Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Review of Xtend Barre: Lean and Chiseled

This is a review of yet another video that I've been using in lieu of the gym or pounding my legs to death too often.

LA Marathon is coming up this weekend.  I talked about my strange strategy in this post, so I won't go into it again.  What I will say is that rain is in the forecast, again.  In last year's race, along with the other marathons I ran last year, rain loomed -- and sometimes it came to fruition and sometimes not.

Anyway, I have given myself a chance to do this workout quite a handful of times before writing a review.  The first time I popped in this "Xtend Barre: Lean and Chiseled" DVD, I thought it was extremely frenetic.  She (Andrea) goes through the warm-up at an uncomfortable (for me) pace.  This is probably more of my fault, since I am one of those people who never likes to stop and read instructions or watch fitness DVDs before doing them, like I should.  After a couple of times, I actually like the pace, and I was actually able to keep up with her pace just fine. 

The DVD runs about 55 minutes and consists of an intro (under 5 min), warm-up (~5 min), upper body segment (~11 min), barre segment (~23 min), core segment (~10 min), and cool-down (~5 min).  I never cared for the warm-up or cool-down, so I basically only do the upper, barre, and core parts. <-- don't do as I do

The upper body segment involves light hand-weights, much like Bar Method and Core Fusion.  I would say the difficulty is between the two.  She varies the small tricep pulses with some non-weighted moves that actually make me feel as though my arms are still working. 

The barre section is about 2/3 overall legs and 1/3 seat-specific.  You only need a chair for this, and once you get the hang of it, the movements are actually pretty graceful and feel effective.  There are options to take it up a notch by adding in plié jumps, but it's just as good without adding those modifications.  Just be prepared to be comfortable with terms like  "first position," "second position," "attitude," and "passé," though these are covered in the introduction.  If you're a beginner at this stuff, don't rush through it -- I can see how this could hurt your knees if you're not careful.

The core segment is a bit different from other barre workouts in that it feels more like pilates.  There are a lot of leg raises and such and less of the whole "lock your abs in one big crunch" thing.  I am not sure if this is effective as the latter, but it still does work the abs.

The instructor herself is pretty peppy and girlie (unlike Jillian Michaels), which I didn't appreciate at first.  But after a while, I learned to use her energy to keep me awake during these workouts, which I usually do first thing in the morning.  I must say that her ability to keep track of sides and reps is pretty amazing -- better than most instructors.  And finally, the DVD was some pretty decent, dance-y music that keeps me in it when I'd rather be lazy.

Overall, this is a low-impact workout that I will surely be using after the marathon to stretch myself out and stay active without hurting myself.


  1. I have been meaning to try this type of workout! Thanks for the review, I will heck it out.

  2. I'm running LA too and am scared out of my mind for all the rain! How did you keep dry last year (i.e. while waiting at the start, keeping sneaks dry etc)?

  3. My Physique 57 DVD set is still sitting in the box. Since Christmas :( Given my recent injury and plans to take some time off from running after my race this weekend, it seems like the perfect time to pull them out and give them a go.