I would venture to guess that the motivation that comes with setting New Year’s resolutions is already starting to wane ever so slightly. (It is Blue Monday after all.) Am I right? It’s cold…you’re carrying five extra post-holiday pounds…your skinny jeans are tight. And did I mention it’s coooold out?! I hear ya — but don’t surrender to your environment and get stuck in a slump!
I think it’s always a good idea to have a few workout DVDs on hand this time of year. I’m all for making my life easier, and friends, we still need to sweat this season. A lot. That’s exactly what you’ll do with the Jillian Michaels Buns & Thighs DVD. I chose to try this one because well, my flat-as-a-pancake posterior has much to be desired, and I knew that the Tough Love Queen would push me harder than I could on my own. Want to get your butt kicked? This workout will do it…literally.
I’m a pretty fit gal who enjoys the types of plyometric circuit workouts that Jillian promotes. Burpees? Love ‘em. Pushups? Bring ‘em on. The varying movements never get boring and I love being challenged in multiple ways at once. In this video, an exercise that works your core will also likely challenge your upper body strength and balancing abilities.
So as you can see, I’m not a beginner, but I will try to write this review in a way that can be beneficial for everyone.
LEVEL 1: Yes, Jillian can be intimidating, but the good news is that she has both an advanced trainer (who shows you how to step it up a notch) and a beginner trainer (who demonstrates modifications) in each of these workouts. I always aim to do the harder variations, but sometimes it’s worth it to slow down and really learn the movement.
In this level, Jillian really doesn’t “reinvent the wheel” too much. She mixes in variations of lunges, squats and planks with bursts of cardio like high knees and squat jumps…my favorite. She also does kicking movements from all angles (sometimes balancing on one leg) and a couple balancing poses that simultaneously work your legs and abs. I was ready to move on to Level 2 after this workout, but I suggest staying here until you feel confident with the exercises and ready for a new challenge.
Most Challenging Exercises: Sumo Squats with Calf Raises (Burn!), One-legged Chair Pose (Balance), Inner-Thigh Side Plank (Strength + Balance)
LEVEL 2: At least I thought I was ready. I can hold my own when a set of burpees are thrown into a workout; however, one-legged burpees are a whole different story. I didn’t know this exercise existed, let alone that I could actually do it! It was intimidating at first, but once I got over my fear and just went for it. It was fine. And by fine I mean my muscles were on fire and my heart was beating out of my chest…but I made it. Don’t let a foreign movement defeat you—give it all you’ve got!
All in all, I have to say that Level 2 felt like it should have been Level 3. I didn’t feel quite prepared, but I was also pleasantly surprised and challenged. If you want to see results, you have to just rip the Band-Aid off and get to it…and that’s what I did!
Jillian suggests using 3-8 lb. weights for various moves, but don’t rush it. If you’re struggling to do a move well (and accurately), do it without the weights until it becomes easier. But don’t slack off! I’m pretty sure Miz Michaels has a sixth sense about these things, and would be able to hunt you down if you do. You know when you’re not giving enough, so kick it into gear when you feel yourself giving less than your best.
Most Challenging Movements: Goddess squats (Get looow!), One-legged burpees (Cardio), Single-leg Runners (Strength + Balance)
LEVEL 3: I did Level 2 three times before moving on, and as it turns out, I was more than ready. I don’t know if I was just having a good day, or if I was totally slacking, but Level 3 actually felt easier to me than 2. A lot!
But…Jillian got inside my head like only she can and insisted that it was not the workout that was too easy, it was me that was being lazy. And she was right…kinda. I do still think that most the moves were easier and not as multi-faceted as many were in Level 2. However, every time I forced myself to squat lower, move faster and jump higher, it did feel harder. It certainly doesn’t hurt to check in with yourself throughout a workout to make sure you’re giving it all you can.
I think one thing that made this level seem easy was the emphasis on isometric exercises. To my understanding, these are isolated movements that target small muscles that surround the big ones, which produce a lean, sleek look…not a bulky one. Sign me up!
Most Challenging Movements: One-legged Mountain Climbers (Cardio + Balance), Rock-star to Cannon Ball Jump (Cardio!), One-legged Dead Lift (Balance + Strength)
All in all, I really liked this workout DVD and plan to make it a key player in my workout rotation this winter. Another one I’ll be adding: The Lacey Stone Extreme Bootcamp! App. This hot and fresh fireball is thisclose to exploding, mark my words. Lacey knows how to get you pumped UP!
I also have a Wannabe Yogi inside of me, so when I need to stretch and relax while working on my upper body and core strength, I’ll pop in a Tara Stiles This is Yoga DVD. Tara is my newest obsession in the health industry. Check her out and you’ll see why.
So…who’s ready to sweat?!
Tell me: What are your favorite workout DVDs? How do you stay motivated in the winter?
Also, did you know that this week marks the time when people start failing on their New Year’s resolutions? Don’t become a statistic, read this article for tips to be successful with your health and fitness goals.
– ELLEN COLLIS
Ellen Collis is a blogger at Wannabe Health Nut and Health Coach in NYC, who graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Email her at email@example.com for a free health consultation to discuss how she can assist you with your nutrition and lifestyle goals. She would love nothing more than to help you have more energy, feel fabulous in your own skin and live a healthy life that doesn’t require giving up your favorite foods.