Hard Work Conditioning

Patrick Goudeau
Year Released: 2007

Categories: Circuit Training (cardio and weights)

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This is the first Patrick Gordeau workout that I tried, it is his original Hard Work Conditioning workout (the first of three HWC workouts that he has issued to date). The workout clocks in at just over 60 minutes when done in entirety; however DVD chaptering offers 30 minute and 40 minute premixes, which incorporate the warm up/cool down plus the first half (30 minute workout) and second half (40 minute workout) of the overall workout.

Equipment used are a lighter and heavier set of weights (I used 6#, 8#, and 10#, but as I get more comfortable with the moves, I might try to reach up to 12# like Patrick, however he moves quickly and there is a lot of balance work, so semi-light poundage is recommended, IMO). He also uses a short step (I use the green 6” part of the Transfirmer, which works great). Patrick leads, doing the entire workout with you (opposed to walking around the room to the background exercisers) and he works up quite a sweat! The two background exercisers are both female and all three appear to be working out at the same level (the girls look like they use slightly lower poundage): no beginner modifications.

The warm up includes a variety of step touches, diagonal overhead arm reaches (stretches your sides), and hip shimmying. Also included are two pushup sets – identical but with different arm leads – lunging to the side of the step, one arm on step (your body is parallel to the step), pushup then back to low lunge, repeat four times on each side. Pushups in the warm up, that’s tough!

The first part of the workout is completely standing, with a variety of lunges and squats: narrow stance squats on step with standing knee crunch (heavy weights); curtsey lunges off step with overhead press (lighter weights), includes knee up for balance component; side lunge onto step with lateral raise (lighter weights)-repeat on other side; lunge onto step with a “bow and arrow” shoulder move (fun!) (lighter weights), then wide stance static lunge with back leg on step (balance component!) with biceps curl (lighter weight). Each strength workout is broken up by a cardio interval: hop across long part of step to other side and return with arm reaches (high intensity but can be kept low); running in place with foot taps on step (high intensity); low side squats to either side (low intensity) which turns into shuffling side to side (high intensity, can be kept low); hop on and off of the step (high intensity).

The second part of the workout is heavily focused on the core and obliques but includes plenty of arm and leg work for a total body feel. Unlike the first part which is all standing, the second part combines standing moves with lots of floor work while kneeling, laying, or hovering over the step. Ideally a mat is used on top of the step (they used a thick black rubber mat, I used a side flat sofa pillow because it’s all I had, which was sort of awkward but still workable) because your knees will appreciate the cushioning (or in my case, require the cushioning!) when they are kneeling on the step. Moves include a TOUGH plank routine where you are hovered over the step, and your feet alternate lifts onto the step (from the floor) which progresses into prone jacks with feet jumping from floor to step simultaneously – this was the hardest exercise in the whole DVD. Other moves included triceps dips with leg extensions from a kneeling position on the step; unweighted static side lunges to work the inner thighs; chest flies while laying on step with one leg extended (an ab isometric move), which progresses into a double leg stretch with weights; wide one arm lat rows while in narrow static lunge position, then later one arm bent row while balancing on one leg in a deadlift position (hard!), and there was one more set of one arm rows combined with the tough plank routine; some rotator cuff and shoulder work while sitting cross legged on the step (two sets); biceps curls while in a LOW wide stance squat, which Patrick says should be working your butt but I found it much more intense on the inner thighs (tough!). The cardio intervals were fewer and farther between than in the first part, but the heart rate stayed up high with all of that plank and balance work. The second part is equally challenging as the first part, but might seem more intense because it is 10 minutes longer.

Cool down includes various stretches while sitting on the step then some standing stretching. Patrick reminds you to stretch no matter if you did the whole workout or one of the shorter broken up routines.

With a background in AWT as a classic and BSS-era Firm lover, I REALLY enjoyed Patrick’s HWC1. I feel like this is a natural progression of my AWT workouts brought to a more advanced exercise level (very high intermediate-advanced graduated from low-solid intermediate of most Firms). He took the “feel” of Pink Firms (functional moves, faster paced but using slightly lower poundage, cardio focused, more modern exercises than older Firms) then added the intensity and the usage of the step of the older Firms, for a brilliant, fun, advanced, AWT workout. (As is, I feel like most Pink Firms are lacking in intensity and I really miss the usage of the step, but he took the good components and incorporated them into something more worthwhile.)

