Core Secrets Full Body Challenge

Gunnar Peterson
Year Released: 2003

Categories: Balance/Medicine/Mini/Stability Ball, Total Body Workouts

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With strength work, I am an intermediate exerciser, who doesn’t really want to move up to advanced work. I have really enjoyed getting into workouts on the ball and Pilates as an alternative to traditional strength training.

My getting this workout is an example of me at my airheaded best. I recently posted a trade list and decided I wanted a companion to Accelerated Core Training, the only Core Secrets workout I owned. Since it’s longer than I can do some days (40-45 minutes), I decided to go for the 25- minute workout and asked for the Full Body Challenge, which I got. I then discovered my mistake (the 25-minute workout is called “25 Minute Full Body Workout” and this is the Full Body Challenge).

And, let me say, I could not be more DELIGHTED with that mistake. I really, really enjoyed this workout. I found this one tougher than Accelerated Core Training and I felt well worked out at the end. I love Gunnar’s style and he just sucked me into this workout, making me want to keep up with him and do the exercises.

Gunnar starts out by introducing his background exercisers. He teases them and stresses their strength. Throughout the workout, he says things like, “I TOLD you she is strong!” I liked the emphasis on strength and function, rather than looks. There was no modifier in this workout, although he does suggest modifications at various points throughout the workout. He gives good instructions and lots of form pointers. He cycles between upper body moves, lower body moves, and moves for the core. There is a strong emphasis on functional fitness.

For this workout, you need a ball and one pair of dumbbells. The next time I do this workout, I may try setting out a lighter set of dumbbells to go with the medium weight I chose the first time. I would NOT try going heavy.

Instructor Comments:
He is such a breath of fresh air. He's totally comfortable in front of the camera. He is relaxed and funny and motivating. But, he also gives really good instructions and form pointers.

Laura S.


I have mentioned this on the forum a few times, but I believe this is the best of the original Core Secrets Series. If you only bought one of the CS workouts, this is the one I would recommend.

As the title says, it is a full body workout. However, the lower body work is very light and mostly done without weights. I have found that holding a heavier medicine ball, instead of the stability ball works great for me. It add that bit of resistance and works the core at the same time.

This workout isn’t organized neatly into sections that you can break into smaller sections. Gunnar mixes up the lower/upper/abs work throughout, so you have to commit to doing the entire workout. It is only 42 minutes total, so that makes it easier to do.

The lower body work is mostly lunging or squating, sometimes with different rotations and twists. The upper body work is mostly traditional, but you use the stability ball for an added twist. There are a few unique total body moves - for example, one move where you have your knee on the ball, you bend down with a weight in your hand, and you pull the weight up to the ceiling.

There isn’t a lot of ab work in this workout, but the ending section is very effective. It includes a jackknife move where you jackknife your body so feet touch the ball above your head, and another move where you are leaning back in a V and lift the ball a few inches off the floor with your feet.

One reason I find this workout so much better than the others is that Gunnar spends less time explaining the moves. There are a few times where you are waiting on him to get started, but they are much less frequent than in his other workouts.

They only use one set of weights in the workout, which I think is a flaw. I need at least 3 or 4 different weights to make this workout effective for me.

I believe this workout is being bundled with Give Me 20 at Collage Video. That workout wasn’t much on its own, but combined with this one will make a very nice 1 hour long total body workout.

Instructor Comments:
I really enjoy working out with Gunnar. He talks and jokes around just the right amount for me, and he is encouraging.

Lisa C


~ 43 minutes including warmup

I’m plagiarizing some of DawnP’s comments and set info as it’s the same/similar to Accelerated Core Training. Since her review is so good I’ll stick with her format.

This is definitely a good intermediate core-focused and upper body using weights & ball and several unique moves. You don’t use a lot of weight but I’m sore the day after. I think it trains your core (transverse abs) in very functional ways that can benefit the beginner, intermediate, and even the advanced exerciser. The music is good & motivating, the coaching is excellent. (I think the Accelerated Core Training dvd had more lower body work, this w/o Full Body Challenge leans toward upper body).

