Anna Kaiser – Happy Hour Workout DVD Review

Wow!  I didn’t realize it has been since the end of April that I last did a workout DVD review.  I have done so many new ones in between that I never reviewed and I really must GET ON THE BALL!   I have been out enjoying the spring (today feels like summer, however) and have been busy.  I’ve been to a few concerts and visited NYC to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  I’m going to Washington, DC for the Fourth of July and to the Kripalu Yoga Center in Massachusetts in August plus a few more concerts.

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Anyway, I did this workout yesterday and really felt that it was a fun upbeat workout and I wanted to blog about it while it was still fresh in my memory.

If Anna looks a little familiar to you, you may remember her from the first Insanity workout series.  Shaun T. called on her more than a few times during the workouts and she was kickass back then.  Well, Anna has done more than well for herself since I’ve seen her in Insanity.  She has her own AKT In Motion studio (AKTInMotion.com) in the Upper East Side of Manhattan and other locations such as SoHo, Connecticut and in East Hampton.  The monthly fees for an unlimited membership is over $400! (Not in my lifetime.)  She pulls in clientele such as Sarah Jessica Parker (Sarah does an intro to this DVD).  I previously did a workout with her when a live studio workout was featured on Pop Sugar. I liked that workout and I was happy when I saw she released a DVD version wondering what took her so long!

For this workout you will need some light weights:  3s, 5s and 8s – maybe 10s.  Trust me you don’t want to go too heavy. This workout is not designed that way. You will also need a lot of space for this workout. My living room is small and I had to modify to the size of my room.  In addition you will also need a lot of time.  I thought the workout was going to be an hour TOTAL including the warm up, cool down, etc.  Nope, I was wrong.  The meat of the workout is an hour.  The warm up is 12 minutes as is the cool down (184 minutes total).  Keep that in mind when you choose this workout for the day.

There are 10 blocks in this workout:

Section 1

Warm up Part 1 – Some dynamic stretching: Reaches; hip rolls; jacks and grape vines, etc.  After the stretching she does cardio moves to warm up the body.

Warm Up Part II – Plyos.  (Done on the floor.  Not really sure why this is called plyos except for the mountain climbers, floor jacks and crab kicks but it’s an effective section.)

Section 2:  Cardio – Nice dance combination broken down and repeated several times and then repeated starting on the opposite lead.  You are provided a modifier. This combo was my favorite of the two different dance combinations.

Anna gives you little stretch breaks between cardio segments (and strength sections) to make this interval training.  She mentions this a few times in the video. You can get water, towel off, etc.

Section 3:  Arms.  Using both your body weight and light hand weights Anna challenges your upper body.  The moves aren’t your typical curls and presses.

Section 4:  Cardio – On this section you start out with the familiar combo but then Anna teaches you a new one.  The second combo is a bit more involved and a little more dancey but still not too complicated that you don’t get a good workout. As with the first combo this one is broken down, repeated several times and provides modifications.

Section 5:  Lower Body (Right Leg) – Using hand weights Anna challenges your booty with lateral lunges and leg lifts.  Then she goes into a curtsy lunge to balance and then the two moves are combined.   If that wasn’t enough, then she goes into a reverse tabletop on the floor with some leg lifts and pulses until you are toast.

Section 6:  Cardio – This is the second combination adding on new moves.   You’ll be spinning, leaping for fun, fun, fun!

Section 7:  Lower Body (Left Leg) – A repeat of what was done on the right leg.

Section 8:  Cardio – Now you know the second combination and you can really dig into it for an intense cardio segment challenged once again at the end on the opposite lead.

Section 9:  Core –  Using light hand weights Anna starts you standing for some core work that includes some reaches and punching drills.  You finish off the core with some work on the floor.  This is challenging and will fry your abs.

Section 10:  Cool Down.  Like the warm up the cool down is 12 minutes long and very effective to release all of the hard work you just did.

I give this workout 4 out of 5 stars. I deducted a star because of the space issue that some people will have.  I think it is a great effort by Anna. The DVD also has a Q&A section and a treadmill workout using light hand weights (Anna has a download of a treadmill workout on her AKT In Motion site.)

