Pop Physique Cardio Butt School

Sam Harper, Nesbit
Year Released: 2012

Categories: Ballet/Barre

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I am a daily exerciser who occasionally dabbles in barre-style workouts. I admit that I am somewhat picky about the barre workouts that I like, as I generally don't enjoy an over-emphasis on thigh exercises, all-fours moves, or c-curve abs work, all of which are frequently found in barre DVDs. However, I DO like barre routines with a strong emphasis on working the glutes, and on researching Cardio Butt School, that is exactly what I expected from this workout.

Cardio Butt School features three instructors: Karyn, who leads the first half; Sam, who leads the second half; and Ashley, who serves as a background exerciser only. The Pop Physique "schtick" is a high energy style workout in which the instructors are shown wearing retro-type costumes; in Cardio Butt School, all three are wearing brightly colored leotards with leg warmers. This routine requires a set of hand weights (they use 2 lbs.), a mat, and a chair. The Main Menu offers an option for "Play" only, and there is no chaptering. I have broken down the workout below.

Karyn starts the workout with an extremely brief warm-up consisting of full-body swings and wide plie squats. Moving quickly, she comes down to the floor in a plank position for several exercises, including fast plank twists (knee to opposite elbow), knee ins (from an elevated 3-foot table position), and push-ups on the knees (including pulses). Flipping over, she performs reverse plank, including a 1-legged version. Next, Karyn picks up the hand weights, and coming into a v-sit position, she does fast bicep curls. Still holding the weights, she lies back and performs flies with leg raises. Following a brief down dog stretch, Karyn comes to standing for several more arms exercises in a demi-plie position, including a front arm raise, an arm push, and press backs. She then moves into a rear triceps press with one leg balance and arm push behind. Karyn concludes the arms work in a wide plie stance for ballet arms open/closed, and she finishes with a brief stretch.

At this point (about 11.5 minutes into the workout), I am starting to wonder, where's the butt work? I think it's coming, as Karyn and crew get out the chairs, but no, she states that now we're moving on to thigh work. She begins in first position facing the chair (using the chair for balance only), performing releves, dips, knee push backs, and pelvis forward and back. The next position is with the feet together and parallel for pulses up and down and to each side. The final position was a bit different: standing away from the chair with the feet in first position and the back rounded. From here, Karyn cues dips but also leg lifts to the front.

Turning so that the chair is to her side, Karyn FINALLY does some seat moves, including grande battements and arabesques; she follows this with a quick quad stretch. Then (at 18.5 minutes), Sam takes over the instruction, continuing with the seat work. From a rear arabesque position, she performs lifts, pulses in, and an L-shaped move; she finishes with lifts from a standing split position. This concludes the standing butt work, and Sam transitions to the floor to perform a Figure 4 stretch.

Abs work comes next. The abs work (about 5.5 minutes) is performed from a v-sit position, made a bit more awkward by having your toes on the floor, heels up. Moves include dropping the abdominals, twisting to the side, sliding the toes in/out, and dropping the torso to the side while lifting a leg. Following the abs section, Sam moves into some additional glutes work from a side-lying position; this segment was similar to the Pilates leg kicks series. Sam begins with front/back leg kicks, and then bending the knees in and elevating the feet, she performs hamstring presses. After repeating on the other side, she lies prone for single leg lifts (in, up, and the L-shape), and she finishes with quick superman-type lifts, the last exercise of the workout.

At the 35-minute mark, Sam begins the final stretch, moving quickly through 1-legged seated forward bend, pigeon, and half lord of the fishes twist on each side and then concluding with double seated forward bend. The total time for this workout comes in right around 39 minutes.

If you are looking for a full-body, high-energy barre-style workout at an intermediate level, this might fit the bill for you. Personally, however, I was disappointed. By my count, this routine spent only about 10 minutes total time focused on the glutes--definitely NOT what I expected from a DVD entitled "Cardio Butt School"! In that sense, Pop Physique, while a nice production, is really not all that different from other barre-type workouts available, so I'd recommend that you purchase only with that in mind.

Instructor Comments:
I didn't really have a problem with the instructors. They are young, encouraging, and enthusiastic, but other than their outfits, they aren't too over-the-top. They do not mirror-cue, but I didn't find this to be a major factor during the workout.

Beth C (aka toaster)