Archive for the ‘DVD Reviews’ Category

Jillian Michaels Extreme Shed & Shred (2011)

Extreme? Eh, kinda. Shed & Shred? Eh, kinda. Mind-blowing? Not really. A good workout? Yeah, not bad.

It’s Jillian. Looked new and different. I was intrigued by how it claimed to include “everything from kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to yoga to weight training.” And I needed something different while I was at my parents’ for Thanksgiving. So, why not?

Where I Got This DVD: Amazon
Length: Approx. 100 minutes
Workouts: Two 45-minute workouts (or, if done together, it’s about 1 full hour workout)
Instructor: Jillian Michaels
Team: Bashira (sp?) (advanced) and Haley (modified)

Level 1

  • The warm-up includes two rounds of the following: arm circles, jump rope, arms hugs, jumping jacks, and alternating hand-to-foot taps. I liked this—it was a good, simple, somewhat relaxed warm-up.
  • There are four circuits and each includes about 5 moves (either cardio, kickboxing, alternative (Jiu-Jitsu), weighted, ab/core, or yoga).
  • They range from decently easy (sidekicks) to mediocre (lunge + swing/chop) to tough (one-leg mountain climbers).
  • Each circuit includes around 10 reps of each and 2 sets.
  • Haley always does the modified version and I was happy to see that it was indeed easier, but not static. She worked. And Bashira always showed the “normal” move and then the “advanced” move.

Level 2

  • Same warm-up.
  • This level has 5 circuits, but they are the same style—about 5 moves per circuit and 2 go-thrus (sets) of each.
  • The moves got tougher—more plyos (jumping lunges, squats, mountain climbers, etc.), more weighted moves (statue of liberty, bridges with overhead presses, renegade rows with leg raise, etc.), and tougher yoga moves (bird-dog, warrior II to warrior III, full bridges/wheels, etc.).
  • This workout definitely made me sweat and worked me more, however, it was pretty shoulder- and wrist-heavy.

Instructor: Jillian Michaels did a good job of being intense, explaining why we were doing each move, and didn’t talk too much. However, she didn’t always explain how to do the moves long enough before she just started doing them and counting. I got a little lost on a few.
Moves: I liked the variety—from ones I knew, to ones I didn’t, to new twists on ones I use and like. The transitions were definitely quick, so it made each move and workout intense.
Best Workout: Level 2—go big or go home.
Intensity Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Buy It?: Actually, overall, I did like this workout. It’s not often to see moves like those in workout classes and you don’t need much equipment—just one or two sets of weights. Is it going to get you shredded? No, prolly not. But if you’re an at-home exerciser and getting bored, then this could be a good DVD to throw into the mix because it’s challenging, but not over-the-top, Jillian has enough motivating words to keep you going, and the modifications make it customizable.


Another Bob DVD. Because ya know, he’s pretty cool. And he’s got some cool workouts. And they’re pretty tough. And this one? Not bad. But not his best.

Bob Harper – Totally Ripped Core (2011)

I’m kinda surprised and disappointed Bob isn’t flashing a little abs here….

Where I Got This DVD: Bob’s website
Length: Approx. 64 minutes
Workouts: Totally Ripped Core and Ripped Core Quick Bonus
Instructor: Bob Harper
Team: Three women and one man


Totally Ripped Core (48 mins.)

  • BOOOO! The warm-up starts with some stretching.
  • They used weights, just two, but I didn’t have any in my apartment at the time, so I used a kettlebell. You really don’t need weight though.
  • Moves include: deadlift series (with twists), windmills, side crunches, squats, plyometric squats, one-leg deadlifts, one-leg side raises, roll-backs, low squat holds, side burpees, side plank dips, twists, forearm planks, leg lifts, alternating hands forward in plank, bird-dog holds, twisting and kicking mountain climbers, fast feet with a 180-degree jump, Russian squat kicks, and a bunch of different crunches.
  • The cool-down is about 3 minutes of stretching.
  • Bob counts pretty fast and gets a little annoying because he talks a lot.
  • The music is okay—you don’t notice it much.
  • The moves are tough, but some of them didn’t feel very safe to me. And a lot of them became tough on the shoulders and back.


Ripped Core Quick Bonus (11 mins.)

  • You need one weight.
  • You start with some stretching (not cool), but quickly move into the exercises.
  • Moves include: windmills, leg extensions with a weighted raise and hold, back lunges with twists, standing twists, one-leg X-stands, and static sumo squats.
  • The moves are good for balance and don’t make you that sweaty.


Instructor: Bob is okay in this one. He starts to get pretty annoying and his counting bothers me. However, he is a pretty good instructor, explains the movements, and has some challenging moves.
Moves: A great mix of exercises I knew how to do with some new and different variations and combinations that gave me some ideas for my classes!
Intensity Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Buy It?: Well. Hm. This is a tough one. Because while I did enjoy some of the combos and variations, I wasn’t so impressed that I felt the need to tell friends and clients about it. I felt like I got a pretty decent workout in, but I could have created a workout similar. And I would have shown more modifications so it was tailored to a wider range of exercisers. And I would have made some of the moves safer.

