Defining ShapeTracie Long
Year Released: 2009
Categories: Total Body Workouts
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I love Tracie's style of workout because she includes a great variety of moves. I love the mix of traditional and functional moves. I don't specifically look for functional fitness workouts, but I like them for adding variety. I used 8# as my heavy weight, which to me means that this workout lets me go moderately heavy. I felt worked out but refreshed. It was a good intermediate workout.
Some people don't like moving on to the next move so soon, and don't like Tracie's Focus or Longevity workouts for that reason, but I enjoy it. It keeps things fresh for me. I tend to get bored and start watching the clock if the same move gets repeated too much. My only dislike was that her warm up was too choreographed, which frustrated me a little right out the gate like that. (Also, there's a med ball shown with her dumbbells in the warmup, then it disappears during the workout, because it is not used in the workout. I thought it was weird that they put it out in the first place, since she's not going to use it.)
Good cueing, good instruction, I didn't have any trouble following along. She doesn't chatter, which I'm grateful for.
Kath has provided an excellent breakdown of this workout, so I will just share some additional thoughts.
This is the first DVD that I have tried from Tracie Long's newest LONGevity series. As Tracie notes at the beginning, it is mostly a dumbbell workout, and she recommends having three sets of weights, light, medium, and heavy. She suggests a weight range of 7-10 lbs. for the medium only; I found this recommendation to work fine for some of the moves but to feel rather heavy for others, including the first weights segment. Tracie works out alone in a studio featuring a brick wall with covered windows and other accouterments such as a corn plant. The music was upbeat without being distracting. One additional note: the DVD is filmed in letterbox format, meaning those with smaller TVs in their workout rooms (like me!) have to contend with less screen space.
The 5.5 minute warm-up includes balance moves and dynamic stretches. Tracie then picks up medium weights for the opening lower body work, which includes different variations on reverse lunges and overhead presses; I found 8 lbs. a bit heavy for this. Next, Tracie moves on to lighter weight for shoulder and triceps work. This is followed by a LONG sequence of squats (about 5.5 mins.) using heavy weights (I stuck with my 8#). Tracie continues to combine upper and lower body moves together with a bicep curl/plie combo; this moves into plies with clean and press/upright row. The last weights segment again uses the heavy dumbbells and combines side lunges with step squats; this is followed by a deadlift/dead row series.
Before moving to the floor, Tracie does a short (5.5 mins.) standing balance segment. This consists of moves such as standing on one leg while tapping the other to the ground, one leg standing twist, and standing superman. For anyone who has practiced yoga or any other disciplines requiring balance/core strength, this section is likely to be pretty easily, especially wearing athletic shoes (although Tracie does note that taking off your shoes is optional). Given this, the segment felt out-of-place with the more intermediate level of the rest of the workout. For the floorwork, Tracie starts with a side plank move, then does a sort-of variation on the Pilates roll-up before repeating the plank on the other side. Tracie concludes with a nice stretch releasing the back and especially targeting the quads and hip flexors, bringing in the total workout time at just under 49 minutes.
In addition to the Play All option, the Main Menu also offers Chapters-Premixes-About Us. This DVD has two Premixes. Unfortunately, the times for these are mislabeled; they are actually backwards. The first premix, Below the Belt, is 20 minutes (not 15 as listed on the menu), and the second, Hour Glass, is 15 minutes (not 20).
Defining Shape offers a solid strength workout. I enjoyed some of the moves, especially many of the shoulder exercises (several of which seemed borrowed from Kelly Coffey-Meyers), but so far, I am not as impressed with Tracie's LONGevity series as I have been with her prior work (e.g., the TLT and TLP series workouts).
I like Tracie, but I have never found her to be a particularly good cuer, and that was especially noticeable here. I found that she would sometimes cue only half of the moves--e.g., just the legs rather than both arms & legs. Also, she has a habit of preview an entire series of movements but then (without telling the viewer!) starting with only the first 1-2 moves. Finally (and I realize that I may be getting nit-picky here), there were several times when she stated that the feet should be "hip width" apart, but her own feet were clearly much wider, even wider than shoulder width! There just seemed to be little things like this which annoyed me throughout this workout, which is unusual for me.
Tracie introduces Defining Shape as Volume 1 of Tracie Long Fitnessí Longevity Series.
Iím reviewing this workout after doing it three times.
General workout breakdown: This 48.5-min. total body strength workout also contains some balance challenges, a little floorwork, and a nice flexibility segment.
- Warm Up (5 min.)
Youíll warm up with wide marches, side lunges, squat & round low back, elbow circle back, arm circle back, knee up & punch, lunge, hyperextension, side taps, lunge out, double lunges, and dynamic calf stretch (heel up & down).
