Serendipity is an amazing thing, no? I've been on SparkPeople going on four years now, and have been amply rewarded by this supportive community in so many ways. I was thinking that it was time to add new activities to the cardio routine, to keep boredom at bay, and was seriously considering starting a boot camp video as an alternative to get some variety in. SparkPeople must have been reading my mind, because I then received an invitation from their marketing division to review Coach Nicole's latest DVD. The stars aligned and I happily agreed.
Taking advantage of the long holiday weekend, I went up to Massachusetts to visit with my family and took the DVD with me to incorporate it into our activities. My sister was game, and we set aside time to do this. She went to the basement and brought up all her weights -- a sign of enthusiasm, I thought. We started simply with the warm up, and were pleased to find the timer unobtrusively located in the lower right hand corner counting down the minutes. When one begins to sweat, it's really nice to know we just might make it to the end of the segment, if we can just hang on a few minutes longer. Very nice feature! We segued into the cardio segment, but started to find ourselves falling behind. I was amazed that Coach Nicole could talk as the exercise pace increased and she didn't lose a beat, or her breath. I soon realized that to do this DVD justice, I was going to have to take it home and start anew. Alone.
Fast forward two weeks to today.
The DVD is divided into two, primarily. One can choose the 28-day plan, which shows you at a glance on a calendar what type of exercise one can expect for a particular day; or one can choose the plan wherein you can select your own workout and do the segments in any order that you like.
The 28-Day Plan is a four-week plan that has "different combinations of workouts to keep the body guessing and prevent exercise boredom". Each total workout includes ten minutes to warm up and cool down. Day One starts with 22 minutes of exercise and over the course of the four weeks, builds up the time factor so that by the time you are on Day 28 you are working out a total of 60 minutes. Over the course of the four weeks, one, two, or three rest days (or if you prefer, cross training days) are built in, the number of rest days (or cross training days), depending on the week you are on.
The "Choose Your Own Workout" is broken down as follows:
Warm Up (6 minutes)
Cardio Burst (12 minutes)
Short Cardio Sculpt (12 minutes)
Tone and Burn (20 minutes)
Total Body Challenge (30 minutes)
Cool Down (4 minutes)
If you do the whole workout in this option, it covers a good 84 minutes. (Now you don't have to add it up yourself.
In the Introduction section, Coach Nicole gives you "the lay of the land". You can exercise as little as 10, 20, or 30 minutes, depending on your time constraints, and the DVD will allow for that. There are three trainers showing you all the moves: The beginner (woman after my own heart! I loved watching her, as I am quite the novice), the intermediate, and the advanced: Coach Nicole herself. It is explained, that as you become more adept with the video, you can focus on the movements of the more advanced trainers. Coach Nicole notes that when moves are explained, it always starts with the beginner level.
I do have a comment though for this introductory section: Later on in the video, in the Cardio Burst section, Coach Nicole mentions the "grapevine" step, as the move that is coming up, and then later the "mambo". It might be worthwhile to show these steps at the beginning in the introduction section, as quite a few people have no idea what these steps entail. I happen to know the grapevine from my folk dancing days, but mambo was new to me, and it would have been more helpful if these steps were pulled out separately and shown at the beginning of this exercise segment or in the introduction segment, rather than have it run into the routine of the Cardio Burst section. I also found the drum beating in the background of the Introduction section somewhat distracting, but perhaps that's just me.
So for today, I picked up where my sister and I left off. I began with the six-minute warm up and loved watching the countdown clock to pace myself. We began with marching in place and the pace picked up from there. Even for a novice, this was a good pace, and I can see with practice, how the work on the DVD would grow easier as one gets accustomed to its rhythms. Coach Nicole calls the movements before she does them, so one knows where she's heading next. Her pace is good and relatively easy to follow.
I then followed Coach Nicole to the Cardio Burst workout. As already mentioned, the grapevine and mambo steps were introduced here. One more thing I noticed, when she signaled that you are to use your left arm, she used her right (and pointed to it), and vice versa. I realize that people get mixed up when seeing mirror images, but frankly, I found that somewhat confusing.
The video also has a nice Bonus Features section, showing you how to do seated abs exercises for when you are working at a desk. This was quite nifty. Coach Nicole goes over three simple exercises that can be done in a chair. Also part of the Bonus Feature is a section on education, instructing the individual in three simple tricks to burn more fat. The video also gives some sample recipes from the SparkPeople Cookbook.
I'm glad I took the time to do some sections of the video again. My first impression was it was too hard for a beginner. Now, seeing some of the same sections again for the second time, I see that there is hope. I can see incorporating some of these sections when I am pressed for time and can't go to the gym or if the day outside is inclement. It's a nice change up to my usual cardio routine. Overall, I think most of the folks on SP can utilize this video whatever exercise level they are, as it covers the gamut from beginner to those who are more advanced.
DISCLAIMER: I received Coach Nicole's "28-Day Boot Camp" DVD for free, and did not receive any money to write this review. SparkPeople is in partnership with Target to sell the DVDs. If you like, you can get a discounted coupon for $3.00 off at www.sparkpeople.com/28da
and you will also receive 250 SparkPoints as well.