PowerFit Harmony: Lower Body BlastStephanie Huckabee
Year Released: 2010
Categories: Lower Body Strength
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Note: This is disc #7 in the PowerFit Harmony set.
I’m reviewing this workout after doing it three times.
General workout breakdown: LindseyLu and Cardiomama especially have already described this workout well, so I’ll just add some thoughts.
I liked how Stephanie alternated the bodyweight exercises after the similar “weighted” ones to get a nice little burn and get in some endurance work. The “running dips” are probably my favorite move in this one. I tweaked them a little from the way Stephanie does them: I try to stay low and keep my body still, and I’ll bring my knee up. That’ll make you feel the burn!
This is one of the few PowerFit workouts where Stephanie works the calves with any serious direct attention.
For some reason Stephanie doesn’t do the floorwork with the band, something she does in other PF strength workouts, but if you add it in it’ll definitely make this section harder and more on par with the other strength segments.
Level: I’d agree with those who say that done as shown these workouts are beginner / intermediate. I’m not sure I’d recommend this to someone who had never exercised before, as Stephanie’s form instruction is a bit skimpy for some exercises and the combination moves require a good bit of coordination and concentration, and this may be tricky for someone who has never worked with a resistance band before. But this is great for someone who’s not an absolute beginner but who’s still working out at a beginning level: those who’ve graduated from “this is how you do a squat” videos but need something to bridge the gap into intermediate workouts, those who are restarting, and those who have dialed things down for health or other reasons. This would also work well for a travel workout, especially if you know you’ll be wiped out and won’t have the time, room, or energy to do much but still want to get something in to maintain your fitness. All that said, with some creativity, as many have said, an intermediate could make these work, not just on light days but perhaps even on moderate days.
I knew going in that these would be on the easy side for me at my usual fitness level, intermediate / advanced. But I’m not at my usual fitness level right now. After starting and stopping due to, well, life over the past year and a half I needed something easy – and short – to ease myself back into working out regularly so I could work back up to my regular level of working out. (I suspect if I had gotten this earlier on I may not have gone through such long spurts of not working out…) These fit the bill.
Class: 2 women join Stephanie, who instructs live as she does the whole routine. No one shows modifications, not that they’re really needed.
Music: standard-issue exercise video stuff; it’s nothing offensive, but it’s certainly not memorable.
Set: open interior space with “wood” laminate floors, gray walls, and a big “window” looking onto a brick-looking wall; fitness equipment is neatly organized off to the sides on shelves, and there’s some IKEA-style furniture tastefully arranged along the back and sides, too. The set is brightly lit, though, so it feels like you’re meeting Stephanie at a boutique studio type of place.
Production: clear picture and sound, professionally done camera angles that were predominantly helpful (there were maybe a few times I wanted to see Stephanie instead of a background exerciser or her legs instead of her face, but I had little trouble following this workout while watching it).
Equipment: As noted, Stephanie only uses one resistance band of a medium level of resistance. It’s worth nothing that Stephanie’s band is short, only 4 feet in length. To increase the intensity, use a band with a stronger resistance and/or add ankle weights or dumbbells where appropriate; to decrease the intensity, use a lighter resistance band or a band of similar intensity but longer length or drop it altogether for some moves.
Stephanie and crew also have a mat; depending upon your flooring, you may want to grab one, too, for floorwork.
Space Requirements: This workout is nicely compact. At 5’8” I was able to do the entire workout on 6 2’x2’ puzzle mats, or in an area 6’ wide by 4’ deep.
DVD Notes: The DVD just has this workout. After the usual warning screen plays, a screen with the title and a picture of Stephanie pops up. You’ll have to hit enter or play or whatever on your remote, and then the workout will play. There are no chapters within the workout, which is too bad because it would be nice to skip the warm-up, for example, if you’re using this as an add-on.
It’s worth noting that the PowerFit Harmony set comes in a cardboard case with all 10 discs, 2 on each “leaf,” with one disc overlapping the other. While this makes things compact and keeps them all together, that means you can’t really entertain visions of splitting up this set for storage ( if, like me, you have separate shelves for cardio and strength DVDs) or for trading / selling off the ones you don’t want. Also, cases that store discs one over the other are one of my pet peeves, as I don’t like storage systems that I feel encourage potential damage to the discs they should be protecting. Those concerned about shelf space should know the whole thing takes up almost as much space as about 2 regular and 1 small plastic DVD cases together.
Comments: For the record, I’ve never done a FIRM workout, so I’m unfamiliar with Stephanie’s previous work and cannot compare what she’s doing now with what she did then. But I’m betting some of the cues that seemed different to me (e.g. using “dips” to refer to lunges and the cue of “full-form squat”) come out of her Firm experiences.
I have to admit that Stephanie’s hook of “just give me 20 minutes” is what reeled me in. OK, that and I found this set at a deeply discounted rate, which was probably the real reason I bit. I’m not quite the busy mom type of Stephanie’ main target audience, but I’ve recently assumed a few more responsibilities and find there are days when those 30-minute workouts are just a little too long (especially when “30 minutes” really means more like 35-45…), particularly after I ended up taking a longer than expected break from working out and needed to start back. Now that I’ve done these three times in a row, first singly and then doubling up the next two times through, I’m ready to move on, but I’m keeping these in case I find myself in a similar situation again.
I have all three PowerFit sets, the original PowerFit, PowerFit Harmony, and PowerFit Plus. If I were to rank them in order of intensity, according to my opinion, it would be Harmony as the easiest, then the original PF set, and the PF Plus as the hardest. But there isn’t a significant difference in intensity level between the three, so others may not find that there’s a real progression or may disagree with my ranking, but more importantly if you have one set you’ll be able to do the other sets.
