Star Trainers: AbsGay Gasper, Violet Zaki, Rob Glick, Kimberly Spreen, Kendell Hogan
Year Released: 2007
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“Star Trainers Ab Blast” is a programmable
DVD with five 10-minute ab workouts from
five different instructors. I love the
functionality of programmable DVDs - even
playing the segments in a different order
makes them seem fresh.
“Star Trainers Ab Blast” is filmed in a bright open set with the "Exercise TV" logo displayed on the floor. Most of the segments start with a quick warm up and all finish with a quick stretch. The only downside to “Ab Blast” is that it automatically plays an introduction from the instructor before each segment, complete with a plug for "Propel" water. The introductions obviously do triple-duty for the companion Star Trainers weight training and cardio DVDs, so this could get annoying if you’re using the whole set.
Now on to the workouts...
Violet Zaki - "ABSession": Violet introduces herself by saying "I come to you from New York City bringing black belt expertise with a whole lot of Aussie flair". (Naturally, I love this bit!) ABSession blends simple but tough traditional ab exercises with some yoga- and Pilates-inspired moves. It starts with some very slow crunches, then moves into elbow-to-knee crunches, an exercise where you lie flat on your back while scissoring your straight legs up and down and an exercise where, still flat on your back, you reach your hand to the opposite foot. Mercifully, these exercises are interspersed with some quick stretches. Then it's on to "rolling like a ball" from Pilates which transitions into the boat pose from yoga, followed by some "bird dogs" where you bring your elbow to the opposite knee.
Kimberly Spreen - "Core Blast": This is the most Pilates-inspired routine and the most innovative. I recognised the music from her "Amplify Your Strength from Within" DVD. Kimberly starts with side crunches on one knee to work the obliques. The next exercise is V-sits where you use your core strength to lean right back. Kimberly demonstrates harder variations of these exercises by "playing with leverage". The routine finishes with side planks with hip lifts, and supine bridges.
Rob Glick - "ABSolutely Beautiful": This routine starts with lots of variations on crunches — with one leg out to the side to work the obliques, with both legs raised in the air, crunching up to place your hands between your outstretched legs, and rotational crunches with your legs in tabletop position. This is followed by some isometric work and back extensions. After a quick cat stretch, Rob moves into a long plank sequence.
Kendell Hogan – “Peak Performance Abs”: This segment is one of my favourites as it incorporates standing ab work and light weights for added resistance. The routine starts with lunges with a rotational twist while holding the weights; this is one of those exercises that you really feel afterward. Then it’s down to the mat for some basic crunches, what Tracey Staehle calls “full body crunches” (a simultaneous crunch and reverse crunch) and side bridges. This is followed by more weighted work, basic crunches, and planks and Supermans to finish off.
Gay Gaspar – “Espresso Abs”: I found this segment the most challenging. After some Pilates-inspired roll-ups, Gay adds some rotational work, moves into some full body crunches, then elbow-to-knee crunches with increasingly difficult modifications. This is followed by bicycles with increasingly difficult modifications. Gay must be the queen of increasingly difficult modifications! She finishes with a plank-pushup combo.
Summary: “Star Trainers Ab Blast” provides lots of variety, and some challenges, for intermediate exercisers. Each routine is distinct from the others and each contains some unusual moves. Five stars out of five.
All the instructors are very motivating and professional. This was my first exposure to all of them except Kimberly Spreen and I can see why they’re so popular.