Monday, April 21, 2008

Pick Your Level: Fat to Firm Fast

THE WORKOUT: Pick Your Level: Fat to Firm Fast $12.99 at Amazon


WHO CAN DO THIS:With three levels of difficulty to choose from, this workout is for anybody. Really.

THE BREAKDOWN: This DVD gets a special gold star because the woman who demonstrates Level 1 actually looks like a level one. She carries a few extra pounds and wears a loose t-shirt and full-length loose workout pants. Level 2 is demonstrated by instructor Michelle Dozois, who wears tighter Capri-length pants, and Level 3 is demonstrated by a taut, gorgeous Amazon in tight shorts.

The full-body workout consists of warm-up, four circuits combining strength and cardio, and a short stretch. Each circuit has a little of this and a little of that—some weights, some mat work, some cardio. The workout really does go quickly, with creative combined weight and cardio moves, short, simple and pain-free cardio blips and no fancy footwork. Level 1 stays low impact and easy, Level 2 uses more arms, more or heavier weights and occasional high-impact, Level 3 uses the heaviest weights and includes lots of high impact and balancing.

Switching among levels is easy. So far, I’m sticking mostly to Level 2—hinky knees preclude much jumping around—but manage a few Level 3s here and there, especially in the mat work.

Of course squats and lunges play a part here—nothing beats ‘em for the butt—but they are done slowly, which makes them easier on aforementioned hinky old knees than the quick-switch lunges many workouts require. Those make me hurt.

THE SWEAT FACTOR: If you don’t cheat and goof around with too low a level, you can work up a sweat.

BUT IS IT FUN? It’s not a rollicking workout but it goes quickly and feels effective and that's a good substitute for fun. Dozois, with her early Florence Henderson hair, is pleasant enough. Music is a repetitive drone and almost unnecessary except for the beat it provides.

WHEN IT'S OVER: You’ll feel worked out but not worn out.

GEAR AND APPAREL: This can be done in a small space--the demo chicks are on round raised platforms. You’ll need two sets of hand weights.

LAST WORD: This has entered my rotation as I work myself back into shape.

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