This workout is filmed in a bright airy studio with a blue floormat on the hardwood floor, light-colored walls and large deco windows with a viewscape of what looks like a sunny Tuscan village on a hillside. Four ladies are in the workout and all are sleek & strong. Unlike Accelerated Core Training, no exerciser is shown using modifications. They workout on the silver/grey Core Secrets 65cm ball and it looks like they are using 5 or 8lb dumbbells. Like Dawn I found I needed 3 different sets of weights to challenge the different muscle groups, I used my 5, 8, 10lb dumbbells. Get all your equipment set up prior the transitions are fast.

Warmup Squat
Lunge stretch left/rt.
Low squart for adductor/groin
Back/ab stretch
Shoulder/chest & bi/tricep stretch

Lunge/twist 1-12 o’clock
On the ball Pushup wide – 10
Pushup narrow – 10
Tricep – 10

Balance move 1 Leg knee/ball deadlift w/ shoulder/military press

Lay on ball - Tricep kickback
Chest fly
Narrow bench press
V-Press/bench press 10 rep then slow 10 w/3count

Balance move 1 leg knee/ball deadlift w/ shoulder raise

On floor feet on ball - Abs – Bicycle

On Stomach – arms over ball
Bicep curls
Narrrow bicep curls

Back Hyperextention w/twist
Side Lunge Reach Touch 6, 6, Alt 6
Bridegwork - Wide
Crunches on ball – wide stance
Crunches on ball – narrow stance
Bridgework – Narrow

Seated – Running Man with weights

Upright Row w/ adductor squeeze ball between Legs

Seated – Balance on ball (~20 – 25 seconds)

Upright Row w/ adductor squeeze ball between Legs

Seated – Balance on ball FUN! (~20 – 25 seconds)

Dumbell curl balance seated w/ leg lifted opposite
Dumbell curl balance seated w/ leg lifted same side

Plie’ squats ball overhead
Tip Toe plie’ squats ball overhead
Calf raise

T-Raise bent over ball / twist with weight overhead and return (unique move)

Leg/Arm Raise over ball (therapy move)
Drape over ball/Rear Delt work

Peek a Booty (twist /turn )

Balance deadlift one leg

Lat rows / shoulders
Tricep Kick backs
Lat Rows

Abs: Crunch/leg lift combo
Ball / V-sit with ball lift
Jackknife ball in hands
Repeat - Jackknife ball in hands
Repeat - Ball / V-sit with ball lift
Repeat - Crunch/leg lift combo

Short Cooldown Stretch

Instructor Comments:
I like Gunner’s style, he’s very trainer-like yet personable. He adds a little sense of humor without going over the top. Gunnar offers training/form tips throughout the workout.

Kerri (lovemygirls)


There have been wonderfully detailed reviews of this workout so I just wanted to add a few comments.

Gunnar is definitely more "gung-ho" in this workout and he takes some time in the beginning to introduce his team members with some commentary on how strong they each are.

Also Brooke Burke isn't in this workout. There's no "shuffle" feature on this DVD like there is for the Accelerated Core Training workout.

I thought the music was faster-paced in the first 15min of this workout - and the reps are a bit faster - which I didn't like. However he repeats many of the exercises for two sets - so you get more reps and I think this makes it more challenging - which I did like.

I do think it's a keeper overall, as Kerri says it's more balanced in upper/lower body exercises. It has a tremendous variety of exercises, all using the ball - there are 37 in the toning section, another 14 exercises in the warm-up & cool-down. Just unbelievable, this workout will never be dull.

I especially like Gunnar in this one, he's so upbeat. He jokes during the clean & presses: "Do I LOOK leaner?". He has some wonderful analogies when he cues, for example on how to hold your head: "Head up, neck held high, Audrey-Hepburn-style."

It's definitely a keeper.