Body Express SeriesTony Little
Year Released: 2003
Categories: Strength Training (Total Body)
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These workouts are all available singly, but I am reviewing them as a set because they are all extremely similar in format and general issues. Each is set as what Tony calls a circuit, but is really more a timed interval: you do as many reps as you can for the allotted time. The workout is set up with a graph at the bottom of the screen that marks progress for each exercise. Beginners are instructed to stop at 30 or 60 seconds, intermediates at 60 or 90 seconds, and advanced exercisers at 120 seconds. I found this bar very motivating and endeavored to complete all the exercises at the advanced level.
In all the workouts, Tony works out by himself, but has a female background exerciser periodically appear in an inset to show modifications. Tony is very motivating and energetic, and I like the fact that he focuses the motivation on how great you will feel, and the sense of accomplishment of a workout etc. rather than on just appearances. He also talks a lot about believing in yourself etc. which might annoy some people. In one of the tapes, he makes a vaguely religious reference to ‘the person upstairs’ being right there with you, for example. This did not bother me, but I mention it in te interests of full disclosure.
Some comments on the specific workouts:
BODY SCULPTING-- I had a few issues, as I often do in these sorts of workouts, with the distribution of the work here. Abs get three exercises, which is great. Most other body parts get two. But chest only gets one, and biceps AND triceps must share one exercise, and it’s not even such a great one. It involves a biceps curl morphing into a back triceps extension. However, in order to make the triceps extension work, you’re taking your biceps out of the working zone. I would rather he allocated one of the three back exercises to this section and given biceps and triceps their own exercises.
WEIGHT LOSS-- This workout felt easier than the body sculpting one. It had lower body, back, push-up, abs and lower back. I do not remember biceps and triceps being worked. Each body part got 1-2 exercises. Upper back gets rows on alternating arms, and I had already worked that earlier so I did biceps curls while he did side 1 and triceps press while he did side 2. Seeing how the worked panned out re. the work, I will probably keep this modification in future attempts.
AB REDUCTION-- Same format as the others, but abs only. The exercises are crunch, oblique crunch, reverse crunch, dual ab and leg crunch, scissors, back extension and stretch. Nothing remarkable or unexpected here.
BUTT & THIGH REDUCTION-- Same format as the others, but all lower body. Exercises are modified squats, wide-stance squats, lunges, calves (done for one minute for everyone with no graph), lateral leg raise on the floor, butt squeeze. The pace is a little faster in this workout than some of the others.
Overall: I really liked Tony and found him to be a nice change of pace from my usual fare. I can see why he would be such a motivating instructor for a new exerciser. I am not sure this is the most suitable set for beginners though. Tony makes considerable efforts for them with the inset girl, and with a section on the dvd for form pointers. But his form on a few exercises is quite terrible. And I wonder what he expects the beginner to do while the intermediate and advanced people are finishing their set. Perhaps he could have put inset girl to use here showing stretches or something? He offers no instruction and I am just picturing all these beginners out there trying to follow along and just sitting there waiting.
It also annoyed me a little that some of the exercises repeated. Two of the tapes had back rows, three had crunches and oblique crunches, two had reverse crunches, modified squats, wide-stance squats and lunges. With only four tapes, it might have been nice of Tony to find us some different exercises. I do like the time graph though, and the technique of having a different length of it for each fitness level. But there should have been some way for you to set up the dvd to skip ahead when your level is done, or some sort of alternate activity for you to do while you are waiting.
My overall verdict? I am happy. I like high-rep routines, and I like the format with the bar graph thing. Beachbody workouts, which I also enjoy, use this technique too. There were a few exercises where I was not able to do the advanced set e.g. push-ups, and this system provides such a handy benchmark to track gains. If one was feeling cardio-inclined, one could easily modify this and do only yhe beginner portion of the strength and then hop on the rebounder or bike or do plyo or jogging for the rest of each set. These workouts give such versatility for someone like me who is comfortable with modifying. I had a few quibbles, yes. Some of the exercise choices were a bit unbalanced and/or repetitious, and Tony is sometimes a little too chatty. But I know I can use these routines and will enjoy having them, overall.