Fat Eliminator

Minna Lessig
Year Released: 2000

Categories: Circuit Training (cardio and weights) , Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance

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Please note that I wrote this review about 5 years ago. I'm cutting and pasting the review as I originally wrote it (well, I did cut out one unnecessary comment on the instructor's appearance).
This was on Balanced Blend, one of the first fitness DVDs I ever purchased, and I used it regularly for that first year or two of at home exercising. I wrote this review after a period when I hadn't pulled it out as much.
Although I like Minna as an instructor and held onto this DVD because I had a strong attachment to it as one of my first fitness DVDs, I passed it on a few years ago, as I wasn't using it because I'm at a different level and in a different place in my fitness journey these days.

General workout breakdown: 3 minute warm-up, about 25 minutes of aerobic / strength training without weights circuits, and 3 minute cool-down stretch followed by “bonus” 15 minutes strength training with weights for a total of about 45 minutes. The main program is a circuit training one, alternating 2 minutes of “toning” with 3 minutes of high impact cardio activities. The focus is lower body, with minimal upper body and abs, and uses your own body for resistance. You can really push yourself during the cardio portions and then recover during the toning. The aerobics moves are pretty basic (grapevines, jumping jacks, kicks, punches, etc.) and use the muscles just worked in the strength portion (e.g. plyometric alternating lunges after slow, controlled lunges). While this isn’t the most exciting program, it is effective, particularly for 30 minutes. The 15 minute bonus has approximately 5 minute of exercises for the buttocks, 5 minutes for the arms and shoulders, and 5 minutes of abs work (mostly crunches and variations on the crunch, with minimal lower abdominal and oblique work).

Level: I’d recommend this to the experienced beginner to mid-intermediate exerciser. This was one of the first exercise videos I ever purchased. I wasn’t new to exercise, but I was new to exercising at home and hadn’t worked out much in the past couple of years before that. The 30 minutes was tough, and I wished I had known more about modifications. I now consider myself a high intermediate exerciser, and when I pulled this out not too long ago, I was able to do Fat Eliminator and Strength & Grace back to back.

Class: 4 young women of fairly diverse backgrounds and body types. One occasionally grimaces through the smile; she and I are built very similarly, so it’s encouraging to see her keep up with Minna.

Music / Set / Other Production Notes: The instrumental synthesizer music is very beat-driven, although not exactly “the spicy Latin music” promised by the cover. The interior set is very bright, with hardwood floors and back wall lit with various bright hues (pink, blue, etc.) The picture and sound quality are very good; the production company is the same one that does the Quick Fix videos, and in fact you can tell it’s the same studio.

Equipment: sneakers; dumbbells (your choice of weight) and mat (optional) for the bonus segment only

Comments: This workout is designed by and for those with healthy joints. Pay attention to your technique, particularly with the squats, lunges, and plies. You may want to put a pillow or folded blanket under your knee for the kneeling portion of the bonus toning. If your knee still bothers you, these exercises can be done while standing or sitting, if you know how.
You do not need a lot of space for this workout. You should be able to kick in all directions without hitting anything; think taking a big step forward and back and two good sized steps to each side.
By the way, this is one of the few exercise videos my boyfriend has done, even with its pink background, all female cast, and somewhat frequent references to “burning calories.” He used it primarily as cardio, and found that with exaggerated movements he got very sweaty.

DVD Notes: The DVD, titled “Balanced Blend,” also contains Strength & Grace. You can select each circuit, so if a certain cardio segment bothers your knees, you can skip it.

Conclusion: I’m keeping this one, not just out of nostalgia, although that’s certainly a big factor. I credit Minna with helping me go from a beginner to an intermediate level of exercise. For a little while I alternated Fat Eliminator with Karen Voight’s Burn & Firm, which is a much more upper body-focused circuit training routine; I find the two complement each other well.

Instructor Comments:
Minna Lessig, a former Ms. Fitness, is a trainer and correspondent for fitness magazines and TV programs. Her cueing is good, and she explains the moves well, although sometimes I wish she’d give just one more pointer or point out the muscle worked every time. She’s professional, encouraging without being hyper or chatty, and she appears to know her stuff, both in terms of the routine and fitness in general. I personally like this “girl next door.” She works both sides evenly and expects you to mirror her moves.



