Tuesday, July 31, 2012

AIM TRUE YOGA: Calorie Burning, Flexibility & Toning

Kathryn Budig is a great yoga instructor! I love this DVD because she moves through progressions that help you and your body perform more advanced poses. She is very cheerful, and encourages a smile during the routines. Her imagery and analogies are unique, and the workout leaves you feeling motivated and satisfied. Because she includes the more complicated poses in her workout, it takes more energy but it is so worth it! She gives you something to work towards. 

The DVD comes with two different workouts plus a killer downloadable workout for your core!

Here are the different routines included on the DVD:
  • Beginner’s Practice (Mid Beginning/Intermediate) 25 min.  
    •  Kathryn takes you through plank, down-dog, Introduces you to cobra and up-dog and uses a series of warrior poses as well. She takes you through some great preparations for poses that are in Authentic Flow and prepares you to do jumps in and out of plank.
  • Authentic Flow (intermediate/advanced) 45 min.  
    • You should probably have some basic Yoga experience in order to complete this section. It is more difficult and some of the twisting warrior poses get a little confusing. Dancers, you would LOVE this! Backbends, handstand/headstand prep, standing split, etc.  
  • Power Up Your Core 6 min. 
    • This is the downloadable workout for your core that comes with the DVD! Awesome to quickly blast your core anytime! 
  • Yoga Poses Demystified
    • This section of the DVD is a great resource for yogi's of all experience! Kathryn goes through basic poses and movements and demonstrates while explaining the alignment and feelings needed for each one. You can just watch or do it with her and feel what she is explaining.
If you are more interested in Kathryn Budig then you could check out her website:

*Just be cautious when it comes to her "Press" section because of some of the advertisements she has been in, and her lack of clothes in them. I personally avoid that section.

Since Amazon.com is an awesome place for DVDs I've included the link below:

Happy Training! à bientôt!

*second image pulled from her website, and is not a pose included on this DVD.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

TAI CHI: For Beginners with Chris Pei

If you've ever wanted to learn one of the martial arts from The Last Airbender, then this is a great place to start! This is an awesome instructional DVD for Tai Chi. I really like the way that it is set up, because each exercise can be selected separately from the others. This way if I just want to complete the warm-up and practice two other exercises, then I can do that without the hassle finding the right spot in a long workout. 

Tai Chi is something that is difficult to put onto a DVD and learn, simply because there is so much going on that it would be hard to see from one angle. I think that the cinematography is supurb, as it allowed me to see different views of the movement so that I could implement anything that I had missed before.

Here is the list of exercises that you will learn from this DVD:
  • Opening, Parting the Wild Horse's Mane, White Crane Separates it's Wings
  • Brush and Push, Hands Strums the Lute, Closing
  • Opening, Repulse Monkey Steps Back
  • Ward Off, Squeeze, Grasping Bird's Tail
  • Single Whip, Press and Lift
  • Kicks, Box Upon His Ears
  • Squats, Snake Creeps Down, Golden Rooster
  • Fair Lady Works the Shuttle, Picking Up the Needle, Fan Through the Back, Turn Chop with Fists, Parry Block and Punch
  • All Movements

The warm-up is simple, but surprisingly really good. My joints really did get warm and I was prepared for the first exercise that I tried.

Each exercise is broken down so that you can learn the basic movements, repeat them and before you know it you are doing everything smoothly. Tai Chi definitely will take practice to be able to remember the movements on my own, so this is a DVD for practice and repeated use. Chris Pei is a master teacher, and I look forward to the next time that I use this DVD to practice my Tai Chi. :)
I found this DVD on Amazon.com:

Happy Training! à bientôt!

Friday, July 27, 2012

BALLET 101 & 201 DVDs: For True Beginners

For Tammy. :)

Classical Ballet is an art that takes patience and passion. It  shapes the body, and changes the way that you move. Ballet is personally my favorite dance style, and my emphasis in the BFA I'm currently working on. Ballet is typically done with an instructor in order to protect the student from injury. There are so many details to pay attention to that are best done with supervision and manual correction. This is why you can't find very many good instructional ballet DVDs out there. I haven't been able to get my hands on these DVDs as of yet, however, all of the reviews that I have read give me a good idea of what they might be like. They are a little dated in appearance and were originally released on VHS, but it sounds like they are real gems.

From what I can tell these DVDs break down the basics of ballet for a true beginner--meaning someone that has never taken ballet before, and would be friendly to ages as young as 6 and even adults. At the end of the first two DVDs in the series a short dance is taught that uses the steps that you have learned.

For safe practice in the home please remember the following:
  • Parents supervise children's alignment (back, pelvis, knees, feet) 
    • A longer more detailed explanation, you can practice with him Click Here (be aware that he has amazing turnout and everyone is different.)
    • For another shorter demonstration Click Here (she doesn't address directly the rotation from the hip but that is what she is getting at by lining up the knees and toes).
  • To protect the lower back-gently tuck the tailbone by engaging the rotators just under your butt
  • Lift the abdominals-this is different than just flexing, think of your belly-button being pulled into your spine and hopping on an elevator.
  • Rotate from the hips!-don't push your natural turnout, rotating from the hips is very important to protect your knees and your ankles. Your knees do have varying ranges of flexibility but that doesn't mean you should put your weight on your leg when using that flexibility. 
  • Most of all if you are feeling any pain then go easier on yourself. 
I still personally believe that ballet is best in the studio or with an instructor but gentle and safe practice at home shouldn't be discouraged either. I will probably eventually come up with some videos for ballet exercises or combinations, but these DVDs seem to be a good place to start.