Happy Hour has fun dance cardio combos, is simple enough to manage but intense enough to get a good workout.  The strength portions are icing on the cake. (Um, the figurative cake.)

I hope Anna releases more workout DVDs in the future.

Men’s Health Anarchy Workout System Review

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Anarchy is one of the latest offerings from Men’s Health.  I have reviewed a few other Men’s Health workouts on MisTransformation notably the workouts with BJ Gaddour.  The Anarchy workouts were created by Andy Speer.  He was the winner of Men’s Health Next Top Trainer competition in which BJ Gaddour was a judge.  Some people may remember Andy from one of the Insanity offerings as well.

Anarchy is a 6 week program split into two 3 week phases. You get 3 discs with the system.  Disc one is your Phase One workouts – Cardio – Strength and Endurance.  You are meant to do these workouts once a week for 3 days a week for three weeks and then move on to the Phase Two workouts on Disc two.  This phase is also set up with the Cardio/Strength/Endurance workouts that you do each workout once for 3 days a week.  On your off days you may use the workouts on Disc three which are Anarchy Abs and Free Flow.  The Anarchy workouts are 30 minutes in length except for the Abs and Free Flow workouts (about 15 minutes).  You don’t need a lot of equipment for Anarchy; a set of moderate dumbbells will suffice.

The Anarchy system is all about progression.  Progression in the workouts themselves from round to round and progression within the system from Phase One to Phase Two.

Phase One:

Cardio:  No equipment needed in this one.  After a thorough warmup you will do three rounds of dynamic movements that get your heart rate up.  Each round offers different amount of time for the work to rest ratio.  In each round you do a set of movements and in the next round the movements progress to a higher level of difficulty.

Strength:  A set of moderate dumbbells is needed.  I think this was my favorite out of all of the workouts.  I liked the combination of movements.  Goblet Squats – Lawnmower rows – Split Stance lunge with a shoulder press – RDL – Skull Crushers and Chest presses.  These moves progress in round two the goblet squat adds a curl – the split stance lunch add a push press –  the deadlift becomes a one-legged deadlift – during your skull crusher you lift your legs and the chest press is harder with an iso hold.  The work to rest ratio also changes from round to round.

Most notably in this workout is the Burnout Round:  6 exercises 30 seconds each with no break between moves.  These are moves you will be familiar with – most having been done in this workout.  This Burnout round is really what makes this workout special.  When I was done I wished the whole workout had been this tough.

Endurance:  No equipment necessary.  This is a bodyweight challenged workout.  This workout has a 6 minute warmup which is the longest warmup of all 6 workouts on Anarchy.  The moves you will be doing challenge your balance and some challenge your core. Some of the moves you will be doing are:  Sprint balance hold – Sprint buildup run – Pulldown to pushup – Downward dog to pushup (or do a divebomber if you can) – Rockstar sweep (which is like a breakdance move) – bodyweight crawls and bird dogs. The work to rest ratio is primarily 45 seconds of work to 15 seconds of rest.

Round Three of this workout has some dynamic movements like the hollow rock (hollow man while rocking) – punch jacks – bunny jacks and a squat jack.  These are done 45 seconds with 15 seconds of rest.

This workout also has a Burnout Round of 6 moves done for 30 seconds each with no rest between.

PHASE TWO has the same setup as Phase One.  The moves are very similar but they harder in difficulty level and there is more work time and less rest times.  Again my favorite was the Strength routine.  Most notably is the sumo high pull that progresses from round one to a dumbbell snatch in round two.  Also deserving of a mention is the fact that the finisher in Strength Two is 4 minutes in length.

In addition, I also liked the finisher round in Endurance Two – this is a three minute thirty second long round in which you do a pyramid of two movements – the pushup and the squat jump.  First you do one of each; then two of each; then three of each, etc., trying to make your way up the pyramid to ten reps.

Anarchy Abs and the Free Flow workouts on Disc 3 are about 15 minutes in length each.  Anarchy abs is a true testament to why Andy has developed the midsection that he has (which is pretty sexy I must say).  The Free Flow workout are some mobility and stretching movements that are a nice add-on to any of these other workouts and you even get a tad bit of strength added in here on some of the movements.

