Your Body Breakthru: Your Best Body Circuit

Michelle Dozois
Year Released: 2007

Categories: Circuit Training (cardio and weights)

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Your Best Body Circuit is part of the Your Body Breakthru series by instructor Michelle Dozois. This was my first video in the series, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The DVD Main Menu offers the following options: Full Workout, Express Workout, Chapters, Testimonials, More on Your Body Breakthru, Michelle's personal message, and Contact. The Full Workout is 58-minute workout consisting of a warm-up, seven cardio/strength circuits (7-8 minutes each), and a cool-down, while the Express Workout provides a shorter (35 minutes) version of this. Equipment used includes 2 sets of dumbbells (medium and heavy) and a resistance band (Michelle and crew use a straight band, but my handled one worked fine).

Here are the chapter breakdowns with my brief descriptions:

Warm-Up. Just under 5 minutes; marches with step touches, punches, hamstring curls, and knee lifts; finishes with moving stretches.

Circuit 1 (Back and Biceps 1). Cardio: Step-touch, cross-back with optional hop, knee up w/twist and punch, plie squat with jump into squat. Heavy weights: side step with row to bicep curls; double row. Medium weights: bicep curls. Band: single arm back row in plie.

Circuit 2 (Chest and Triceps 1). Cardio: same as above, left lead.
Chest: push-ups w/alternating knee drops; full push-ups. Heavy weights: lying chest press. Band: seated tricep extension; standing chest press.

Circuit 3 (Back and Biceps 2). Cardio: march/jog w/tap out or jacks, lunges, samba, scissor step, alternating or power lunge. Heavy weights: row with rear lunge. Band: bicep curls, wide row, seated row.

Circuit 4 (Chest and Triceps 2). Cardio: same as above, left lead. Band: shoulder rotation adding tricep extension, push-ups w/resistance. Heavy weights: chest flyes adding leg extensions. Plank work: lower to forearms, raise and lower knees.

Circuit 5 (Shoulders w/Legs). Cardio: side-to-side hips (single then double), alternating knee lifts, alternating kicks, front/back kick combo, power jacks. Moderate weights: slow wood chop, 1-arm shoulder press with leg extension and curtsey dip. Band: rotating kneeling shoulder raise.

Circuit 6 (Legs). Cardio: same as above, left lead. Heavy weights: squats. Moderate (or no) weights: forward/rear lunge adding back leg extension and knee lift. Band: side-to-side step touch adding leg extension.

Circuit 7 (Abdominals). About 6 minutes: side elbow plank crunch, side crunch with leg lift, half roll-up with arm extension (holding band), double arm/leg extension (holding band), oblique crunch adding arm extension, pulsing crunches.

Cool-Down. Stretches with band (about 5 minutes): lying hamstring and IT band, thread the needle, seated cross-leg forward bend, chest and triceps stretch, kneeling hip flexor with side bend/side extension.

Each cardio sequence is repeated 3 times for approximately 2-3 minutes total. Although there was a bit of impact to some of the exercises plus a few plyometric moves (such as the power jacks), one of the four background exercisers always shows a low-impact option (I chose to follow the modifier at times and still had no problems keeping my HR in my target zone for almost the entire workout).

I especially enjoyed the strength work for assorted reasons. First of all, the exercises were quite varied and different, especially the band work. However, Michelle also offered new twists on more traditional exercises, such as lowering into a squat, pulsing while lifting one foot, and then raising back up. For further variety, Michelle varied the count of the exercises, doing 2-2, 4-1, 1-4, etc. (similar to Jari Love's Ripped workouts). Furthermore, I liked that there was a functional fitness component to many of the moves, with twisting exercises like the wood chop as well as balance work. I also appreciated the strong emphasis on back work, as this is an area that is often overlooked. The only complaints I had about the weight segments were that 1) Michelle moves very quickly, sometimes making it difficult to set up the next move in time (particularly when working with the band), and 2) in Circuit 2, the push-up series was extremely challenging--although a modification was shown, the difficulty level of this exercise seemed out of proportion with the rest of the workout.

