Shape: 20 Minute Makeover

Elise Gulan
Year Released: 2009

Categories: Circuit Training (cardio and weights) , Total Body Workouts

Video Fitness reviews may not be copied, quoted, or posted elsewhere without the permission of the reviewer

Show oldest reviews first

I am reviewing this workout after having done the whole thing a few times.
This workout is divided into one 20 minute "interval training" workout and four 10 minute "targeted toning segments". The title refers only to the 20 minute aero-tone circuit workout.

- 20 minute interval training: begins with a short introduction and "vital stretches", after which Elise jumps straight into the workout which alternates cardio and toning in varying lengths of time ( 2 or 4 minutes) and finishes with cardio.
The cardio segments are mainly low impact, with lots of knee lifts, some knee lifts with torso twists, straight leg lifts with arm reaches (standing pykes, I think), squat and reach, and only a few bursts of higher impact moves including jumping jacks and first and second position jumps.
The toning segments are clearly ballet and yoga infused. There's not the typical picking up of weights and doing bicep curls and lunges, instead, toning exercises include crescent pose with pulses, oblique crunches from tree pose, lifting and lowering torso from triangle pose (to hit the obliques), some ballet leg extensions and hip rotations, and squats.

Sculpted arms: This 10 minute workout starts with forearm plank, moves on to pushups on your knees or on your toes, reverse plank tricep dips with one leg lifted or not, and a series of exercises done standing with a light set of weights, designed to burn the triceps, biceps and shoulders. These really burn, and I feel my triceps two days later. The workout ends with some short stretches.

Flat abs: This 10 minute segment begins with exercises done seated on the mat, with upper body hinged over, supported by the fingers in "tent position". I find this position hard to get into and really feel the abs working. I feel strain in my lower back. Exercises in this position are done both with legs bent at the knee and with legs extended. You alternate lifting legs, beat legs and lift both legs together. Then you sit sideways on the mat for Pilates rollups, some c-curve pulses, pilates bicycle and scissors. The segment ends with some short stretches.

Firm lower body: This 10 minute workout starts with plies, plies to releves, releves, then squats in second position, plies and releves. Then you move on to a a series of pulses and reaches from warrior pose. Some exercises work the upper body and abs along with the legs. Then it's down onto the mat for pilates exercises lying on the belly, lifting legs in frog position and straight leg beats to target the glutes. She finishes with some stretches.

Cardio conditioning: This is a mixed-impact 10 minute interval cardio workout. The moves are simple, step and tap, bob and weave, skaters, squats to jumps, jump rope and fast feet to jump. You work up the intensity and bring it back down several times during the 10 minute workout. The segment ends with a short cool-down.

The menu allows you to play any of the workouts individually, or customize your workout. You can choose how many segments to play and in what order, making this a really versatile workout.
The combination of calisthenics, yoga, dance and pilates makes it really unique. The level of intensity varies from beginner, with smaller range of motion and more rests, to advanced, with added resistance, larger range of motion, more holds, and more plyometric exercises.
Elise works with two background exercisers, one who does the beginner modifications, and the other does the advanced version. They take turns in doing this, which can be confusing.

This 20 minute interval workout includes a lot of knee lifts, which may put some people off.

Instructor Comments:
Elise Gulan is a very pleasant and encouraging instructor. She is very positive, always smiling, and basically just radiates with positive energy which is contagious while not bubbly or over the top. She seems genuine.
She cues well, although a bit early sometimes, which may take some getting used to. She doesn't talk about bikinis, but instead, she focuses on the benefits of the exercise for your strength, flexibility and "streamlining of the body". You can tell that she is (or was) a ballet dancer and yogi in her graceful manner, the way she makes exercises seem effortless, and her talk of "commitment to your practice".