Overall I would give Anarchy 4 out of 5.  I would have given it 5 stars if it just had a little something extra like Black Fire (read my earlier review of the Black Fire program). The burnout rounds are really what I was hoping for in the entire system.  In fact I loved the burnout rounds so much in this workout that I strung all of them together one day for an entire workout of burnouts and I have to say that this was PURE ANARCHY.  What I did was used the warmup for the first burnout round that I was going to complete then forwarded to the burnout round (watch the clock so you can stop promptly).  After completing the burnout round of course you have to stop and start and go to the next burnout round on the next workout which might seem like a pain but if you are prepared and do it fast enough it’s a welcome break and not too long either – just be quick about it.  You can then use the cool down on the last burnout round you complete.  This was what I was really hoping for out of a workout entitled Anarchy.

Michelle Dozois BodyFit 360 Vol. 3 Workout DVD Review

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If you follow MisTransformation you know that I am a fan of Michelle’s Peak10 series.  I have done several of those workouts and reviewed a few previously on my blog.  I am also a HUGE fan of Michelle’s BodyFit 360 Vol. 1 workout and reviewed that on my blog previously.  (I will post it below).  I have to say that Volume 3 Athletic Conditioning is the perfect combination of Peak10 and BodyFit 360.  It has the athletic challenge of Peak10 with jumps, lunges and squats but it also has the great bodyweight challenged combinations of BodyFit 360 Vol. 1 while being less dancey.

This volume has two workouts:  Athletic Conditioning and Athletic Stretch.   There is a movement review segment to view for the Athletic Conditioning combinations and I strongly suggest watching this before doing the workout because some of the combinations are a little tricky at first.

Athletic Conditioning: 

For this workout you will need a towel and not just for wiping sweat.  You will actually be using it as part of the workout. This workout has a modifier and you may want to watch the entire routine before you try it if you believe you will be following her because you may not catch what she is doing in time when in the throws of the workout.

This workout is 40 minutes in length and has 8 blocks of combinations (including warm-up and cool down). Block 6 will focus on the upper body with the towel and block 7 focuses on the core.

This workout contains all the things I love like punching and kicking.  You will also be doing burpees, jacks and squats.  The bodyweight challenged combinations are built on the plank so have your wrists and your core prepared (what I call breakdance moves).

This workout was a lot of fun but it was just the right amount of challenge.  I really felt my body was heated up at the end of the workout differently than if I had done a workout with dumbbells.

Athletic Stretch: 

This program is 20 minutes in length and can be used on an active rest day or after a workout for additional stretching and mobility work.  Michelle gets you warmed up before going into the stretches.  This isn’t yoga but does incorporate some familiar yoga poses such as:  Warrior 1; pigeon; dragon; happy baby and child’s pose.  I found myself doing  ujjay breathing (yoga breath) while settling into the poses.

Michelle utilizes the towel for some of the stretches.  You could also use a yoga strap.

I think this would be a nice program for someone who doesn’t like yoga but wants to increase their flexibility.

All in all I would give BodyFit 360 Volume 3 FIVE out of FIVE stars.  I’m so happy MIchelle decided to continue with this series and hopefully I will be able to review Volume 2 Dance Conditioning for you.

My previous review of BodyFit 360 Vol. 1:

https://mistransformation.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/michelle-dozois-body-fit-360-dvd-review/

Happy 4 Year Anniversary MisTransformation!

My MisTransformation blog turns 4 years old today.  It was born out of a Strong is the New Skinny challenge that was supposed to last about three or four months (from the end of winter until the end of spring).  That group is now pretty much defunct and here I am still plugging along 4 years later. (I haven’t seen a Facebook post from them since July 2014.)

I know I am not as active with the reviews as I used to be.  I do continue to do new workouts but I don’t blog about each one I complete if I can’t devote enough quality time to the post.  There are workout DVDs I have done such as workouts from PiYo and a few more of the Cathe Ripped with HiiT series but I didn’t blog about them because I would have just given a crappy post.   (NOT that the workouts were crappy because they aren’t but rather that my review post would have been half-arsed.)

