Saturday 8 October 2016

BarreAmped Cardio Fat Burn DVD Review

Price: £8 / $17
Length: 3x 26 & 17 minute workouts
Workouts: Full body
Suitable for: Everyone
Rating:   ★★★★☆
Enjoyment:  ★★★☆☆   Difficulty:  ★★★☆☆   Results:  ★★★★☆
Based on 4 weeks of use.
   If you've used the original BarreAmped DVD before, you'll know it's a very low-impact but highly effective sculpting workout, one with which you can transform your arms, your legs, your bum and your abs. But it's not something you would ever expect to raise your heart rate or shed any fat.
   As such, you can be forgiven for having low expectations of Suzanne Bowen's BarreAmped Cardio Fat Burn. After all, how can such small, controlled, low-impact movements ever make you sweat? At least, this is what I thought before I started using it on September 5th.
   So imagine my surprise when I played the first workout and began sweating after 5 minutes and dripping after 15. I was utterly shocked by how effective this workout was at raising my heart rate while still being so controlled and straight forward, and though not all of the three workouts are at that same fat-blasting level, they do all offer far more of a sweaty high-impact session than the original.

   BarreAmped Cardio Fat Burn consists of three workouts, a warm up and a wonderful cool down. The first workout is the longest, at 26 minutes, while the other two are 17 minutes; the warm-up is 2 minutes but there are additional and more relevant warm-up moves at the start of each workout for an additional minute or two, and they're all actually perfectly adequate. The cool down is about 10 minutes and it is simply amazing. It's such a long and wonderful full-body stretch and leaves you feeling so good. It might be silly to be in love with a cool-down, but a good wind-down is essential post-workout, but this sequence does a wonderful job of quieting your mind as well and honestly, truly slowing you down. It's something to look forward to.
   The workouts themselves use barre and barre-esque moves in an interval-style format, so they do all seriously target the muscles, just like the original BarreAmped, but they're far more dynamic. So expect lots of little jumps as well as V-positions.

   All of the kit is somewhat optional. Light hand weights should only be used if you're advanced enough to use them on the Cardio Sculpt workout. Just as in the original, there's no need for big weights because a lot of the movements are straight-arm or static, rather than bicep curls and tricep kickbacks. But don't be deceived. Light weights - even 1kg - are still very challenging in Bowen's sessions.
   The mat is good if you're working on a hard surface. Spongy carpets, grass or mats at the gym (all BarreAmped workouts are available through Purple Platform for streaming) don't really need it. It's just so that you're comfortable if you're on your knees.
   A support is worth keeping in mind if your balance isn't so good, though there are moves that burn so much that I have to reach out for something, and my balance is pretty good, if I do say so myself. The support can be a proper barre, it can be the back of a chair, it can be any piece of furniture. I line my mat up alongside a waist-height sideboard in the living room and it does me just fine.
   I did use all three: 1kg weights, a yoga mat for grip and cushioning (wooden flooring), and a sideboard cabinet.

BarreAmped Extreme Cardio Fat Burn
   At 26 minutes long, this is the longest of the three workouts, but it's certainly the most effective. It uses dynamic body weight movements and small jumps, but, most importantly, uses a Tabata-style format. But, rather than just lasting 4 minutes total and going like a bat out of hell, you work at a reasonable pace with focus on form with Tabata's 20/10 second structure: 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest, for 4 minutes straight. In those four minutes you will use two different moves, 2 minutes on each, and there are four Tabata rounds all broken up with slow, typical barre moves to let your heartrate and muscles recover, allowing you to tackle another round.
   Tabata is only supposed to last for four minutes. You're supposed to work so hard in those four minutes that you can't possibly do more. It's supposed to be brutally intense and for only advanced athletes. Obviously, to do Tabata for a total of 16 minutes, with 10 minutes of other moves scattered in between, you would have to work at a lower level to be able to complete it.
   That much is true here, but you mustn't think it's less effective. It works a real charm, and the moves are chosen in such a way that you can't really work any harder than she has you doing so anyway, and the two minutes of active recovery (lower-impact moves rather than inactivity) between Tabata rounds gives you just enough time to prepare to go again. It works wonders and this workout alone rivals a lot of other HIIT and cardio workouts I've tried.

