The Spark

Margaret Richard
Year Released: 2012

Categories: Abs/Core , Balance/Medicine/Mini/Stability Ball, Total Body Workouts

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The Spark is filmed outdoors at the Decordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts. The setting is lovely, and in some of the segments you can see that there has been a recent rain shower. Margaret instructs alone on a deck overlooking the water.

This DVD is a broken into four weight lifting endurance workouts, with most of the body parts hit twice. The exceptions are abs, glutes, back, and calves. Those are done only once. You’ll need dumbbells in varying weights, a playground ball, and a bench or chair. I also use ankle weights, although Margaret (for a change) does not.

I would classify these workouts as intermediate, but it’s easy to change the level by increasing or decreasing the weight used. As Margaret says, “It’s not a beginner’s workout and it’s not an advanced workout; it’s your workout.”

WORKOUT 1 (24 minutes)

Pectorals - pushups
Triceps - dips and overhead press
Abs - crunches and oblique twists
Inner Thighs - squeezes with a playground ball
Hamstrings - pulse with one foot on the bench and one foot in the air
Glutes - lift/squeeze with feet on the bench

WORKOUT 2 (19 minutes)

Biceps - curls
Deltoids - overhead press, front push, and a lateral raise
Obliques - standing side reaches and twists
Back - upright rows and back squeezes
Outer Thighs - leg lifts and taps

WORKOUT 3 (24 minutes)

Pectorals - flys
Triceps - french press
Quadriceps - squats
Calves - raises
Inner Thighs - raises
Outer Thighs - lifts

WORKOUT 4 (20.5 minutes)

Hamstrings - standing leg pulses/kicks
Quadriceps - standing leg lifts, kicks, and pushes
Biceps - curls
Deltoids - scarecrows, rows
Cool down

What I liked

I love Margaret’s weight work, and these workouts are pretty standard Margaret. I think of Margaret as the “Queen of Endurance”; she’s almost 20 years older than I am, but she can still out lift/out last me sometimes. I think that’s great! It makes me want to step up my game, and whenever I work out with Margaret, I actually smile… a lot!

Also, Margaret’s floor work is some of the best out there. It has zero dread factor for me. It’s not easy by any means, but it’s also not so hardcore that I never want to do it. I usually add leg weights, even if Margaret isn’t using them, for an extra strength challenge.

I liked some of the music. I didn’t recognize much, but I think at least one of the workouts includes Madonna’s La Isla Bonita (“Last night I dreamt of San Pedro…”), and there are some nice guitar instrumentals.

Finally, because this DVD doesn’t have a warmup with every workout, it’s easy to combine segments for a longer session.

What I didn’t like

Because this DVD doesn’t have a warmup or cool down, you have to add one on manually if you want to do each workout as produced/suggested. Then again, since Margaret adds a brief stretch at the end of each individual segment, a formal cool down isn’t necessary (for me).

Speaking of warm ups and cool downs, I don’t find Margaret’s that effective. She loves dancey moves, but they don’t really get my blood pumping or my muscles warm; and her stretches at the end are nice, but they aren’t long. So I usually do my own thing for the warm ups and/or supplement what Margaret is doing.

Margaret’s back exercises don’t hit all areas of the back. In this DVD, they are limited to the upper back, and there’s only one set of back exercises in all four workouts. I guess I’m too used to working out with Cathe (she is my other “go to” weights instructor); I need lat rows to feel really worked out, and there’s none of that here.

What You Should Be Aware Of

Only Workouts 1 and 4 have a warmup, and only Workout 4 has a cool down/stretch. So if you want these, you’ll have to either add your own (since I don’t find her warm ups or cool downs that effective, this isn’t as crazy a suggestion as it seems :) ) or manually go back to the DVD menu and add them separately.

Also, the Index on the DVD is informational only. It lists the exercises, but you cannot start any of the chapters from there. To play the chapters, you have to go to the “Exercises” menu.

Finally, Margaret doesn’t always do exactly the same thing on both sides for leg work. Margaret says that you’d be bored if she did that, but I think some people wouldn’t agree.

Instructor Comments:
Margaret is great, but she can be a little goofy. In every workout, there’s at least one “Margaret-ism.” For example, in workout 1 she says “I told you not to wear your concrete shoes today, but you wouldn’t listen,” and in workout 3 she says “this is like the calf Olympics and you are a serious contender!” My favorite is “I’m a beast!” when she uses 16 lbs for bicep curls. Margaret sometimes cracks herself up, and I find myself laughing along with her. She clearly loves her job, and I can see why. She’s good at it!