Exhale Core Fusion Thighs & GlutesElisabeth Halfpapp, Fred DeVito
Year Released: 2009
Categories: Ballet/Barre, Lower Body Strength
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The main workout on this DVD presents five 10-minute “barre” (Lotte Berk style) workouts emphasizing the lower body. There are also three bonus workouts, described below.
For equipment you will need a barre (a chair back or something similar, for balance only), a mat, and a rolled-up towel or a yoga block. The bonus upper body workout uses a set of light dumbbells (2-3 lbs.) and a strap for stretching, and the bonus core workout requires access to a wall or other very sturdy vertical surface. All of the workout routines are done barefoot.
The routines are presented by Elisabeth Halfpapp and Fred DeVito. They do the routines together, with one usually demonstrating a less intense version. Instruction is in voiceover, with either Fred or Elisabeth instructing, but with the other chiming in from time to time. I know voiceover instruction is a deal-breaker for some VFers, but I didn’t mind it, except there were a few occasions where the verbal cueing didn’t quite match the on-screen exercise. Both Elisabeth and Fred offer excellent instruction and form tips, and are always encouraging to less advanced exercisers.
The set is serene and softly lit. I can’t say the music is my favorite, but it’s okay. There is a music-only option.
All five sections begin with a short, Lotte Berk-style warm-up (big marches in place). Fred and Elisabeth emphasize a neutral spine rather than a pelvic tuck. Note that unlike other Exhale Core Fusions there is no separate stretch segment in Thighs & Glutes. Instead, the stretches are incorporated into the individual segments.
The main workout is chaptered as follows. There is also a “Play All” and a “Play All Without Introduction.” You can choose one segment individually (which will return you to the menu after completion, rather than continuing on to the next segment).
-Turned Out Thigh: Pulses and holds (“strength in stillness”) in first position plie. Next was an exercise new to me -- facing the barre, bend slightly forward to put spine in a slight C-curve, extend one leg forward in turnout, lift and pulse. Following that, we turn sideways to barre, in first position plie on toes, lean back and pulse thighs outward (Elisabeth does this without holding onto the barre at all!). Floor stretch.
-Parallel Thigh: Two sets with feet and legs together in parallel position, on toes, slow pulses with holds. Two more sets follow with the towel or yoga block held between the thighs. We then turn to the side, one hand on the barre, block/towel still between the thighs, lean back into a “waterski” position for small pulses and tucks. After a thigh stretch we move to the floor for knee dancing. (I don’t do this part as it aggravates my cranky knees. I prefer a knee dancing variation demonstrated in Exhale Core Fusion Pilates Plus, where we hinge straight back from the knees rather than bend at the hips.) Floor and standing stretches conclude this segment.
-Standing Gluteal Toner: Standing seat work facing the barre, working leg pointed (more intense) or flexed (less intense), moving back in first a diagonal position then straight back. Turn out the working leg and repeat, then repeat whole series with other leg. Floor stretch.
-Kneeling Gluteal Toner: Kneeling before the barre, press the working leg (knee bent 90 degrees) diagonally, to the side, and then to the back. Repeat with leg in turnout position, and then repeat whole series with the other leg. Stretch.
-Pretzel: Elisabeth and Fred incorporate some holds into their version of pretzel (more “strength in stillness”). Fred modifies some of the moves by holding onto his back foot during the moves. The hips are stretched in cow face pose and pigeon (with an optional modification using the towel/block).
In addition to the main workout, there are three bonus workouts in Thighs & Glutes. Two of them are from other Exhale Core Fusion DVDs: the Upper Body section from Body Sculpt (which uses light dumbbells), and the Flat Back/Round Back section from Pilates Plus (very challenging!). Each lasts about 10 minutes. There is also a 5-minute section of new footage titled Leg Lift Thigh Strengthener, which is a series of standing front leg lifts, done without a barre so this section also challenges balance.
Bottom line: Exhale Core Fusion Thighs & Glutes is a very versatile DVD, and a good value for the money. Completing the 50-minute main workout will thoroughly toast the thigh and glute areas. The individual 10-minute sections make great add-ons, or you can string a few of them together for a customized workout. For example, the bonus upper body and core workouts, combined with one or two sections from the main workout, would make a very nice 30- to 40-minute total body barre workout. I strongly recommend this DVD to any barre fan.
All of the Exhale Core Fusion DVDs are well-produced and readily available both retail and online. Collage, Total Fitness DVDs, and Amazon all have clips.
Fred DeVito and Elisabeth Halfpapp are a married couple, and in their introduction state that together they have over 50 years of fitness teaching experience. Elisabeth was a long-time Lotte Berk instructor. Fred and Elisabeth created the Core Fusion workouts (taught at Exhale spas) which incorporate barre/Lotte Berk, yoga, pilates, tai chi and dance conditioning. Both present in a friendly, pleasant and professional manner.