BarreAmped Cardio Sculpt
   This workout has the options of using light hand weights; as in all BarreAmped workouts, there are two background instructors, one of whom provides advanced moves, the other more beginner-level. The latter uses no weights at all, but if you want to try it with, no one is stopping you from putting the weights down part way through if you need to.
   At 17 minutes and using a simpler interval method, it's not as intense as Extreme Cardio Fat Burn, but it does still raise your heart rate and provide a wonderful mix of cardio and resistance. The movements are closer to traditional barre moves than in the first workout of the three, but there are cardio intervals that really do get the heart pumping again, and that up-down of your heart rate does burn fat.
   With this workout you'll burn fat while sculpting your body, most notably your glutes, legs, triceps and shoulders. It burns and it sheds, and it's highly recommended.

BarreAmped Cardio Core
   This workout is also 17 minutes, though it uses no weights and focuses on the core. That doesn't mean it's just standing ab-work or crunches, it means balance, lower back and obliques. Your core consists of pretty much your entire middle-torso, everything between your bum and your ribs, all the way around. These are still pretty dynamic moves and do get your heart rate up, but less so than the others. But your core is so important to your form while exercising and your posture outside of it that it's really important to work.
   But having said that, it is still one of the more dynamic and sweaty core workouts I've used.

Enjoyment:  ★★★☆☆  -  The intense 20/10 second intervals is a difficult system, but its use with barre moves is different and still makes you feel quite dainty, which is a win. There's little new in terms of barre moves, though, and while the three workouts are different from one another, none are particularly any more enjoyable than the rest.
Difficulty:  ★★★☆☆  -  The format of Tabata-timed intervals means you have to go hard and fast, and that makes it a true challenge, but the go-between moves let you get your breath back and really makes the difference, and by comparison, the remaining workouts don't seem as tough.
Results:  ★★★★☆  -  Barre is typically low-impact, but this DVD really does deliver the cardio aspect without losing the foundation of barre, which means you can shed fat and tone up with this DVD.
   BarreAmped Cardio Fat Burn is an amazing workout, and truly shattered my expectations. Suzanne Bowen did a flawless job of combining barre with cardio and making it incredibly effective. It's also very enjoyable, the setting provides a nice ambience and isn't distracting, and the music is equally suitable. After using Extreme Cardio Fat Burn for the first time, I actually couldn't believe how incredible my sweat was. I genuinely hadn't sweat like that for months, and it was wonderful. My expectations of the cardio factor may have been low after using the original and low-impact BarreAmped DVD, but even had they not been, I would still have been surprised.
   It's a high-impact mix of barre resistance and plyometrics, set out in a variety of different interval structure, including Tabata, and you are guaranteed to shed fat and sculpt your body wonderfully.
   It's worth pointing out that it's nothing like Jillian Michaels' high-impact resistance/cardio fusion workouts, but JM and BarreAmped are two very different styles and you'd be a fool to expect them to ever overlap. But that actually means that, as someone who uses a lot of Jillian Michaels workouts, I actually find small weights and barre to be very, very challenging and really quite rewarding. It challenges the body in brand new ways, and if you use a lot of barre for a while, you'll find typical HIIT and JM workouts to be another kind of challenging all over again. Both styles of workouts really do complement each other, and BarreAmped Cardio Fat Burn is an amazing way of getting in a resistance/cardio HIIT workout while keeping a genuine smile on your face - until you start biting your fist when your thighs suddenly light on fire in those V-position pulses. Ouch.
   Recommended? Oh yes.


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