Body Electric Unplugged: Series 1900, Volume 1

Margaret Richard
Year Released: 2006

Categories: Total Body Workouts

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This DVD presents eight total body strength workouts. Each workout runs about 25 minutes and includes a warm-up and cool-down.

All of the workouts are led by Margaret Richard, who instructs live. The setting is her backyard – a pretty deck near a brook with lots of trees and plants. Sometimes Margaret is solo, and other times she is joined by a second exerciser.

These workouts are episodes from Margaret’s Body Electric TV series, which has run for many years on PBS stations (although, alas, not on my local affiliate). The TV shows feature an eclectic selection of music by many well-known artists. However, due to licensing issues, on the DVDs the music is replaced by nature sounds (hence the “Unplugged” appellation), which gives the workouts a pleasant, low-key ambiance. (For those who are interested, on her website Margaret provides a list of the music used.)

Margaret’s workouts feature a low-weight, high-rep weights approach, so you will want several sets of light dumbbells. Instead of sets or reps, she works a muscle for a certain period of time (usually 3.5 minutes). For exercises like side-lying leg lifts, don’t expect Margaret to duplicate the moves on each side exactly – she is more focused on working the muscle to fatigue. She sticks mostly to classic weightlifting exercises, but isn’t afraid to tweak them from time to time. Besides dumbbells, you will also need a mat for floor work. Optional equipment includes leg weights, a small unweighted play ball, and a body bar.

A breakdown of the workouts on Volume 1 follows. Each workout begins with a warm-up (Margaret’s usual flowing moves). Margaret then leads 4-5 strength exercises, stretching very briefly after each. After the exercises is a short “Food For Thought” commentary by Margaret (it makes a nice break for putting away equipment), followed by a cool-down. The DVD is well-chaptered by warm-up, cool-down, and individual exercise. Margaret advises that if a particular exercise isn’t for you, to feel free to substitute another one which works the same body part (I do this occasionally, substituting pec flyes for push-ups, for example). The excellent chaptering makes this pretty easy.

Episode 1901:
Biceps – curls.
Triceps – French press.
Obliques – standing side bends.
Inner Thighs – supine, legs elevated to 90 degrees, move legs apart then together.
Hamstrings – supine lifts.

Episode 1902:
Deltoids – overhead presses.
Back – standing “reaches.”
Glutes – supine seat tucks.
Outer Thighs – side-lying leg lifts.

Episode 1903:
Pecs – supine flyes.
Triceps – supine overhead extension.
Abs – circular crunches.
Quads – plies.
Calves – standing heel raises.

Episode 1904:
Biceps – concentration curls.
Obliques – seated side bends.
Glutes – supine seat tucks.
Hamstrings – Supine leg lifts with ball tucked under knee.

Episode 1905:
Triceps – dips.
Deltoids – rotator cuff work.
Abs – leg lowers holding ball between ankles.
Inner Thighs – side-lying leg lifts.

Episode 1906:
Pecs – supine flyes.
Back – table work (more like a stretch).
Quads – on floor, propped up on elbows, leg raises.
Outer Thighs – side-lying leg lifts.

Episode 1907:
Biceps – curls and “reaches.”
Triceps – French press.
Hamstrings – an exercise I believe is unique to Margaret, a kind of static lunge done in a low crouch.
Inner Thighs -- supine, legs elevated to 90 degrees, move legs apart then together.

Episode 1908:
Pecs – supine flyes.
Deltoids – side-lying on floor.
Back – prone lifts (using an optional body bar).
Glutes – supine seat tucks.
Abs – done with an optional body bar underneath knees.

Bottom Line: The Unplugged DVDs are really versatile! The individual episodes are ideal for beginning exercisers, particularly since Margaret offers excellent form instruction as well as caring encouragement. The single episodes are also nice for folks resuming exercise after illness or injury, or those who just plain have limited workout time. More experienced exercisers can string several episodes together for a longer, more complete strength workout (all major body parts are generally covered over the course of three episodes, and the DVD chaptering makes it easy to skip over the extra warm-ups and cool-downs). The Unplugged episodes also combine well with other types of exercise (my personal favorite combo is an Unplugged episode followed by a Classical Stretch TV episode).

Two seasons of Body Electric are on DVD – 1900 and 2000. Each season consists of 26 episodes on four DVDs. In each season Volume 1 has eight episodes, and Volumes 2, 3 and 4 have six episodes each. Please see the VF review by KathAL79 of Volume 2 of the 1900 series.

The Body Electric Unplugged DVDs can be purchased at Margaret’s website, Margaret’s DVDs aren’t inexpensive, but they do contain a lot of material, and Margaret offers frequent sales.

Instructor Comments:
Margaret Richard has appeared in exercise DVDs for over 20 years, and her experience shows. She presents in a relaxed, gently humorous manner, but always gives excellent form instruction and encourages home exercisers to challenge themselves. In the 1900 series Margaret is in her late 50’s and looks wonderful – a great example of the benefit of lifelong exercise.