Total EnergyAaron Lankford
Year Released: 1999
Categories: Boxing/Kickboxing/Martial Arts
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I'm writing this review to give a different view point from the other reviews for this tape. All the other reviews are very positive and I'm not positive about this workout. As a point of reference, I'm a high intermediate/low advanced exerciser and I love kickboxing. I love Tae Bo AL4, Cathe's Cardio Kicks, and Janis' 9907.
The workout starts out with what is billed as about a 14 minute "warm up", but I wouldn't call this a warm up. It is more like a drill section. And, there are a lot of kicks in this section. I think Aaron says something about these being small kicks, but he doesn't show them as small kicks. He shows them as full kicks...and at this point, my body is NOT warm enough for full kicking drills. I actually pulled a hamstring muscle the first time I did this tape. It is the ONLY hamstring pull I've ever had and I know it was from doing kicks without being properly warmed up.
After the drills, there is a stretch (too late!). These are deep, martial arts type stretches. No variations are shown for people who aren't as flexible or who have knee issues that make being on the floor like this uncomfortable.
Then, on to the heart of the workout, about 25 -30 minutes. The workout is fun...BUT....alot of the kicking combos are VERY fast. I would say they are as fast, or faster, than Billy Blank's double time combos. There is only one person in the cast who is not a martial arts student, and she looks completely lost during these speed combos. (So do I.) For example, there is one combo called "Around the Worlds" where you do a front kick, roundhouse, sidekick, back kick, then repeat on the other side. There is no way I can do this with good form (any form) at the speed shown.
Also, in this section he teaches the crescent kick. This was interesting and fun to learn, but I really felt it in my hip flexors. There were also some jump kicks.
Then, there is a kind of goofy cool down where you practice palm strikes against an imaginary attacker, while faking him out by pretending to be scared. This part made me laugh. It is just soooooo goofy. Somewhere in here, Aaron says something to the effect of, "you should never hit someone with your fist, unless you absolutely have to." I'm not sure what the point of that is... Is breaking a person's nose with a palm strike really considered kinder than punching him with your fist?
Finally, there is a short ab section.
All things considered, I would not recommend this tape to the average fitness kickboxing buff. I think the lack of a real warmup and the speed of some of the combos could potentially cause injury. (Just my own personal, already-hurt-myself, non-professional opinion.) But, if someone wants to try this workout anyway, I would strongly urge that he/she do a warmup from another tape BEFORE starting this video.
Wonderful! Aaron will always be my first choice for kickboxing. I don't like my kickboxing turned into choreography, so this fits the bill. You do something for a little while, and then you move on. This workout is intense, and you'll know you've had a fantastic workout when you're done. There's a move in particular that is really great -- you kick forward, then reach down and touch the floor. It really works the whole back of your thigh. I couldn't touch the floor on all of them at first, but now I can -- and I even want to do more! You can really feel your hamstrings working. He also does crescent kicks which take a lot of strength and balance. The workout just flies by. I hope he does more! Grade A+.
You see a lot more of Aaron's personality in this tape than in his previous one. He's very likeable.
This video is great. I enjoy it far more than tae bo, but who's comparing? I had a blast doing it, and the "don't hurt me" segment was really fun. I did feel silly begging the TV not to hurt me, but then.. maybe I shouldn't feel so silly, as i'm sure extended TV watching is harmful!!
If you love kickboxing videos, this should definitely be on your list.
I like Aaron very very much. He does talk alot about goals, etc.. and I don't feel as if I need that kind of motivation, but he's sincere and not glitzy.
He seems like a terrific guy.
If only Aaron had Billy Blanks' visibility! This tape is so fun! I'm glad he added the uppercut and hook punches in this video, which were lacking in Power Kicks. Aaron's wife, Diane, is in the back of the class and shows the lower intensity modifications. Other VFers have listed the workout in detail, so I will just add my two cents...this video should definately be a favorite or in the hall of fame! :)
I love Aaron! He is so ernest and encouraging! Doing this tape reminds me how fun a class can be with a great instructor.