I consider myself to be an advanced intermediate exerciser, and I found this workout to be perfect for both my level and my preferences. However, given both that modifications are shown and that you can always vary the amount of weights used (I used mainly 8# and 10# dumbbells), I think that this DVD would appeal to a wide range of exercisers, from advanced beginners to intermediates to those at a full advanced level. Michelle has done an excellent job in creating a challenging workout that is both interesting and fun to do; highly recommended!

Instructor Comments:
I haven't been crazy about Michelle's workouts in the past, and I've found her personality a bit too over-enthusiastic for my tastes. I had no problems with her here, however: she comes across as very professional, she is encouraging without being over-the-top, and she cues well using mirrored cueing.

Beth C (aka toaster)


his is a 57 minute cardio & strength interval circuit workout led by Michelle in a set with wooden floors & accents. She works out w/ 4 b/g'ers- one shows beginner modifications. The dvd is chaptered so you can play all or select an interval. It also includes a 35 minute express version. You will need dumbbells and an exercise band for this workout.

After a nice warmup you move into the first cardio set. You complete that and move into your strength work. Each strength set focuses on one or two muscle groups and she does a good job of burning out the muscles! You repeat the same cardio set, leading with your other side. I would say Michelle really focuses on the upper body in the strength work but includes one set of lower body strength work and includes a nice ab/core section before the cooldown. There are some nice combo moves that she puts together very nicely because the poundage worked for all moves involved. I was able to heavy up pretty nicely in this w/o.

Cardio work includes: step touch, skater, knee pulls w/ a punch, jump rope, jacks, power lunges, cross country skiing, power jacks, kicks, rocking horse, jogging, and other athletic type cardio that is easy to catch onto but will really get your heart pumping nicely.

Strength work includes: side lunge w/ row & bicps, band rows w/ pliets, pushups w/ knee drops, chest press, band tricep extension, band chest press, dip & row, band curl, wide band row, seated band row, band tri extension, band pushups, chest fly w/ leg extensions, pliet w/ a twist & shoulder raise, dips w/ military press & abduction, band shoulder raise, a squat series, and a lunge-pliet-glute extension w/ a knee lift.

Core work includes: side elbow plank with leg lift, crunches & crunch variations, oblique work, and she uses the band to up the intensity in some of the moves.

I would rate this a solid intermediate that gave me a great workout! My upper body is NICELY worked, def felt it in my core, got a bit of lower body work, along with a great calorie burn. This w/o is easy to up the intensity by adding some more impact and really heavy-ing up. Or follow the beginner mod and bring it down a notch. Michelle is a great instructor & I really enjoyed this workout! Great cuing, great energy. I received this dvd as part of the Top Trainers set to review.



I tried this workout back when it was released in 2007. At the time, I didn't do circuit workouts and I ended up getting rid of it, even though I enjoyed it. Fast forward about three years - the way I work out has changed. I do more gentle workouts and different types of workouts, including circuit workouts. So, I reacquired this workout and I LOVE doing it. It is so much fun.

Others have outlined the workout above, so I'll post my impressions and conclusions. The background exercisers are women who lost weight using Michelle's Best Body program and they are enthusiastic and fun to work out with. One of them is a modifier, which is great for me because I have arthritic knees and need to keep things low impact. I still get a sweat-drenching workout. The set is clean and fairly bright. Don't ask me about the music because I can't remember a thing about it other than it's instrumental and up tempo.

This is a workout I will keep for quite awhile and I find myself using it quite a bit currently.

Instructor Comments:
She is friendly and upbeat. She cues really well. I find her very motivating.

Laura S.


Iím reviewing this workout after doing it a few dozen times, including a handful of times in the past few weeks.