A few things I do hope to have the opportunity to review in the coming months are workouts from the 21 Day Fix Extreme program and also the Double Down workout with Amy Dixon and Paul Katami.

I thank each and every one of my followers and visitors for taking time out of your day to view a piece of who I am. I am truly humbled to think that people from all over the world have viewed my blog.  It’s been a great FOUR YEARS!   Here’s to the future!

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Amy Dixon’s Breathless Body 4: GOING STRONG Workout DVD Review

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Mistransformation is a fan of Amy Dixon and her Breathless Body series.  I have reviewed all prior Breathless Body installments on my blog and will post links to them after my review.

Amy Dixon is a top notch instructor and you know you are getting quality with her workouts. I became a fan of Amy’s following her workouts on the now defunct Exercise TV.  Her workouts on there were always cutting edge and thorough.

The Breathless Body 4: GOING STRONG installment offers something that the other Breathless Body workouts have not. This volume incorporates weight into the workout.  You will need a set of at least two weights (I pulled out a couple).  Amy recommends 5 to 10 pounds for your lighter set and 10 to 20 pounds for your heavier set.  You will know what works for your body.  There are two modifiers:  One that demonstrates an easier way to do the movement and one that demonstrates how to make the movement harder.  Amy’s demonstrations are for the middle of the road people.  You can go back and forth between levels throughout the workout.

Breathless Body 4: GOING STRONG is 8 rounds long. Each of the rounds contains 2 strength circuits of the same movement.  In the first circuit you use your lighter weight and work for 45 seconds with 15 seconds to rest (really to grab your heavier weight) and then for the second circuit you use your heavier weight and work for 30 seconds and then rest for 30 seconds.

After the strength portion of this round you then move on to the High Intensity Intervals.  These are circuits of 15 seconds of work and 15 seconds of rest.  These movements are usually plyometric/dynamic in nature designed to get you “breathless.”

At the end of all 8 rounds of strength and cardio Amy throws in a metabolic finisher of all the Hiit circuit movements done for 15 seconds each (no rest between) for a total of 2 minutes.

After that, you may think you are done.  Surprise! You aren’t.  Now you have 5 minutes of ab/core work to do! In the ab/core segment there are 5 moves done for 1 minute each.

Now you have completed the workout and can complete the very thorough stretch/cool down segment (which some people try to skimp out on).

I would give Breathless Body 4: GOING STRONG 5 out of 5 stars.  It’s tough but there is no dread. The strength portion keeps your heart rate up throughout the workout and the HiiT segments are short little bursts that kick it up a notch and leave you breathless.  I’m so glad that Amy continued with the Breathless Body series and gave us something fresh by adding weights to the mix. I remember completing the original Breathless Body workout; I was so blown away by it.  At the time we didn’t have a lot of workouts kicking our booty at this level and now the market is flooded with them.  It’s good to stick with the tried and true.  You know you’re getting something good with Amy.

Also, if you haven’t already heard, Amy also has a new workout DVD out that she completed with Paul Katami co-leading (Double Down).  You may remember Mistransformation is a fan of Paul Katami’s as well and I’m hoping to offer a review of this workout DVD in the near future!  How exciting is that!

MY OTHER BREATHLESS BODY REVIEWS: 

Breathless Body:

https://mistransformation.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/breathless-body-amy-dixon/

Breathless Body 2: The Edge 

https://mistransformation.wordpress.com/2012/06/03/amy-dixon-breathless-body-2-the-edge-workout-dvd-review/

Breathless Body 3: HiiT It Big: 

https://mistransformation.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/amy-dixons-breathless-body-3-hiit-it-big-workout-dvd-review/

Daily Burn Black Fire by Bob Harper (w/ Anja Garcia) Workout Program Review

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Just when I thought Daily Burn couldn’t get any better they went and pulled out the big gun! That big gun is none other than Bob Harper.  Everyone knows who Bob Harper is from The Biggest Loser to his own workout DVDs and books.

I have to admit when Daily Burn released Black Fire at the end of 2014 I was at the tail end of my Live to Fail rotation.  I viewed Black Fire and I was afraid.  It looked tough.  It looked intense.  And I have to tell you that it is ALL THAT and more!

