Price: £6/ $10
Length: 40 minute workout
Workouts: Full body
Suitable for: Beginners - Advanced
Enjoyment: ★★★☆☆ Difficulty: ★★★★☆ Results: ★★★★☆
Based on 4 weeks of use.
Enjoyment: ★★★☆☆ Difficulty: ★★★★☆ Results: ★★★★☆
Based on 4 weeks of use.
The DVD allows you to play through the full 40-minute workout with or without Jillian's instruction, and also allows you to choose the circuits you want to do if you're pressed for time - picking out the most effective circuits, or skipping circuits that are simply out of your abilities if you're a beginner.
This 40-minute workout is made up of seven 6-minute circuits of varying workout styles, and it has more variety than I expected. It requires no equipment but your own body weight, either, which offers a greater cardio factor than Jillian's other DVDs while also offering resistance training, and that means greater fat-burn. It's ideal, in this case, for people who either already do a strength workout 3 times a week, or for people are looking to do more cardio work without sacrificing resistance like I was - and simply for people looking to burn fat effectively. But it's not an easy workout at all.
The seven circuits are as follows:
1: kickboxing, 2: high impact, 3: calisthenics, 4: abs, 5: kickboxing, 6: high impact, 7: calisthenics.
Kickboxing is perfect as the first circuit, as it's fun to do so you're eased into the workout with a bit more enjoyment, but after that the real work begins. High impact circuits consist of things like burpees, standing mountain climbers, jump squats and so on, and are the most demanding circuits. Calisthenics consist of butt kicks, high knees, jump rope and so on - simpler and lower-impact exercises that still keep your heart rate up while allowing you to get some of your breath back from the steady pace. And abs are as it sounds: a circuit with more ab-targeting, though that's not to say you're just crunching. You continue to work your whole body even in the abs section, but you get almost a full 6 minutes to get your breath back ready for the next kickboxing set.
Though the style of circuit repeats, the moves themselves do not. Both kickboxing circuits are different from one another, as are the high impact and calisthenics circuits. So if there's a move you hate, you only have to do it in that one circuit. Burpees are my worst move, and though I hate them, I never, ever skip them because they're effective. And I remind myself of that fact, as well as "it's only one circuit" through the whole set.
This workout is tough, but it's managable. 40 minutes is a long time, and the idea of 7 circuits feels even longer, but once you see the circuits and how different they are from one another, you find that the workout doesn't feel like 40 minutes, it feels like 6, 6, 6, 6 and so on. The variety of circuits offered helps to break the workout up and make it feel less demanding.
The kickboxing circuit is something that people new to the activity might find hard, but I've had previous experience with it so while it was still tough, I was able to kick as high as the women in the DVD. People new to kickboxing aren't likely to be able to do that, but it's important to note that it really is the effort that counts. You just kick as high as you can without hurting yourself, it's that simple. Everyone is different and everyone's bodies are used to different strains. You might not be able to kick that high, but the moves are still going to do for you what they do for me. But whether you're experienced in kickboxing or not, it is one of the fun circuits.
High impact are the least fun but also the most effective - if you're going to skip any circuit in this DVD, it really shouldn't be these two. Though very challenging even for me, they're insanely effective, and for the harder move there are beginner modifications, but, as always, these really just consist of going as high or as low as you can. It's about challenging yourself, not hurting yourself to match the instructors. But, fortunately, while these high impact circuits are the toughest part of the DVD, the calisthenics that follow are merciful.
Consisting of jump rope, butt kicks, jumping jacks and so on, the moves are familiar to everyone but still effective, and due to their steady pace when compared to things like burpees, they give you the chance to get your breath back a little bit, and that's...well, it's wonderful, and when you know you have such an 'easy' circuit coming up next, it's easier to get through the high impact circuits that come first.
In a way, the abs section is also merciful, and it makes sense to focus the mid-section at the middle of the workout! Because you're not standing up like you are for everything else, you're on the mat, you get a very conscious half-way mark, and while the circuit starts with mountain climbers, it's a very controlled and resistance-focused circuit that lets you get most of your breath back while still moving, so you're ready to repeat the kickboxing-high impact-calisthenics system a second time.
My one negative note on the difficulty of this workout is that there isn't much in the way of beginner modifications. Alternative variations are offered for the very hardest moves, but they're not as consistently offered or demonstrated through this DVD like they are in the others. However, as I've said a number of times, and Jillian says herself, you just go as deep or as far as you can. Don't give up on a move because you're not matching the athletes who are doing the workout on the TV, just keep doing it until you can match them. I never thought I could, but I have because I keep at it, and it shows in my body as well as my skill.
Lack of Equipment
The lack of equipment offers a few positives, the first being that there are simply no excuses to not do the workout. I don't go to a gym, and while I do have weights, bands and kettlebells at home, I don't need them for this workout, and neither do you.
The second is that, by using your own body weight rather than hand weights, you have to work harder for resistance to kick in. This generally means a greater range of movement, deep squats and lunges and really engaging your muscles so that you end up fighting against your own weight, despite being used to carrying it around all the time. This greater range of movement actually means your get greater cardio burn, too, as more muscles are working to create resistance as well as fight against it, and while resistance means creating gorgeous curves in your body, the cardio means shedding the fat to reveal it.
It's also something you can do anywhere. You could easily take the DVD on holiday with you, or write down the moves and do it in the park on a nice day, which also means that space shouldn't be an issue to prevent you from doing it either.
Personally I saw the best results I have all year from this workout, but I think it's because it involved far more cardio than I usually do. I've built good, lean muscle already and my metabolism has increased to match it, but I've been neglecting the fat. I've been losing it with my other workouts, certainly, but not at the same rate I have with this one. I'm firmer, stronger and curvier after this workout. Having said that, though, despite how effective it was, I'm glad to have finished with it. I didn't get the same enjoyment out of it as I have with other workouts, and in that case it also means you sometimes put less effort in, and that's not good. I will return to it, and probably supplement future strength workouts with a few of the most effective circuits, but I'm not jumping to do it for another month all over again.