, but for the money, Kathy Smith's Secrets of a great body are better (and with the instruction do-able for beginners), Reebok's Winning Body is also a great choice and Donna Richardson's 4-Day Rotation as well. All offer a good balance, better instruction and plenty of motivation. If you are following Leslie's distance recs, then assume Donna's segments are about half a mile, Winning Body's about a mile, and Kathy's whole videos about a mile and a half a piece (that sounds pretty fair). I do like Leslie, but I don't think this video knows what audience it's really meant for, and as a result, it really doesn't work well for any.
Instructor comments: Leslie is perky, bubbly and understanding. She encourages people to give it a try and move at their own pace. She is a good choice for beginners because she is so friendly and presents things as possible if you try.