Self: Bikini Ready Fast

Ellen Barrett
Year Released: 2005

Categories: Total Body Workouts

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I have this rule for myself: Never EVER get a workout that has the word "bikini" in it. These workouts just aren't for me and why would I want to do a workout that either just has getting into a bikini as a goal or (b) that is that superficially marketed. Then, a buddy here on VF told me that I should ignore that rule for this workout and that I would really like the workout. Since she and I have similar tastes in workouts, I ignored my rule and got it. And, I've been happy that I did ever since. This workout has become a favorite of mine and Ellen fries my upper body with weights (in a good way).

This is an intermediate workout that uses light weights for most of the workout. To me, the focus is more on the upper body, although there are some lower body moves. There are a lot of compound moves where you are doing something with the lower body and upper body at the same time. And, there are those times when "what is NOT moving is as imporant as what is" (an Ellen truism). This is not a standard Ellen workout; there are more traditional moves than usual with moves like bicep curls, lat raises, shoulder press, squats, overhead triceps extensions, etc. One of the things that I love the most about this workout is that is flows so well. I've used 3-5 pounds for the upper body moves, depending on my fitness level at the time.

For those that like workouts set outdoors, you'll love this one. It is set on a beach and the scene is just beautiful. I really enjoy watching the ocean behind the exercisers when I'm not watching Ellen.I can't tell you anything about the music; it has left no impression. Ellen is backed up by two background exercisers, one of which is a modifier. She does a few modifications, but didn't seem to do as much as she could have.

This workout was such a nice surprise when I first tried it. I have done most of Ellen's workouts and have kept some of them. This one appeals to me because it's more athletic than most of Ellen's other workouts and because it just flows so well. At the end of it, I feel like I have definitely had a significant workout, but I feel energized rather than beat up. Time just flies for me when I do this workout because it just flows for quite awhile (30 minutes?) as you move from one section to the next to the next.

Instructor Comments:
Although this is not a typical Ellen workout, Ellen is very much herself in this workout.

Laura S.


So many people have reviewed this already and excellently. I just wanted to add that this was for a long time my go-to for a weights workout that I could complete when I only had 30 minutes. So much that I've gotten a little sick of it and have taken it out of the rotation for a while. There is lots of variation and your upper body-your shoulders in particular, which seems to be standard with Ellen-will get a great workout. There are still plies, squats (including single-legged), lunges and some other toning moves for the legs. The pace is fast, but not frantic, alternating between sets and pulses. You'll need more than one set of weights, as some of the back moves require more weight for me to feel anything. I love the outdoor beach setting. Ellen is still Ellen, but she doesn't give as many form tips as she usually does. One person is showing modifications, including low impact for a small segment at the end. The only part I don't like is a butterly move combined with a plie, as I've banged my hands with the dumbbells a few times by mistake. There is a long segment at the beginning and end where Ellen talks about a healthy diet and......actually I just skip to the next chapter for this so I don't know what she talks about-but I do know it's easy to skip over. There is also a brief bonus abs segment Ellen teaches alone at the end.

Instructor Comments:
Ellen is still adorably Ellen. She seems like she really enjoys working out and instructing. You will recognize the Pilates influence in some of her moves and particularly in the stretches. She doesn't provide as much non-stop form instruction here, if that has bothered you on other workouts of hers (I don't mind it, it's definitely made deceptively easy-looking workouts harder for me.)



This workout is an old standby for me. It is intermediate in intensity and is toning only using light weights for the bulk of the workout, and none for the remainder. I find that the focus is primarily upper body.
The workout is filmed on a very nice beach setting and is one of the reasons I enjoy the workout so much. Ellen is joined by two backgrounders; Deb, acting as a modifier, and Marie (Forleo).
This workout is a bit more traditional or athletic in nature than some of her other work (she is wearing shoes!) Moves include bicep curls, lat raises, shoulder press, squats, overhead triceps extensions,anterior raise w/releve, plies, half-moon, shoulder sweep, butterfly arms. I'm definitely leaving things out. The workout flows very nicely. I use 5 pound weights and get a nice workout. I love Ellen's arm work because she works your arms from every angle. We put the weights down for a short push up segment on the toes. Last is a "plyometric" segment interspersed with some one-legged squats and standing abs.
This is a such a nice little workout! I have, or have had, every one of her studio series (including Happy Baby etc) and this remains my favorite of Ellen's offerings. My heart rate monitor tells me I burn about the same number of calories in 30 minutes as I do with some of my other circuit style workouts that definitely FEEL tougher during. I may break a light sweat but I am definitely not beating myself up with this workout. I consider it primarily an arm workout even though there are lower body moves happening. The workout is very flowy and you literally don't put the weights down for about the first 30 minutes. I have really grown with this workout; when I got it I used 3 lbs weights and needed to take breaks. This could really be modified to any fitness level. I recommend it heartily and have even given it as a gift.

