NOTE: I have only previewed these workouts.
There are two DVDs: Beginner's and Challenging. They have the exact same format. Sometimes the length varies, and when it does, I will note that.
The main menus have 4 sections: an interview, cardio kickboxing, cardio boot camp and strength training. The "interview" is just Meghan sitting there talking about what the workouts contain and giving tips about how often to do cardio and strength and reminding you about diet and drinking enough water.
When you click on the kickboxing, boot camp or strength training options, you are taken to another menu with four options each.
Cardio kickboxing. 4 options:
1) Kickboxing routine #1, 20 minutes: warm up, work out #1, cool down
2) Kickboxing routine #2, 20 minutes: warm up, work out #2, cool down
3) Full kickboxing, 40 minutes for challenging DVD, 35 minutes for beginner's DVD: warm up, workouts #1 and #2, cool down, abs
4) Kickboxing abs, 9 minutes
Cardio boot camp. 4 options:
1) Boot camp routine #1, 25 minutes for challenging DVD, 20 minutes for beginner's DVD: warm up, work out #1, cool down
2) Boot camp routine #2, 25 minutes for challenging DVD, 20 minutes for beginner's DVD: warm up, work out #2, cool down
3) Full boot camp, 45 minutes for challenging DVD, 35 minutes for beginner's DVD: warm up, workouts #1 and #2, cool down, abs
4) Boot camp abs, 8 minutes
Strength training. 5 options:
1) Upper body strength with hand weights, 12 minutes for challenge, 7 for beginner
2) Lower body strength with no weights, 9 minutes for both
3) Abs, 9 minutes for challenge, 8 for beginner
4) Total body strength, 30 minutes for challenge, 25 for beginner: upper, lower and abs
5) Total abs, 25 minutes: abs from boot camp, kickboxing and strength
There are two background exercisers, a guy and another woman. I didn't notice them modifying. All three are in a pretty bare studio with wood floors and fake-looking windows. Sort of like Slim in 6. I rather liked it. Very simple and calming. (I don't like busy sets with decorations.)
The strength training is pretty standard. The lower body reminds me of Tamilee Webb's in "I Want That Body"--it's unweighted but hard, with back lunge/front kick combos and lots of squats to the sides and middle.
The cardio boot camp looks cool. It combines a lot of sports drills and calisthenics. Now, I just previewed the challenging DVD, but it seems high-impact the whole way through (yet modifiable). Very easy choreography.
You get a whole lot, obviously, on each DVD. I'm looking forward to the workouts just from watching them, especially the boot camp.
Her voice is not as annoying as everyone seems to think and it would be a shame to discount these workouts based on that reason. To my ears she is not nearly as annoying as Denise Austin, for example, or even as bad as Madeline Dolente's based on the Collage clip. She's a bit shrill but I doubt you'd notice during the workouts. Her navel piecing bothered me more than her voice.
This workout is part of the "interactive" series from Body Wisdom Media. It features numerous mix and match workouts per disk. This is slighlty less interactive than some of the other titles they have done like the yoga and pilates ones that re-combine dozens of poses into numerous pre-mixes. This dvd features more complete workouts and the only combining they do is with the warm-ups and cool-downs. If you choose a long workout option that combines two shorter routines, they leave out the warm-up and cool-down before the second section.
In general: Meghan works out in a small class with Michelle and David, who variously show modifications. The sections are strength training, bootcamp and kickboxing just like in the beginner dvd. The whole look and feel is identical to the beginner dvd I already reviewed, and some of the exercises are used again, but there are all standard athletic moves like biceps curls and knee-ups and such. The footage and choreography is all different here and you can definitely see how she stepped things up a little with more impact in the cardio, more complex combinations in the kickboxing, and more sets of varying types in the strength work.
