Core CardioTracie Long
Year Released: 2004
Categories: Balance/Medicine/Mini/Stability Ball, Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance
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Core Cardio is part of the 2-DVD Functional Foundations set released by Tracie Long Productions (TLP; the set is also referred to as the “Yorktowns” because the workouts were filmed on the USS Yorktown). It is a fast-paced, unique 50-minute cardio workout that uses a step, a medicine ball, and a band. The choreography is fun and different, and while the moves themselves are fairly simple, I had trouble following along the first time through; it was easier the second time, but it will still take some additional practice on my part to get the moves down. I should note that I was adapting the moves from the full-size step that Tracie and co. use to the small top of my Fanny Lifter—this IS doable, but a full step would certainly be more ideal. I also used a 4# medicine ball and a knotted band.
For the warm-up, Tracie incorporates basic squats and similar exercises using the ball and the step; she finishes with a nice stretch. The first cardio tune includes mambos on and off the step, traveling from one side of the step to the other. Next comes “rock the baby,” a jog while moving the ball side-to-side that morphs into a side-step move with the ball overhead. Following this, you’ll end the band for turning jumps (first 90°, then a full 180°) and walks forward and back; you’ll really feel this in your hips/outer thighs! The band comes off for a side lunge series with the ball: first you’ll do jumps in-between, then you’ll pass the ball under your leg during the lunge. A more complex step cardio sequence called “walk the plank” follows. This was probably the hardest section for me choreography-wise, but the moves were still pretty basic—i.e., step climbs, knee lifts, floor taps, etc. The following two segments were probably the most challenging to me cardio-wise: first, you’ll do “skiers” (side-middle-side jumps), holding the ball to increase intensity, then, with the band around you ankles again, you’ll do squats with abductions followed by “jack jumps” (a jumping jack in the air) in-between, whew! Some balance work follows: using the ball again, you’ll jump side-to-side, balancing on one leg and also adding some rotation moves. Then get ready to up the intensity again: using an agility grid (basically, masking tape on the floor in the shape of a plus-sign), you’ll jump side-to-side, forward-back, and diagonally; as Tracie says, it’s harder than it looks! There are only two more cardio segments left at this point. First, you’ll do side lunges with one foot on the step (and jumping in-between) combined with a transverse lunge series (lunging to 4 and 8 o’clock). I was a little worried about doing the lunges on carpet, especially as Tracie moves so quickly through these. The final cardio segment includes static dips with rotations and stride jumps. I clocked the cardio portion of the workout in at about 37 minutes (including the 5-minute warm-up).
I LOVED the standing core work that comes next: holding the ball out in front of you, you make a “figure 8” with your arms, first on both legs, then balancing on one leg. I wasn’t as crazy about the core work using the step though. Balancing with your hands on the step and your legs in front of you (similar to the setup for triceps dips), you move your bottom back through your arms, which just felt really awkward to me. Thankfully, this is a short segment, then it’s on to the floor for more great core work. Using the band around your ankles and balancing on your tailbone, you do a seated twist holding the ball; you can really feel those abs working here! Next comes a bridge move with a side step out (very challenging—I might have to try this with my feet off the mat) and finally, the band comes off for mountain climbers, a sort of one-legged jump from a plank position. The standing and floor core work combined totaled about 7.5 minutes, and then Tracie finishes with a 5-minute stretch that was nice, if a bit rushed.
I think that the more I do this workout, the more I am going to enjoy it! It is tough, but because each segment lasts only a few minutes, you’re always moving to something new, so there’s not much of a dread factor. Also, the most of the moves are quite fun, and the jumps leave me feeling strong, powerful, and athletic. This is definitely a workout for intermediate/advanced exercisers; a strong core would also be a great asset in this core-focused cardio workout.
Tracie provides excellent mirrored cueing; she never makes any mistakes, and her form is perfect. However, I found that she does not fully explain the exercises in this workout. It is almost like she assumes that you are already familiar with the exercises, which would be fine if she was doing only basic, familiar moves (e.g., a bicep curl), but the exercises here are so different and unique that more explanation is necessary. The camera angles don’t really help either: sometimes, the camera focuses on a close-up of Tracie, and the full move is not shown until after Tracie begins. Furthermore, the workout is filmed in something similar to a wide-screen format, with bands across the top and bottom that serve to further restrict the viewing area (although this does allow the names of the exercises to appear on-screen, which is a nice bonus). As I said above, I had an easier time with the workout the second time through, and I’m sure that as I learn the choreography, I will have no further problems with Tracie’s cueing. Joining Tracie on the Yorktown are her fellow TLP instructors; all of them do a good job, but I’m particularly blown away by Cindy, who seems to breeze through the workout without even sweating! :-o
This w/o is meant to be cross-trained w/ Core Strength. This w/o is cardio w/ a fun mixture of step (not as complicated as Cathe), plyo-type jumps and really interesting core work. The time just flies by! The music is wonderful and each tune really matches the exercises. What's nice about both CC and Core Strength is that there are no endless repetitions of any move, which seems to make things move faster, but also doesn't give you much time to figure stuff out. The first time I did this w/o, I didn't get everything down, but the more I do it, the more fun it becomes. This w/o is also good in the sense that it's very doable when I haven't been working out regularly, but when I am more in shape, the w/o is still challenging. The cast are the other 3 instructors from the 1st TLP w/os, and they are wonderful to watch. I think having the set as a naval carrier is cool. Everyone is dressed in coordinating outfits of red & black.
