Dynamic Strength & Power

Cindy Thorp
Year Released: 2003

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

I was a little nervous about trying this video, as I had heard rumors that it was one of the hardest workouts ever. It was released by Tracie Long's former company, Tracie Long Productions, and it was instructed my Cindy Thorp, who also appears in one of the newer Tracie Long Training videos (Strength in Movement). This is a mostly cardio workout that uses a low step, light weights, and a medicine ball (ideally, one that is able to roll easily). I've tried the workout with both the top (6") and bottom (8") portion of my Firm Fanny Lifter; both worked, although the higher step made some of the double-footed jumps impossible for me. I started off with 3# dumbbells but had no problems moving up to 5# my second time through the workout, and I used a 4# medicine ball. Finally, this is a functional fitness workout, which means in mimics moves that you use in your daily life; as a result, there are a lot of twists and balance work.

Cindy begins the warm-up doing twists and lunges with the medicine ball; this short segment (2 minutes) moves smoothly into a dynamic stretch (3 minutes), also using the ball. The first cardio segment (4.5 minutes) also uses the ball, and it begins with squats and some plyometric jumps. Also, included are shuffles, pendulums, and a fun rocking horse move; the segment ends with side jumps over the ball. Next comes a short cardio segment (2.5 minutes) using the step. Here, squats with dumbbells are interspersed with squat jumps on and off the step, starting slow and then speeding things up (but staying at a reasonable, measured pace). More ball work follows (3 minutes), and it's a lot of fun! This time, you'll put your ball on the floor for some toe taps and soccer kicks, then add in some squat jumps and rows.

I found the next segment 1.5 minutes), which uses the step, to be tough: holding the medicine ball, you'll lunge forward and back, eventually adding a "chop" with the ball; this really tired out my stationary leg. Following this comes a segment which includes a side-to-side squat with the chop and a balance hold (3 minutes). Next, you'll need some room to do "hurdle lunges": holding the ball, you'll lunge forward, bring the back leg around to follow, jump lunge in place, and the speed skate back with plyos to finish (3.5 minutes). Then it's back to the step for some squats and leg lifts with dumbbells. Although this work is more toning-oriented, you do jumps onto and over the step in-between, so your heart rate definitely stays elevated (3 minutes). The final cardio segment (3.5 minutes) includes multi-planar lunges (i.e., lunging to 4 and 8 o'clock) with hops and squats with releves, all using the medicine ball.

Cindy then brings you down to the floor for some chest and back work; this segment is short (<3 minutes), but quite tough! First, you'll do push-ups with one hand on the ball, eventually rolling the ball back and forth for power push-ups. Next, you'll hold the ball under both hands for some planks with scapular retraction and triceps push-ups. You finish in a prone position for some "superman" work, still using the ball. You're not done yet, however: some KILLER abs work using the ball follows. Cindy begins with the "roller coaster," a move that is reminiscent of the Pilates teaser but made even tougher by rolling the ball down your legs in the elevated position. You'll also do some weighted twists while balancing in the yoga boat position. The workout concludes with a very short (1 minute) but nice stretch on the floor that includes reclined leg stretches and pigeon pose. The entire workout clocks in at just under 43 minutes.

Overall, I really loved this workout! It was definitely challenging, but the variety of unique moves made it a lot fun. I particularly liked that the workout was intense enough to keep my heart rate elevated during the cardio portions (about 35 minutes), yet the moves are never executed too fast or out of control. I also really enjoyed the music, which is fun, upbeat, and sometimes vocal (one of the songs included is the theme song for Tracie Long's new company, Tracie Long Training). Instructor Cindy Thorp is a superwoman, breezing through the workout as if it were nothing; the three background exercises are fine, although less expressive/enthusiastic. My one (minor) criticism of this workout would be the production values: the workout looks like it was filmed in someone's garage, and the transitions between segments are somewhat choppy, with the step magically appearing/disappearing. However, these issues did not bother me at all and did not detract from my enjoyment of this workout. Finally, the DVD is very well-chaptered, so you could easily break down the video into shorter segments if you wished to do so (personally, I enjoy doing the whole thing!). I highly recommend this fun, athletic-inspired, functional fitness program to experienced exercisers looking for an advanced cardio workout.

Instructor Comments:
As mentioned above, Cindy is like a superwoman who flows seemingly effortlessly through the workout. She is friendly and pleasant but does not engage in any extraneous chatter. I thought her cueing was better than Tracie's in the Yorktowns, although as with those videos, the camera angles sometimes make the moves a bit difficult to follow at first.

Beth C (aka toaster)