I needed and wanted a new Pilates DVD to tone up and hone up on my skills since I’m going to start teaching it a bit again. I’ve heard great things about Ellen Barrett, as well, so I thought, “Hey, they’re 10-minute workouts, why not?”

It was a good choice.

Pick Your Level: Weight Loss Pilates (2006)

A great instructor and a great DVD.


Where I Got This DVD: Amazon
Length: 30 minutes (each workout is 10 minutes long)
Workouts: Standing Pilates, Side-Lying Pilates, and Mat Pilates
Instructor: Ellen Barrett
Team: Erin (modifier) and Liz (advanced)

Standing Pilates

  • Small, controlled movements like using your arms while moving the feet and legs slightly, small squats and leg moves.
  • Felt quite body-opening and stretching

Side-Lying Pilates

  • Moves like side plank with twists, leg circles, leg/knee drops and scoops, leg-tracing, and inner thigh lifts

Mat Pilates

  • Moves like slow crunches, leg drops/scissors, single-leg circles, balance/rocking poses, pushups and plank, and leg circles in plank

Instructor: Ellen Barrett is a great instructor. She’s friendly, her instruction is clear and informative, and she’s not annoying. She’s also very beautiful and not super-skinny.
Moves: All of them are simple and basic enough, thanks to the three different levels—beginner, intermediate, and advanced.
Best Workout: The Mat Pilates was the most challenging, though I enjoyed the Side-Lying one, too.
Intensity Level: That’s the best part of this DVD—you get to choose! So it’s great for Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced exercisers.
Buy It?: If you are looking for a new Pilates DVD that will strengthen, lengthen, tone, while being time-savvy, this is truly a wonderful DVD. One of my favorite Pilates ones now, actually. Ellen was great, the moves were a mix of tried-and-true and new, and I loved being able to see all versions of the move.

Small, concentrated movements in the glute and thigh regions never burned so bad!

Pure Barre – Mile High 1

I have been interested to try a Pure Barre workout for a while since 1) I’m nothing close to being a dancer, but I admire the strength, endurance, and discipline that goes into being one and working out like one; 2) I’m always looking for something more when it comes to fitness; and 3) the founder Carrie is from Michigan!

Equipment-wise, all you need is a mat, a small weighted ball, and a stable support. I used my carpet, a small homemade sandbag, and my table barstool-like chair for support. I have a weighted ball, but it’s 8lbs. (which is a little heavy for this workout) and the material didn’t allow me to grip it well enough. But I made do!

Where I Got This DVD: The wonderful Pure Barre team—thank you!
: Approx. 30 min.
Carrie Rezabek Dorr, the founder/creator
Three ladies

  • The workout menu says the DVD is broken into 17 segments, but they go quickly.
  • The warm-up was tough! It involved having the ball between your thighs the whole time and ended with a stretch.
  • Seriously, holy thighs! You rock squeezes, pulses, hip/ab tucks – they are all pretty killer despite the fact that the movements are small. I was a little shaky.
  • There were small stretching sections in between each level of work.
  • When we got into the standing leg work, I found it hard to keep the sandbag in the crux of my knee, so I had to hold it there. But wowzers—I felt it! It was hard to keep my leg high and straight, though. I wonder if there’s a trick to that….
  • The ab work at the end was impressively challenging—my core was screaming at me by the end. Thank you, small, killer movements.

: Carrie was a good instructor who gave good details—for the most part. She talked very quickly and she transitioned so quickly from one move to the next that I had to rewind it a few times. I also didn’t think her explanations on the different pulses and tucks were enough.
: Small, quick movements—I loved and hated thanks to the burn!
Intensity Level
: Beginner to Advanced
Buy It?:
If you are looking for a great, short workout that will help tone your tushy and tummy without losing your curves, this is definitely one for you! If you’re looking for an all-over, total-body-toner, though, I would pass. While this is somewhat total body, it’s more core and leg-focused. I only wish I had more means to incorporate things like this into my classes—or even the kind of classroom to teach these kinds of classes in!

Bob Harper – Total Body Transformation (2011)
Oh Bob. Good workout… but his socks are pulled up too high for my liking 🙂

Bob’s got an awesome comb-over…. Luckily his workouts don’t match the tame-ness of his hair!

Where I Got This DVD: Bob’s website
Length: About 74 minutes
Total Body Transformation and Body Power Quick Bonus
Bob Harper
Two women and two men

Total Body Transformation (59:48)

  • Bob says that if you’re in a rut, this is the workout for you because it’s the hardest workout ever. Was it really? No. Was it tough, though? Yeah.
  • You warm-up and stretch (boo!) for about 2 minutes.
  • Then you go straight into the moves. Beware, there are lots of full-body swings (one- and two-arm)!
  • Moves include: full-body swings, one-arm flies, squatting bicep curls, lunges with raises, pulses, shoulder presses, jogging and springing in place, hi-lo plyometrics, all kinds of pushups, planks, flies and rows, burpees, side planks, squat jumps, jumping jacks, jumping lunges, kicks, and all kinds of bridges.
  • My legs, butt, and shoulders were definitely tired after this workout.
  • Weights-wise, the group only had one set of lighter dumbbells and one set of heavier ones. I recommend one 10lb., two 5s or 6s, and two 3s.

