Saturday 9 April 2016

Darebee Visual Workouts Review

Price: Free
Length: 15 minutes+
Workouts: Upper body, lower body, core, full body
Suitable for: Everyone
Rating:   ★★★★★
Enjoyment:  ★★★★☆   Difficulty:  ★★★☆☆   Results:  ★★★★☆
Based on 5 weeks of use. provides loads of free fitness resources, from advice and recipes right down to dirty, sweaty workouts - but while there are a number of other websites that do the same, wins because their workouts are inspired by video games and TV shows. Assassin's Creed workouts, Mass Effect workouts, Dragon Ball workouts and Avatar workouts. There are many, many more, but these are the ones that caught my eye, and, for 5 weeks, I used them every day, 6 days a week. I got amazing results from the workouts, but they also helped to change my attitude towards fitness because I was 'visualising' the fictional worlds they were inspired by and pretending, like the amazingly cool nerd I am, that I was training like any Witcher, Dragonborn or Chinese legend.

Variety's workouts consist of a number of different kinds of exercise - there are workouts that focus on basic resistance like push ups, sit ups and Russian twists; there are workouts that focus on martial arts like kickboxing or swordplay; there are workouts that focus on basic cardio like climbers, high knees and burpees; there are yoga workouts for calming and yoga workouts for sculpting and resistance; there are workouts that are a combination of all of the above; there are workouts that focus on upper body, others on core and others on lower body.
   There's a convenient checkbox at the bottom of the website that allows you to refine your search by area of the body or type of workout you're looking for, but I think it's a lot more fun to look for their theme.

Visual Aspect
   The workouts are designed and built around different themes, mostly tv shows, films and games, and the movements are inspired by the main or most impressive characters. Some are planned around the training such a character would undergo, such as Super Saiyan's variety of push up and core moves, while others are focused more around the actual activity of the character, such as the Witcher's sword movements and martial arts. It's a very unique idea, and really quite clever.
   I used them along with relevant music - mostly soundtracks, such as the Skyrim soundtrack for Dragonborn, the Legend of Korra soundtrack for Korra, and I played my Dragon Ball Z DVDs for Super Saiyan - and while it's true that most of the tracks aren't particularly go-get-'em, even if they were just ambient travel music, it still helped. When fighting tracks came on while doing the Witcher workout, it was great because it was it was like combat (if you're lame cool like me), but even when it was just calm travelling music like Spikeroog, it felt more like routine, daily training. As a result, most CDs I used wouldn't work with most other workouts (though I admit I actually use the Witcher Wild Hunt soundtrack while doing yoga), but they were simply perfect for these visual workouts and really helped to set the scene and lose myself in the idea, and that subsequently helped me to become a super nerd and push myself beyond my limits for it. Whatever works, right?

Difficulty & Set Up
   There are three levels to most workouts and they are aimed at duration rather than modification. Level 1 consists of doing the workout for either three circuits, or doing each move for three sets of the allotted reps before moving on to the next. Level 2 is the same but for five sets, and level 3 for seven.
   The workouts are designed to be used as sets rather than as circuits, meaning you complete a set of one move, pause for a breather and then do it again until you've completed the allocated sets, and then you move on to the next move and forget about the last. I prefer to use them as circuits because it requires much less rest between each move, keeps the workout more fast-paced and ultimately gets your blood pumping and sent all throughout your body, and I only need to take a rest at the end of the circuit. Circuits are typically better for cardio and fat-burn, while sets are better for maxing out muscles and resistance for toning and definition.

   There's next to no kit required for the visual workouts; some are designed for use with a bokken or bo staff, but these are immediately obvious in the diagrams and are also highly relevant, such as with Dark Side, a sith workout, or Bender, an airbender-inspired workout. And there aren't many of these, sadly, so for the most part, you're looking only at using your own body weight. This makes them perfect no-excuse workouts, and you need minimal space. Any running is done on the spot.

Enjoyment:  ★★★★☆  -  There are a huge range of different workouts available, from simple seated yoga routines all the way up to intense body weight cardio. And then there's the sword fighting routines. If you are a nerd, you cannot get bored with Darebee fitness!
Difficulty:  ★★★☆☆  -  The workouts come in a variety of difficulties, and there is a modification guide on the website, too. Then there are the different levels which affect the duration/set number you should do for your level of fitness. It's for everyone.
Results:  ★★★★☆  -  Depending on how you use the website, you will get results. If you only use the easiest ones you can find, you won't see results for long, but if you push yourself, try new things and leave your comfort zone, you'll be surprised by how far it can take you.
   The workouts on are totally free and totally awesome. They're straight-forward and are modified by your ability to perform certain number of sets, and the vast majority of them require no kit at all and little room, giving you no excuse not to try them. It's all based on a website, too, rather than a DVD, which means you can access it anywhere and provides you with great spontaneous workouts for the park, the gym or while you're looking to keep fit while on holiday.
   The website is run by volunteers who are either trained fitness professionals or fitness enthusiasts, and lots of hands make many workouts, meaning the website is upated quite frequently with new workouts, and by following their twitter you'll be alerted to any new workout that gets added to the website.
   The website is funded by donations, and while there's no obligation to do so, the workouts are well worth a donation. After having used six of their workouts for 5 weeks, I donated what I would have spent on a high-end workout DVD, and I will do so again if I turn to workouts for another month's schedule.


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