Triple Threat

Kimberly Spreen
Year Released: 2004

Categories: Balance/Medicine/Mini/Stability Ball, Boxing/Kickboxing/Martial Arts

Triple Threat consists of three 30-minute workouts: Cardio Kickboxing, Functional Power (a medicine-ball workout), and Go with the Flow (a gentle yoga-influenced, “fusion” workout). There is no separate warmup or cooldown; “Go with the Flow” is evidently intended as the cooldown and stretch for the entire DVD.

Cardio Kickboxing:
This segment is an intermediate-level kickboxing workout that keeps you moving to the beat of the music (~138bpm) without much pausing or marching. In a very short warmup (3.5 min), Kimberly gives fair attention to the upper body with torso twists and bob-and-weave movements, but the lower body gets short shrift. I wanted more knee lifts, chambers, low kicks, and gentle shuffling before the waist-high side leg lifts that Kimberly introduced early in the workout, since I felt that my hips and ankles were unprepared for the exercises. The workout consists primarily of drills and very short sequences of standard kickboxing moves (jabs, crosses, hooks, rib shots, body shots; knee strikes, shin blocks; roundhouse kicks, a few front and back kicks). The focus is on the upper body, with no side kicks and only brief sequences with the other kicks. There are also some speedbag arms, flurries, and football shuffles at the end (none of which I particularly like, but they’re easy to skip since the workout has no cooldown afterward anyway).

Kimberly’s choreography is simple to the point of being repetitive; while it was easy to remember what came next in sequences that combined only four moves, I found myself watching the clock on several of the occasions when I did this workout. I never was motivated to put my best effort into the exercises, possibly because there wasn’t much lower-body involvement, possibly because the drills felt tedious, or possibly because the whoops and shout-outs started to get on my nerves.

Functional Power:
Because I love functional-fitness workouts using the medicine ball, I was especially eager to try this segment. I enjoyed the first ten minutes, which made a great warmup for the torso, but I got bored soon afterward. I felt that out of the entire half-hour workout, there was about 15 minutes’ worth of choreography, with the rest being a lot of repetition and some random moves thrown in for variety’s sake without contributing much to the workout. Even I was starting to tire of all the wood chops and torso twists, despite how much I love rotational movements, and I certainly was done with all the squats-with-overhead-presses long before Kimberly was. I was also a bit confused by her instruction not to use momentum to swing a weighted ball from the ground to above the head; at a tempo of 138bpm, it hardly seemed possible not to use momentum. The “extraneous” moves that I could have done without were: bouncing and rolling the ball (since my medicine ball is too squishy for this and hits the ground with a thud), planks and pushups on the ball (hurts my wrists), and bicep curls and tricep presses (isolation moves better suited to heavier dumbbells or more repetitions, rather than functional-fitness training with a medicine ball, in my opinion). Instead, I would have preferred more varied work for the lower body (such as clock lunges, static and dynamic balances on one leg, and leg lifts in multiple directions), compound movements integrating the upper and lower body, and more circular movements using a longer lever at a slower tempo (Kimberly’s movements tend to be very up-and-down, back-and-forth). Until a more complete and balanced medicine-ball-only workout comes out, I’ll have to stick with the shorter segments that occasionally crop up in other videos.

Go with the Flow:
This fusion-style workout combines elements of dance (casual dance, not formal dance steps), functional-fitness movements, and yoga, all done barefoot, for an unusual half hour of exercise that’s tough to classify. The music is featured more prominently here, in that the songs and tempos change noticeably (from 88bpm in the warmup to 128bpm and 140bpm in some faster sections) during the workout. Kimberly warms up with 5 minutes of slow side-to-side movements which she describes as “a little funky” and which feel like gently dancing to background music. From here she proceeds to ribcage isolations to warm up the core, a faster-moving lunge series combining static side lunges with circular arm patterns (much like Functional Power without the medicine ball), and some one-legged balances, in a section lasting about 6 minutes. The next 14 minutes focus on yoga poses choreographed to music, interspersed with some more dancelike, swaying movements. She includes some warrior poses, triangle, lunges, chair, and tree, with some sweeping overhead stretches for the arms and the side torso. After this comes a faster 4-minute segment with mambos and another side lunge series, and a 2-minute cooldown containing mostly slow arm reaches.

Although I think this is one of Kimberly’s more creative workouts, and although I appreciate that it includes more flowing and circular movements than usual (for her), I’m hard pressed to figure out how I’d work it into my regular exercise routine. If I were looking for a dance-based workout, I’d pick something that feels more joyous and freeing (as opposed to just movin’-and-groovin’), and if I were looking for yoga, I’d probably prefer a more dedicated practice. I think it might fit the bill for something short and calming on a light day when you just want to keep your body moving.

Instructor Comments:
While Kimberly does emphasize good form in her kickboxing, her tips focus more on lower-body positioning and use of the core. It seemed to me that she swings a bit wildly on her punches, especially her hooks.

Kimberly has a pleasant and sincere “girl-next-door” manner that I enjoy particularly when she’s instructing and offering form pointers. She’s a little uncomfortable in front of the camera, but she willingly pokes fun at herself for this in the (lengthy!) outtakes. What I find unfortunate is that she indulges in some vocal mannerisms that I think undermine her otherwise good instruction. Kimberly’s cueing shows that she is very attentive to the music’s beat, which I appreciate, but she accents the beat a bit too much by shouting out cues rhythmically to the music like a DJ at a dance club. In the kickbox section, there are some cheerleader chants like “How low can you go?” or “Work that body, work that body, work that body, whoa!” with plenty of whooping to accompany them. Rather than motivating me, these felt artificial and condescending to me. Similarly, when she referred to her background exercisers as “my girls,” I kept expecting her to add, “in the ’hood.” Kimberly also tended to sigh, “Ahhh!” when moving into a more “relaxing” move, which really started to irritate me by my second run-through. I would like to see Kimberly instruct more workouts without resorting to these affectations.

(Note: She is more toned-down in Box-N-Flow and Play Ball; anyone who objects to the faux-dance-club atmosphere may want to consider those workouts instead.)

Kimberly also draws upon metaphor and imagery in some of her cues during “Go with the Flow”. She talks about holding a “ball of light” and asks us to “scoop up energy from the earth” and release it at the top of the movement. Some of the phrases she uses as encouragement have a “feel-good” ring to them (“You should always dance like nobody’s watching”). Be aware that she concludes with a motivational speech (“Live your life well, be fierce, but be good to yourself and to others, and God Bless”) that may or may not agree with your particular sensibilities.