Endurance For Movement

Tracie Long
Year Released: 2006

Categories: Circuit Training (cardio and weights) , Gliding Disks, Total Body Workouts

Endurance for Movement (EFM) is one of four new functional fitness workouts from the Tracie Long Training (TLT) group. The concept of functional fitness means that the exercises are designed to mimic the movements you perform in "real" life, often by emphasizing balance and other core-strengthening moves. Tracie describes EFM as an "integrated" workout which uses a stability ball, dumbbells, and "rag" work (see below) to provide full-body strength training as well as cardio benefits. Tracie Long herself leads this video, and as with all of the TLT workouts, she works out with two companions: Nancy, who is showing modified versions of the exercises, and Linda Marie, who does some more challenging moves. There is no chapter menu on the DVD, but it is chaptered, so you can skip around as needed.

This 60-minute workout begins with multi-planar lunges using light weights; there are also arm reaches to the side to stretch your torso. The first time through, I had a little trouble following along, as Tracie does not always cue the next move in advance. Also, the warm-up moves pretty quickly, and I found myself immediately feeling tired. A unique stretch segment consists of walking planks--Tracie calls these "caterpillers"--and hamstring stretches; both felt good, but I wasn't sure if I was maintaining correct form. Next, Tracie moves on to the first segment of core work using the stability ball: lying face-down with the ball under your pelvis, you do mermaids, which involve lifting your legs, and frogs, which involve drawing the heels in. A tough move follows in which you lie with your thighs on the ball and then roll your torso from side-to-side so that your hips stack; very challenging! Then it's back to standing for the first cardio segment, which begins with lunge kicks and progresses to stride jumps. In-between doing the two sides, Tracie includes some higher impact work with fast jogs and butt kicks (Nancy does show a reduced range of motion here, but she still does high impact). Following this, you pick up your weights for the first time (Tracie suggests 3-8 lbs.) for side lunges with rotating overhead presses. Continuing with the heavy lower body work, Tracie does a unique 1-leg squat move in which you raise your heel on 1 leg, squat down on the other, hike your glutes (a variation on good mornings), and then return to standing, progressing to raising the knee on the non-working leg. In-between legs comes some more plyometric work with 1-leg hops. This section ends another different variation on a traditional move: you do a squat with a 1-arm row (palms up), but you keep the shoulder of the opposite arm pinned back the entire time.

Going back to the floor for some additional plank work (using the ball is optional), Tracie alternately lifts each leg, bringing the knee in to work the obliques. Then everyone uses the ball for supermans: without any weights, you squeeze your arms and shoulders straight back, then back and down. Ready for more cardio? This time it's side kicks with jumping jacks in-between; there's also a fun little front lunge/hop sequence. After the cardio, you do your first segment of "rag" work, where you use rags under your limbs (or paper plate if you're working on carpet) to facilitate gliding. Here, you start with push-ups with your hands on dumbbells (this bothers me, so I skipped the dumbbells) and feet on rags (optional), progressing to side plank with dumbbell rotation. Next, everyone puts the rags under their feet for "mountain climbers," where you slowly, then faster, pull one knee at a time in and out to your chest. After a brief stretch, you repeat the exercise pulling BOTH knees in at the same time--this was extremely tough, and I couldn't complete all the reps even when I continued with one knee at a time.

At this point, you are about halfway through the workout (33 minutes), and in my opinion, the hardest part is over! You move back to standing for some additional heavy lower body work: starting in a dip position, you very slowly drag in the leg and raise to standing, lifting your knee and extending your hips. More push-ups follow, this time with one hand on the rang and pushing out to the side, then pushing forward for a nice lat stretch and finishing with tricep kickbacks on one knee. Moving back to the ball, you'll sit with the ball under the small of your back and do transverse crunches, eventually adding light weights to work the obliques. If you tuck your hips hard here, you can really feel these! Now it's time for the final cardio segment, which was fun. Tracie starts with "Ali shuffles," or alternately hopping each foot to the front while moving to the side. Each series ends with optional squat jumps and a lunge with torso rotation. This sequence also includes a side shuffle with cobra arms (ie, squeezing the shoulders behind you) for more posture work. I really enjoyed the next segment as well, which consisted of clock lunges interspersed with push squats and cobra arms. Next comes the only standing rag work: you stand with the rag under one foot, pushing the leg out to a side squat and using the rag as a brake. This segment also includes glute hikes, bicep curls with overhead row, and 1-arm rows with torso rotations.

Finally, you move to the floor for abs work. Tracie holds a dumbbell between her feet for reverse curls; she then switches the dumbbell to her hands for a lat pullover with a 1-leg reverse crunch. After a final set of reverse curls, you're finished with the abs work, and Tracie performs a few traditional stretches on the floor, including a hip flexor stretch. From a kneeling position, she uses the ball for what she calls "two of the best stretches I know," a lat and shoulder stretch--and she's right, these felt great! Moving to a standing position, Tracie uses the ball for some additional hip flexor and hamstring stretches, and you're done. This is an excellent workout, but of the four TLTs, it's my least favorite. It's clearly the hardest of these workouts, with more high impact work and plyometric moves (it's also the one that reminds me the most of Tracie's previous series, Tracie Long Productions; these were tough workouts that even Tracie herself has said were too difficult for the average exerciser). Although the cardio had more impact than I prefer, I really liked virtually all of the strength moves, which I found particularly unique and different here. Also, I loved Tracie's emphasis on posture and use of upper body moves (even when working the lower body) to enhance this.

In summary, I would recommend this workout to high intermediate and above exercisers who enjoy a challenge, like athletic-type moves, and don't mind high impact and plyometric work.

Instructor Comments:
While I don't think Tracie is the best cuer out there, she does mirror-cue, and her form pointers are excellent. I also really like her personality, as she comes across as very real and down-to-earth. She also has the ability to be serious about the workout while still being relaxed and making occasional, non-goofy jokes.

Beth C (aka toaster)