This is a circuit workout. There are 6 rounds, each of which features strength and cardio. The choreography is simple and mixed impact.

Minna is a pleasant and friendly instructor, and I have enjoyed her in previous workouts. In fact, the only reason I even have this one is due to its being on the same dvd as Strength & Grace, which is my fav Minna workout.

As far as the workout itself, it is not a staple in my rotation simply because I do not prefer to do my strength work in this way. I do enjoy a nice cardio circuit, but I prefer to keep my strength in its own workout because the type of strength work in this sort of routine is never enough for me.

So overall? I like Minna, but this routine was nothing remarkable and is not the sort of routine I typically do. Were it not on a dvd with a workout I do enjoy, I probably would not keep it. It’s not a bad workout, just not the sort of thing I have a place for in my routine.

Instructor Comments:
I really enjoy Minna. I wish she would come out with some new stuff.



I wanted to submit a review on this workout mainly because I disagree with the previous reviews posted here. I believe this is a good intermediate workout. With all the plyo jumps and scissor jumps, I think this video is too high intensity to be considered beginner. The choreography is very basic and yet I think it is presented in a way that is a little different than what I've experienced before. I liked the arm movements that are done with the exercisers. Even the arm movements with the demi plies in first position were simple, but effective. It's true that the set is plain, the background exercisers are quietly doing their thing and Minna is not overly excited, but I found this to be a refreshing change from many of the workout tapes I own where everyone is whooping and hollering in a very exaggerated manner over nothing in particular.
There isn't much as far as lifting weights and the toning intervals are mostly concentrated on lower body, but that's okay with me, too - that's why I have a variety of workouts - I vary them to get the best out of each one.

Also, this tape was a real bargain considering what I paid for it. I recommend it highly.



I like this video a lot. I understand why other reviewers were disappointed however. This is definitely not an intense tape for people who do videos by Cathe or other advanced tapes. The moves are way too basic and minimal to use for a "real workout" when I am in the mood. However, I bought it for its length, circuit style and low intensity. This workout fits great on those days when I really don't feel like working out or if I have slacked on my exercise routine and need to gradually rebuild my strength. It fits nicely with my other videos. It consists of 6 aerobic/toning exercise segments that focus mostly on the lower body. For the choreographicaly challenged (did I spell that right?) it provides welcome athletic moves rather than choreography. This is definitely a keeper.

Instructor Comments:
Very nice personality. Cues well.

Latasha Gary


I agree with the other reviews of this video that it's high beginner/low intermediate and that the 'spicy Latin' music promised on the cover doesn't exist in the video!

I bought this knowing it wasn't very advanced and that it was short. However, I did expect more of a total body workout rather than so much focus on lower body. There is plenty of standing leg work without weights: squats, lunges, plie squats, etc. That's fine, since you are using your body weight as resistance.

The upper body work was very disappointing though. Yes, there were some push-ups to work chest, shoulders and triceps but I don't personally believe that merely pushing your arms out from your chest while standing, or doing arm circles, etc. works the muscles much. The upper body work is nothing without doing the bonus toning section at the end, and even that isn't much. If heavy weights build strength and high reps build endurance, what the heck does doing 12 bicep curls with very light weights do?

I'm okay with the lower body work and the abs, but this video leaves a lot to be desired if you're expecting a decent upper body workout as well. Oh, and the cardio is merely something to do in between lower body sets. A lot of it continues to work the lower body with faster lunges, etc., so that's a plus.

I might try this video again - on a light day - but I'd be sure to modify the upper body work to use weights and would probably substitute other exercises and add more reps.

Joni O


This is a 45-minute total body tape. The body of the workout is 30 minutes long with an additional 15-minute dumbbell toning section as an added bonus. The workout combines 6 circuits alternating strength and cardio. All of the strength segments use only your body weight as resistance and all of the cardio sections are floor, no step is required.

The workout structure is as follows:

Strength 1: This section includes squats and squat pulse, outer thigh leg lifts, and narrow stance squats.

Cardio 1: Fast squats, small plyo squats where only your heels lift from the floor, toes stay grounded, outer thigh leg lifts, knee lifts with side kicks, side lunges. All of the squats and thigh lifts are done faster than they were performed in the Strength section.

