Strength & Core FusionAngie Miller
Year Released: 2007
Categories: Abs/Core , Total Body Workouts
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I have had this workout for some time and did it this morning for the first time in awhile. I found it in the circuit section of my workouts and realized while doing it that it's not a circuit workout, but rather a strength workout. I think this miscategorization happened because I definitely get a cardio effect from the strength moves in this workout. Many of the moves in this workout are compound moves where do an upper body move with a lower body move. You even add in another component to those two sometimes. So, if you like compound moves, this is a workout you might consider. Also, she puts a twist on traditional moves, which helped to keep the workout fresh for me. She's innovative without making the moves seem unsafe or "out there". Finally, she incorporates balance moves throughout the workout giving it a functional fitness twist.
She does build the moves, starting with the lower body usually and then adding in the upper body move. She also has two background exercisers with her, one of whom does not use the step and who modifies for impact. I thought the modifier was pretty good. You need two lighter weights, one heavier weight, a band, and the step is optional. She says that they are using 5 pounds for the lighter weights and an 8 pounder for the heavier.
The biggest con of this workout is that she talks A LOT and then talks some more (and more and more and more). All of her talk is appropriate to the workout - form pointers, counting down, encouragement, etc. But, for those who do not like chatty instructors, this workout is NOT for you. Because she focuses on the core in this workout, there are a number of twisty type moves. For those with lower back issues, you might want to be careful when doing this workout.
I keep this workout because once in awhile it is just the right workout for me to do. I find Angie to be encouraging and motivating and I do more with this workout than I often do with other workouts. For example, today, I matched their weights. Since I am coming back from a really bad fitness year, this meant challenging myself to go up in weight. I feel really worked out after having done that in a very good way.
She is chattier than Leslie in this workout. But, she's also encouraging and motivating.
The previous reviewers have already given excellent breakdowns of this workout, so I'll just add my impressions. This is the third workout I have tried from Angie Miller; I also own her Kettlebell Bootcamp and have recently acquired Bedroom Body. One of the things I like the best about Angie's workouts is that she incorporates core and balance work throughout the ENTIRE workout. She does this with the inclusion of many twisting moves plus lots of balance work on one leg. I also like how Angie includes dynamic stretching in the warm-up and incorporates timed holds into the final stretch.
Equipment used for this workout includes two sets of dumbbells (Angie says she is using 8s & 5s), medium-resistance tubing, and an optional step. Angie has two background exercisers with her, Michelle and Heather (who shows modifications, including working out without a step). The DVD is well-chaptered, so you can easily mix-n-match segments to form your own premixes (e.g., Warm-Up, Dumbbells, Stretch = 51 minutes; Warm-Up, Tubing, Stretch = 26 minutes; Core & Stretch = 23 minutes)
Because the workout IS quite long when done in its entirety (about 68 minutes), I did the Core on one day and the remainder of the workout the next. Each of these portions left me sore for days! I actually liked Angie's core work here better than on her newer Bedroom Body.
Overall, this was a very good strength workout. What makes it more unique is the addition of moves to address core and balance as well as the use of tubing to provide the muscles with a different type of challenge.
Angie does not seem quite as polished here as in her newer workouts. However, I think she still cues well (she does mirror cue) and is very encouraging overall.
INSTRUCTOR: Angie Miller
TYPE: Strength training, endurance total body workout
DURATION: 70 minutes, give or take
EQUIPMENT: Dumbbells, tubing with handles and an optional bench
This is a strength workout featuring Angie Miller. Many of the moves featured are compound moves where you might do a side lunge off the step while simultaneously doing an upright row. However, she will build on the move. First, she'll do the side lunge. Then she'll do the upright row. Finally, she'll combine the two. If you like compound moves, this is the DVD for you.
Angie has two background exercisers with her. They each demonstrate a different level of difficulty for the workout. They also have realistic looking bodies, which I liked. All of them stayed on beat with the music and had proper form for the most part.
She does a lot of twists on traditional movements without causing you to feel like she's being TOO innovative. I won't get into that, as they have already been broken down. There are some days where I just don't want to think, but want to feel the burn. I'll put in Jari Love or Cathe Friedrich. Other days, I need to be really motivated for strength work. Then, I'll put in Amy Bento. On days for something in between, this would be a great DVD.
