Chicometrics III

Chico Caldwell
Year Released: 1997

Categories: Total Body Workouts

ChicoMetrics is an isometric/isotonic type workout, along the lines of Callanetics, Lotte Berk Method and Bar Method workouts. The dvd case claims the following: "Just one hour twice a week, 5-9 total inches off the hips and waistline in two weeks". The "metrics" part of the title comes from the fact that it used to be packaged with a gimmicky measuring tape, and frequent measurements are encouraged.

The dvd opens with a menu consisting of the following 5 chapters:

How to Measure

Warm-Up, Neck & Face, Chest Flexors, Lat Presses, Waistline

Abdominals, Lower Back, Long Body Stretch, Inner Thighs, Quad Scoops

Quad Plies, Lower Legs, Hip & Thigh Toners, Saddlebag Extended Leg, Panty-Jock Line, Bad-Dogs

Upper Body, Biceps, Triceps, Cool Down Stretches

This dvd looks like a self-produced labor of love. Apparently shot in an empty church or community center, the sound is almost non-existant and consists of a bass-and-drum background rhythm. The picture quality is fine. Chico Caldwell is instructing in a bright yellow tee shirt and lycra leggings (non-revealing, btw) and is accompanied by five attractive but ordinary-looking exercisers wearing hot pink tees and black shorts. Four of them are slender and toned; one - his wife Bertha - is a somewhat larger woman who is nonetheless solid. These women are introduced in the Measuring chapter and (online) all claim to be ChicoMetrics devotees who've lost lots of inches with this program; that's encouraging! Watching them exercise, they may not be "cut" but they certainly are strong!

The hour-long workout opens with a series of gentle warm-up stretches that Chico calls circulation boosters, after which he works the chest flexors and lats with some simple but effective moves (for example, he has you bring elbows to meet in front of you with forearms and hands close together and move up and down). Throughout the dvd, Chico demonstrates options and alternate moves for modifying up or down, or just to alleviate boredom.

The waist section has you down on the floor on your side with one bent leg on a chair for support. The floor arm is resting along your obliques and the upper arm is bent at the elbow with the fingertips lightly resting behind the ear, also for support. You then lift the elbow toward the supported leg 60x, then repeat on the other side. You feel these!

You then move onto ab exercises, with variations of crunches, first with leg supported on chair (80 reps), upper & lower crunches (40 reps), upper & lower crunches with one leg leg resting on the other knee (25 reps each side), and lower crunches with one leg on the other knee (30 reps each side). Your abs will fry!! Then you're on your front a Superman-type lower back exercise and then a full body stretch. You really need this after working those abs!

Then you're on your side again with one leg bent on a chair for inner thigh lifts (60 each side). Then it's upright and on to scoops which are familiar to all Callanetics users. Two types are presented here: the easier version is plies with legs apart (he calls them "bobbing scoops") and the more challenging ("cherry scoops") are 1st position heels together and lifted, moving knees into a deep plie. You begin descending one step at a time, burning all the way. Several variations of this. Very effective! Then some simple calf exercises (I usually skip because I have very developed calves). Deep stretches here.

Hips and thighs are next. First up is the Bar Method back-and-forth pretzel move but this time it's while seated on the edge of a chair (80 reps each side). Then the Callanetics move where the leg is extended to the side and raised (60 reps each side). The panty-jock exercise works the buns and consists of movements done standing with tightened gluteals; he refers to it as putting a quarter between the cheeks (aka the "Great Divide") and holding onto it (60 reps each side). Bad Cats and Dogs are variants of the hydrant exercise with 3 specific, limited range movements (25-25-25 each side). More stretching.

Upper body is next with what Chico calls the "20 Series". Seated in a chair, you bend arms and bring them out to your side and manipulate them in various ways, kind of like you're using weight machines but without the weights, obviously. I can't remember how many variations of shoulder and upper back exercises, but quite a few at 20 reps each. Slow, self-resisting bicep curls and one-armed tricep chair dips are next. Hard to say how effective these ultimately are and certainly none of them appear to have ripped arms, but the moves do create a burning sensation and at least the upper body does receive attention here, unlike other similar-styled workouts. Final cooldown stretches and it's over, with an admonition from Chico to do this 2x a week and add cardio on your own.

What I appreciate is Chico's sensibility and accessibility to include all sorts and ages of people. Maybe I'm putting it badly, but though this workout challenges me, by using a chair I could see it being adapted to much older, less flexible people. The fact that it is requires virtually no equipment is also a plus, especially for exercise novices. There's no doubt in my mind that this workout will build a lot of strength and drop some inches. Unfortunately it seems to be only available at the website:

Instructor Comments:
According to the accompanying pamphlet, "Dr Chico Caldwell is a former Athletic Director, Head Basketball Coach, and teacher with a Master's Degree in Health, Physical Ed and Recreation." He comes across as amiable and gentle with a warm, genuine affection for his groups of exercisers. He demonstrates a slightly silly but low-key sense of humor. No whooping and hollering here!

Lucky Star