Life ForceAnni Mairs
Year Released: 2006
Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance
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I can't believe that I've never done a review of this DVD. I guess that's why I'm going reviews as I go through my DVDs to see which I'll keep and which I'll let go of.
I did this DVD a LOT back when it was first released and loved it. Then, I didn't do it for a really long time as I moved on to other DVDs. I kept it because I felt like I'd want to come back to it one day - and, I'm glad I did. It's a good workout for me to have because it is different from any other workouts I have. I may not do it often, but I would miss it if I didn't have it.
The DVD main menu has the following options:
The workout is comprised of a series of exercises, one after the other, and you do each exercise for 1 minute. Anni notes when you are at the end of 10, 20, and 30 minutes and gives you the option of skipping to the cooldown. Unfortunately, the main menu has the only chapter points - you can't skip any individual exercise easily; you have to fast forward through it.
Anni shows the "standard" exercise and 2 background exercisers modify it - Amy shows the more advancd modifications, which includes using a step, and Eli shows beginner options. I follow all three of them at one point or another in the workout.
Anni encourages you to carry 1 pound hand weights throughout the workout and gives the option to increase the weight to 3 lbs for strength moves. I find the strength moves pretty useless since they aren't long enough to really add strength, so I try to add movement with most of them to keep up the cardio effect.
All the exercises are drill based, easy to follow movements with no complex choreography. I think the fanciest they get is a sashay and the Charleston. Easier moves include hamstring curls and step touches. Some of the moves include impact, but Eli always gives a low-impact modification. And, you can follow Amy with some moves even if you don't use a step. Sometimes, I like her more advanced modification and do it without the step.
Personally, I like this DVD. For me, the first few minutes drag a little with the strength moves I don't enjoy, but I've learned to modify them. Once I'm past that, the workout picks up and is a lot of fun.
She constantly encourages you to do what works for you. I like her in this workout.
Another great Force workout from Anni and, as usual, no complex choreography. At 50 minutes of cardio, Life Force is a little longer and therefore maybe harder than the other Forces Iíve tried. There are some real cardio moments in it, and according to my HRM I burned a surprising 410 calories.
You need small weights. I used 2ís or 3ís for the cardio sections and then held them both in each hand to make 5ís for the strength sections. You could use weighted gloves if you don't have 1-3 pound dumbbells. They use a body bar in a couple of sections. Donít buy one for this. You can challenge your balance and skip using a prop, or just use a chair or wall.
There are no filler background instructors this time Ė everybody is a modifier! You can choose to ramp it up and follow Amy or tone it down and follow Eli, or as I call him, Zoolander, thanks to lots of smirks and dramatic eyebrow gymnastics. Anni and Zoolander donít even use a step. The step is only used for the advanced moves, which happily translates into no ďover the topís.Ē Whee! Another interesting and great thing about the modifiers is they arenít just doing modifications you could have easily figured out on your own like marching instead of running. There was thought put into each and every action.
Itís really a workout for beginners on to low advanced. Those intensity junkies out there who like to slay themselves probably won't find it here because the hard stuff is woven around lower-intensity strength moves. There are a few plyo moves like jumping jacks, but remember: modifications are shown for just about anything that might not be to your liking. And you can choose to stop early because Anni lets you know when you've hit the 10, 20, and 30 minute marks.
Some of the small irritations of the earlier workouts have been corrected. The sound and picture quality is better. The workout goes straight through to the cool down at the end so youíre less likely to skip it (admit it, you do that). Nobody says anything except for Anni. There is less whooping and the whooping that exists is quieter.
Unfortunately, like Core Force, this workout still has you dropping to the floor a couple of times during the workout for ab work while your HR is still up there. Not my favorite thing to do, but itís not as up-and-down as Core Force.
Class act and motivating. I love her and I love her workouts. I enjoy my step again because of her.
I have done all of the "Forces" at least once at this point (except for the newest one) and I still have to say that Life Force remains my favorite by far. Here are my thoughts on each one:
Core Force: If she had stuck with doing only standing core work, I would have been happier. Same simple moves, one minute each as usual, but every 2-3 minutes or so, she moves down to the floor for some core work and then back up again. I would have loved if she could have put premixes on this one, where you could do all the core work in one shot and then all the cardio in another. Now THAT one I would repurchase!
Cardio Force: Her newest one. I've only does this once, but it definitely felt (to me anyway!) the toughest of the ones I've done so far. The only thing I was NOT happy about was she showed no modifier, and since I'm a low impact woman, I found myself having to figure out modifications on my own (something I'm not generally so good at unfortunately!).
Jump Force: This is the one where she uses the jump rope. I don't have one, nor am I planning to get one in my little basement room I'm working out in with the low ceilings, but I modify down to low impact anyway so it didn't make a difference. My negatives about this one is her screaming into the microphone twice at the end of the workout (REALLY annoying!), and her lack of any cooldown. She does provide 3 different stretches to choose from at the end (2 minute, 5 minute and 10 minute - I think???), but you're basically left to cool down on your own.
Life Force: MY FAVORITE!!! I have NOTHING bad to say about this one. I have done it numerous times, and each time I love it as much as the first time! I'm not even sure why ??? I know she calls this one her "mid-life cardio" workout, and since I'm 49 maybe that's why I enjoy it so much ?? I have no clue!
Life Force w/Annie Mairs
This is a 50 minute interval workout, comprised of one minute cardio intervals using light (1 lb.) hand weights for intensity. Annie recommends you use one pound weights for all the cardio intervals, and throughout the workout, subtitles prompt you with the option to switch to three pounds weights for the sculpting intervals. All of the intervals have a cardio effect them though, and I stuck with one pounders since Iíd worked out with weights the day before doing this workout and I only wanted a cardio workout. This worked out well for me but Iíll probably try switching up the weights next time just to see how it feels. You could use this workout for both cardio and sculpting but it would be a high rep/low weight workout.
There are three chapters:
1) Workout Guidelines
2) The Workout
A separate chapter for the workout guidelines is a good thing since I donít ever need to view again. After every ten minutes or so, Anni gives you the option to end your workout and move on to the cool down or continue exercising. There are two background exercisers. Eli shows beginner modifications, Anni the intermediate, and Amy the more advanced options. The beauty of this is you can switch levels at any time. It was fun to try some of the different options.
Warm up - March in place for about a half a minute, then pickup the hand weights and continue marching, then walk side to side, then add in a back kick as you extend your arms out in front of you with the weights. This whole sequence lasts about two minutes, then you move on the first interval, which is alternating knee lifts with chest presses -- walk, walk knee lift, walk walk knee lift, all the while chest pressing with light weights. The advanced version is alternating knee lifts on and off the step, and beginner modification is to do heel digs.
The next interval is straight leg lifts with the one leg and knee up with the opposite leg while pressing your arms forward then down. Next jump rope for a minute, then repeat the leg lift/knee up interval, switching legs.
Next is squats with lateral raises. The advanced modifier alternates lifting each heel during the squats. An interval of triceps kick backs follows. The advanced modifier does an interesting modification by kicking back first one arm, then the other and then one arm forward then the other in a very rhythmic manner.
Next are hamstring curls with biceps curls. Add a squat in between each hamstring curl for the intermediate modification and hamstring curls on and off the step is the advanced version.
Then you do some standing ab work with slow torso twists while holding the weights out in front of you. The advanced modifier does zig zag punches with the weights. Youíve now reached the ten minute mark.
In the next interval you jog with alternating military presses then doubles, so itís single, single, double, double. The beginner modifier marches in place.
Next are Charlestons (front knee & back lunge on the opposite leg). The advanced version is on and off the step with high kicks instead of knee ups. This is followed by a minute of wide stance side taps and side triceps kicks. Add squats in between side taps for more intensity, then another minute of Charlestons, switching legs.
Now itís time for stationery lunges while working the rotator cuff. I donít know what the exercise is called, but you bend your arms 90 degrees, elbows glued to your torso and move your arms out to the side. The advanced option is to lunge onto the step, and the beginner does box squats instead of lunges. You take a little break with a minute of sashays side to side with easy lateral raises, or you could go all out and leap back and forth across the step while fully circling both arms up and overhead. The beginner side steps. Then an interval of stationery lunges on the other leg, but this time with biceps curls.
The next interval is jacks facing the front then side with a jab. Fun! Then we do another rotator cuff exercise. Raise hands in a v, thumbs up, then turn thumbs down and lower. Felt great! This is the 20 minute mark and you can move on to the cool down or continue.
Now we do alternating knee repeaters, seven each side, so itís walk, walk, knee up seven times, walk, walk other knee up. Keep alternating for a minute. Then on to cardio twists, just little hops from one foot to the other while twisting the weights side to side in front of you, working the abs. After a minute you go to the floor, lean back on your elbows and do slow, long lever, reverse bicycles.
Back on your feet again for turn steps with one arm reaching over head, alternating arms as you turn step. Next is squats with an alternating knee lift, bringing the weights to either side as you lift the knee. Then its march forward, side lunge on one side then the other reaching overhead with the matching arm, march back and repeat the lunges. The advanced modifier jogs forward and back while the beginner marches.
