30 Minute Express: Above the Belt & Below the Belt

Michelle Rotell
Year Released: 2007

Categories: Circuit Training (cardio and weights)

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These two workouts (which come on separate DVDs) are circuit type workouts using light-medium weights and/or resistance tubing. Above the Belt gives you the option of using either. Below the Belt is done with either no weights or dumbbells. I would rate them intermediate in intensity. Of course you could make them harder by upping the amount of weight.

Each video begins with 3-4 minutes of warm ups, which is mostly just gentle stretches. I was a bit irked that there wasn't at least a minute or two of marching in place or something just to get the blood flowing. Each video ends with 3-4 min. of stretching. Breakdowns of each are as follows.

Above the Belt - 1 minute of each exercise unless otherwise noted:

Planks - hold 25 seconds, rest 10 second, hold 25 seconds
Pull Downs w/resistance band
Standing Ab Twist
Biceps Curls
Twisting Planks
Triceps Extensions - 30 seconds each arm (but you could easily do both arms at the same time for 60 seconds)
Overhead Shoulder Presses
Rope Climbs
Bench Press
Side Planks - 25 seconds each side
Chest Rows w/resistance tubing
Side Bends
Hammer Curls
Boat Pose - held statically for 30 seconds and then with pulsing arms for 30 seconds
Triceps Kickbacks
Crunches w/knees up, feet off ground
Side Lateral Raises (for the shoulders)

Below the Belt - 1 minute of each exercise unless otherwise noted:

Side Bends w/weights
Front Lunges
Standing Ab Twists
Back Lunges
Standing Side Crunches
Plie' Squats
Seated Inner Thigh Lifts
Pike - Hold for 1 minute in a pike position (this seemed really too easy)
Side to Side Squats w/power squat option last 10 seconds
Standing Crunches
Calf Raises
Static Ab Hold - kind of like yoga's "boat pose," but Michelle didn't instruct to lift the feet off the ground
Seated Double Leg Lifts
Seated Twists
Crunches w/knees up and feet off floor
Pelvic Lifts

Below the Belt has somewhat of a cardio element to it. If you're a solid intermediate to advanced level exerciser, your heart rate will elevate, but it's not too intense, and it isn't ever elevated for any appreciable length of time. However, for an intermediate or beginner, it may be enough to give some light cardio benefit.

The set is a very non-descript workout area. Michelle has seven background exercisers. Music is pretty non-descript as well.

Other Thoughts:

The backgrounders do a variety of different levels, so it is easy to find someone who is modifying to your level. However, it is not always easy to tell who is doing a more beginner version and who is doing a more advanced version. They all seem to be doing whatever they feel like. For example, one woman will do the beginner level of one exercise, but for the next exercise, she seems to be doing the advanced level.

Most exercises on Above the Belt can be done with the resistance band or weights, which lends some versatility to the workout. You could vary between weights and tubing either during the workout or from workout to workout.

As noted in the instructor comments, Michelle is not consistent with her instruction/form tips, and some of the backgrounders have bad form. She moves quickly from exercise to exercise and usually gives her instruction and form tips while she's doing the exercise rather than teaching it in advance.

These are both thorough workouts, and I think Michelle packs decent decent, comprehensive workouts into a short time frame. With warm up and cool down, the videos actually take about 35 minutes.

Although the workouts would be a good, thorough weight session for a beginner (provided they were well schooed in form) or intermediate, I found both videos pretty dull. I think you can get more exciting workouts. Also, to me these are those workouts that aren't heavy lifting, but aren't really low weight, high rep either. Kind of an in between, although I guess that's what circuit type workouts generally are.

Instructor Comments:
Michelle seems nice enough. She gives good instruction and form tips most of the time, but she is not consistent with it. Also, she never checks on her background exercisers, and some of them have bad form. To her credit, though, Michelle does each and every minute of the workout right along with you. I found Michelle's voice to be a bit shrill and grating, but she had spunk.