Friday, July 1, 2011

Fitness DVD Reviews....

So I don't know if any of you know this (or care?), but I had changed my blog name to Cupcakes and Quinoa (from VeganBunzOfCinnamon) because I wanted to incorporate more fitness stuff into my blog along with my love of vegan junk food and I wanted my blog name to reflect that. And I can't help but notice there's been a lot of "Cupcakes" and not much "Quinoa"! So here it is, folks...some quinoa...

I had been an avid gym-goer for years. My main passion was weight training, along with cardio. Now I'll admit that those years of weight lifting definitely got me stronger and more toned, but I started going less and less because it didn't feel enjoyable to me as much as it used to. And working out should be enjoyable, should it not? I mean, how crappy is it to drag yourself through a workout just because you feel you "have to"?

Anyway...last year I posted about Trying New Things, and Pilates was one of them. And something changed for me since then. I started looking more into Pilates once we got back to Chicago. Unfortunately there weren't any Pilates classes that I could take around me (money and/or childcare issues were a problem), so I started searching for DVDs I could use at home. Let's just say that I have been so happy with what I've found and my results that at first I would do the DVDs on my off-gym days but in the past couple of months I've abandoned the gym altogether and just stuck with these videos. Here are my favorites, in order of difficulty (strictly my opinion!): 

If anyone remembers, I actually wrote a "review" on this one about 6 months ago. And I still love it! It is in my regular rotation and still challenges me. I consider myself an intermediate/advanced beginner at Pilates and Pilates-fusion workouts (which all these DVDs basically are, from what I hear), and as I grow better with the mind-body connection and navel to spine breathing, I can still get great workouts from DVDs that I've been using for months, as in this case!

Next DVD:
This one is a bit more challenging than the first one, and it's also been in my rotation for months. I usually do this about once a week or ten days on average. The instructor's name is Lara Hudson and I just love her! Her cuing is great, she's not too peppy/annoying in the slightest (uhhh, Denise Austin, anyone?) and like I said earlier, as you improve your core strength, breathing, and flexibility, this DVD can still challenge you! I've been able to progress from modifying lots of the exercises to being able to keep up with Lara!

Number 3:
This instructor's name is Suzanne Bowen and she is awesome as well! She's also great with cuing and quite motivating. This DVD (as you can tell from the picture) utilizes a 6-foot band (don't try a 4-foot one like I did unless you're pretty damn strong to start with!) to intensify the workout and also just change things up a bit. :) It takes a bit to be as quick as she is with moving the band around in between exercises, but after you do this workout once or twice you'll get it. I love the stretch series at the end. Using the band helps you to go deeper into your stretches and it feels great after the workout. 

Lara Hudson again! This particular DVD is one of my top faves. I love the exercise sequences she came up with using the ball. Just make sure the ball you're using is the right size for your height! The ball I had was too small and that made it so hard to stay on the ball or do the exercises correctly, so I promptly went out and bought the right size! Here's a link to help you see which size is right for you. This DVD is challenging and fun, just like a workout should be, right? :)

 And here we have Suzanne Bowen again. Now, I feel that out of the five DVDs pictured that this one is the most difficult. But this is only my opinion, and I am in no way any sort of Pilates expert! Just a 30-something mom who enjoys Pilates-inspired workouts. 
When I first did this DVD I could only use 1lb weights (she recommends 1-3lbs) and I was hurtin' after the first couple of minutes. Now I'm about ready to move up to 3lbs...I'm so proud of myself. 

I love all these DVDs for a number of reasons. First off, I can do the workouts using no more than 3lb weights which I feel lessens the risk of injury GREATLY. Second, I don't have to trek to the gym with my son and take all morning to do something which should only take about an hour. Third, these workouts are all done barefoot! How great! Oh, and fourth, I have noticed my lower back pain has gone away almost completely, my posture and flexibility have improved and I'm no longer as tense in the shoulders as I used to be. Ohhh and fifth! My results in 6 months have been awesome...better than my years of weight training! I think I have found the workouts for me. I spent years trying to put on muscle when the best thing for me to do was just to simply strengthen the muscles I've got, (without trying so hard to add bulk), and these workouts do just that! You'll develop amazing core strength, which is so important to have especially as you get older, I'm sure. You'll notice yourself standing taller and being more aware of your breathing and overall posture. It's great! Anyone have anything to add about why you like/dislike Pilates? I'd love to hear some opinions!

And last but not least I have just got to tell you guys about my latest addiction: barre!
Wow...please tell me one of you have done this before?! I know I'm a little late in the game with the ballet/Pilates/cardio type workouts (I don't I?) but I love this stuff! This DVD gets me sweating every time. I'll admit, the first time I did it I was short of breath after the warm-up!! Now I can complete the workout but it is still challenging and fun of course! The instructor, Andrea Rogers, is wonderful. Just like Lara and Suzanne (oh, you didn't know I was on a first-name basis with them?), Andrea is great with cuing, motivating and to-the-point! I fell behind the first couple of times but as I learned the routine I am now able to keep up. There are lots of ballet movements throughout the DVD, I made sure to watch the tutorial at the beginning where she goes over the terms and positions. 

So there ya have it, folks. Some Quinoa to go with the Cupcakes! Has anyone done any of these DVDs before? If not, what kinds of workouts do you like to do? Would you consider trying one of these DVDs out?

Song of the day: "DARE", The Gorillaz


  1. I have the Pilates Perfect Body DVD, and it is one of my favorites too! I can't believe how sore I get from doing moves that don't seem like much - like the one where she tells you to do hip circles while kneeling - killer for the glutes & quads!

    I will have to check out the others you recommended!

  2. Yeah definitely check them out and let me know what you think! I really like all those DVDs. I really think you should try the Xtend Barre DVD and report back! I'd love to hear another perspective on it. I love that one, it challenges me and makes me sweat every time I do it!

  3. Just wanted to let you know I finally got around to getting the Barre DVD and trying it out. It was my first time ever trying Barre - and you are right - it was an excellent workout. I had no idea ballet could be such good cardio! It was definitely a challenging and fun workout. Thanks for the tip :-)