Patrick makes the workout FUN. He moves quickly but I never feel rushed, he keeps you up to date on what’s happening, and always tells you which poundage to pick up (lighter or heavier). He is enthusiastic, gives out great form pointers, and has excellent form. He is a natural instructor. The music is very good; it’s the regular mix that you find on most modern day videos (club mixes, instrumental mix with a good beat). The production quality is high. The exercises are well synchronized to the music, which is awesome and very helpful for keeping me motivated. He moves so quickly (again not rushed, just efficient!) from exercise to exercise that the workout goes by really fast.

I felt like the first part had more of a cardio intense feel to it while the second part had a strength emphasis; but the heart rate stays up the whole time (the nature of a good AWT workout!) It is hard to heavy up poundage when he moves so quickly (but always safely), also the balance and functional fitness challenges make it hard to heavy up. However the strength moves he chose are good ones, the curtsey and static lunges really work the legs well and the cardio intervals are strength-oriented too. The plank moves and all of the combination moves are really intense and unique, and you don’t need too heavy poundage to get a great burn in your muscles. A true AWT workout which has both strength and cardio benefits.

I would rate this workout very high intermediate to low advanced: high intermediate if using a premix (the shorter workout time makes the workout more doable and less overwhelming); low advanced if you do the whole hour long shebang. (Of course poundage chosen would also increase or decrease the intensity). I think the first part is somewhat easier, but they are comparable in intensity. Overall very high quality, great instruction, unique and effective moves, good balance of strength and cardio. Grade A+!

Instructor Comments:
Patrick is FUN. He is enthusiastic, he does say “oh my gosh” several times but it makes you feel like he is right there sweating with you. He jokes around but all the while gives you good form pointers and keeps you up to date with what’s coming next, also he provides encouragement when the going gets tough (which is often). I liked him so much as an instructor that following this workout (which was my first purchase of his) I ordered three more of his workouts! Highly recommended. His videos are pricier because they are not widely distributed, but WELL worth the money. They are very well put together, organized, and refreshingly intense while still being “doable” to the intermediate-level exerciser.

Emily B.


I’m a high intermediate exerciser and a big fan of circuit type workouts and AWT. This is one of the best in my collection! In just over 60 minutes, Patrick works all muscle groups and my heart rate stays high throughout. (The last time I did this DVD, my heart rate was in my target HRZ for over 40 minutes.) The cardio sections use basic choreography and most incorporate the step. There are some high impact moves (jumps, jacks, etc). I really enjoy the cardio intervals – I find them fun and intense, but they don’t drain me too much either. I think the strength stuff is very well balanced… there is a lot of shoulder work, but also great back/lat work, lots of core and balance integration, and a variety of exercises for all major muscle groups. I generally use 5, 10, and 15 lb dumbbells.

The warm-up is done on the floor behind the step. There are push-ups in the warm-up that I always need to psych myself up for, especially since they come so early (the first set of 8 is just about at the 3 minute mark, followed by another set of 8 near the end of the 6 minute warm-up.) They are done from the toes, with one hand on the step. There’s also a squat thrust exercise called a “frog” that really gets my heart pumping. With the exception of a brief child pose series at the end of the warm-up, there are no stretches included here.

The cardio/weight section is divided into two parts and runs about 50 minutes. Part One is all standing. The legs are worked with a variety of lunges and squats on and off the step, often with an upper body exercise at the same time (emphasis in this section is on biceps, triceps, and shoulders.) Patrick also includes quite a few balance challenges and I find my core is definitely working hard throughout.

In between Part One & Two, there is a brief break where the perceived exertion chart is shown on the screen… great time for a sip of water!

Part Two includes exercises where you lay on the step, as well as more cardio and weight intervals. There’s also more core work, including some great standing core moves near the end of the workout. The upper body emphasis here is on chest and back, with some biceps, triceps, and shoulders thrown in for good measure! There’s a super tough (at least for me!) series done in plank position that includes stepping up & down on the step while you hold plank, and then jacking the legs onto the step. In between, you do rows in plank too! I sometimes need to take a mini-break to make it through this part.

The ending stretch segment includes stretches for the hamstrings, sides of the body, shoulders, and hips. It’s not quite enough for me, but then again I always add extra stretching to the end of my workouts.

Overall – definitely one of my favorites. I can’t wait for the sequel! I’ve also used my BOSU in place of the step for this workout, and with a little creativity I find it adapts very well.

Instructor Comments:
I like Patrick a lot! He’s enthusiastic and cheerful, encourages you to do your best, and makes me smile. (During the basketball shuffles, I love it when he quips: “I want to make everything funky… that’s why I wasn’t on the basketball team.”)
He does repeat some phrases quite a bit in this workout… “Oh my gosh!” and “you know what comes next, right?” but this doesn’t bother me.

Corie (booklover)