Aaron, not Greg Twombly, produced these tapes. But I think they were done pretty well. Do you remember how Aaron does punching combos, then kicking combos, and then finally punching & kicking combos combined in the original PK? Well, this video proceeds a lot faster so you will go into the punching & kicking combos right away. That's the main bulk of the workout. There are some combos that are the same as the original. For example, the grapevine to one side and 3 side kicks then you go to the other side and do three side kicks. But there's a whole bunch of new ones. I didn't keep notes but I remember "Around The World" - front kick, roundhouse kick, side kick, back kick, then from the other side, front kick, side kick, roundhouse kick, and back kick. Another one is front kick, flying front kick ( this is in Kathy Smith's tape where you jump and do a front kick at the same time), and power punch from the other side. So everything is mini combos - no add-on big combos. He introduces a new kick called the crescent kick. This is in Tai Fit also but Lawrence called it reverse kick. It's called a fan kick in dance. You move your legs in a circular motion going outwards. The warmup consists of punching combos and then he goes into a nice stretch. The stretches in this tape and the Strong & Stretched are advanced. But he shows easier stretches too. Maybe I can finally get my inner thighs more flexible and do really high side kicks. The last part made me laugh. He shows some self defense moves so he said to put your hands up, palms flat so that it looks like you're giving the message "Don't hurt me". He even had class members say it. This is the part that made me laugh. Then he shows how to use your palms to strike or give an elbow from the "weak" position. Finally we do abs. First traditional style and then the ab bridge (plank position) that he did in the original. Finally, a nice cooldown. There are 6 background exercisers including his wife Diane. She looks a lot more chiseled. They provide some nice energy and do a lot of the counting. You really can't hear the music but Aaron gives some nice motivation during the combos. He also seems to have more energy or a more relaxed feeling (not as nervous) on this tape. He's also better at explaining what moves will come up next. I think this video seems more intense than the original.
This tape is the same intensity as Power Kicks with a couple of different moves: crescent kicks (boy that really gets those thighs)and a wide jump squat with a back kick (ouch!). I tried the floor work and it's really good, but I will probably skip it and just do the 26 minutes "core" workout as an add on to other workouts. He has a full crew in the background and they all make lots of sounds, but that's okay, because I am echoing the same sounds from my living room. Aaron's tapes are the best kickboxing tapes I have ever done, making the short workout time worth your while.
"Energy" is definitely the name of the game. Total Energy is more cardio-intense than Aaron's previous video (Power Kicks.) And the addition of a team of background exercisers raises the energy level higher still. Things I liked about this video: the instructor, the choreography, a little more intense than most kickboxing videos, the rapport between instructor and exercisers, the design and progression of the exercises. Things I didn't like: the music was not very loud. Which I didn't notice as much while I was doing the workout, but it bothered me a lot during the preview.
This workout actually had me laughing out loud a few times, which is not my usual reaction to kickboxing.
OK, I'm going to give a lot of detail in my review, since this is a new video that most people haven't had a chance to get familiar with yet. So bear with me.
The warm-up is long and pretty intense. You start out punching, and the kicks come in EARLY in the warm-up. I think Aaron says something about doing little teeny kicks, but his teeny kicks look like my high kicks! (My first laugh.) The warm-up includes front, roundhouse, side and back kicks. (The fast back kicks are hard to do without losing your balance. Which I did lose, and then I got another laugh.) There are pulsing squats in this wide-legged spider position. Then you do some pretty athletic stretching and start into the cardio combinations.
These are FUN. One early combo is a front kick/step back and punch down to the ground combination. (Laugh in amazement, cause I could actually do it.) Another tough one that you do right off the bat is a back kick and then a jump into a squat position while you are double-punching forward. Then you do some speed bag work, which always gets my heart rate right up there. There's a 4 kicks up, 4 kicks back combo, which is fun because of the way you don't change lead legs when you change direction. Then a combo with double roundhouse kicks and jabs, then a combo of "round the world" kicks. You kick front, roundhouse, side, back, switch legs and repeat. By now, you're really sweating and breathing hard. So he takes it down a little with some easier jabs and steps. Just when you're starting to relax, he takes the level up again with a grapevine, triple side kick combination. Then you learn crescent kicks, which are similar to a very unnatural thing that my little brother used to do to my Barbie dolls' legs. You do a combo using the crescent kick. Then on to my favorite! Front kick, leap, front kick and jab back. Love that leaping kick! (Laugh for pure joy!) I feel like I am the star of my own martial arts movie! Then a combo where you squat and do fast alternating jabs while you continuously squat down and up. Back to that famous front kick/punch the ground combo. Then he takes it even higher with a series of fast jabs and flurries.
