Shape Your Abs

Tracy York
Year Released: 2004

Categories: Abs/Core

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I’m reviewing this workout after doing the various parts at least once each.

General workout breakdown: This video has a 35-min. circuit workout, 4 5-min. abs workouts, & a bonus 12-min. total body weights workout (it’s the same one that’s on Shape Your Butt, Hips & Thighs).
The cardio routine, after a warm-up of flowing movements and dynamic stretches (3 min.), alternates between 5 min. of floor aerobics and 2 min. of toning with weights; it ends with a cool-down of simple moves and static stretches (3 min.). The cardio portion combines athletic (e.g. mini squats, jumping robe), aerobics (e.g. repeater, v-step), and dance (e.g. chasse, triple step or cha cha) moves into combos that aren’t too complicated; a mini interval concludes the cardio segment and leads into the toning. The strength portions include squat & bent-over row, front lunge & front shoulder raise opening to side, curtsy lunge & side shoulder raise + bicep curl, and hammer curl & standing superman + triceps kickbacks.
Tracy introduces the basic idea for each abs routine and then has you engage and pull in the abs. The Classic abs routine contains curls, reverse curls, & oblique twists w/ a reach; the Pilates-based has variations on the hundred beginning with legs in chair and arms above head, a variation on the single leg stretch, & criss cross; Core includes half roll-back w/ arm variations, curl & reach w/ legs extended & crossed, & elbow plank w/ knee dips; Dynamic (refers to keeping core still while moving) features supine single leg bicycle, oblique twist into single straight leg stretch, twisting reach w/ legs extended at 90 degrees, & reverse curl w/ legs at 90. Each routine hits the lower abs and obliques, too, and concludes with a brief stretch.
The bonus weights routine, after a short warm-up (1 min.), includes squats with biceps curls, rear lunge with pulse, leg extension with biceps curls, alternating rear lunges, row at shoulder level – row to rib cage w/ arms narrow – overhead press, one-armed bent over row, shoulder series (variations on side and front raises), shoulder rolls, push-ups into plank with alternating single leg lifts, child’s pose, chest flyes, triceps press, curl w/ reaching weight forward, and oblique twist w/ weight. You’ll end with a few stretches (supine abdominal stretch, knees to chest, reclined hamstring stretch, wide-angled butterfly / diamond, and seated twist).

Level: I’d recommend this to experienced beginners through intermediates; it’s best if you have some previous experience with aerobics and weights / abs training. Shape Your Abs might slightly frustrate someone brand new to exercising, but it’s a solid workout for those who have at least some idea what they’re doing.

Class: 3 fit young women join Tracy for the circuit; 2 join Tracey for the abs; & Tracey is alone for the bonus. During the circuit 1 woman shows less complicated / difficult or slightly less impact versions.

Music: upbeat instrumental with a beat. I’ve heard selections on Karen Voight videos, for example.

Set: neutral-colored brightly lit interior space meant to look like a (very large) living room leading onto an outdoor patio.

Production: crisp picture and sound. The camera angles are much better than on Shape Your Butt, Hip & Thighs, with the whole body of someone visible most of the time.

Equipment: sneakers; mat (or equivalent) for sculpting and bonus weights workout; 2-3 pairs of dumbbells for toning segments.

Space Requirements: You should be able to take a couple of steps to each side, front, & back, and lie on your back with arms and legs extended.

DVD Notes: I have the original edition of this DVD, with the model in a white bikini; I haven’t heard if anything is different in the re-release (green & blue bikini). Each segment – and the intro - is its own chapter, and at the end you are taken back to the main menu. It would have been nice to have had chapters within the cardio workout especially (I would use this more often if I could program out the weights portions), and it would also have been nice to have the option to program your own workout, like cardio followed by abs segment #2, rather than having to return to the main menu every time.

Conclusion: This is a pleasant little video with some surprisingly effective short routines for the abs. If you can do all four and feel nothing, I salute you and your abs of steel! The circuit or bonus workout alone may not help you build significant strength or endurance, but they could be great maintenance workouts, especially on days when you’re pressed for time. Doing the bonus weights after the circuit could be sufficiently challenging for those relatively new to lifting weights, however. If you do the circuit, one or two abs segments, and the bonus routine, you can get your cardio, weights, and abs done in under an hour. There’s little down time between moves, so this is great for those who need time efficient workouts.
This is probably the most straightforward and easiest to pick up of the Shape videos currently out there (Shape Your Butt, Hips & Thighs; Bikini Body All Year Round Cardio; & BBAYR Toning).

Instructor Comments:
Tracy is upbeat and encouraging but not over the top perky. She talks a good deal, but it’s all about the workout – instruction, tips, reminders, etc. She mirror cues a little in advance and is pretty easy to follow. Tracy mentions how your abs are engaged during all of the toning movements, which is a nice way to carry the theme of the entire workout throughout, although it means she’s often saying, “Pull your abs in like crazy.” She’s a little jumpy during the bonus weights portion (as if she’s had too much coffee) but much less so during the main routines.



The DVD consists of a 35 minute circuit workout (alternates 5 minutes cardio with 2 minutes weight work), 4 separate 5-minute ab workouts, and a bonus 12 minute total body blast. There are no chapters within the circuit workout -- each individual workout has its own chapter (i.e circuit, each ab workout and the bonus)
The circuit workout was a lot of fun and the time flew by! The moves are not dancey and are easy to learn. Tracy does a few combos at a time and then puts it all together from the top, for each segment. The 5-minute cardio intervals are fun, and she has someone showing modifications for each routine (although, mostly the cardio is low impact). The weight intervals are slow reps, and intermediates can heavy up (she uses light weights the whole time). The ab routines are only 5 minutes each and have some interesting moves. I previewed the bonus workout -- it seems to hit all of the muscles, and looks to be a great add-on.
All in all, this is a solid beginner to low advanced workout and a lot of fun.

Instructor Comments:
Tracy gives good pointers and has a very pleasant way about her.



I have to say, this is the best DVD I have ever done. I am going to keep it brief, but I could go on all day about how much I like this workout. It is thorough, efficient and effective. The cardio section alternates 5 minutes of cardio with 2 minutes of body sculpting. The cardio has some creative choreography, without being dancy. The body sculpting is effective, although it is only 2 minutes per circuit. Finally, the abs section is comprised of 4, 5 minute ab workouts. The first one is classic, all basic crunches. The second is Pilates-inspired. I found this one to be the most challenging. The third is core conditioning. It is done in different angles and positions, so that gives you some variety. The last ab workout is all "dynamic," and is very innovative. I really enjoyed this workout. In addition to being very effective, it is also a lot of fun. And that is the most important part!

Instructor Comments:
A very likable and supportive instructor. Not chatty, but a "cut to the chase" and "not wasting your time" instructor. Impeccable cuing. She continuously fosters correct form.

Maria S.