Tracie looks fantastic in the Yorktown w/os! She looks like she's having fun but still working hard. She doesn't even demonstrate the most advanced level, which is comforting to me! Her cuing is excellent as usual.
This is a workout with a strong emphasis on conditioning the core region, that is glutes, abdominals, lower back and lats; and building dynamic strength, that is strength through movement and developing local muscular endurance. It also weaves in a cardiovascular component with some interval style segments. If you are after a core workout, with a particular focus on the glutes/hips, you have found a quality addition to your collection.
The workout uses a step, medicine ball and a band. Core Cardio is broken up into many small segments, some more cardio focused, some more strength focuses. I have described some, but not all of the sequences below.
WARM UP WITH MED BALL - this is a mixture of basic steps using a medicine ball as well as the step. It includes many dynamic strength style moves. There is a lot of spine rotation, that is rotation around the spine, excellent as wel do not work in this plane nearly enough (with the exception of pilates).
STRETCH - a uniquely styled sequence of stretches, a unique hip flexor stretch which requires a lot of core strength. Tracie gives good direction, could have added about the sensation of lifting up out of the hips to enhance the stretch.
STEPSECTION 1- simple step sequences which become layered into a more complex sequence - nicely cued - Tracie demonstrates good posture, almost exaggerated, to drive the point of the workout home. Tracie does a rock-knee arabesque move which is fabulous - requiring lots of balance and glute stability.
ROCK THE BABY - a shuffle with a "rock the baby" move - extremely challenging to the core. Also includes jacks with the medicine ball and side to side lateral movements with the ball - huge core focus especially gluteus medius, and an abductor/adductor focus.
JUMPS AND BAND WALKING - done with Tracie's band - could substitute your own - excellent, excellent, excellent for developing glute medius stability. Excellent cueing, can add the ball for added challenge.
SIDE LUNGES WITH JUMPS - again, excellent glute medius work plus jumps which focus on quads, hamstrings and glutes.
SIDE LUNGES WITH BALL WEAVE - a unique recruitment of abs, hips and glutes.
WALK THE PLANK - a traditional step sequence (3 basics + power knee), made more effective by Tracie's cueing and focus on the glutes.
SLOW-FAST SKIER - An excellent core challenge especially for the hips and pelvis, Tracie encourages glute focus to enhance balance.
SQUATS, ABDUCTION JUMPS - squats with bands and standing leg circles which require huge amounts of glute/hip control - similar to pilates leg circles.
JACK JUMP WITH BAND - tough, tough, tough on abductors - a very advanced move, could be dangerous to the inexperienced.
BALANCE ROTATION AND SIDE LUNGE - excellent cueing and lunges to 4 and 8 o'clock, maintaining technique the whole way through- Tracie also focuses on lat stability as well.
AGILITY JUMPS - explosive (plyometric) training with a core focus, excellent!
SIDE SQUATS AND ABDUCTION - Tracie executes these brilliantly - do not watch JAC (she externally rotates hip and misses the point o the exercise).
STANDING CORE WORK - FIGURE 8'S - excellent for glute and scapular stability.
DIP,SUCK and TUCK - mainly eccentric movements of the hamstrings, abs - excellent!
SEATED ROTATION (LIKE RUSSIAN TWIST) - Tracie positions this nicely and mobilizes the spine. If you have lower back issues, you may just want to do the set up and avoid the rotation.
PULLOVERS - Similar to the pilates version which I think is better - it is still good though.
It is very obvious that Tracie has had training in this area and has done an excellent job in creating a very innovative workout. In terms of fitness DVD's she is quietly creating her own revolution (as she mentions).
WHO IS IT FOR?
This is not a workout for participants new to exercise - however anyone from intermediate upwards would benefit from this workout.
It is an excellent workout for anyone requiring more core stability (most of us) and would find useful applications for athletes, particularly in sports where agility and power come into play.
HOW TO USE - possibilities are endless! I would divide the sequences into lots of 5 and tack them on after a cardio session. You could even repeat the sequence three times to really test endurance. A word of warning - this has a very heavy emphasis on glutes and extreme care must be taken not to let techniqe get sloppy, hence the suggestion for dividing it up and tacking it on to other sessions. You could even substitute some of it for your normal ab/hip workout. If the speed feels too fast in places, modify it.
OVERALL - GRADE A
Tracie has done an excellent job in providing the market with a unique and useful product. ReVolutionary indeed!
About me: I'm an advanced exerciser who works out with Cathe, Mindy, Franny, Christi, etc. and is a new fan of P90X.
This is an excellent full body, functional fitness workout. Every time I do it, I get more out of it. The breakdown is (approximately):
25 minutes cardio
7 minutes upper/lower body toning
6 minutes ab work
4 minute stretch
4# medicine ball
Band (included with workout)
The workout consists of a warmup, some cardio step, some plyometrix moves, some lower body toning (with the band that comes with the workout), and some core and plank work.
Tracie uses a medicine ball during much of the workout. This really pumps up the intensity. The music is unique and motivating, Tracie's cues are precise and well timed (except in the second step routine, where she cues a little late), and the moves are effective and interesting.
This is a workout that I reach for when I want to get my heart pumping and a light toning effect to my upper and lower body.
Tracie is more beautiful than ever in this series. Her instruction is, as ever, mmpeccable.