Your Body Breakthru: Slim, Strong & Sexy Body Sculpt

Michelle Dozois
Year Released: 2007

Categories: Total Body Workouts

I’m reviewing this workout after doing it a few two dozen times, including a handful of times in the past few weeks.

General workout breakdown: Beth has already described this workout well, so I’ll just add a few thoughts.
I find the warm-ups just sufficient to get the blood flowing. I like that Michelle does cardio and dynamic stretch moves to warm up the muscles you’ll be working rather than just jumping around or doing many static stretches. The final stretches are sufficient, too, but they are quick and not as thorough as one might need if training to gain flexibility rather than just release some muscle tension.
I feel the upper body segment has a tiny bit more for the “mirror muscles” – chest, biceps, shoulders – compared to the back and triceps, although I don’t think this is wildly unbalanced, and if you pair this with Your Best Body Circuit things even out.
In the lower body segment, I agree with Beth that the combo bridge – curl move is awkward, so I concentrate on the bridgework and leave out the crunching move. I find it a little odd that after spending some time warming up the calves Michelle doesn’t revisit them during the strength portion; a few quick calf raises would have made this a very thorough take on the lower body. I credit this segment with helping revive my quads, hamstrings, and especially glutes after a few months off; Michelle does a nice job especially of making sure that you hit the lower body from different angles and get into those glutes and hips.
I appreciate that Michelle mixes in exercises that move across different planes and that hit more than one muscle group or body part at a time. (I’ve moved away from doing a lot of isolation work and towards more “functional” moves.) With a few exceptions Michelle’s exercises make sense, are interesting, and feel effective. That also goes for the moves incorporating the resistance band. I’m not generally a resistance band / tubing person, and I’m leery of workouts that spend more time trying to figure out neat ways to incorporate the fitness tool than trying to give you a good workout (you know, where it seems like the instructor is using the fitness gadget or toy just to use it, not because it’s the best way to do the exercise or accomplish whatever you’re trying to do), but I actually like using the resistance band here and can’t really think of a move where it doesn’t make sense.
Michelle does move quickly from exercise to exercise, but neither the transitions nor the pace of the exercises themselves felt truly rushed, even if at times I wouldn’t have minded things a teensy bit slower. This is definitely one where I get out what I need beforehand and place it within easy reach.

Level: Like Beth, I’d recommend this to intermediate to maybe intermediate plus exercisers. The modifier is there for those who are more beg./int., but if you’re more than int./adv., even if you go as heavy as you can given the somewhat quick pace, you probably won’t feel as challenged as you’d like.
Normally I consider myself an int./adv. exerciser, but when I got this one and when I revisited it this past month I was more of a lower int., at which point it was decently challenging, and I was more than willing to stick with the modifications in places. Once I’m back to the int./adv. level this will be a more moderately challenging workout, one that will leave me feeling nicely worked out without any danger of being wiped out.

Class: 4 women, who as mentioned are from Michelle’s gym, join Michelle, who cues live. 1 woman shows modifications, and I appreciate that more often than not Michelle mentions what the modification is rather than waving vaguely in her direction as someone to follow if needed. Michelle notes that she can hear the other exercisers working hard, but they’re not wearing mikes, so the whooping is muted.

Music: The upbeat instrumental stuff is generic exercise video issue, but Michelle has matched it to the moves well.

Set: interior space with mostly brown walls and floors. Fortunately the crew wears bright pastel colors that pop against it.

Production: clear picture and sound, mostly helpful rather than distracting camerawork (although I’ve never been a big fan of the overhead shot).

Equipment: Michelle recommends a resistance band plus 1 pair of dumbbells (3-5 lbs.) for those less advanced and 2 pairs (8-15 lbs.) for those who are more so. I used to use 5s, 8s, and 10s, but now I use 8s, 10s, and I snuck in my 15s for an exercise or two the last time or two (I really need to buy that pair of 12s). I use whatever resistance band in good shape I find in my drawer; the one I have is probably on the light side of moderate in terms of resistance level. The band that came with the DVD felt too stiff to me, not that it was too much resistance but that it didn’t have the length and flexibility to make me at 5’8” feel comfortable stretching it way out into the positions I needed it for some of the exercises, particularly the overhead triceps press. You’ll probably want a mat, too, but know that Michelle has one that quickly unfolds and refolds. If yours is more unwieldy, you may want need more space to leave it out or just work on and/or around it.

Space Requirements: You’ll need room to lunge forward and backward as well as side to side plus lie down with arms and legs extended. Make sure you have room off to the side for your equipment, and you may want to have enough room to work on your mat if you’d rather not fiddle with unrolling it.