There's also a functional fitness feel to the workout, as many of the moves mimic movements we do everyday and require a balance element. With every balance move, you strengthen your core, hence the "Core Fusion" in the name. There are many reps, making this more of an endurance rather than purely strength building workout. However, the pace moves right along, so there is also a cardio element to it.
The workout begins with a warm up followed by 25 minutes of dumbbell work and then 15 minues of tubing. Then, you move on to 17 minutes of ab work. Whoa! The DVD is nicely chaptered (Play All, Intro, Warm Up, Weights, Bands, Core, Cool Down), so you can pick and choose which parts of the workout you want to do.
PROS: The set is a lovely pink and white, subtle and uncluttered. Possibly the prettiest set I've seen for an indoor workout. And I don't even like pink :) Even with the pink, the dark exercise equipment gives it an edge and you think "these girls are serious". The music is also pumping and entertaining. The moves are also very good.
CONS: She talks NON-STOP!! Although I ordinarily like the talkers, she was too much. And her voice was sing song.
Although I liked the DVD, I didn't LOVE it. But many do, and this may be the DVD for you.
Angie is encouraging throughout and gives great form pointers. She also has a great looking body that looks achievable and realistic. However, be prepared for her to CHAT YOU UP! She chats more than Leslie Sansone. But at least her comments are germane to the workout (Angie's, not Leslie's).
About me: I’m an advanced exerciser who teaches fitness classes. I enjoy a wide variety of workouts, including functional fitness. Angie Miller’s workout, Strength and Core Fusion is an endurance-based workout that uses compound moves (sometimes coupled with isolation work) to both challenge the muscles and keep the heart rate in an aerobic zone. In fact, this workout reminded me of the FIRM’s aerobic weight training, except this workout is frankly much tougher than anything the FIRM has put out post-Anna Benson. I had to stop the tape once or twice to catch my breath—I think I went quite a bit heavier than I should have on first pass! Although she cues exceptionally well (almost too well!), Angie moves along rather quickly, and I didn’t always know the appropriate weight to pick up for the next exercise. The next time I do this workout, I’ll have a better idea of what to do.
The one thing that definitely stood out for me was Angie’s chattiness. I’d heard she was chatty, but I was floored! She must be the best conditioned instructor out there, because the ability to talk nonstop and teach at the same time is a gift! She is very kind and encouraging, and she gives plenty of form pointers on each of the exercises. Still, I wouldn’t recommend this workout to a beginner. However, I think both intermediate and advanced fitness buffs who enjoy traditional exercises with a functional twist would appreciate this workout.
Angie has two background exercisers, Heather and Michelle. Heather is the modifier, and provides both easier modifications and alternative exercises for those who don’t have a step. The workout is well chaptered, and is broken down into the following sections (times are approximate ): Warm-up (7 minutes), Standing Toning with weights (26 minutes) , Tubing Section/Floor Toning ( 16 minutes) , Core/Abdominals (13 minutes) and Stretch (6 minutes). The entire workout clocks in at about 69 minutes.
Warm-up: I thought the warm-up was adequate, although I would have preferred that it was more specific to the workout. It was more of a hi/lo type of warm-up than one appropriate for a weightlifting workout. Still, it was adequate for getting the heart rate up. I appreciated the dynamic stretching after the hi/lo combo. The warm-up combo consists of grapevines, v-steps, hamstring curls and knee lifts/taps downs on the step. The dynamic stretches include work for the hamstrings, lower back, calf and shins.
Standing Toning: This section uses heavy and light weights, although Angie doesn’t say what weight she is using. I used anywhere from 15 to 8 lbs. I found that I couldn’t go as heavy as usual because of the speed of some of the repetition and the number of repetitions. Angie always cues way in advance so you know what’s coming, but the transitions are quite rapid. She teaches in an add-on style. For example, she starts with side-to side squats, and then adds on a knee raise and then changes to a squat with bicep curls. She also varies the tempo or adds a balance component to provide a more challenging exercise. Angie encourages you to work at your own level, but to try a few reps of the harder variation if you can. The exercises (which are repeated):
Squats from side to side
Squats with knee raise and rotation
Squats from side to side with bicep curls
Knee raises\standing oblique crunches
Alternating bicep curls
Lunges with bicep curls (knee lift variation is provided)
Curtsey lunges with oblique rotation
Moving side squats
Moving/stationary side squats with hammer curls and overhead presses
Deadlifts and 1-legged deadlifts
Cross-body deadlifts with rotation
Side lunges with lat rows
Squats off the step
Squats off the step with shoulder press and leg abduction
French presses standing on one leg
The next section uses the tubing. Along with the abdominal core section, this could potentially be used as a quick, separate workout to add onto a cardio day. The exercises:
Lunges with reverse flyes
Lunges with reverse flyes into balance with lat pulldowns
Plie squats with tricep presses
Isolated tricep presses
Standing on the step:
Kneeling on the step with tubing wrapped around foot (these were a nice little burn!):
Leg kickbacks (into extension)
Bent knee leg raises
Leg extensions (from raised position)
(Note, I found kneeling on the step uncomfortable so I did these on the floor)
Just when I thought I had escaped, Angie throws in a surprise set of push-ups.
