Cardio Barre Ultimate Advanced

Richard Giorla
Year Released: 2008

Categories: Ballet/Barre, Total Body Workouts

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I have just recently started getting into barre workouts. I have found that I tend to enjoy these workouts the most when they move along at a fairly good pace--some examples include Tracey Mallett's Booty Barre and Xtend Barre Lean & Chiseled. So, I became interested in the Cardio Barre series, which I read was also very fast-paced; in fact, some people complain that Cardio Barre moves TOO quickly. However, after doing further research and watching clips of CARDIO BARRE ULTIMATE ADVANCED, I thought that it might meet my needs.

This workout is led by Richard Giorla, who leads a group of seven all-female background exercisers in an open studio set (the same set is also used for many CIA workouts). Giorla, who describes this workout as "extremely advanced" in his Introduction, alternates between performing the exercises himself and walking around the room, calling out the women by name and offering encouragements; his cuing is mirrored for left/right. The music is loud and upbeat--it has somewhat of a frenetic quality, but then again, so does the workout itself (the DVD case lists the main workout and both bonuses as being 172 bpm).

The Main Menu to the DVD reads as follows:
*Introduction to Workout
*Warm-Up to Workout
*Bonus Upper Body
*Bonus Lower Body
*Contact and Credits

If you select the Warm-Up, it flows right into the main workout, which is about 55 minutes long total and has nine chaptered segments. I have listed approximate times and descriptions for each of these segments below.

WARM-UP, 5.5 minutes
Giorla begins by introducing his background exercisers. He then combines dynamic moves using the barre, such as squats, with static stretches--unfortunately, however, I felt that he introduced the static stretching before the body was properly warmed up. The warm-up concludes with rear leg lifts bent over the barre (Giorla incorporates leg work into EVERY segment).

PLIES, 5 minutes
For this segment, you are facing with your side to the chair; this does make it a little difficult to follow, especially since Giorla moves so quickly. He starts on the one side with wide-legged plies, both flat-footed and on the toes; on the other side, he performs a first-position plie.

BALLET, 3.5 minutes
This segment starts with tendu, sliding each leg out to the side rapidly, then alternating legs. Next comes grand battement both to the front and to the side.

WAIST, 4.5 minutes
For this segment, you are mainly performing rapid torso twists. Giorla intensifies the work by adding arm pushes, pulls, and knee lifts. The segment concludes with small squats and push-ups.

CARDIO, 8 minutes
This segment involves rapidly moving one leg/one arm at the same time. Giorla starts in a bent-over position, pulling in the knee and the arm, the comes to standing for knee/arm pulls both side and front. The next move is a tap side with a reach, and then the final move is leg lifts. After doing one side (about 4 minutes), everything is repeated on the other side.

BARRE THIGHS, 5 minutes
The moves in this segment are performed bending over the chair. Giorla leads the group in rear leg lifts with the leg out on a diagonal; unlike with some of the other exercises, the moves here are first performed slow, then fast. Giorla does a standing Figure 4 stretch prior to moving on to the other side.

UPPER BODY, 6 minutes
For this segment, the class appears to be using 1-lb. weights, although Giorla says you can use 1-3 lbs. The majority of the segment focuses exclusively on the shoulders, a Giorla cues shoulder raises to the front, side, and back, first slow, then smaller, fast pulses. The section ends with a brief (1 minute) sequence of tricep dips on the floor.

ABS, 12.5 minutes
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that a good part of this segment is NOT abs work! The section does start with abs, including side plank (performing hip raises from this position), hip lifts (a.k.a. reverse curls), and a brief sequence of crunches/bicycles. Pelvic tilts serve as a sort of transition, and then the remainder of this segment consists of floorwork for the legs. Giorla starts with side-lying leg lifts, performing these in three different positions to completely target the entire outer thighs/hips. The segment concludes lying on the back for some pulsing inner thigh work.

COOL-DOWN, 4.5 minutes
To begin the stretch, Giorla begins on the back, rolling the legs over the head (a.k.a. yoga plow pose), an advanced move that seems rather unnecessary here. He then performs a lying hamstring stretch, lying twist, seated wide-legged forward bend (to both the sides and front), and standing forward bend, finishing standing.

This DVD also includes Bonus workouts for both the Upper Body and the Lower Body. These add-ons, which clock in at 14 minutes each, are taught by two different background exercisers; for each workout, the instructors are joined by two background exercisers from the main workout.

BONUS UPPER BODY (a.k.a. "Power Arms")
Dana leads this workout; oddly, she states at the beginning that it is going to be 12 minutes, but it is actually 14 minutes. She and the other two exercisers appear to be holding 1-lb. weights; going heavier would be difficult for this segment. The first half of the workout consists of fast, pulsing moves which hit all angles of the upper body, including shoulders, biceps, and back. The second half of the workout is focused entirely on triceps. Here, Dana and crew use just one weight for straight-arm tricep raises and extensions. However, Dana completely exhausts the triceps by performing these from FOUR positions: standing, kneeling, kneeling with the head touching the floor, and lying on the stomach. The segment concludes with 2 minutes of push-up work, with the last set being especially challenging (7 counts down, 1 count up).

BONUS LOWER BODY, (a.k.a. "Power Thighs")
This workout is led by Kelly, who is probably the most enthusiastic of the background exercisers (she does a lot of "whooping" during the main workout and comes across a bit fake to me). The first 8.5 minutes of this workout consists of leg lifts performed from two positions: first, starting on all fours (1 hand/1 forearm) and then, lying flat on the stomach. A variety of moves are performed, including both bent and straight leg and diagonal leg raises to the side. For the final 5.5 minutes of this segment, you are lying on your side in an "L" shape; from this position, you perform additional leg lifts as well as leg circles. I liked this section overall, although it had a very "80s" feel to me, from the music to Kelly's Jane Fonda-like instruction.

Before I purchased this DVD, I had heard that it was worth it for the Bonus segments alone. Ironically, I liked the main workout better; even if I wanted a shorter workout, I think I would be more inclined to just mix and match segments of the main workout. It does move quite fast, but I found that it wasn't necessary for me to match Giorla's pace/the beat of the music--if I needed to go more slowly, I did. Plus, I liked that the workout had a cardio effect (which I found similar to Booty Barre in particular). The other thing that I LOVED about this workout was that it really does an excellent job at targeting the glutes/backs of the legs and doesn't over-emphasize the front of the thighs.

So, in the end, although this DVD has some flaws as noted, if you are an intermediate or above exerciser and are not afraid to modify the workout to make it fit your needs, I would definitely recommend it. Personally, I am sure that I will be using it a lot mainly in parts--I plan to use the "Waist" section as a warm-up in the future, do all the legs segments together, probably skip the cardio, and add the Abs on at the end.

Instructor Comments:
As I noted above, I actually didn't have any problems with Richard. Some others have said that he is "inappropriate" in the way that he touches the background exercisers, but I didn't find this to be the case at all (Andrea Leigh Rodgers comments to and touches her background exercisers in Xtend Barre, but no one says anything about that since she is a woman). I wasn't as crazy about the background exercisers, who I thought did too much whooping and seemed to overly ingratiate themselves to Richard (i.e., suddenly smiling broadly whenever he walked by), but I could live with that. ;)

Beth C (aka toaster)