Charlotte's 3 Minute Belly Blitz. It came out late last December and quite suddenly became the best selling fitness DVD in the UK in 15 years, smashing Zumba right out of the window. It's a celebrity fitness DVD, however. You might have noticed I never use celebrity fitness DVDs unless they're specifically celebrities in the fitness field - Jillian Michaels and Jean Butler, for example, people who know what they're doing - and the reason for this is that I've always considered celebrity fitness DVDs to be more of a gimmick and generally ineffective, like the celebrity is the selling point rather than the content. Though I will concede to the fact that celebrity fitness DVDs do encourage normal people to try to get fit if their favourite celebrity can lead them through it.
Anyway, as I said, I'm always sceptical of them and never view the content as worthwhile, so I went into this dubiously. It was only the fact that it was such a massive hit that had piqued my interest. Otherwise I expected it to be mostly just cardio, low-intensity compared to what I'm used to, and fairly obnoxious.
I'm not sure I've ever been more wrong.
The DVD is incredible, and I'm not surprised she got the body she did. That's another reason I'm sceptical of celebrity fitness DVDs: you can't always tell what's natural and what's not, if you know what I mean, but after having given this DVD even just one run-through I could see her body was real. If it had been surgery or if it had been crash-dieting (DON'T do that) she'd have been sharp in the shoulders and hips and would look scary-thin. She would not be as contoured as she is, because it's toned muscle that does that to your body, and only toned muscle.
Resistance and Cardio
I've said a thousand times that the most effective method of losing weight is to mix cardio and resistance in a circuit and to try to keep moving, never stopping, just taking active recoveries. And that's what this DVD did!
The 3-minute part is a bit misleading. The workout is actually made up of 12 3-minute sections or 'rounds' and they follow one after the other, but they alternate between kickboxing-style cardio and body weight resistance training every 3 minutes. The moves were effective and fast-paced and really targeted the whole body, building lean muscle and melting off fat, but what surprised me more was the fact that some of the moves were completely alien to me.
I mentioned at the start that celebrity fitness DVDs would be a great way for normal people to start working out if their favourite celebrity is doing it, too, but that's where this DVD kind of falls apart. Charlotte had trainers and people who weren't going to let her give up, so she was able to push through the movements and achieve results. The trouble is that ordinary people with only a DVD rather than a trainer would be more inclined to give up if it didn't go well right away, and with moves that get as tough as they do, that's more likely to happen with this DVD than with others. It really is a tough workout - and I do HIIT training 3 times a week!
In a sense, I think they marketed the DVD poorly. The whole 'celebrity' and '3 minute' aspects of it will draw in fitness newbies, and that's great, but the trouble is that this workout is too hard for most newbies. It's not a good starting point. Instead it would be better used by more advanced people, people who are more familiar with exercises and know the basic form for a lot of body weight movements to be able to perform them safely and effectively, but the trouble there is that those people could well be put off because of the same 'celebrity' and '3 minute' aspects. And I think that that was a mistake - though I also think it's probably how it sold so well. People heard this person was bringing out a fitness DVD, so they lined up to get it. Others disregarded that fact but heard it was effective, so they lined up to get it.
At the end of the day, I have absolutely no doubt at all that this workout will achieve results, because it does everything right. It mixes 3 minutes of cardio and then 3 minutes of resistance 6 times through the 12 sequences, and you might remember, if you've done Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred, that even Jillian suggests 3 minutes of cardio and 3 minutes of strength (or 2 strength and 1 abs). It isn't as intense as the 30 Day Shred, of course, but it has that element down.
There's also a 10 minute bonus routine of ab work that targets the upper abs, lower abs and the obliques, which is also really valuable.
In truth, I'm considering taking this workout up for a month like I usually do...but that 'celebrity' aspect still puts me off, though I'll admit that I'm being unfair to myself and the DVD in that sense, because there's nothing wrong with it at all.
So take it from someone who never buys into celebrity workout DVDs, someone who views them with suspicion, in fact, and someone who would usually run the other way when faced with a reality TV star, of all things: this DVD works. Buy it, stick with it, and you'll succeed.
I know I've only given the DVD 4 stars, and that's for two reasons: 1, because it's been poorly marketed. If a newbie picks it up, they'll probably be frigtened away, and that's a real shame. 2, because at the start of each 3 minute round there's an additional minute of them talking you through the next routine so that you can go non-stop for those 3 minutes. This is fine initially, but you'll quickly outgrow the need for it, but you'll still have to sit through it. A second option to run through the workout without the talking, like in Jean Butler's Irish Dance Masterclass, would have been great. But I can advise a simple fix: while they're talking, cycle through 10 jumping jacks, 10 high knees and 10 butt-kicks. That way at least you can keep moving if you feel the need to, keeping the intensity up and compensating for the talking before jumping back into the workout.
As for my review for the magazine itself: