Women's Health: Train for Your Body Type

Jessica Smith
Year Released: 2006

Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance , Total Body Workouts

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This is going to be a long review! If you want the shorter version, check out my review on amazon.com.

The concept behind this unique DVD from Women's Health is to provide different workout options for different body types. There is a weekly schedule of pre-assembled complete workouts for three different body types, Classic Curvy, Athletic Build, or Long and Lean. Although the routines for each type utilize the same workout segments, they are combined differently according to type (e.g., the Curvy rotation includes three days of cardio, whereas the Athletic rotation contains more strength work). The individual workout segments are as follows:

Warm-Up, 4 minutes
Cardio, 22 minutes
Upper Body, 12 minutes
Lower Body, 13 minutes
Abs & Core, 9 minutes
Cool-Down, 6 minutes

There are also three "Amp It Up" segments that can be used as optional add-ons:

Kick-It, 5 minutes (kickboxing drills)
Super Slow, 5 minutes (slow weight lifting)
Power Flow, 7 minutes (flowing yoga and core work)

In addition to using the three pre-programmed workouts (which allow you simply to select the day and go), you can also create you own, fully customized routines by mixing and match any of the above individual segments. The cardio in particular is very challenging: although it is short, it is high-intensity, high-impact. It is presented in four rounds, which each round consisting of three 30-second intense intervals and then a single 30-second recovery interval. Brief jogs are used to facilitate the quick transitions between intervals, and each round is performed twice total. Instructor Jessica Smith works out with two background exercisers who show easier (Anita) and more difficult (Madison) modifications for most of the moves.

Below is a more detailed breakdown of the various segments.

Warm-Up. Contains side steps, taps, reaches, squats, moving stretches, and twists.

Cardio. As mentioned above, there are 4 total rounds, each consisting of 3 30-second high impact segments and 1 30-second recovery segment with transitional jogs in-between. The impact is high (Madison shows modifications, but some of these still have some impact), and every round includes plyometric moves.
*Round 1: Ice Skater--Jack & Jab--Squat Jump--Power Lunge
*Round 2: 4 Quad Jump--Jump Rope--Twisting Feet--Recovery March
*Round 3: Ducks & Switch--Power Quick Feet--Power Heels--5-Dot Drill (I did NOT like that this "recovery" interval had jumps!)
*Round 4: Shuffle Touchdown--Bob & Weave with Jab--High Knees--Alternating Side Squats

Upper Body. Jessica recommends 2-5 lbs.; I used mostly 8s, 5s for the shoulder move. For each move--e.g., one-arm shoulder press out to a diagonal--you start with slow reps, then pick up the pace. Addresses the entire upper body, not just arms--i.e., there is a back moving lying face-down on the floor and some additional core work. Balance options are shown for many of the moves.

Lower Body. Jessica again recommends 2-5 lbs.; I used 8-10. Exercises include alternating lunges with balance, squat with toe raise, side lunge with knee lift, rear leg lifts on all 4s, kneeing side leg circles, and 1-legged hamstring work.

Abs & Core. This is a largely Pilates inspired workout, but a high number of reps are performed. It starts with the Pilates roll-up and double leg stretch. There is also a kneeling side leg lift, reverse bicycles, and standing 100s (1 leg in front, moving arms).

Cool Down. This is a combination of simple stretches and yoga-like floor stretches which include a hip flexor stretch, seated forward bends, and cobbler's pose.

Amp It Up: Kick It. This is basically high impact with some kickboxing moves. There are ducks (squats), bob and weave, knee lifts, front kicks, jab-cross punches, and a few very simple punch/lower body combos.

Amp It Up: Super Slow. Here Jessica recommends using 3-8 lbs., but I again went heavier with 10 lbs. Using a 4 up-4 down count, she completes only four total strength moves: slow squat, bent over row, V-raise, and lying chest fly.

Amp It Up: Power Flow. This segment is described as "active yoga, Pilates, and dance," but I found it basically to be a flowing yoga series with a few core-focused moves thrown in. Jessica performs a sun salutation-like series with a few standing postures (warrior 1, warrior 2, triangle), making each pose dynamic rather than static. She also does chair, side stretches, 1-legged dog with leg circles, and plank.

The Main Menu on this DVD reads as follows:

Introduction (Jessica explaining how the DVD works)
Pre Built Workouts (links to pre-customized workouts for each of the three body types mentioned above)
Custom Workouts (an excellent programmable tool that lets you mix and match any of the segments)
Audio Setup (provides a music only option)
Bonus Segments (provides a link to two short educational videos, one on eating for energy and the other on healthy salads)

This DVD is well-suited for someone who is looking to purchase a single DVD with a wide variety of options. Since the cardio is so intense and high-impact, however, I would recommend alternating it with other lower-impact options. Being a vidiot, I won't be doing this video exclusively, but I think it will work well as something I can occasionally add in for 1-2 weeks to ramp things up. I think the cardio is too advanced for beginners, although the weight segments might be okay; on the other hand, more experienced exercisers will obviously have to go heavier on the weights than what Jessica recommends. Overall, this is a very well-done video, and it is well-suited to intermediates like myself.

Instructor Comments:
Jessica is very athletic-looking and seems to have a ton of energy. She was not overly peppy but did make goofy comments occasionally. Her cueing was just okay, but the moves were generally basic enough so that this was not an issue.

The studio is bright, with colorful geometric patterns on the walls as well as posters which appear to be Women's Health magazine covers. The music is upbeat and generally matches the moves well. A countdown timer often appears on-screen; this made sense during the cardio intervals, not so much during the other segments.

Beth C (aka toaster)