Fun Rating: ★★★★☆ Difficulty Rating: ★★★★☆ Results Rating: ★★★☆☆
Last month was insane. I've not worked so hard in a really long time, and I have to admit that I loved it. I know, there's something wrong with me. But the satisfaction of completing both of those workouts every day was immense, and I got amazing results - dropping from a size 10 to a size 8!
This month I'm keeping to using two workouts instead of one, and I'm using them both every day like I did last month. I'm really excited about them both: Jillian Michaels' Shred It With Weights and Buti Yoga Transformation.
Some of you probably already know that my kettlebells are my favourite piece of kit, they're amazing full-body weights that incorporate both strength and cardio into their use. I had wondered for a while why Jillian Michaels hadn't done anything with them and I figured in the end that it was because people were more likely to have dumbbells at home than kettlebells. I'd seen Shred It With Weights in passing a few times but never took the time to really look at it. I had just assumed it was a weight-specific DVD rather than a mix of strength, body weight and cardio like her usual stuff, so I disregarded it. I wish I hadn't. I took a random moment to look at the cover of the DVD a few weeks ago because I wondered why her arm was in front of her rather than at her side, and then I noticed the tell-tale handle of a kettlebell in her hand in the bottom corner. I bought it immediately.
I'm a little unsure about the DVD in truth because I'm already quite experienced with kettlebells, having used a number of routines in the past, but Jillian Michaels is an amazing trainer and she's bound to have put together something out of the ordinary with them. That's not to say I think I'm a pro, but as it's her only kettlebell DVD - at least so far - I don't think it's going to be aimed at people with lots of experience with them. I'm hoping that's not the case, but we'll have to see.
The DVD is made up of two 30-minute routines which progress in difficulty, so, as always, I will split the month between them. However, I will be working for 5 weeks this month since May starts on a Friday, so I'll be using Level 1 for 2 weeks and Level 2 for 3 weeks. If the DVD isn't quite as difficult as I hope, I'll be spending more time on the harder of the two workouts.
Buti Yoga is something else I'm excited about. Really excited about. It's yoga, but it has exactly the kind of unusual twist I want from a unique workout: tribal dancing. I bet you didn't see that coming. Buti Yoga is a really great mixture of body-weight training and cardio, and is immensely enjoyable. I actually found Buti Yoga through Women's Fitness Magazine, who put together a small printed routine inspired by the Shakti Sweat DVD and I loved the look of, and I soon came upon the website and had a closer look. I do have a rough idea of what I'm letting myself in for beyond that simple article; you may remember that I tried a new workout for two days in February, and it was Buti Yoga. From those two days I discovered that it was a really difficult form of exercise, but also very enjoyable at the same time.
Buti Yoga is expensive. There are two series available - Transformation and Shakti Sweat, the former of which is the easier one - and there's another on the way, and they start from $50 (£37). Ouch. For that price you get three workouts in increasing durations (25 - 75 minutes) and additional exercise sequences, but for the most part you really are paying for its originality. But that's not to say it isn't worth it, because it truly is unique.
However, while I'm talking about price, I will mention right now that the workout I tried in February wasn't the DVD I'm using this month, it was a free version of Buti Yoga. In February I used a 50 minute trial routine which anyone can access for free online when they sign up to the newsletter (which from what I've seen so far is issued only about once or twice a month), which is a system I actually really like. It allows you to have a really good go at the yoga style however many times you want and know exactly what to expect without spending lots of money only to be either disappointed or find that you physically can't do it. If, of course, you like it, you'll see the value of buying one of the DVDs. And that's exactly what I did.
The DVDs aren't region-bound which means anyone can use them in any country, but shipping them from the US to the UK is expensive. Fortunately, you can also buy them as digital files as well, which is what I did. The price stays the same despite the lack of packaging, but you can avoid shipping costs and potential customs fees, get the workouts immediately and, as they're mp4 files, you can play them on most programs and devices. I'll be using the Xbox 360 (Windows Media Plaayer) so I can keep facing my TV rather than have to use the computer on the other side of the room, meaning I get a bigger screen and I don't get thrown out of whack by facing the wrong way (happened both times I used the free workout on the computer).
I'm using the Transformation Series. Initially I wanted Shakti Sweat since it was the first one I saw, but it was mentioned many times on the website and in Women's Fitness magazine that that series in particular was aimed at people with a strong yoga practise, which I decided I probably didn't have, and after having tried the easier trial routine I was only further convinced that that was the face. But Transformation is still going to be hard, which is good, because I want it to be a challenge so that I can grow within it.
The series has 3 full workout routines: Feel (25 minutes), Think (45 minutes) and Look (60 minutes). I'll be starting with the 25 minute routine, and I am fully prepared to use only that one for the full month because I already know how hard it's going to be. However, if I find myself getting the hang of it quite quickly, I will move on to the next, but I'm not expecting to.
There are no additional goodies this month. No new shakes, no new breakfasts or snacks, and no new kit besides a replacement yoga mat since my old one is torn up from other exercises with trainers on (I hate donkey kicks). But I feel quite happy about it. My confidence in kettlebells joined with my excitement for Buti is more than enough to spur me on.