- Legs & Butt (4 min.)
Youíll do reverse lunges, adding a knee up & opposite arm press overhead, reverse lunges into double front kick, and static lunges & overhead press. Next comes ďopen the shuttersĒ (hold arms at right angles in front of chest, then move out to sides) into overhead press.
- Shoulders & Triceps (3.5 min.)
Exercises here include reverse flyes and pulses, lateral raises, and alternating lateral raise with 1 arm and front raise with the opposite. Next come triceps kickbacks and straight arm extensions back with pulses.
- Legs & Butt (just over 5.5 min.)
This sequence is all about squats, which youíll do at different tempos. In between come standing leg extension & circle around into 1-leg squat and later alternating circle around. For the last series of squats youíll reduce your range of motion - that is, youíll do a full squat, then go 3/4 of the way up, then only halfway up, and finally only a quarter of the way up.
- Upper & Lower Body (just under 5.5 min.)
Here youíll do biceps curls, first standing with feet hip width and then adding plies that match the varying tempo of the curls. Next come push-ups. Youíll then return to standing and the plie position for a combination clean & press and upright rows (one arm at a time).
- Legs, Butt & Shoulders (5.5 min.)
This begins with side lunges before you do a combo of side lunges and step squats, to which overhead presses are later added. Youíll continue with just step squats, then move into (straight-legged) deadlifts, deadlift into bentover row, bent-legged deadlift / squat & row w/ rotation, back into dead rows, and finally back to deadlifts only.
- Balance & Core (just under 5.5 min.)
Most of the balance challenge revolves around standing on one leg and leaning slightly to that side while moving the arms and/or legs Ė or standing still. Youíll also do a standing glute / hip stretch (ankle over opposite knee), standing on toes w/ torso rotation, hold leg out front (prep for big toe pose in yoga), adding in pulse, and superman (or warrior 3). Youíll end with a standing side bend.
- Hips, Butt & Inner Thighs (5 min.)
This sequence is a side-lying leg series inspired by Pilates and old school floorwork. Youíll do a combo of knee to the floor & kicking out, then alternate tapping the toe in front and the heel in back with leg straight; then comes inner thigh lift & lower and small circles. Tracie has you stretch out with opposite ankle over knee before repeating on the other side.
- Abs (just under 4.5 min.)
Youíll begin with side plank, alternating rotating and elevating the hips. Youíll then do a roll-back, crunch, and roll-up, which youíll repeat after you do the side plank series on the other side. This segment ends with a quick bridge.
- Stretch (just under 5.5 min.)
This begins on your back, with knee to the chest, then slightly across the body for a piriformis stretch, and then all the way to the floor for a spinal twist. Both knees come to the chest to release the back, then youíll push your knees over your hips and roll your upper body up to help stretch the rhomboids. Youíll roll over to prone position for a lying quad stretch, push back into childís pose with arms extended and thumbs up, come up to all fours for cat & cow to release the spine. Kneeling hip flexor stretches with triceps stretches on one side and hands clasped to open the chest, then a neck stretch on the other, seated forward bend, a kneeling back bend (think camel prep), side bend to stretch out the side of the torso, squatting low back release, and a stretch for the upper back with both arms reaching out to the front round out this portion.
Level: Iíd recommend this to intermediate through int./adv. exercisers. Experienced low int. or even beg./int. who know how to modify to their level (Tracie offers some suggestions, but doesnít show them for very long) should find this a doable challenge, something to work up to. Low adv. exercisers looking for an active recovery workout might find this useful, although you may have to find ways to increase the challenge compared to what Tracie shows (e.g. use heavier dumbbells, although you wonít be able to go truly heavy, maybe no more than 12-15 lbs., add ankle weights during the floorwork, do the balance portion on a Bosu or balance disc Ė hey, why havenít I thought of that before?).
I consider myself an int./adv. exerciser. I found this appropriately challenging with the appropriate weight: the trick really is to go heavy enough that itís hard to complete the last rep or two with perfect form and no lighter or heavier. The balance portion is too easy for this regular Pilates and yoga practitioner, but now that Iíve realized I can do it on my Bosu or balance disc Iíll be better off there. This is one of those workouts that leave me feeling worked out without feeling wiped out, so I can be more active throughout the day rather than feel compelled to flop on my couch for the next few hours to recover. My heart rate monitor stats read the lowest for this one out of the Longevities, but can be attributed to the standing balance portion and the floorwork, not just because my heart rate dropped when I was doing those bits but also because my HRM acts up when Iím not primarily vertical, as well as the fact that this is the shortest out of the four.