Body Power Quick Bonus (14:14)

  • Whoa, I wasn’t even trying 100% with this workout and I was sweaty! I loved it.
  • Moves include: running, jumping jacks, scorpion pushups (LOVE!), planks (with pushups), Turkish get-ups with a weight, shoulder presses, and chair pose and pulses.

: Oh Bob. He’s a good instructor. He’s motivating, but pushes you. However, he counts pretty fast and doesn’t always correct his team’s form, which disappointed me a bit.
: I really liked the variety and was proud to see a lot of the stuff I do in his workouts, and it was great to learn a few new things. (MU-HAHA! to my classes 🙂 )
Best Workout:
Body Power Quick Bonus
Intensity Level
: Intermediate to Advanced
Buy It
?: Yes. I do recommend this because though it’s not the hardest workout ever, it is tough, it will get you doing different moves, it will make you amp it up, and it will make you sweaty and sore. Plus, the two-in-one workouts rock.

The last of the Jillian Michaels’ “The Biggest Winner!” workout DVD pack. Finally!

The Biggest Winner – Full Frontal (2005)

Part of “The Biggest Winner!” box set, this is a pretty solid DVD.

Where I Got This DVD: Bought it on Amazon
: Approx. 30 min.
: Jillian Michaels
Brenda (modifier), Jonathan, Nick, and Misty


  • Four exercises, 30 reps each—great warm-up exercises

Circuit #1:

  • 2 rounds total, 10 reps per strength move, up to 30 reps of the jumps and plyos
  • Moves include: chest press, one-leg squats, side plyos on the step, close-grip pushups, hold and side leg raise, plié squats, forward plyos on the step, W presses, jumping jacks with side raises, reverse crunches
  • Good stuff—really gets your heart rate up
  • Fast counting and quick transitions between moves

Circuit #2:

  • 2 rounds total, 10 reps per strength move, up to 30 reps per jumps and cardio intervals
  • Moves include: V-press, chair squat with forward raise, tricep extension with crunch, oblique crunch with weights, side steps with leg raises, jump squats with shoulder presses, jump rope
  • Not as long or intense as circuit one, but definitely a good second half
  • Still fast counting

: Jillian isn’t as annoying in this DVD. She’s a good instructor because she tells you how and why to do each move.
: A great mix of standard moves (chest presses) with slight variations of moves (one-leg squats), and moves I had never done before (W-presses).
Intensity Level:
Beginner to Advanced (depending on weight selection)
Buy It?:
I would recommend this one, yeah, especially if you A) don’t have a lot of time, B) need a quick strength training DVD, and C) need a little motivation (because let’s be honest, Jillian does motivate people).

It’s not too late! You can still see the films here:

Doug and I witnessed a sunset amidst a lightning-filled thunderstorm over Lake Michigan last night. It was so cool! I’ve never seen that before.

While we snacked on an apple and a huge glass of water with water mix-ins, we watched Parts 3 and 4 of The Weight of the Nation HBO documentary. Note: We didn’t watch through the end because there was a slow-down in the pouring rain and we decided to leave my cottage before the hail started.

The Weight of the Nation
Parts 3 (Children in Crisis) and 4 (Challenges)

Some highlights from these parts…

  • 12oz. of pop has 10 tsp. of sugar.
  • 12oz. of apple juice and grape juice also have 10 tsp. of sugar… and orange juice has 8 tsp. of sugar.
  • Energy drinks should NEVER be consumed by children or adolescents.
  • Private businesses will spend $30+ billion/year in health care costs by 2025, thanks mostly to obese employees.
  • Obesity costs American businesses $70 billion/year.
  • Only 5% of adults get the recommended daily amount of physical activity.
  • 75% of Americans drive to work — a 300% increase since 1970. Ride your bike! Walk!
  • Restaurant portions are 2-5 times the size of what we need.
  • Americans consume an average of 600 calories/day more than in 1970, which equals a 5-10-pound gain each year!
  • Kids consume twice as many calories at restaurants than they do when eating at home.
  • Those who are overweight and obese have to work out longer and eat less every day in order to maintain their weight compared to those who are of an average weight. Work out consistently now, so you don’t have to continue increasing your time in the gym in the future!

The moral of the documentary is this: Take care of yourself NOW before your health is out of your hands. Remember, being overweight and obese is easier to prevent than to fix.

My take on the documentary: Losing weight and staying healthy isn’t rocket science — you have to move more, sit less, eat less processed food, drink fewer calories, and eat healthier in order to have a healthy body. It doesn’t mean this is easy… With kids, sports, jobs, busy schedules, and easy-to-grab, cheap food, I get it. It’s easy to put on weight. But is it worth it? Are those Big Macs really worth a fatty liver? Or diabetes? Or a shortened life span? No. Love yourself and take care of yourself for those who love you.