Core & Curves

Key Son, Marisa Tomei
Year Released: 2010

Categories: Abs/Core , Lower Body Strength

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I am a dedicated at-home exerciser who uses fitness videos on a daily basis; given this, I generally don't go for most celebrity and other more popular workout titles that are released. However, I became interested in this DVD because I am trying to incorporate more resistance band work into my strength training, and the three routines on this video utilize a small, loop-style band.

Although actress Marisa Tomei's name is on this video and she is featured performing the exercises, the instructor is actually personal trainer Key Son. Key (who I discovered has a BS from Cornell University and a doctorate degree in sports medicine) is very soft-spoken and serious throughout this video, but he really does serve in a training role to Marisa, counting her repetitions, providing her with form cues, etc. Marisa is more laid-back and jokey than Key, but she also defers to him, such as in asking him if she is performing the exercises correctly.

The Main Menu of this DVD provides a brief (1.5 minutes) Introduction in which Key and Marisa introduce themselves and explain that the routines incorporate many exercises within a short period of time WITHOUT the use of weights. They also note that Marisa prefers to do the exercises barefoot. The Menu also listed the three individual workouts (described below) and has a Custom Workout option, which allows the use to select the workouts to be played in any order, playing the warm-up and cool-down stretches only once. Finally, there is an Audio Setup option to play the workouts with instruction only or instruction plus music (default).

There are three main workouts (not two as the other reviewer mentioned) on this DVD: Body Refined, The Best Legs, and Total Body in 10. Each routine automatically plays a warm-up and a cool-down which feature Marisa alone, but these are individually chaptered and thus can be skipped. For the 2-minute warm-up sequence, Marisa starts seated. She moves right into stretching the muscles cold, first seated, and then with several additional standing stretches, including some bouncing (ballistic) movements). Marisa instructions the 3-minute cool-down live. She moves VERY quickly through the stretches, starting with lunging stretches for the inner thighs and hip flexors; she does hold the reclined stretches for the hamstrings just a bit longer.

Each of the three main routines are described below. Times given are for each workout WITHOUT the warm-up and cool-down.

BODY REFINED (22 minutes)
Marisa continue notes that this workout is "just 20 minutes." It starts with floor touches, a sort of forward bend/deadlift with no weights (although Key has Marisa reach out further). Next comes one of several "speed and agility" drills, this one skips to the side and back, performed twice--you will need a good amount of room in your workout space for these! With the band just above the ankles, Key has Marisa perform a micro lunge, bending one knee forward just a bit to work the area just above the knee. The speed and agility drill is repeated, and then the next move is a knee lift with the band again around the ankles. The band remains around the ankles for a series of side band walks: first with the toes pointed in, then with one foot stepping behind the other, then face forward walking on tip-toes. The final move with the band is a bent over reach on the toes. This is followed by a brief cardio interval of punching on one foot, and then it's down to the floor. The first move is push-ups (on ankles is optional--Marisa does them this way due to a shoulder injury). Next is traveling plank for shoulder stabilization. The band is then placed around the wrists for pullovers. Following this, the band goes back around the ankles for a long series of crunches: 50 standard crunches, 50 staggered crunches (25 per side), and 40 leg raises (second 20 with rotation). Returning to a plank position, Key has Marisa perform 10 knee ins, and then 10 with a rotation. Coming back to standing, the final exercise in this routine is a standing twist with the band around the ankles.

THE BEST LEGS (18 minutes)
This routine repeats many of the same exercises from the first workout, although oddly, without the band. Key again has Marisa begin with a reach forward, this time single leg reached. Next is a move that he calls an inverted hamstring stretch, which is basically a one leg hold (or airplane/warrior 3 from yoga), and then a knee hold, another balance on one leg. The speed and agility drill that follows involves skips forward and back. The micro lunge move is next, followed by BACKWARD skips. This is followed by the one leg knee bend and then plank with a hamstring curl and pelvic raises (10 double, 10 single). Finally, Key has Marisa come back to standing and add the band above her ankles for small leg raises, first to the front, then side, then back. The same band walk series from the first workout is performed (i.e., toes in, one foot front/behind, forward on toes), and then a set of staggered reaches to the front on the toes concludes this workout.

TOTAL BODY IN 10 (8.5 minutes)
This streamlined routine incorporates moves from the first two workouts and is designed to be performed in a short amount of time. The 10 moves are as follows: 1) diagonal reaches forward, 2) fast side steps (speed & agility), 3) single leg knee bend with rear leg extension, 4) moving wide jumps (speed & agility), 5) bent-over reach and pull (Key states that this is an upper body move, as you are doing sort of a row, but you are also performing sort of a deadlift), 6) bicycle crunches on floor, 7) band walks with toes in, 8) band walks with one foot forward/back, 9) band walks on toes, facing front, 10) standing rotations with band around ankles, moving arms from one waist to above opposite shoulder.

Overall, these three routines are definitely more lower-body focused, but I didn't mind that. They are also a bit repetitive, but I liked the option of having different workout lengths to choose from. I also think that I can easily modify the exercises to make them even more challenge--for example, I could add the band in some places where it isn't used, and I could easily hold light hand weights for some of the movements.

The only thing that I did NOT like about this DVD were the warm-up and cool-down segments that Marisa instructs alone. I didn't have a problem with her instruction per se, but in the warm-up, she engages in cold stretching of the muscles, something that is generally frowned upon by most experts. The cool-down is a bit better, but she simply does not hold the stretches long enough to offer much benefit (to be fair, I have this issue with most exercise video cool-downs).

In the end, however, I found this DVD to be a pleasant surprise, and it will definitely have a place in my fitness routine.

Instructor Comments:
Overall, Key does a nice job. He is SO serious, however, that he barely cracks a smile throughout the entire workout, even at the very end--he could have lightened up just a wee bit. And he does seem to have a bit of an odd obsession with toning the area "just above the knee." :p But in general, he offers good form pointers and instruction. You might expect Marisa to be over-the-top, but she wasn't at all. Although then just a few somewhat goofy comments, she came across as just a normal person trying to get a workout in. :)

Beth C (aka toaster)


This has 2 short workouts, one for full body and one focusing on legs. The same warmup and cool down play for both workouts. If you want a longer workout, Marisa says to repeat the workout 3 times, like doing 3 circuits. They just filmed her going through the circuit once.

This is basically a high rep, low impact workout using a loop, with a lot of standing-on-one-leg balance work. The loop that comes with it looks just like the one from Firm: Dangerous Curves Ahead, but smaller circumference. The workout is VERY high rep. When you think you're finished, Marisa's trainer Key Son says, "You're almost half way there." LOTS of crunches!

I know some people were bothered by Key's low voice, but I liked his mellowness. I really like this workout, and the only con is that it takes up so much space. Marisa does side steps with the band around her ankles, and I have to walk out of my living room before she's finished. Lucky for me I have no wall right there, but other people might run into the wall before they're done.

Marisa does some other weird things, like have a sweatshirt on for 2 minutes then take it off. Have her hair down, then put it up. But that didn't bother me too much.