Fast set of push-ups, push-ups into side planks, slower tempo push-ups
The Core/Abdominals consists of one standing exercise and floor work. The core section had a few exercises that I liked, but overall was not my favorite abdominal routine. There were a lot of variations crunches—I much prefer exercises that focus more on core stabilization. The exercises:
Crunches and oblique twists
Reverse curl with leg extension
Oblique twists with single leg extension
Crunches with leg extension
Hip lifts into side plank
Reverse oblique crunches with legs off the floor
Supermans (with a static hold)
Bird/dog (opposite arm/leg holds)
I was very optimistic about the stretch section, given the wonderful psoas and quadriceps stretches at the beginning. Unfortunately, Angie misses some key muscle groups, such as the abductors (surprising given all the lunges and balance work we’d been doing) and does extremely short stretches for the upper body. The stretches are:
Hip flexor stretch, with the option to put forearms on the floor
Hamstring stretch with forward fold (watch this one if you have lower back issues)
Forward fold with rotation
Upper Back Stretch
In all, I would give this workout an A-. I really enjoyed the functional feel to the exercises, as well as the aerobic weight training feel to the exercises. (My heart rate stayed high through the standing section.) There are modifications provided for each of the exercises, and once familiar with the workout, it is easier to go a bit heavier. Angie is very, very chatty but she gives great form cues and always lets you know what is coming next (sometimes almost TOO far in advance). I can’t wait to see what workouts she has planned next!
Angie talks a LOT. Seriously, I've never experienced such chattiness from an instructor. However, she doesn't engage in a lot of idle talk--her cueing is wonderful, she gives great form pointers and is very encouraging.
Production: Angie used Christi's Taylor's studio and the set is visually appealing, not distracting.
Music: The music is uplifting and Angie is "on the beat" during the workout (very motivating!).
Equipment: Several sets of hand weights (choose weight that is challenging but not too heavy to lift with multiple reps), tubing with handles and an optional step (Heather modifies the workout and doesn't use a step at all).
(as you can see, the chapters make it easy to pick & choose any section, making it more versatile)
Strength & Core Fusion is an endurance workout, however Angie keeps the pace up to also enhance fat burning. Using functional moves, you'll sculpt and tone the entire body. It's very easy to follow and Angie provides tips throughout to ensure safety (and enhance the benefits). It's a true intermediate workout, however beginners and advanced participants can make weight/tubing adjustments to make it easier or harder.
The warmup prepares the body for the weight training and the cool-down provides wonderful full body stretches to conclude the workout. The weight segment utilizes AWT (aerobic weight training) reminiscent of "The Firm" but with a twist. All the moves generate from the core (abs, low back, the entire mid section) so as your working on one body part (say your legs) you'll also be tightening the core area. Cutting edge exercises and balance work is fused with classic moves making them more functional (similar to everyday movements). This segment lasts about 25 minutes and is followed by approximately 15 minutes of additional choreography using the tubing. (the tubing activates the muscles differently offering additional muscle stimulus). Angie continues the same "continous movement" with all the tubing exercises. The variety of exercises in the weight & band sections help prevent boredom (and offer additional challenges).
The core work begins with standing oblique work (and also acts as a warmup). Angie then moves to the floor for some traditional abdominal work. (even though many of the weight/banding exercises trained the core as well, this floor work is like icing on the cake) Many of the moves are tough and you are sure to feel it in all areas of the mid section.
Angie's attitude is contagious! With this workout she offers a fun alternative to traditional weight training. Innovative & unique, sure to develop tone and enhance muscular endurance. Two thumbs up! (can't wait to include this on in my personal training rotation!)