General workout breakdown: Beth, Lindsey, and Laura have already described this workout well, so Iíll just add some thoughts.
I find the warm-up just sufficient to get the blood flowing. I like that Michelle does cardio and dynamic stretch moves to warm up the muscles youíll be working rather than just jumping around or doing many static stretches. The final stretches are sufficient, too, but they are quick and not as thorough as one might need if training to gain flexibility rather than just release some muscle tension.
I also appreciate that Michelle mixes in exercises that move across different planes and that hit more than one muscle group or body part at a time. (Iíve moved away from doing a lot of isolation work and towards more ďfunctionalĒ moves.) With a few exceptions Michelleís exercises make sense, are interesting, and feel effective. That also goes for the moves incorporating the resistance band. Iím not generally a resistance band / tubing person, and Iím leery of workouts that spend too much time trying to figure out neat ways to incorporate the fitness tool (you know, where it seems like the instructor is using the tool to use it, not because itís the best way to do the exercise or accomplish whatever youíre trying to do), but I actually like using the resistance band here and canít really think of a move where it doesnít make sense.
Michelle does move quickly from exercise to exercise, but neither the transitions nor the pace of the exercises themselves felt truly rushed (well, at least compared to Michelleís The Ultimate Workout Ė now those were some fast transitions between exercises!), even if at times I wouldnít have minded things a teensy bit slower. This is definitely one where I get out what I need beforehand and place it within easy reach.
Normally Iím not the biggest fan of cardio & weights circuits, as I like to feel like Iíve really accomplished something when I break out the weights rather than just have done a few token strength moves, but thatís not an issue here. This and Kelly Coffey-Meyerís are some of the few cardio & weights circuit videos that I truly enjoy doing.
This is probably a bit more focused on upper body relative to everything else, but Michelle does sneak in core and lower body work in the other strength and even in the cardio segments. I agree that this really does get the back, both large and small muscles, something too many other video workouts skimp on.

Level: Iíd also recommend this to intermediates through int./adv. exercisers. I agree that those at the beg./int. or low int. point can make it work for them, but I think if youíre much past low adv., even if you go all out on the cardio and use as heavy a weight as you can given the somewhat quick pace, you wonít be as pleased with the level of challenge.
Normally I consider myself an int./adv. exerciser, but when I got this one and when I revisited it this past month I was more of a lower int., at which point it was decently challenging, and I was more than willing to stick with the modifications in places. Once Iím back to the int./adv. level this will be nicely challenging workout, one that will work me out without wiping me out.

Class: 4 women, who as mentioned are from Michelleís gym, join Michelle, who cues live. 1 woman shows modifications, taking out a good deal of the impact, but not quite all. Yes, itís the woman whoís not as thin, but as the one admits in the testimonial section she wants to show that you donít have to be at your goal weight already to do these workouts. Note that there is some whooping from the crew, although youíll have to turn the volume up to hear it.

Music: The upbeat instrumental stuff is generic exercise video issue, but Michelle has matched it to the moves well.

Set: interior space with mostly brown walls and floors. Itís a bit bland, like the music; a more colorful set and better music would definitely boost this whole set and make it more popular than it is, IMHO.

Production: clear picture and sound, mostly helpful rather than distracting camerawork (although Iíve never been a big fan of the overhead shot).

Equipment: sneakers and a supportive sports bra, if relevant. (Even if you stick with the lower impact version of moves, Michelleís cardio can be quite bouncy.) For the strength portions Michelle recommends a resistance band plus 1 pair of dumbbells (3-5 lbs.) for those less advanced and 2 pairs (8-15 lbs.) for those who are more so. I used to use 5s, 8s, and 10s, but now I use 8s, 10s, and I snuck in my 15s for an exercise or two the last time or two (I really need to buy that pair of 12s). I use whatever resistance band in good shape I find in my drawer; the one I have is probably on the light side of moderate in terms of resistance level. The band that came with the Sculpt DVD felt too stiff to me, not that it was too much resistance but that it didnít have the length and flexibility to make me at 5í8Ē feel comfortable stretching it way out into the positions I needed it for some of the exercises (like the standing overhead triceps press). Youíll probably want a mat, but know that Michelle has one that quickly unfolds and refolds. If yours is more unwieldy, you may want need more space to leave it out or just work on and/or around it.

Space Requirements: For the cardio portions you should be able to kick in each direction or at least take 2 moderate-sized steps forward and back as well as 2-3 big steps to each side. At 5í8Ē I have no problem fitting this into my cleared floor space of about 8í long by 6í deep.
For the strength segments youíll need room to lunge forward and backward as well as side to side plus lie down with arms and legs extended. Make sure you have room off to the side for your equipment, and you may want to have enough room to work on your mat if youíd rather not fiddle with unrolling it and rolling it back up, although this presents a problem if you have to cut into your cardio space to do so.