Black Fire is a 60 day program that utilizes scoring in their high intensity workouts (although 2 do not).  This is what pushes you and motivates you.  It allows you to see how strong and fit you are becoming because at the end you will enter your score into the computer and it will track it for you (a nice feature of Daily Burn).  Black Fire uses very little equipment.  Bob will recommend dumbbell weights for men and women and you will also need a box, a medicine ball and a dowel.  I’m sure you could modify if you didn’t have these things.

Black Fire has 12 workouts total (and rest/recovery workouts if you follow their calendar) that include:

  • Bodyweight Tabata: In this workout you will go through four body-weight moves, eight rounds per move. 20 seconds of work; 10 seconds of rest.  You will get a minute of rest between tabatas.  Write down the lowest score for each move and at the end you will add up all of the lowest scores of the 4 moves and that is your final score.
  • Weighted Tabata: Like Bodyweight Tabata you will have four moves, eight rounds each for 20 seconds on, and 10 seconds rest.  The difference here is that this workout is weighted.  Let me tell you this weighted tabata is NO JOKE! Scoring is the same as the bodyweight tabata.
  • Sweet 16:   This workout has 2 moves (8 rounds each).  That’s it.  Two moves.  Easy peasy right?  WRONG!  The moves are a long jump and no wall balls (this requires a medicine ball that you throw up in the air and squat catch and release into the air repeatedly).  The goal is to get 16 reps in the allotted time.   If you do, you get one point for that round.  At the end you add up all your points for your final score.  There is no rest in this workout, however, if you finish all your reps before the end of the allotted time you can rest.
  • OTM Air Force Style: In order to get a point in this workout you need to do 12 reps in one minute.  If you finish all the reps before the end of the minute, you can rest.  At the top of each minute you do 4 burpees.  That is what OTM means – ON THE MINUTE.  You need dumbbells & a dowel (for an overhead squat). This workout is the hardest even though it isn’t touted as such.  You could use this workout for a leg day, it is very leg/butt intensive.
  • Cyclone 15: This workout has 3 different movements in a round. – V-ups, dumbbell swing and the goblet squat.  You get one point every time you complete the amount of reps Bob has allotted for each movement. The faster you go the more rounds you complete. You will need one dumbbell.
  • Strategic Endurance: If you follow the Daily Burn calendar this will be your first workout of the series.  In this workout you have three movements that you complete for 2 minutes each.  You have to complete three rounds.  The movements are burpee to box run to burpee, dips and situps.  You count all of your reps and at the end add them all up for the final score.
  • Triplet Ladder: This is my favorite of all of the Black Fire workouts.  It has a dumbbell snatch in it and I love dumbbell snatches.  I can complete this workout barefoot.  In this workout you make your way up the ladder by completing a rep for each movement and then increasing the rep count the next time you get back to that movement.  You keep going until 15 minutes is complete.  You can have your own rest time in there but you may not get as many rounds. Your score is the amount of rounds you make it through.
  • Power 10: This is touted as being one of the hardest of Black Fire.  Certainly not the easiest by far (none of them are easy) but I also don’t think it is the hardest.  This workout has four rounds of 10 exercises that you cycle through 30 seconds each and there is no allotted rest time. You are able to get a rest though in the way that the workout is set up.  You score with your lowest number completed.  If you get to the end of a movement and you hit that low number already any extra time remaining you may use as a rest.  For scoring you add up all of your lowest numbers of each exercise for the 4 rounds.
  • ABC 1: Anja Garcia whom we all know from the Inferno programs leads this workout.  A – Agility; B – Balance; and C – Core.  There are 5 rounds of 4 moves done for 30 seconds with 15 seconds of rest.  You get a full minute to rest between moves. These moves are bodyweight intensive.   Scoring is your lowest number for a round of each movement. You will add up all 4 of the lowest numbers for you final score.
  • ABC 2: This is set up just like ABC1 but with 5 moves that are different from ABC 1.  And these moves are a bit more challenging that ABC 1.
  • Gymnastics Strength 1: Utilizing her gymnastics experience, Anja leads these workouts too.  This workout has two rounds of six exercises each for one minute.  There is NO SCORING for the gymnastics workouts. I found that Gymnastics Strength 1 was more challenging that #2.
  • Gymnastics Strength 2: This is set up like GS1 except there are 5 moves instead of 6.  I thought GS2 was kind of fun. Again, no scoring.

