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Review from a PT and a NON-BL Watcher: Excellent Workout!
on July 6, 2009
I'm a physical therapist, so I am extremely critical of exercise videos, and poor form/instruction makes me crazy. I've also never seen the show Biggest Loser, so I didn't know any of the participants here and I didn't really know what to expect. But I do like working out at home sometimes and this video got great reviews, so I gave it a try. I echo the great reviews: This is an excellent workout, both challenging and well put-together, and the instruction is top-notch.
The Cast: This workout is led by Bob, who I take to be a trainer from the show. Bob manages what very few do: he is likable without being syrupy, and motivating without being obnoxious. His form is perfection that makes my PT heart sing, and his instruction and cueing are perfect as far as safe and effective form. He makes me want to watch the show. Working out with Bob is Ali, who I think is the season 5 winner and who has form as close to perfect as a non-professional gets. When Bob's talking, watch Ali for form. There are also Bill (S4 winner?) and Bernie (at home winner - whatever that is) - they both have good form and Bernie is charming. Michelle is in 2 of the 3 segments - she has very good form herself, second only to Ali. The last 2, who thankfully are not in every segment, are Vicky and Heba. Heba is often the demonstrator of the modified form of an exercise and I think this is a HUGE mistake. (It's why I give 4 stars instead of 5.) Her form is dreadful, in almost every exercise and position. Please don't watch her! Having modifications is crucial, but they should NOT be given to the least fit person to demonstrate - they should be given to a very fit person who can demonstrate safe and perfect form to the beginners who are likely following the modifications. Bad call on that casting.
The Format: A very nice and easily customizable menu. There is a 5 minute warm-up, a 20 minute Level One, a 15 minute Level Two, a 10 minute Level Three, and a 5 minute cool down. You are meant to do Level One for 2 weeks, then add Level Two, and then add Level Three 2 weeks after that. It's nice plan though a beginning exerciser would probably be best served staying on each level for 4 weeks before increasing. Of course you can do whatever you feel like doing / have time to do each day. My pre-teen son, who wants to start using weights, does just the Level Three - a few times a week. (He has no need for anything else as he is an active athlete.)
The Exercises & Equipment: Level One is no walk in the park - and it may be out of reach for the very unfit. It's a challenging mix of low impact cardio (one high impact spot - modification for low impact given) and work with hand weights. I would advise someone new to exercise to do this level for at least 2-3 weeks without any weights, before attempting to add weights. Level Two is very hard - it uses hand weights (and a medicine ball though this is optional) with a mix of squats, lunges, pushups, tough ab work, and exhausting plyometrics. It's a GREAT workout! Modifications are always given but still I would call this workout intermediate - advanced. Level Three is pure muscle work using hand weights or a resistance band. It's well put together, hitting every major upper body muscle group. In my opinion, though this is not stated anywhere, Level Three is the only place where it would be appropriate to use a heavy hand weight, as you are doing specific and slow sets on each muscle group. The first 2 levels move along pretty fast, and there is some repetitive work, so my professional advice (to women) would be that nothing heavier than 5lb dumbbells (most people should keep it at 3 lbs, beginners could use 1 or 2 lb weights) should be used, or you could potentially aggravate your shoulders and/or develop a tendonitis.
Bottom Line: Excellent workout, both in terms of effectiveness and of structure, with great cuing and a likable coach. Downgraded from 5 to 4 stars because of the poor form shown in the modifications.