Instructor Comments:
Ellen is a pleasure to work out with. She is positive and motivating. She says things like "shine your heart forward" and "present yourself." Not in an annoying way, in a sincere way. She is pretty and fit, which I appreciate while I'm working out (as I appreciate a nice beach to look at) and is dressed appropriately.

Melissa P


This is a toning workout led by Ellen Barrett, a Pilates instructor who is well-known for her Crunch Pilates videos (Pick Your Spot Pilates, Fat-Burning Pilates, and Burn & Firm Pilates). Here, she combines more traditional weighted moves with Pilates principles to provide a light full-body toning workout with an upper body emphasis.

Ellen works out with two background exercises on a beautiful beach. They begin with a quick (3 minutes) warm-up that includes plies combined with upper body movements; there are a few static stretches to finish. In the first segment of the workout, Ellen does "giant sets," doing a series of mostly upper body weighted exercises and then repeating the entire series three times, each time with a slightly different twist on the movements. Exercises included in this segment are bicep curls, side raises, squats, and a sort of 1-armed scoop move that is supposed to work the abs in a standing position. For most of the exercises, Ellen does one set of eight and then a second set of smaller pulsing moves. This entire segment was about 6 minutes long, and Ellen finishes with some back stretches.

Next Ellen moves into a second toning segment that seems inspired by the Pilates upper body series; this segment is taught in two separate sequences. In the first sequence, you do another 1-armed scoop moves for abs; again, I didn't really feel it in my abdominals, and Ellen doesn't give much instruction here. Other exercises included are rib cage slides, flies, tricep French press, a "splice" move (stepping to the side and raising your arms to the side with your thunbs up), a torso circle, and a half moon stretch, all performed with the weights for a total of about 6 minutes. In the second sequence, Ellen does single arm figure 8s, "butterfly" arms, upright rows, a lat pull, and lunges for another 6 minutes.

In the final segment, Ellen begins with plyometric jumps to the side, first fast, and then slower, holding for balance. She also includes a single-thigh figure 8 and then a single leg squat, and finally, she repeats the series, substituting a knee lift crunch for the thigh work. This segment comes in at about 5 minutes, and then there is a very brief (<2 minutes) series of cool-down stretches for the upper body only, which brings the entire workout in at less than 30 minutes.

Throughout the workout, Ellen and one of the other exerciser used 2-3 lb. weights, while the third woman used 5 lbs. I used 5 lbs. also, and while this sometimes felt too light (I'm an intermediate exerciser who sometimes does heavier weight work), I'm not sure that I could have gone higher with the weights given the type and pace of some of the moves featured (eg, the pulses). Therefore, I think that this workout is likely to provide a light toning effect at best, mainly for the upper body; I felt the moves very little in my other "bikini" areas, including my hips, buttocks, thighs, and abs. The DVD does include a very brief (<5 minutes) Pilates abs workout with Ellen working solo; this was enough to get the abs warm, but that's about it. Also, I was very surprised to see that Ellen wore her sneakers for this segment, as sneakers are not traditionally used for Pilates matwork and definitely are not used by Ellen in her other videos.

If you like high rep/low weight format workouts and have enjoyed Ellen Barrett's other videos--particularly Crunch Burn & Firm Pilates, which shares many moves with this workout--or are a beginner to weight work, you might like this DVD, but others will probably want to look elsewhere.

