Tuesday, February 23, 2010
The Biggest Loser: Weight Loss Yoga
More panting than chanting, that's what I'm looking for.
I remember the first time I ever took a yoga class. It was about 7 years ago and was all Nancy's fault - the gym was full one night and she convinced me to do the yoga class with her. I agreed, adding the snide comment "as long as there's no chanting".
Of course, within 5 minutes they were chanting - "hommmmmmmmm"......
But apart from that the class was fun - there were only about 4 people in it, the instructor was cute and she liked me (she thought I was funny and liked my accent). Since then I've done a number of different yoga classes and home dvds which I've found to be an excellent cross training for running since I'm not the most flexible person in the world and am really bad at doing my stretching.
Now I know that some folks are probably going to turn their nose up at the fact that I'm reviewing a "Biggest Loser" dvd, and I can understand that. While Nancy and I do watch the show, I really see it as "reality entertainment" as opposed to anything truly "inspiring" (I love to see how blatantly they worm in plugs for various products), and I think it sets false expectations for the millions of people out there trying to drop weight in the real world (losing 10+lbs a week is neither realistic nor healthy). But there's no denying that when they're not being uber-dramatic the two trainers are really kick ass. And they've produced a number of really good training dvds.
One of the things I like about the "Biggest Loser" series of dvds is that they contain a number of workout segments that you can mix and match to customize your workout.
And you can do that with this dvd which contains 5 sections - yoga levels 1, 2 and 3 plus a warmup and cooldown.
The first thing to mention is that "weight loss yoga" is just a gimmick title - there's really no such thing. Here's a tip - if you're looking to purchase a workout dvd, don't rely on the title - you need to research the content. Read online reviews, check the amazon user comments and watch clips on youtube to ensure it's a match for your capability and end goals.
For example, if you're a yoga purist then stay away from this and go with something from Rodney Yee instead.
But if you're looking for a really good core blaster that fuses yoga, pilates and strength moves to give you a kick ass workout, then read on.
The instructor is "trainer Bob" - the good cop from the Biggest Loser series - and the participants are some of the contestants from the show. This can be good and bad - they are all in various stages of decay which means that you can relate to them much more than the "perfect fitness models" that workout dvds usually contain.
On the other hand, many of them are not displaying good form or doing the moves correctly (and quite frankly, some of them are barely trying). Here's another tip - just keep your eyes on Ali (the girl in the pink top), because she's just freaking awesome.
Bob is very charismatic and explains the moves and progressions very well for the most part. He slips up on a few occasions (and corrects himself at one point), but he too is relatable and motivates you to keep going.
Oh, and there's absolutely no chanting. Which is a very good thing. Here are my summaries of the various sections of the dvd:
5 minutes (actual running time 6:20)
I generally don't like to start workouts with static stretches on cold muscles, and was hoping for some more dynamic variations, but these are fairly light stretches. Don't overdo them and you'll be fine.
Yoga level 1
20 minutes (actual running time 21:11)
This section contains the most pure yoga moves, in particular plank, warrior, chair and triangle poses and spinal adjustments.
Note that what I know as plank has you supporting yourself on your elbows, but here that's called dolphin pose and plank is actually pushup position.
This section concentrates on getting into positions and holding them, which I liked. There were a few misdirections, but mostly the cuing is first rate. There was one portion where you held a "side plank" resting all your body weight on one wrist. I found this was hurting my wrists, so I modified the pose to use my elbow instead (like a traditional side plank). It's not mentioned in the dvd, but that felt much better. Other than that, this was a good section which got me sweating. I felt I got some good stretching, and the plank poses really hit into my abs and shoulders and made me work.
Yoga level 2
15 minutes (actual running time 16:41)
Ok, this section is not really yoga, but that's not a criticism. Instead it utilizes pilates balance moves wonderfully to work into your abs. Some of the poses also use a water ball (a Biggest Loser product which is plugged in the "extras" section), but I just used some dumbells and they worked just fine. This was my favorite section because it worked your abs using moves that were slightly different to the norm (not a crunch in sight). I again used the same wrist modification from the first section.
Yoga level 3
10 minutes (actual running time 10:36)
This section combines traditional yoga moves with dumbells to give you an unusual strength workout. It matches strength moves such as deadlifts, lateral raises, bicep curls, chest flies, tricep kickbacks and rows with static yoga positions such as warrior, crescent, chair pose etc. The workout is rounded off with a good few minutes of plank (pushup) walkouts, combinations and variations which was an excellent way to finish out on slightly shaky arms.
5 minutes (actual running time 7:30)
I always like to finish off my yoga routines with some relaxation poses and this one did not disappoint. It had a few nice cooldown stretches and then finished off with a nice corpse pose. Of course, this is the Biggest Loser so they couldn't resist plugging one of their other dvds (twice) while you were relaxing, but hey, at least they didn't try you sell you on chewing gum, bottled water, plastic baggies or takeout sandwich joints.
Overall this was an enjoyable workout that I had fun doing and will no doubt come back to regularly as a nice variation. The cooldown did its job and left me relaxed, happy and ready to spread world peace!!!
Enjoyment factor : 8
Difficulty rating : 6
Overall : 7
Recommended : Yes
Click here to see the product at amazon.