Throughout the workout, Aaron offers good form pointers and lots of encouragement and motivation. After a tough combo, he'll say, "give yourself some energy!" and I clap for myself each and every time. Or he'll tell you to focus on what barrier you want to break down today ... or what your goal is for the day. He told me to find my champion within -- and believe me, I went looking!
The cooldown is a nice change from any other kickboxing video I've done. Essentially, he teaches you some self-defense moves while you're cooling down. So you hold your hands up in front of your face and then you're supposed to look really wide-eyed and innocent and say, "please don't hurt me." And he makes you chant it right along with the other participants. (Many laughs here.) Then you're supposed to surprise your attacker with a quick palm strike or elbow strike to his chin/face/head. For some reason, it is kind of fun to envision yourself surprising some big, bad mugger this way. (As long as it's not real life, it's fun!)
The ab work is short and intense. You come up for a slow count, then alternating jabs while you peak hold, then roll down slowly and repeat. You also do ab stabilization work on your elbows and toes. The stretch is similar to a series of sun salutations, for those who are familiar with yoga. Down dog, up dog, cobra, mountain ...
Aaron and his crew are really polished during the whole workout. They obviously rehearsed a lot and it shows. Aaron is in big black boxers shorts and the 4 women and 1 guy are all dressed mostly in black and white. Diane Lankford is in the back row, and beginners are supposed to follow her. There are 2 or 3 other women in the back with her, a slender, graceful and very beautiful Asian girl; a very pale blonde; and a a girl with tightly braided hair. The front row exercisers have more powerful builds: there are a woman and a man in the front with Aaron and they both just LOOK like boxers, if you know what I mean. Solid, strong and fast. The set is fairly spartan ... a lot of RED in it.
Aaron is a great teacher. I feel like he is my personal coach throughout this workout. Throughout the workout, he emphasizes working at your own level, but challenging yourself. I really like him.
Here's a breakdown:
Warm-up 14 minutes
Workout 29 minutes
Abs 4 minutes
Stretch 4 minutes
Total 51 minutes
This breakdown is using my VCR counter, so it may not be exactly right on, but it gives you the general idea. Okay, here's the scoop from my perspective: Total Energy is great! The name is perfect!
I felt really energized when I finished this video! It moves faster into the combos, so it went really fast. I love having a larger class. Aaron seems so much more relaxed and natural than he did during Power Kicks. He really seemed to be having a good time.
He did a lot more moves to prepare your body for other moves than before (knees in a combo before kicks), so everything flows very well. Since warm up and stretch is 14 minutes, you're totally ready for the workout. There are a lot of familiar moves from Power Kicks, as well as a number of new and fun things. One of my favorites is the combo with the jump kick like you see in Kathy Smith's Kickboxing and Tae Bo advanced. He also taught a kick he called the crescent kick, which is going to take some work to get down well.
I need some serious help with my flexibility and range of motion before I'm doing this with anything resembling style. Thankfully, his other video will help me with this, but I'll get to that in another review. :-)
His cooldown was hysterical! He talks about psyching out an attacker, holding up your open hands in the "Please don't hurt me!" pose. Then you learn an open handed strike and an elbow strike. But he has this group of very capable-looking people chorusing along with him: "Please don't hurt me!" It was a giggle fest, at least the first time through! :-)
The abs section didn't thrill me. The tempo is pretty fast. What I did like was finishing up with a stabilization hold on your elbows and toes. THAT felt great!
All in all, I would say this is a winner! My only wish is that the workout section were a little bit longer. I would have loved to have had another 10 or so minutes of this fun workout!
A word of caution: This may not be the workout to do at 5AM when other family members are trying to sleep. I literally could not help myself from letting out some very satisfying ( loud ) yells during some of the combos! I don't think my family would have found them to be a very thrilling way to wake up! (Not that you see me up and sweating at that "Ye Gads!" hour of the morning anyway! :-) )