Strength training: Upper body, lower body, abs or total body, which includes all the above sections. In upper body, Meghan varies the format more than she did in the beginner dvd where every exercise was done the same way. Here, for example, shoulders only get one exercises, but biceps get two and back gets three. She usually does one set at top end of the range, one set in the low end of the range and one set at full range, then some pulses. The only between-set stretches are shoulder rolls, although you do get a few extra stretches at the end. These are all standard exercises here: curls, rows, kickbacks etc. In lower body, the work is more combo-oriented than in the beginner disk. For example there is a lunge/kick combo, squat/leg lift combo and squat/reach. There is also some plyo squat stuff that amps things up from disk 1 a little. The ab section is nothing spectacular. There are only so many ways to do crunches, I suppose. She adds a weight here, which is new. I donít really love ab work and didnít get the dvd for that, so I canít really comment. It seems fine to me, and if I have picked a pre-mix that includes it, Iíd do it, but like I said, I did not buy this set because of the ab workouts.
Kickboxing: there are two workouts, each about 20 minutes including warm-up and cool-down. The full long version is 40 minutes and includes an ab section too. The first workout is total body, with punches and speedbags and then a few kick combos with jumping jacks. The combos are a little more complex than in the beginner dvd. The second workout is a little more cardio-ish and has more hops and bounces and a lot of strength-type moves like squats and knee-ups. No comment on the ab work. It is in line with the rest that is on this dvd and it seemed fine, itís just not something that terribly interests me.
Bootcamp: Like the kickboxing, there are two workouts, each about 25 minutes including warm-up and cool-down. The full long version is 45 minutes and includes an ab section too. The first workout section includes shuffle, jog, tap and hop variations in assorted tempos and combinations. The second section is a little more jumpy, with jacks, four-limbed joggy stuff, lunges and variations thereof. Michelle uses a step here. There is also an abs section which is similar to the others on this dvd.
Other: You can combine all 3 ab sections into a giant ab pre-mix off the strength training menu. That workout is about half an hour.
General Comments: As I said in my review of the Beginner dvd, Meghan does not mirror cue on the cardio. And I know a lot of people on the forums have commented on Meghanís voice. It is a little on the high-pitched side, and gets downright squeaky in a few places, but it didnít bother me. If you watch TV, her voice is almost exactly like Harmony from Buffy the Vampire Slayer :)
Verdict: I am really pleased with this. I liked the approach of the first dvd and am happy to have more in that vein. I did kind of miss the lower-impact modifications, which were absent in this dvd. In fact, former beginner modifier Michelle is the one who shows the harder stuff here! If you are not am impact fan, this is definitely not the series for you. But I have in the past enjoyed Plyo X and the simple athletic cardio style of Tony Horton for example. So this was just the thing for me.
I know a lot of people on the forums have commented on Meghanís voice. It is a little on the high-pitched side, and gets downright squeaky in a few places, but it didnít bother me. If you watch TV, her voice is almost exactly like Harmony from Buffy the Vampire Slayer :)
The workout itself was intermediate level. Nothing to write home about, kind of boring, and her voice and 'script' were annoying enough that any positives were quickly overshadowed.
I gave this one to my public library. I just wanted it out of my house to erase my folly in acquring it.
I should have listened to all the comments about her voice.
The one review I saw that said her voice sounded like Harmony from Buffy made me think 'Okay, i can deal with that.'
Turns out that's not what she sounded like to me (not in any way discrediting the other review. We all hear things differently. I know that).
Her voice is incredibly annoying to me. And what makes it worse is that she doesn't talk that way in the 'interview section'. I felt like she was talking to a roomful of 3 year olds.
this dvd consists of 3 sections: cardio kickboxing, strength training and cardio boot camp. each section contains 3 or 4 workouts.
for example, the kickboxing section includes two 25 min workouts plus a 10 min ab routine. the strength training section includes an upper body workout (12 mins), lower body workout (10 mins) and abs (10 mins). the bootcamp section also has two 25 min routines plus 10 mins of abs.
