Dynamic Strength & Power

Cindy Thorp
Year Released: 2003

Categories: Balance/Medicine/Mini/Stability Ball, Circuit Training (cardio and weights)

This is a predominantly cardio workout with a lot of power/jumping movements and some strength moves mixed in. It is from the first set of workouts produced by Tracie Long Productions (TLP), and the production quality is not great. The set looks like a garage with curtains hung around the sides, and the cuts between sections are a bit choppy, with appearing and disappearing steps and weights. The camera angles occassionally keep you from seeing the exercisers’ legs at crucial moments, but since the moves are not complicated, you can figure out what to do pretty quickly, and it’s not a problem after your first few times. I’m not a very picky about production values, and I find I can use this workout without feeling upset about these problems. Other people may not find the production acceptable, however, especially since newer TLP workouts with reportedly better production values are now available. The sound quality is fine.

I was hesitant about getting this DVD, because I’ve never liked the Firm videos. These do seem in the Firm tradition, because they move quickly between different segments, mix up cardio and weights, and mix strength training exercises up rather than focusing on one body part per segment as Cathe Friedrich does in most of her weight workouts. However, I liked the “power” idea, as I like to jump around and do plyometrics; this video seemed enough like Mindy Mylrea’s strength/power work (such as Strength Express) that I might like it. I do like it and plan to keep it and use it, though it has some drawbacks.

All of the TLP workouts focus on “functional fitness” which they interpret as combining upper and lower body exercises and/or adding twists/core rotation to exercises. On many of the strength moves, you’re shown a basic option and then given a more advanced option that adds rotation or balance in some way with the instruction to “make it functional”. I guess the intention is to train several muscle groups to work together, as they do in real life, rather than isolating a single muscle group. However, I still find the “make it functional” instruction kind of funny, since I’m prancing around my living room with a weighted ball and a step. It doesn’t really bring visions of preparing for firefighting or construction work to mind!

The video uses a step, some dumbbells (5 or 8 pounds seems to work okay – they don’t go very heavy because of the functional focus that combines various movements at once), and a medicine ball (they use 2 or 3 pounds I think, but I use 6 pounds because it’s all I have! I think it would work better with a lighter ball like they use, though.)

Here’s a breakdown of the sections along with DVD chapters and lengths. There is a scene selection menu that allows you to go directly to any of the chapters. The entire workout is 42 minutes long.

1 Warm Up (2:10)
2 Stretch (3:30)
3 Med Ball Cardio (4:38) - Squats, squat jumps, shuffles, pendulums, rocking horse, jumps side-to-side over the ball placed on the floor

4 Squats, Jumps, Militaries (2:22) [Uses step] Squats with dumbbells, jumps onto step, military press with dumbbells, militaries with squats

5 Med Ball Cardio and Rows (3:10) Quick toe taps on ball, soccer kicks rolling ball between feets, squat jumps, rows with ball and dumbbells – tough and pretty fun!

6 Chops on Step (2:10) [Uses step] Lunges forward and back off of step with upper body chopping motion using ball

7 Squat Thrusts (1:22) [Uses step] Squat thrusts (aka burpees), plyo lunges from step – also tough and fun!

8 Cross Chop Balance (3:18) Squat side to side with upper body chopping motion, abduction balancing on one leg, one leg squats – unique exercises,I like this section pretty well.

9 Hurdle Lunge Cardio (3:38) Lunges moving forward, plyo lunges in place, ski jump back – lots of fun and really tough! This is the most choreographed it gets, but you catch on quickly. Leaves me very winded.

10 Side Leg Press (2:58) [Uses step] Squat and side leg lift on step with dumbbells, side jumps onto step, bicep work with dumbbells, then repeat other side

11 Multi-planar lunges (3:44) Lunges diagonally back, jumps diagonally back, squats with releve – my favorite section, again, unique exercises

12 Chest and Back (2:49) Push-ups with ball, planks with scapular retraction using ball, superman with bal – quick and to the point, but pretty effective for such a short segment.

13 Abs (5:05) – I really like the ab section – kind of yoga and pilates inspired. Some moves use the ball, and I feel like you get a lot of ab work done in only 5 minutes. I pop the DVD in for this section alone when I don’t want to spend too much time on abs after another workout.

14 Final Stretch (1:06) – Kind of yoga inspired. Nicely put together, but some transitions seem rushed.

The workout goes by quite quickly. It leaves me feeling like I had a good cardio workout with some interval effect from all the power moves and a so-so strength workout. It’s a pretty advanced workout, though since it’s only 42 minutes, it doesn’t leave you feeling ready to die like some advanced cardio/strength/power workouts do. I feel pretty energetic afterwards, which is a good thing in a workout! I think the upper body work is light enough that you could do it back-to-back with a more intense upper body weight workout.

As with the Firm workouts I’ve tried, the instructor seems scripted and a bit stilted. Cindy Thorp doesn’t seem totally comfortable in front of the camera, though she gets more relaxed over the course of the workout. It definitely lacks the natural feel of a class or the relaxed banter of Cathe Friedrich’s workouts, for instance. If you like the Firm’s style though, and find it cuts out unnecessary chatter, than you should like this too.

The background exercisers seem to lack enthusiasm. It would have added a lot for me if they smiled more or seemed to interact with the instructor or with each other a bit.

While I’ve listed all these problems – low production values, unenthusiastic background exercisers, and stilted instructor – I do enjoy this workout, and will keep it to use when I want a change of pace or need a shorter workout that fits both cardio and strength in. I think it will work well for recovery weeks between phases of more intense weight training, or if I feel like doing a cardio-and-power focused rotation using this along with some Mindy Mylrea and Bosu workouts.

If you like Firm workouts, you may well like this one, because I think it has a similar feel to it, in spite of TLP’s new “functional fitness” angle. You may also enjoy this workout if you like Mindy Mylrea’s strength workouts because it combines power moves, cardio, and strength workout, and you don’t focus on any one exercise for too long. It is not as intense as Mindy’s workouts, but then you don’t always need Mindy-level intensity!