Exhale: Core Fusion Lean & Toned.
I had this on my Amazon Wish List for a while after hearing some buzz about it through the blog world, but thanks to Missy at Missy Maintains, I had the luck of winning a copy through her contest. (Thanks again!)
The workout itself is based on a series of Core Fusion classes offered at Exhale spas. The DVD has 5 workouts (all under 10 minutes) and closes with a cool down stretch (about 7 minutes). I must admit, I kinda groaned at the thought of doing all 5 segments, but to my surprise, the entire thing went be really fast! To me, it felt more like 30 minutes. You'll need some hand weights, a mat, a chair and a nearby wall for support.
The warm-up is included with the arms segment and is mostly a mix of knee-ups that incorporate your arms. Then, you quickly move into various types of push-ups and arm exercises using hand weights (tricep kickbacks, shoulder presses, bicep curls, etc.)
There's also segments that focus the lower body as well, including thighs and glutes. Lots of squats and leg lifts (included some pulsing lifts that are killer!).
Right now, my least favorite segment is the Flat/Round Back Tone & Stretch. You're basically leaning up against a wall and doing all sorts of movements with your legs. It's hard to describe, so my apologies, but it's just a difficult circuit to follow (for me, anyway). That said, the moves really require a lot back and ab strength, so I can tell I'll reap the benefits if I just keep trying.
I also enjoyed the Pretzel Core Toner segment, where the focus is on abs. Here, you rely on your abs (both front and obliques) to hold certain positions in place, followed by some pulsing movements. Definitely a good challenge, but it didn't necessarily burn my abs out completely, which I appreciated.
My biggest complaint overall with this DVD (and really, it's not even that big) is how many of the moves require you to rely on a wall for support. Sorry, but I don't like rubbin' my [somewhat sweaty] body all over my white walls. And I don't have a big stand-alone wall in the middle of my living room, so it can be kind of a hassle to follow along visually while simultaneously getting your form in place. I don't know. It just seemed awkward at times. During the gluteal segment, I did try using the floor as an alternative during some of the moves, but couldn't make it work for all of them. Oh well.
This workout definitely seems to combine yoga and pilates moves with lots of stretching. In fact, I think the stretching is probably the most appealing part of this workout. Because you move through the segments so quickly, it's not nearly as intense as other strength/yoga workouts, but the extra stretching in between helped me feel a bit more flexible and stronger.
The instructors do a fantastic job of explaining the moves, which I found impressive since each segment goes by so fast. In fact, that was probably one of the (if not THE) first workout DVDs I've tried where I wasn't lost on how to perform any of the moves on the first try.
All in all, I'm quite happy to have this unique workout in my collection. While I don't think I'll rely on it for my usual strength training (it's simply not intense enough), I'll definitely work it into my weekly routine to improve my core strength and flexibility. I'll also rely on it as a great total body stretch routine, especially in between more intense workouts. I always tend to rush over my cool down stretches (something I'm always working on), so the segments in this DVD will ensure that my muscles and joints get the special treatment they deserve.