Just as an FYI, Stephanie appears to be no longer producing PowerFit workouts. Although it will be increasingly difficult to find new copies, you’ll be able to find copies available secondhand.
Stephanie cues well and provides a decent amount of form tips and instruction, although I still maintain the amount better suits someone already a little familiar with basic strength training rather than a newbie to exercise. She mirror cues, meaning when she says “right” she means the viewer’s, not hers. Note that Stephanie has a few miscues here, specifically she keeps saying “squats” when she means “lunges,” er, “dips.”
I’m on record as not liking drill sergeant or perky cheerleader types, and Stephanie definitely isn’t one of those. She’s more of a supportive mom, but not so much so that you’ll find yourself subconsciously reaching for a juice box rather than a protein shake afterwards; it’s more that being a mother and wife is as an important part of Stephanie’s identity as being a fitness instructor and her target audience is the busy mom who needs reminding to take care of herself. That said, I can understand why some people have said they don’t feel like Stephanie gives them enough credit for their true capabilities as exercisers since she prefers the “I know it’s hard and you have a lot going on, but you can do it because there are only a few more reps and you just have to give me 20 minutes” spiel rather than “Embrace your inner athlete!” or something like that.
Stephanie is a talker, but not chatterer, if that makes sense. Much of the time she’s cuing, but the rest of the time she’s motivating. I’d prefer to go without her fairly constant reminders to make the most of my 20 minutes and to focus on how great I’ll look now that I’m taking care of myself (appearance just doesn’t motivate me in the way it does others), but at least I don’t have to listen to cutesy talk about body parts or whatever. I do like that she includes “feel how strong you are” comments in addition to just sticking with the “visualize the body you want and I’ll help you get there” ones.
PowerFit Harmony “Lower Body Blast” is a 20 min. workout that consists of mostly standing lower body exercises (lunge, squat & abduction variations), with a short floor section (in quadruped/on all fours position). The band is used just for the standing exercises, although there are a few bodyweight exercises in the standing segment. I have used this workout as an add-on to others (after another), and think it’s a solid, no-frills, short workout (can use a heavier band or hold dumbbells to increase intensity of exercises or even repeat it for a longer workout) or use for a light/recovery day workout. Stephanie leads the workout w/ good cueing & encouraging comments.
Overhead arms w/ inhalation, reverse motion.
Squat w/ arm sweep to front> Elevate Heels w/ arm sweep> step touch> step leg abduction w/ arm sweep (to opposite side)> alternating knee lifts> alternating front kicks> Alternating low jack (step tap)> alternating rear taps> alternating rear lunges w/ arm sweep> marches> wide stance> repeat entire sequence again.
Squats: band under both feet, held in both hands> 4 count squat (lower, halfway lift, lower & lift to standing)> repeat sequence.
Side Squat: arm sweep to front, alternate sides> faster pace w/ press down w/ arms> repeat sequence.
Abductions: band under non-moving leg, other leg abducts to side> pulses> repeat sequence> rear lunge> add front kick> repeat on other side.
Squat Abductions (bodyweight): alternate side squat w/ bicep curl arms> alternate squat abduction (to side) w/ open arms to side> add overhead arms.
Close Squats: band under both feet, held in both hands, narrow stance of feet/legs.
Running dips (bodyweight): rear lunge, then tap (to reverse motion) w/ pumping arm movement> faster pace, more of tap rear, than lunge (Stephanie is performing a knee lift, others a tap)> marches> repeat on other side.
Tension Squats: band under both feet (apart a bit), held in both hands, perform 4 count squat (lower, halfway lift, lower & lift to standing)> add alternating leg slide/tap to halfway lift.
Stepping Lunges: folded band is held in both hands> marches> front lunge, tap, then (other leg)rear lunge, tap w/ arm sweep to front> add knee lift (in place of tap)> add overhead arm sweep.
Plies/sumo squats (bodyweight): start w/ arms bent/hands clasped, held in front of chest, in lowered position> alternating heel lifts in lowered position> repeat sequence.
Leg lifts: start on all fours (quadruped position) on elbows/forearms> single leg lift> glute kickbacks (bent knee) pulses> lower knee to floor then (straight) leg extension> cross w/ straight leg extension (cross over other leg & reverse motion)> child’s pose w/ upright upper body> repeat sequence on other side.
From Plie/sumo position, shift/lunge to side for static hold> calf/heel stretch (straight back leg, bent front leg)> hamstring stretch (front foot flexed, bent back leg), both sides> quad stretch, both sides> overhead arms w/ inhalation, reverse motion.
This is a 20 minute lower body band workout led by Stephanie with 2 background exercisers. The set is awesome-open and inviting. There is a warmup & cooldown included in the 20 minutes but besides that it is nonstop lower body band work! I really upped the intensity here by adding a 20# weighted vest to the band work and I will definately feel it tomorrow-this impresses me because I would normally be using two 20# dumbbells for LB work, so w/ only 1/2 the poundage + the band and in ONLY 20 minutes-my LB was sufficiently worked!
Stephanie starts with some band squats and goes into a nice leg abduction-which you can make more challenging by using the band on the leg youre lifting, a close stance squat, some fast tempo squats, running dips, crab walk type squats w/ the band, pliets, and walking lunges. Before the cooldown she does some table floor work. I added ankle weights and really felt the burn here! Done as is: I would rate this a low intermediate/ high beginner w/o. BUT I got a high intermediate w/o w/ the above mod's.