DVD Notes: Bethís already described your menu and chapter options, but Iíll just note that the Express premix on my DVD contains the Warm-up, Circuit 1, Circuit 2, Circuit 5, Circuit 7 (the first two abs exercises on one side only), and the Cool-Down / Stretch. Obviously skipping out on the second side of the abs is a defect, but I canít help but wonder if Circuit 6, with the second sideís lead in cardio and the legs portion, is supposed to be in there, too. I think not because when I added it (and the rest of the abs portion) in manually the workout was just over 40 min., whereas the premix as is, defect and all, is around 30 min., which is the length of the cardio premix and the two weights splits on the other YBB DVDs. And while the legs and abs get a little work in the other circuits, this premix is very upper body heavy, with a little too much emphasis on the chest, biceps, and shoulders (although if you use this in conjunction with the full workout and/or accompanying Sculpt DVD things balance out, more or less). I think from now on Iíll not bother with the premix (I usually donít use them, anyway) and just plan on only doing this in its entirety when I do it, especially since I kind of prefer the other back/biceps and chest/triceps circuits anyway.

Comments: Just a note that Your Body Breakthru tends to be abbreviated as YBB, although most of the time on VF YBB stands for Yoga Booty Ballet. Iíd use YBBt instead, but as the only one who does that I invariably cause more confusion than I resolve, so Iíll stick with YBB, since in the context of this review it clearly means Michelleís set.

Thereís absolutely no reason why you canít just get this one and skip the rest of the set. While this definitely belongs with the other YBBs and works well with them, it doesnít depend on them to make sense, and Michelle introduces it and cues it as if itís its own entity. Actually, I like that all three have distinct warm-ups, too, something instructors tend to skimp on when doing sets. That said, it tends to languish on my shelves when Iím not doing a YBB rotation, but then I could say the same of most other weight videos, especially cardio and weights videos, since I just donít depend on videos for my strength training as much these days.

Personally I like the lower body portion of YBB: Slim, Strong & Sexy Body Sculpt a lot better than Circuitís. Obviously Sculptís is a lot more thorough since you devote over 20 min. to lower body work alone whereas Circuit just has one segment plus a few exercises sprinkled throughout the other portions. Iím one who prefers to hit the lower body hard with some heavier weights more often than not, so Sculpt is more my style anyway. But I prefer the upper body work in Circuit over Sculpt; Sculptís UB segment feels underwhelming and less focused than Circuitís, or maybe I just prefer the exercise selection and stronger back work in Circuit.

After releasing these three workouts, Michelle released another video based on her gym classes, The Ultimate Workout, which bears the Your Body Breakthru banner but actually looks and feels closer to the Peak 10, now rereleased as part of the Peak Fit Challenge, workouts. (I have the two P10s, Cardio Interval Burn and Cardio Strength, but have only been able to preview them.) The YBBs are less ambitious than the P10s/PFCs: the primary audience for the YBB set seems to be women, particularly busy moms and/or professionals (or, in my case, student), looking to take charge of their health and fitness and get in better shape, who may be more beg./int. but are looking to increase their fitness level to at least solidly int. if not int./adv. In contrast, the P10s/PFCs seem to be more for women and men who are already in good shape but want to get into great shape and bump their fitness level up to advanced. Things are less choreographed in the Ultimate W/O and in the P10s, although Michelle still uses the format of running through several different moves in a row and repeating before moving on, and the moves are even more athletic and kickboxing-based; also, these workouts are more about intervals and metabolic circuits, which the YBBs are not.

Iíve done some form of a 4-6 week YBB rotation at two different times, once during a busy end of semester when I wanted to just plug and play without having to think about what I was doing for exercise and once just recently when I was looking for something to take me from a lower to a higher intermediate level of fitness following a forced lay-off. Both times I was pleased with how well this set worked for me. The first time around I remember being especially pleased with the work for the back, as I saw noticeably improved muscle tone and strength there as well as better posture. (I had been using Cathe, Jari, and other DVDs with the same weights for chest and back and was just beginning to learn that I wasnít challenging the back as much as I should be.) This time around I was especially pleased how quickly my legs firmed up, as I noticed that all of my pants were much looser through the thighs after my four weeks. I also noticed more muscle in the arms, especially biceps and triceps, but I should mention that not only was I coming off a break but also that for the past few years I havenít been doing a lot of focused work on the bis and tris. I regret that both times I didnít keep close track of numbers like weight, inches, etc., take photos, or stick as closely to my eating plan as I should have so I could boast about what I accomplished with their help, although both times I know I lost a few pounds. (By the way, there was a code included in one of these that unlocked two PDF files, one with rotations and one with a diet plan, both of which are pretty sensible things, on the YBB website.)
But I will say that I firmly believe the YBB set is proof that you donít need a huge expensive set to get results, whether youíre looking to improve your fitness level, lose weight, or shape up. (I bought all three new from Michelleís site when they were first released for around $50, but by this point you can find them for less than half that.) Of course, consistency and hard work are the key ingredients you need to bring to the party, but you too may become a believer that the background exercisers really did make those changes doing pretty much the same workouts you now are.

