Ilaria Montagnani
Year Released: 2010

Categories: Total Body Workouts

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Review by a non-kettlebell person: I have mostly done classic resistance training. My kettlebell practice is limited to learning and trying exercises off youtube clips. I enjoy doing swings, clean and press, windmills and turkish getups while working out at the gym, in between conventional weight training. I have never used a kettlebell. I substitute with dumbbells.

The kind of workouts I like: I must find them fun. That is most important. If they are excellent but not fun I wont do them. They should not be too easy. They should not be too hard. They should be challenging without being punishing. They should match my intermediate/low-advanced fitness profile. The music must be good. (I bought but won't do the original Kettlebell Butts and Guts because the same music plays over and over in a loop).

Atletica: I was entranced by the clips. I have only done the workout once. It lived up to my expectations and then some more. Ilaria does a superset of three exercises for about one minute each, on one side. Next, she does the superset on the opposite side. Then she repeats. So you do each superset 4 times. I expected to find that too much repitition and had planned to do the supersets just once on each side. But, it was so much fun I did the whole thing through. (Gee, can one say supersets in the kettlebell-inspired workout world?) It ends with 50 pushups that you do is sets of 5 reps with intervening pauses and some floor lying ab work. I am an intermediate/low advanced exerciser. I found the workout tough but do-able and very high on fun factor. I liked the drumming. It matched the mood of the exercise.

After effects: DOMS in my entire back-body! From traps to hamstrings, everything was sore, including my rear obliques if there is such a thing, but not overly so. (I dont aim for DOMS, I consider DOMS a sign that I have trained in a new way. DOMS could be a sign of more than usual intensity but that hardly happens with me.) Some DOMS in the inner thighs and shoulders. No DOMS anywhere else. (I do yoga frequently and the chaturanga practice means I can work chest/pushups without fearing DOMS.)

My previous Ilaria workouts: I traded away Abs and Pushups. It was a great workout, but not my idea of fun. It was more hard than I want to work. I have Bodystrikes 1 and consider it excellent and not too hard, but not much fun because it is TIFT (take it from the top) style. Ilaria impressed me immensely in both workouts. Her form and cueing is outstanding and I like her screen personna. Atletica is way, way more fun for me than those two.

Verdict: If you like or wish to try ballistic / explosive training, this is it.

Instructor Comments:
Wow! She is amazingly fit. Her form does not flag on even a single rep. She is precise in every little move. Strong but charming accent. Professional but not too serious.



First, a note about me to put the review in perspective: In regard to strength training I would consider myself somewhat advanced—-I am an experienced home exerciser who usually prefers moderate to heavy lifting (I don’t have gym access, so my heavy lifting is limited to what I can safely do at home without a spotter.) With a few exceptions, I am not a big fan of very high rep/light weight workouts. In the past, I have focused a lot on split routines with more isolation moves (P90X, Cathe, etc.) Lately, I have become more interested in functional fitness and full body training.

Atletica is an advanced and challenging total body workout. The moves are (I believe) similar to those used in kettlebell workouts—there are no isolation moves, rather these are multi-joint exercises that work many muscle groups simultaneously. I have yet to work with kettlebells, so unfortunately I cannot compare Atletica to any kettlebell workout DVDs.

Including the introduction and warm up, this workout clocks in at 57 minutes.

Introduction/tutorial: Ilaria demonstrates some of the moves, and shows modifications.

Warm up/First Series: (Each exercise is done for approximately one minute, before moving to the next exercise. Perform one set of each exercise on the right, then the left. Then the entire series is repeated.)
dumbbell swings
one arm dumbbell clean and press
squat holding dumbbell overhead
weighted uppercut

Second series: (First two exercises done on right side, then left. There is a set of the full punching rotations, then the entire sequence is repeated.)
high row samurai squat
circle weight overhead w/squat (Ilaria recommends medium weight here)
full rotation side to side (punching w/your lightest set of weights)

Third series: ( Do one set of exercises, then repeat series. There is no break between the burpees and rows, so be sure to have a dumbbell handy before starting this series.)
burpees (1 min.)
renegade rows (30 sec. right, 30 sec. left)
plank (active recovery)

Fourth series: (There is a repeat set of floor wipes and Russian twists—the pushups are not repeated)
50 pushups (5 reps every 15 seconds, short rest between each 5 reps. Ilaria recommends doing the pushups quickly, so that you get more recovery time.)
floor wipes
Russian twists

Stretch—The stretch is short, only 3 minutes. (I would have preferred a longer stretch, but it is easy enough to do some additional stretching on my own.)

Level: Done without modifications, this is an advanced workout. However, I do think that experienced intermediates using appropriate weights would be capable of doing the workout. Although Ilaria herself is quite strong, she never displays a snotty or disparaging attitude about modifying. She is very encouraging and recommends using the modifications (and/or lighter weights) until you feel stronger and comfortable with the moves.

Set/background: The workout is filmed at Equinox Gym in NYC. There are windows in the background and you can see people walking down the street outside. The set is bright and uncluttered, there are 2 women and 2 men exercising with Ilaria. Sometimes you can hear Ilaria or the backgrounders grunt, and there is an occasional whoop, but it isn’t excessive. Although no one demonstrates modifications throughout the entire workout, Ilaria does periodically remind you of the modifications.

Music: Tribal drums--A female drummer is set up off to the side. When I previewed the workout, I thought that I might be annoyed by the drumming, but when I did the workout it didn’t bother me—I was simply working too hard to care!

Equipment needed: 3 sets of dumbbells—light, medium and heavy. You may want to experiment with the amount of weight you use.(I used 15, 12, 10, and 5 lb. dumbbells for the workout.) Although she doesn’t specify what poundage she is using, I could tell that Ilaria uses a 15 lb. dumbbell for her heavy weight. I believe that she used 10 and 5 lbs. for her medium and light. Although Ilaria doesn’t use one, I would recommend a mat for the floor exercises, especially if you are working out on a hard surface. I would also recommend keeping a towel handy. For those who have kettlebells, I imagine that you could use them for most of the exercises.

Overall impression: This a challenging workout, and probably one of the toughest total body workouts in my collection. If you use the heaviest weights you can manage safely while completing all the reps and sets, I would consider it a killer workout, (although your mileage may vary.) The moves are fast paced, but IMO the pace is not overly frantic. There are many reps performed, with minimal rests between sets and series. Although I no longer have a heart rate monitor, my heart rate was pretty high during the workout—much higher than usual for a strength workout. It isn’t what I would consider a fun, party in a box workout, but I did enjoy the challenge. Although I wouldn’t want to work this hard every day, Atletica is different from any other workout in my collection and I suspect that it will get a lot of use.

Note: The DVD is well chaptered, so it would be simple to shorten the workout on time-crunched days. You could do the warm up, then the first round of each series, and still get in a good total body workout.

Instructor Comments:
Ilaria is a relatively new-to-me instructor (the only other Ilaria workout I have is Powerstrike.) She always seems to be well-regarded on the forums, so there is little I could write that her fans don't already know. She instructs well, with much attention to form and safety. She is straightforward and down to business, but also encouraging and friendly--she smiles often. She didn't have any annoying quirks or mannerisms. Although she speaks with a bit of an Italian accent, I had no trouble understanding her.

Mary K.