Next, stand on one foot, raise your knee and do slow kicks and leg extensions. I loved this for ankle stabilization in the standing leg as well as working the quads in the kicking leg. After a minute of this you switch to cardio lunges which are fast alternating side lunges while extending both arms out in front each time. Then you do the kicks again but on the other leg. At this point youíve reach the 30 minute mark.
In the next interval you shuffle to one side, bob and weave, then shuffle back and bob and weave. Keep alternating from side to side for a minute, then move on to ponies side to side, alternating arms up and down to match your ponying.
Next is a knee strike, then pivot side and punch across. After a minute of that you move on to boxers shuffle, reaching arms up and this morphs into a double, double, single, single, single pattern. Then you repeat the knee strike interval on the other side.
Up next is squats from side to side, raising hands in front of you as you squat. Then itís down to the floor again where you v-sit with knees bent and feet on the floor and you twist your upper body from side to side. You get back up to some jumping rope which evolves into a minute of hop kicks. Then wide stance, hand weights up and out in a v shape, alternate lifting your heel in front of you and tap with the opposite hand. 40 minutes is up, now on to a minute of basketball jump shots. You can either just tip toe or jump. Then onto a patter of step, step, step, kick, step, step, step kick, holding weight in front of you at jaw level and bring arms down as you kick.
Next is standing crunches, hands behind your head, lift right knee and crunch, then switch to the left. After that itís grapevines with three alternating knee lifts at the end of each grapevine. Then onto bent over rows, with the advanced exerciser rowing with the same rhythmic pattern that she did for the triceps kickbacks.
Sashay to side of the room and do a v-step, sashay back and v-step again. Repeat side to side for a minute. Then pick up your body bar or dowel just for balance. Stand on one leg, bring the other knee in, out and down, repeat. Pull your elbow back as you bring your knee in to work the obliques. Follow this interval with a minute of speed skating, then the body bar knee in and out routine on the other side. The workout is now complete and we move on to the cool down, which is very fluid and easy and ends with some nice stretches. Very enjoyable!
The production quality is excellent. The setting is on a wooden floor, brightly lit, with white picture windows in the background.
I give this workout an A+. You canít possibly get bored since you always move on after a minute and each minute flies by really quickly.
Anni is a fine instructor. Good cueing, good form pointers, upbeat, no nonsense. I like her!
Other reviews have broken this workout down, so I'll just add that I found it to be surprisingly intense and a very good workout! I used 2-lb dumbbells and those were just about right - I couldn't see doing 5 lbs, and I don't have 3 lbs weights; I think I would have found 1-lb weights to be too light. Following the advanced option with the step will really get the sweat going.
In some ways it reminded me of Charles Harris's Chizel-It series, though of course in a different time interval format. I haven't seen too many other AWT workouts using a step except for the Firm.
I don't know why Collage Video wouldn't carry this (they told me they had no plans to). It's as good or better than Jump Force.
Friendly, down-to-earth, energetic. Maybe a little light on the cuing for what the advanced exerciser is doing, but it's easy enough to pick that up by just looking.
Production: This was produced by Gin Miller Productions and directed by Gin. The set is nice and Anni uses upbeat instrumental music.
The workout is chaptered as follows:
Anni works out with 2 background exercisers; Amy, who demonstrates the workout using a step and utilizes more advanced moves and Eli, who shows beginner options.
1 lb hand weights are used to intensify the cardio. (several times you'll have the option to pick up 3 lb weights to increase the toning benefits) Anni does all the movements for 1 minute, just enough time to get the heart rate up and prevent boredom.
All the exercises are easy to follow-no fancy choreography. Every level is shown at once so you can follow either Anni, Amy or Eli based on your individual fitness level. Anni suggests if you are new to exercise you can perform the workout in 10 minute increments and work your way up to the full workout. (she'll cue you as you go along so you'll know how long you've worked out)
Basic marches in place, hamstring curls and step touches are some of the easier moves. There is lots of variety due to the 1 minute intervals. Some of the moves demonstrated are higher impact (running in place, across the step bench jacks, cardio twists, jump rope, plyo jumps are just a few) however you can always choose a modified move if you prefer. You'll work your total body including abs. Most of the toning maintains an aerobic pace to keep the heart rate up.
A weighted bar (body bar) is used as a balancing tool for modification purposes and you'll use it for side kicks at the end of the workout.
The workout concludes with a slow and controlled cooldown. The music is very pretty during this and adds to the overall effect. Anni stretches all the muscles you've used during the workout. (modifications to make the stretches easier or harder are included)
Advertised as a "mid life" workout, anyone can perform this workout and gain benefits.
Anni provides form tips throughout to ensure safety and enhance the toning benefits. www.force-fitness.com