Instructor Comments:
Ellen's personality here is much like in her Crunch videos. She has a nice personality and is quite pleasant, but she sometimes cues a bit late, and she doesn't provide much instruction here.

Beth C (aka toaster)


I really like this workout. It has some traditional moves and some different moves. It goes by fast for me. There are parts, though, where it seems like I need to switch weights. Sometimes I was really working hard to get the weight up, sometimes it was too easy. That being said, it isn't bad enough that it would keep me from doing it.

In comparison to Fat Burning Pilates and Burn and Firm Pilates, there is a little less of a cardio effect. I like them all about equally.

I agree with what has been said about the setting. It is gorgeous, but the picture is really washed out.

Instructor Comments:
Ellen is one of my favorite instructors. She's positive, upbeat, but not too perky or overly chatty.

Krista (benemma)


This workout is a series of toning exercises, done fairly quickly so that I, at least, ended up sweaty and could feel cardio benefits as well (as Ellen explains in the beginning, it's a "splash of invigoration!"). It includes mostly upper body work, but there are a few standing ab exercises interspersed throughout the workout (culminating towards the end in standing crunches) and some work for the lower body as well, like lunges and some one-legged squats.
I would put the video at an intermediate level.

I agree with one of the previous reviewers that a lot of the lever-type exercises in this workout target the shoulders. But after doing the workout once, I was able to keep a heavier pair of dumbbells close by and quickly switch them in when I knew a few of traditional, non-shoulder exercises would be coming up, like the biceps or back. That helped me feel more balanced, but you need to be quick to be no more than a minimal disruption to the flow of the moves.

The location is bright and cheerful, and the non-traditional moves in the workout were a little dippy, and fun. (Maybe it's odd, but I'm just fascinated by moving a dumbbell around in a figure eight!) The slight ballet styling to the warmup, again, was just enough to keep my interest and make me feel graceful. It's a low to no-dread workout for me - very pleasant.

The Pilates/Abs bonus workout included is very short, but very fun. I actually wish it was longer, and included a few more reps/exercises! I always do it as an add-on after the main workout.

Instructor Comments:
Ellen Barret is easy-going, encouraging, and very likeable.

Sandy J


This is a 30 minute long low-weight, high rep workout. There is also a 5 minute bonus pilates ab workout included in the DVD. It is filmed on a beach with Ellen and 2 background exercisers. One exerciser modifies the moves. I liked this workout a lot, there were a lot of different moves I have not seen in any of my other workouts.

Ellen does 3 sets of each move, with a slight difference in each set (for example,one set regular bicep curls, the next set hammer curls, the third set bicep curls at an angle.) She usually does 8 reps, then 8 pulses per set. The emphasis is on the upper body, but there are also squats, standing lunges, plies, and a short section at the end with plyo jumps for the lower body. The music is fine, but I wish it was a little louder. There was no added cardio in this workout (other than the plyo jumps), but the moves were done at a fast enough pace that I kept my heart rate up.

Instructor Comments:
Ellen cues very well and is very motivating.

Terri P


I liked this workout. The first 20 minutes or so you are continuously using light weights to work the upper body. I could definitely feel it. The exercises are a little different than other workouts I've done. I didn't feel there was enough emphasis on lower body work, however. Also, I was disappointed in the photography. I've never seen a workout filmed on a beach that looked so washed out and the picture was not particularly clear. It's unfortunate they did not take better advantage of the location where they were filming. I also thought the music was pretty bland, but I do like Ellen and can see me using this workout during my recovery from an injury.

Instructor Comments:



I think this is a great intermediate/advanced sculpting routine. The video is broken down into 4 or 5 segments in which you do 3 sets of a series of innovative weight lifting exercises. These include most body parts: arms, abs, and legs. She also does a setting pulsing, holding the exercise. The last segment includes plyometrics jumps & cardio for about 5 minutes. Throughout the entire video, my heartrate was in the cardio range since she moves right from one exercise to the other, maximizing a short amount of time. Overall the video is 30 minutes, with a bonus 5 minutes pilates abs routinue- including hundreds, single leg stretch, and more. It is chaptered into each 5 minute segment making for easy viewing. Another nice feature is the use of standing abs exercises that I don't see too often in videos which are great! The video is filmed with the ocean crashing in the background which is a huge plus for me, being as I love summertime at the beach :) I'd definetly use this video alot for an integrated total body routine. For beginners- make sure you ease into it using light weights at first and following the one exerciser who does modifications. Good Luck Exercising and enjoy this video :)

