Thursday, February 7, 2013

Review: Physique 57, Volume 1

I think it's about time that I review the Physique 57 Volume 1 set of DVDs that I got during the holidays!

The reason I was interested in this set in the first place is that I've read a lot of hype about it.  Physique 57 is a barre-type exercise program.  I've tried The Bar Method and some of its associated home videos before.  The in-person classes are fairly challenging, but I ended up reselling the DVDs because they just seemed too easy after a while.

After cycling through the three discs for about a month now,  I definitely don't think these are "easy."  It definitely works up a sweat, and I definitely get to the point of failure.  Although the barre-method is a non-impact way of getting in shape, I definitely don't like for it to be a snooze.  This seems to give me the best of both worlds -- focused toning with no impact and even a bit of cardio.

Here is my summary of each:

Classic Workout (~57 minutes), recommended 2-3x/week - In this video, you go through an arm segment, two thigh segments, a seat segment, an ab segment, and what I like to call a "pelvic" section (although it's more like lower back, it calls for a lot of pelvic thrusting...).  Nice stretching at the end.

Pros 
- Complete body workout; challenging; different than other barre moves
- Only requires a chair, mat, cushion (I use a pillow wrapped in a towel), included playground ball, 3 + 5 lb weights, and a chair
- Decent music
- Token male in the background, lol

Cons
- Tanya Becker is pretty cheezy and annoying in this DVD (e.g., "No more jiggle.  Nuh-uh.  Not for you!")!!!!
- I don't have 5 lb weights, so I use 3 lb for everything...
- Playground ball doesn't seem sturdy like the one in the video.  I don't put my full weight on it.
- A little fast/advanced for newbies, which gives me room for improvement.  If I hadn't done barre before, this would be an even slower process.

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30 Minute Express (~30 minutes), recommended once a week - This is like the 57-minute version, except shorter.  Includes a short arm segment, a short thigh segment, and a short ab segment.

Pros
- You feel like you get a pretty good workout in the allotted 30 minutes
- Only need a chair, ball, weights, and mat... no cushion (I fumble with it too much).

Cons
- Tanya is annoying again
- Not very different from the 57-minute version.  If I had the time, I'd rather do the full version and include the seat/lower back/other work.

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Arm & Ab Booster (~30 minutes), recommended once a week - This is hosted by Shelley, not Tanya.  Approximately half of the video is arms (mostly in plie) and the other half abs.

Pros
- Challenging, maybe too much so in the ab portion... I have to take brief breaks because she doesn't really give you any
- Only requires a mat, playground ball, and weights
- No Tanya

Cons
- I felt there isn't enough arm stretching... I'd say barely enough ab stretching, either, but I guess that's what 30 minutes gives you
- She keeps making you think you are getting close to finishing when you aren't, many times... excruciating!
- See comment above in the "Pros" section

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As for results, I have been in maintenance mode, so I don't have any dramatic weight-loss shots for you.  However, I'm fairly certain this has kept the muscle tone in my abs, arms, and legs.  Additionally, I think all the thigh work has helped a bit with my endurance in running.  I think I only do the videos once a twice a typical week, but I was suddenly able to go from needing to walk during my runs to getting through 17 miles without needing to walk.  There's something about getting your legs to shake in failure during these videos that gets you through fatigue during running.  I experienced the same effect doing Bar Method, but I think this one will keep me guessing for a while.

At some point, I'd like to try Volume 2, but I've read that it's harder, and I haven't mastered Volume 1 yet.  In short, Physique 57 is not really great for beginners to the at-home barre method who haven't attended any live classes.

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