Comments: Just a note that Your Body Breakthru tends to be abbreviated as YBB, although most of the time on VF YBB stands for Yoga Booty Ballet. I’d use YBBt instead, but as the only one who does that I invariably cause more confusion than I resolve, so I’ll stick with YBB, since in the context of this review it clearly means Michelle’s set.
While we’re on titles, will you allow me a moment of pettiness to say I find “Slim, Strong & Sexy Body Sculpt” a nice sentiment but a bit unwieldy as a name? How do you abbreviate that: YBB SS&SBS? I give up and just call it YBB Sculpt, as you’ve probably figured out. It seems like the marketing department was determined to make this show up in as many searches as possible.

There’s absolutely no reason why you can’t just get this one and skip the rest of the set. While this definitely belongs with the other YBBs and works well with them, it doesn’t depend on them to make sense, and Michelle introduces it and cues it as if it’s its own entity. Actually, I like that all three have distinct warm-ups, too, something instructors tend to skimp on when doing sets. That said, it tends to languish on my shelves when I’m not doing a YBB rotation, but then I could say the same of most other weight videos since I just don’t depend on videos for my strength training as much these days.

Personally I like the lower body portion of Sculpt a lot better than YBB: Your Best Body Circuit’s. Obviously Sculpt’s is a lot more thorough since you devote over 20 min. to lower body work alone whereas Circuit just has one segment plus a few exercises sprinkled throughout the other portions. I’m one who prefers to hit the lower body hard with some heavier weights more often than not, so Sculpt is more my style anyway. But I prefer the upper body work in Circuit over Sculpt; Sculpt’s UB segment feels underwhelming and less focused than Circuit’s, or maybe I just prefer the exercise selection and stronger back work in Circuit.

After these three came out, Michelle released another video based on her gym classes, The Ultimate Workout, which bore the Your Body Breakthru banner but actually looks and feels closer to the Peak 10, now rereleased as part of the Peak Fit Challenge, workouts. (I have the two P10s, Cardio Interval Burn and Cardio Strength, but have only been able to preview them.) The YBBs are less ambitious than the P10s/PFCs: the primary audience for the YBB set seems to be women, particularly busy moms and/or professionals (or, in my case, student), looking to take charge of their health and fitness and get in better shape, who may be more beg./int. but are looking to increase their fitness level to at least solidly int. if not int./adv. In contrast, the P10s/PFCs seem to be more for women and men who are already in good shape but want to get into great shape and bump their fitness level up to advanced. Things are less choreographed in the Ultimate W/O and in the P10s, although Michelle still uses the format of running through several different moves in a row and repeating before moving on, and the moves are even more athletic and kickboxing-based; also, these workouts are more about intervals and metabolic circuits, which the YBBs are not.

I’ve done some form of a 4-6 week YBB rotation at two different times, once during a busy end of semester when I wanted to just plug and play without having to think about what I was doing for exercise and once just recently when I was looking for something to take me from a lower to a higher intermediate level of fitness following a forced lay-off. Both times I was pleased with how well this set worked for me. The first time around I remember being especially pleased with the work for the back, as I saw noticeably improved muscle tone and strength there as well as better posture. (I had been using Cathe, Jari, and other DVDs with the same weights for chest and back and was just beginning to learn that I wasn’t challenging the back as much as I should be.) This time around I was especially pleased how quickly my legs firmed up, as I noticed that all of my pants were much looser through the thighs after my four weeks. I also noticed more muscle in the arms, especially biceps and triceps, but I should mention that not only was I coming off a break but also that for the past few years I haven’t been doing a lot of focused work on the bis and tris. I regret that both times I didn’t keep close track of numbers like weight, inches, etc., take photos, or stick as closely to my eating plan as I should have so I could boast about what I accomplished with their help, although both times I know I lost a few pounds. (By the way, there was a code included in one of these that unlocked two PDF files, one with rotations and one with a diet plan, both of which are pretty sensible things, on the YBB website.)
But I will say that I firmly believe the YBB set is proof that you don’t need a huge expensive set to get results, whether you’re looking to improve your fitness level, lose weight, or shape up. (I bought all three new from Michelle’s site when they were first released for around $50, but by this point you can find them for less than half that.) Of course, consistency and hard work are the key ingredients you need to bring to the party, but you too may become a believer that the background exercisers really did make those changes doing pretty much the same workouts you now are.

Instructor Comments:
I think Michelle does a good job cuing exercises and giving form tips, but I wouldn’t recommend this to someone who didn’t already have some strength-training experience because she assumes you already have an idea of what you’re doing.
I like Michelle’s personality here. She’s a bit perky and chipper in her cardio videos, but not so when doing weights. In this series Michelle comes off as very approachable and earnest, even before you listen to her message about how her life changed with her son’s diagnosis. She’s not going through the motions by telling you, “I know how hard it is. I know how it feels. I know you can do it.” Her story and those of her background crew lend a sense of authenticity and truth to statements like these, and personally I find this sort of thing more inspiring than watching genetically blessed models because it’s closer to my reality.