Class: Tracie alone, instructing live.
Music: Iím struggling to describe the music. Itís instrumental and mostly upbeat, but itís hard to identify with a specific genre, nor does it have a real melody. Itís original stuff, although I thought I heard someone else using one of the tunes (and of course now I canít remember who). If youíre passionate about the music used in your exercise videos, watch as many clips as you can (currently Tracie Long Fitness, Collage Fitness Videos, and Total Fitness DVDs all have clips available).
Set: a bright interior studio with a brick wall, windows over which white shades have been drawn, and plants and exercise equipment neatly arranged around.
Production: clear picture and sound, although the music is sometimes on the soft side in relation to Tracieís voice, sometimes not. You should be aware that some people have been very vocal about the sound issues in the Longevity series, particularly fluctuations in volume with regards to the music and/or Tracieís voice, and to be honest I might not have noticed if people hadnít pointed them out, as I donít have a great sound system or the ability to crank up the volume.
The camera angles here are primarily helpful and straightforward.
Equipment: Youíll need 3 or so pairs of weights (I use 5, 8, and 10 lbs.), a mat, and a pair of sneakers. Note that although a medicine ball appears next to Tracieís weights she never picks it up during this workout.
Space Requirements: Tracie does the entire workout on 8 puzzle mats. If hers are the same size as mine, sheís working out in an area thatís 8í long by 4í deep.
DVD Notes: The main menu pops up quickly, with your options of Play All, Chapters (in addition to the Intro, see my general workout description for the chapter list), Premixes (Below the Belt, about 15 min., and Hour Glass, about 20 min.), and About Us.
Comments: I wouldnít recommend this to someone looking to get the most bang in terms of challenge and intensity for their buck; itís more for someone whoís looking to get it all in: total body strength training, including corework, for both health and appearance, balance training, and a little flexibility to boot.
I want this to be my favorite out of the Longevity series, perhaps because I like a number of the exercises sequences included here and feel that overall it offers some solid and pretty well-rounded work for the lower body, a nice balance challenge portion (even if I find that on the easy side), and some good Pilates-esque floorwork. However, a few things keep it from becoming my favorite: 1) The shoulders get A LOT of work here. Thatís fine if I were to do this by itself, but in combination with the other Tracie Long workouts I have - the rest of the Longevity series, the TLTs, and one of the Focus workouts, Kick Back, all of which include a little to a lot of work for the shoulders - I get nervous about overworking the shoulders, joints which can be prone to injury, especially due to overuse. I think Iím fine with doing a month of Tracie Long workouts every now and again, which is usually how I use her DVDs, but if I were to do these regularly Iíd think a lot harder about how to ensure my shoulders stayed happy. (Going a little lighter than I might otherwise, such as using a lightish med ball in the relevant workouts, is one place to start.) 2) This combines several different types of workouts into one. Iím not the biggest fan of that normally and have to be in the mood to appreciate it. Iím OK with it here, however, because theyíre separated into distinct segments rather than fused together throughout the entire routine. 3) Iím not really into the whole letís end a segment with a ďta daĒ strike a pose thing.
I have to admit that although Iím starting to appreciate the Longevity series in its own right Iím still disappointed these arenít a second round of TLTs, which were my introduction to functional fitness and are still unlike anything else on my shelves. (I havenít done any Tracie Long workout earlier than the TLTs, nor have I done any workouts from the FIRM or related systems, so I canít compare the Longevity series to those efforts.) Tracie has pulled back from the functional fitness feel of the TLTs, although she hasnít given it up entirely, to include more conventional gym-style training. From the insert included in the DVD and the workout itself I get the impression the Longevity series is targeted at 40-somethings who want to get back into shape so they feel and look better. (Full disclosure: Iím a decade away from falling into that category, and my main fitness goals are more to be happy and healthy, strong and fit, rather than to fit into a certain type of clothes or a specific article of clothing.) To that end the functional fitness aspects are there to improve health and functionality while the more traditional moves are to shape and firm up. Defining Shape clearly speaks to both goals perhaps more clearly than any of the other four original Longevity workouts, including the emphasis on strength, stability, and shape in the lower body plus the emphasis on sculpting the shoulders.
Tracie is the consummate fitness professional, focused on cuing the workout as she demonstrates how to execute the moves precisely. She might have a few comments about how this exercise is good for a certain body part or the upcoming segment will burn a lot of calories, but thatís about it for anything resembling extraneous chatter. I find her cues arenít the most descriptive, so I need to watch her closely to figure out exactly what sheís doing, although this isnít really an issue here compared to some of her others because the exercises are for the most part straightforward. Tracie does mirror cue.