Strength 2: Reverse lunges (Dips) and reverse lunge pulses, dips with hamstring curls and leg extensions

Cardio 2: Back taps, grapevine sequence with reverse lunges and front kicks, scissors, and power reverse lunges.

Strength 3: Pile squats

Cardio 3: Plyo jumps, regular jumping jacks, and speed skate slides

Strength 4: 2 count pushups, lying back bend extensions, and rear delt flies

Cardio 4: Pulsing squats, fast squats, and alternating heel digs

Strength 5: Narrow stance piles

Cardio 5: Punches, and simulated jump roping

Strength 6: A move very similar to an elbow strike to work the shoulders and one leg squats

Cardio 6: Side hops, knee lifts and hamstring curls.

A short stretch follows. There is no real cool down. Just a very short sequence of stretches that neglects to stretch most of the muscles used in the workout.

A bonus section of dumbbell toning ends the workout. All of these moves are done with very light weights. You will need dumbbells and a mat for abdominal work. You will do bent leg extension in the table position with a dumbbell supported in the knee bend, back rows in a knee lunge position, triceps extensions, bicep curls, side lateral raises, and crunches, reverse crunches, and oblique work. A very short stretch ends the workout. All of these toning movements are done in a very slow and controlled manner. Making it very easy to increase the weights while still keeping good form.

This tape is labeled as intermediate, but is more suited for high beginners or low intermediates. The strength portions are not very intense and the cardio sections are very basic and not very intense either. You can choose to use weights during the Strength sections and eliminate the arm movements or choose a lighter weight so that you can incorporate the arms movements as well. You can add intensity to the cardio by utilizing more plyos and increase in the range of motion.

The production quality was good, though the music was very bland “quasi latin” canned music. Minna is very rehearsed in this tape. She is not overly hyper nor is she to boring, but I do get the feeling that all of the cues were being read off of cue cards. There is no interaction with the participants.

This would be a good tape for a beginner or someone who is getting back into fitness after an absence. I don’t feel that even with lots of modifications a high intermediate or advanced exerciser would find this tape holding their interest very long, even on a light day.

Susie F.


This is definitely a beginner/intermediate video, and I am way past that level, so this one has already been traded. However, I could see myself liking this one five years ago (or maybe 20 years in the future!). The intensity is about the same as a typical Buns of Steel or Crunch video. Minna does a 30-minute (total) workout of cardio and toning intervals without weights, though you could add dumbells to the strength intervals if you desire. The toning is mostly lower-body squats and lunges, though she does do one set of pushups. For the cardio, she speeds up the squats and goes into very simple routines of floor aerobics. The choreography is extremely basic - a grapevine is the hardest move here, and Minna actually shows you how to do it! Not much room is required, either. After the workout, a 15-minute "bonus" section demonstrates basic gym-style strength routines with dumbells. Although the music is just Crunch-style disco rather than the "spicy Latin" promised on the box, this video is overall of good quality for the price, and I would recommend it for beginner/intermediates looking for a painless circuit workout, or persons new to weights. Grade A for beginners.

Instructor Comments:
Minna has just the personality I favor - a sincere, cheerful "TV spokesmodel" demeanor, good cueing, and no whooping or repeating of silly remarks. She gets extra points for dropping by the VF forum! I'd love to see an advanced video from her.

Sue B


This is a short (30min and 15min bonus strength routine) circuit style video that includes some kickboxing and strength training. I found this video extremely disappointing. Minna leads you through several circuits of super basic moves with nothing more creative than a Scissor. There was way too much emphasis on lower body as Minna leads you through series after series of lunges and lunge variations. While Minna is a competent instructor, the routine was boring, boring, boring. And it was way to easy to be labled Intermediate (as College rated it). At one point between circuits, she halts the workout altogether to give direction. It never sustained my heart rate enough to warrant the unfortunate title of "Fat Eliminator." Overall, there was nothing inspiring or interesting about this workout.

Instructor Comments:
Minna is obviously fit and capable, but I found her stiff and overly rehearsed. She never seemed excited about the workout and so neither did I. (I'm not talking squealing or 'whoo whoo-ing' but just SOME emotion.) I thought her choreography was so dull and everything but the kickboxing reminded me of moves I'd done in some of Kathy Smith's 80's videos. That was fine then, but I don't want to go back there!

Rose S.