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I have to disclose that I have not followed the Daily Burn schedule.  I have been cherry picking which workouts I want to do each day depending on my energy level.  I have to be honest, it took me a while to work myself into Black Fire. I started with Sweet 16 and really enjoyed it, then I tried the Triplet Ladder since I like “ladder” workouts and was familiar with how they are set up. Incidentally it wasn’t until I joined a Black Fire/Inferno group on Facebook that I was able to motivate myself to keep going with the workouts.  After joining the group, I found a lot of folks in the group aren’t following the calendar either and are creating their own programs. Some are combining Black Fire with Inferno.  (Shout out to the Black Fire & Inferno Fitness Challenge Group on Facebook.)

I think Black Fire should be renamed Butt Fire.  A lot of the workouts are squat intensive and I can tell after about a month of doing these workouts that my butt has already lifted a little.

Daily Burn really has a winner here with Black Fire, Bob Harper and Anja Garcia!  I would rate the workouts in this program 5 stars for sure.  Ten if I could.  Black Fire is SOLID!

DailyBurn

Cathe RIPPED w/ HiiT: LIFT IT HIT IT Legs Workout DVD Review

CatheLIHILegsWhile this is only my second review from Cathe’s new Ripped w/ HiiT series, Lift It Hit It Legs was the fourth I have completed from the series.  Out of all four this is my favorite (I will review the others in the future).

Lift It Hit It Legs is based on a technique called contrast training. With this type of training you will do a strength based movement and then a corresponding plyometric movement (blasts) that works the same part of your legs, i.e., if you do a plie’ squat the corresponding plyometric movement is a plie’ jack.  Cathe says this is supposed to kickstart muscle growth by shocking your muscles.  Shock it does.

This workout is roughly only 40 minutes in length (without the bonus abs) but it is brutal!  Anyone who works legs weighted without adding in any plyometric movements knows that your heart rate goes up to cardio levels.  Add in the plyometric movements and this is a nonstop cardio fest.

Cathe uses heavy weights for this series not limited to dumbbells (both) 25#, 20#, 15#  plus singles of 40#, 35#, 12# and a 10#.  Cathe will tell you what weight she uses for each movement.  One of the Plyo moves is weighted (explosive side lunge).

The movement lineup:

Strength/Plyo

Squats/Squat Digs

Plie’ Squats/Plie’ Jacks

Static Lunge/Split Jump – Right

Static Lunge/Split Jump – Left

Squats (using heavier weights)/Pop Squats

Plie’ Squats/Narrow Plie’ Touchdown Jacks

Wood Chop Side Lunges (L/R)/Explosive Side Lunges w/ 12# weight

Crossback Lunges (L/R) – Lateral Skates

Low Pulse Lunges/Power Circle Scissor Jumps

Dead Lift (regular stance)/Snow Angle Jacks

Dead Lift (wide stance)/Frog Jumps with a Quarter Turn

Walking Lunges/Scissor Scissor Wide Tuck Jumps

Nice thorough cool down and relaxing stretch to end it.

This workout contains the same Bonus Abs 1 and 2 as the Low Impact workout DVD (the other 2 I did also had them). 

Cathe gives some great premixes to satisfy even her most finicky fans:

All Strength

All Blast

Scrambler 1 or 2

Strength + Blasts (3 rounds 4 Strength moves/4 Blast moves)

Strength + Blast + Abs – this is sequences as usual with an ab move from the bonus abs thrown in after all plyo movements so you would have a strength move, a plyo move and an ab move.

Lower Body plus Bonus Abs 1 – (same as regular mix but followed by the bonus abs 1)

Lower Body plus Bonus Abs 2 – (same as regular mix but followed by the bonus abs 2)

I must say I really felt invigorated after this workout. Not only was I sweating profusely but I felt like my body heated up from the inside out. It was tough but it was a good kind of tough.

This is the Cathe we all know and love.  I give this workout a solid 5 out of 5!