each section will allow you to do each workout separately or will give you a menu option to combine all of the workouts from that section for a full, longer,
workout. you cannot select an option to combine workouts from the different sections however, except in the case of 'abs' where you can combine the different ab workouts from each section for a 30 minute ab workout. if you want to combine the other workouts from each section then you can do that manually.
so today i chose to do the first cardio kickboxing workout, followed by the full body strength training workout (upper, lower and abs). the two cardio kickboxing workouts each have a warmup and cooldown but the strength
training workouts do not and neither do the abs segments. so please keep that in mind when selecting workouts to do and when you mix and match from this dvd. i dont know if the bootcamp routines have warmups/cooldowns at
the workouts are at the intermediate level and some parts might be considered to be higher because of some impact moves -- like quite a few jumping jacks in the kickboxing workout and some plyometrics and combination moves in the lower body strength workout. also the pace of
the kickboxing routine was fast.
these are solid workouts and i do feel like i had a good workout... but i did notice that a lower body strength combo move was not done on both sides of the body (this was a rear lunge into a front kick) and i was a bit disappointed in that.
meaghan uses 5 lb dumbells, a woman in back uses 3s and a man uses 8s.
the lower body strength workout is not weighted, but you could add dumbells and ankle weights if you wanted to. meghan uses a dumbell on the chest during the strength training ab segment which was a bunch of crunch variations with pulses.
meaghan and her background exercisers look good, one woman and one man, although the man wasnt on the screen that much or else i just didnt notice him much.
also noone demonstrates low impact modifications to the
plyometrics, for example.
also on the dvd, is an 'interview' with meaghan during which she talks about how often to schedule cardio and strength workouts and says to eat a low fat, low sugar, low carb, high protein diet.
be aware that meaghan is wearing makeup during the workouts. the dvd said something about her being a model and i can see that. if she polished and perfected her instructing skills then she could
be great. as it is, her voice is kind of high (screechy) at times and while that didnt bug me, i did notice it. also she cues to her own left/right (grrr! argh!).
Overall, I enjoy and like this DVD a lot, but I do have some complaints and cautions. First, the positives:
1. The title lives up to its name--it's probably among the most difficult cross-circuit DVD I've done, definitely not for beginners. There are no modified versions of the more strenuous bits. I would consider the cardio workouts to be a solid intermediate to high intermediate because there are a lot of jumping and bouncy moves. The strength training workouts are intense depending on the amount of weight that you use.
2. It's a real bargain. Unlike many exercise DVDs, this one has a lot of routine. Two 20-minute kickboxing routines, with their own warm-up, cool-down and abs section, and two 25-minute cardio boot camp routines, with their own warm-up, cool-down and abs section. You can mix and match as you please. I like that each abs routine is tailored for the cardio routine it accompanies.
3. Timely cuing by Meghan.
4. Good variety of moves within each routine. The cardio boot camp routines use a mix of jumping, hopping, squats and running in place. I didn't find any of the routines excessively hard on the knees.
1. No mirror cueing. If she says RIGHT, it means HER RIGHT.
2. High-pitched voice. Her voice is high-pitched, and the sound quality only accentuates its thinness. On the plus side, she doesn't have any annoying mannerisms, like saying the same phrase over and over, and she doesn't "cheer-lead" too much. How to solve this problem: Lower the volume of your TV and play your own music. The moves are very basic anyway.
3. Occasionally the pace of the routine gets so fast it becomes difficult to maintain good form. In the second boot camp routine, one of the background exercisers uses a step for some of the moves. Because of the fast pace, she half-stumbles a couple of times, and it looks to me like the chance of injury using the step (which I've never tried) would be high, unless you're an experienced "stepper."
4. Limited instructions for the kickboxing moves. If you've never done any kickboxing, you may have trouble getting the proper form down, especially for the side kick. Other videos (Kathy Smith and Total Workout) offer better instruction for kickboxing.
CONCLUSION: A great buy despite a few negatives. The variety and athletic choreography of the workouts, the generally high intermediate intensity level, and the mix-and-match options of this DVD make this a keeper for me.
September 9, 2005