Instructor Comments:
-Great motivating instructor
-Gives tips on proper form
-Great Friendly Attitude

This is my first video by Ellen and I really enjoy her!



this dvd's case says that one set of dumbells sized 2 to 5 pounds and a floor mat would be needed for the workout.
so i chose to use 5 pound dumbells but had 3 pounders standing by just in case. i wasnt sure what to expect.

ellen is working out with 2 friends on a beautiful mexican beach. this workout would be excellent to do in the snowy winter-time. despite the
outdoor location, the lighting was quite good. there are were a few angles where the picture was dark and i couldnt really see much detail, but overall everything looked great. i am using an ancient tv so im blaming
any dark shots during this workout on that.

ellen and friends are wearing sensible lycra shorts and bras for the workout and they all have excellent form on all exercises.

there is music and while i noticed it during the warmup, it was very non-descript during the rest of the workout. so mainly the music was just a soft beat.

even though the workout ended up being only 30 minutes long, i found it to be surprisingly more strenuous than i expected. it starts with a lively warmup and contains lots of unique and interesting sculpting exercises done with the light weights and a fairly high number of reps done in superset fashion.

i did most of the workout with the 5 pound dumbells but did drop
down to 3's eventually. ellen and one of the background exercisers use 3 pounders... one background exerciser uses 5 pound dumbells.

the workout was quite flowing, one exercise would end up being the beginning for another. however, i thought that ellen could have cued or described the upcoming exercise before actually doing it. since it was my first time
doing the workout i had to watch a few reps to see what she was doing
before joining in and that interrupted the flow. this will improve after ive done the workout a few more times.

because of some of the non-traditional exercises, i do advise a new exerciser to watch this
workout before doing it. the demonstrated form is very good so everything is easily picked up just by watching.

i cant say much else that is negative about the workout except that i wish it were longer.

also on the dvd is a bunch of talking done by ellen
concerning what constitutes a healthy eating plan plus a 5 minute bonus pilates workout for the abs. i wish that workout were longer as well.

Instructor Comments:
ellen was very pleasant and encouraging and gave good form pointers. Cueing could have been a bit better though.

Carolyn Visser


This sculpting workout has a mix of traditional and non-traditional exercises. Unfortunately, they didn't work really well together. The long-lever non-traditional exercises seemed to disproportionately hit the shoulders and required light weights. In comparison, I needed much heavier weights for the traditional weight work to feel effective, but there wasn't time to change the weights without losing a lot of reps and taking away from the flow of the workout. The leg exercises, with the exception of the plies in the active warm-up, didn't seem that effective. The workout is short - maybe 32 minutes. My favorite part was the bonus abs which had some Pilates movements I've never seen before but would definitely like to see again.

The location is gorgeous. The photography is okay. The music is very bland. I really like Ellen Barrett's Crunch workouts, but although I could see elements of it in Bikini Ready Fast, it didn't draw me in. If I wanted to get in bikini shape fast, I wouldn't pick this workout.

Instructor Comments:
A very charasmatic instructor.



I did the 30 minute workout. I did not do the extra ab workout.

The workout itself was pretty fun. I was surprised that I enjoyed it so much.

The music for the workout was boring and I hardly registered it. I prefer great music for my workout, but had no expectations that this workout would have anything but bland music.

The cooldown music was NICE - but the cooldown was quite short, so I didn't get to enjoy it much.

There are several different groups of giant sets - including a rather "easy" plyo section.

I used 5 pound weights and my shoulders did protest a bit during some of the exercises (in a good way).

She added a lot of 8 count pulses at the end of the movements.

This is a quick little endurance workout which is fun to do. I'm not sure it'll get me a bikini ready body, but I enjoyed the uniqueness of the moves.

The problem is where to fit it in. Perhaps I could couple it with a 20-30 minue cardio workout.

Instructor Comments:
Ellen is very friendly without being over the top perky. I enjoyed her instruction.