Instructor Comments:
I think Michelle does a good job cuing exercises and giving form tips, but I wouldnít recommend this to someone who didnít already have some strength-training experience because she assumes you already have an idea of what youíre doing.
I like Michelleís personality here. Sheís a bit perky and chipper in the cardio segments, but not so when doing weights. In this series Michelle comes off as very approachable and earnest, even before you listen to her message about how her life changed with her sonís diagnosis. Sheís not going through the motions by telling you, ďI know how hard it is. I know how it feels. I know you can do it.Ē Her story and those of her background crew lend a sense of authenticity and truth to statements like these, and personally I find this sort of thing more inspiring than watching genetically blessed models because itís closer to my reality.



This is one of the three DVDs in the Your Body Breakthru series put out by Michelle Dozois in 2007. Itís already been well broken down so Iím just going to add my opinions. What a comprehensive, high quality workout! This one has maintained a pretty high regard on the VF Forum and I can see why, it is well organized, has an express option, is reasonably priced (especially now if you pick it up used), has some interesting functional moves and variety of exercises, and Michelle is the greatest. I also have her YBB Slim, Strong, and Sexy Body Sculpt which is a strength only split routine, and use it on an occasional basis. But I prefer total body and circuit workouts, so YBBC was right up my alley.

Because Michelle offers modifications (and thereís a beginner and low impact modifier) it is easy to put as much or as little intensity into this as youíd like. She moves fairly slowly on the strength moves, allowing you to heavy up, although the functional aspect keeps you from going very heavy. She also uses a band for several workouts, which I think really benefit the muscles with the essentric movements. The 58 minute total workout is pretty tough Ė Iíd say it has the intensity of an older Firm workout (it sort of reminded me of Firm BSS2, Complete Aerobics and Weight Training, without the step). I know Iíll be feeling it in my upper body tomorrow (the chest and back were worked particularly hard) but the legs get a lot of attention in the cardio (such as plyo lunges and pulsing plie squats) and a long squat/lunge section towards the end of the workout.

Like SSBS, YBBC is set in a brownish, somewhat dim large room, and Iím glad she dumped this set in her newer workouts (2009 and beyond). I am not too much of a stickler but I definitely donít like the brown. The music wasnít exceptional, just the regular instrumental stuff you find in a lot of 10MS or Gaiam workouts. I appreciated that all of the women backgrounders were success stories who had lost weight with the YBB program. They were certainly all an inspiration to look at, and had a variety of body shapes.

I am an intermediate exerciser (slowly sneaking into advanced workouts as my strength and endurance improve) and was able to use 15, 12, and 10 # bells as well as a moderate band for the workouts Ė and got a GREAT caloric burn. I followed the high intensity modifications for the cardio (which was easy to follow, no confusing choreography here, YAY!) and what a great, challenging workout! I would say this workout is high intermediate, but can be modified to lower intermediate easily by using lighter poundage and keeping it low impact. An hour long circuit workout might be a bit overwhelming for a true beginner, but Michelle is very inviting and non intimidating. I would recommend this to those who enjoy circuit or AWT workouts, functional fitness, and are Michelle Dozois fans. Highly recommended and Grade A+!

Instructor Comments:
I intensely enjoy Michelle and have two of her YBB workouts along with her Ultimate Workout. She gives thorough instruction, mirror cuing and always giving you helpful form pointers. She is encouraging without being overly cheerful. Iím definitely planning to get her Peak 10 series once they smooth out some of the scratched DVD issues. I really like that she includes a lot of functional strength into her workouts.

Emily B.