Check out the links below to view where I found the DVDs in this series:

If you have already had some basic training, don't fret, I have a few other Ballet DVDs that I'll be blogging about in the future for those with differing experience levels.

Happy Training! à bientôt!

Thursday, July 26, 2012


This is a basic outline of the workout that my sister does before bed. She took her favorite exercises and put them together into a routine to receive an all over body boost. The amount of reps for each section change each day according to how she feels or what her goal is for that day. I inserted links to youtube videos demonstrating what her names for the exercises mean, as what we call  the exercises may be different than what others call them.

My sister talked me through what she does and even doing a small amount of reps I was "glistening" by the halfway point.

The workout is split up into segments based on the target area:




You're done!!!  Remember, you can adjust it to whatever level you want. If you want more of a challenge, do more reps. My sister does 10-30 of each exercise.

Happy Training! à bientôt!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

TARA STILES: Weight Loss and Balance

I've already written a post on another one of Tara's DVDs. This one is one of my favorites to do in the mornings; especially if I miss my morning run. This DVD is great for yoga beginners/intermediate, and is easier than her other one (click here to view her other DVD). For those that are more advanced you can always change up the sequence with advanced variations, and there is also an option to have the instruction muted with just the music playing. The cinematography is beautiful, and the music is relaxing!

Even though there are similar transitions and poses used in both DVDs I feel completely different at the end of this than I do the other. There is a lot less down-dog split in this DVD than in the other. The most common pattern that she uses in this class is Down-dog to Plank to Up-Dog and back to Down-dog. My arms definitely feel the burn!

I love this DVD workout because I feel cheerful and relaxed afterwards! This is why I prefer to do this routine in the morning since I am motivated by the time I've finished, or at night I'll do the easier variations and be ready for bed. Tara starts pretty slow making sure that you have warmed up before she picks up the pace. There are some awesome "yoga pretzel" moments, but nothing that should intimidate anyone away from using this DVD!
Tara does talk fast, but she does well to explain what is happening. I personally don't mind her instruction or talking during most of the workout, but I can understand that may not be the case for everyone.

Here is a link to the Tara Stiles website, more specifically her videos page (which is much better than my yoga playlist link I posted in an earlier Tara Stiles post):

Happy Training! à bientôt!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

YOGALOSOPHY: Yoga Meets Toning to Sculpt Sleek Muscles

This morning my sisters and I did this yoga workout. Mandy Ingber's Yogalosophy combines yoga poses with other toning exercises to create a great toning and strengthening workout! Also, some of you may know Mandy as the Jennifer Aniston's yoga instructor; no wonder Jennifer is so gorgeous!

This workout includes:
  • Chair Pose/Squats
  • Crescent Pose/Lunges
  • Temple Pose/Second Position Plie
  • Boat Pose/V-ups
  • Bridge Pose and many others...

The general pattern of the workout is that she will introduce a pose, hold it, then add the exercise (i.e. squats), and then pulse.

The entire workout is 35 minutes. I haven't tried the "Fully Loaded Challenge" yet, but even the 35 minutes, to me, is worth the purchase.

Mandy does talk a lot through the workout, but there is also an option to do the workout without the instruction if that bothers you. I think she is hilarious and actually enjoy listening to her talk me through the exercises. There are a couple times that she uses the phrase "I have a great a**!" simply because that is her mantra, and if that bothers you, you can always select the option without the verbal instruction.

I felt the burn mostly in my legs. Mandy has gorgeous legs, and having an instructor that looks the part is always a motivating factor for me. Some of you who are a bit more sensitive to clothing modesty may notice that her shorts are just short enough that sometimes the camera view can be a little awkward. However, if you are working out you won't be focusing on that anyway.

I purchased mine from Amazon.com for less than $10:

For anyone interested further in Mandy Ingber's Yogalosophy can check out her website:

Anyone interested in her Youtube channel where she posts some short routines check out this link:

Happy Training!  à bientôt!

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Summer is coming to an end, but we are also approaching the warmest month! So why not "Slim Down" in the pool while you are having fun? My sister sent me another routine that she used during her first and second trimesters. I have also tried some of the exercises and am game for anything that will burn, tone and strengthen! The following is her detailed review on the workout since she is more familiar than I am.

  • K-Tread is much more difficult to do than you would think - it really works out your arms and abs. I had to use water-weights under my arms to support myself or I couldn't keep my legs straight without sinking, but my sister was able to do it solo. 
  • Otter Roll is fun, though I altered it slightly to keep my head out of the water - it can make you dizzy if you aren't careful. We only did this one occasionally.
  • Ball Lever is another very difficult one because it requires you to use core muscles to keep your body straight while countering a lot of resistance from the water. I didn't do this one as often as my sister.
  • Pike Scull (we just called it "V" for the shape) was one of our favorites and we would have races down the length of the pool to see who could move the fastest while maintaining the v-shape with their abs. I had to use floatation under my arms on this one too.
  • Wave Maker is great if you don't mind attracting attention from the splashing. I was a little self-conscious and kept my waves below the water and didn't do it as often, opting instead to just flutter kick.

So we would do a random assortment of these exercises (always "K" and "V") plus "bicycle"ing our legs with some water-weight curling to work our arms and a lunging and stretching cool-down in the shallows at the end. Flutter kicks or Frog/scissor kicks were the "filler" exercise, just doing laps for however long we wanted to after the more rigorous stuff. Our workout always lasted for about 45min-1hour. If I felt any straining or pain I immediately backed off and did something gentle instead. I've found that many workouts can be adapted for prenatal use by just paying attention to how your body is feeling and using common sense.

This is the pool workout that can work for anyone:

Thank you Krysta for the awesome review on the Slim Down in a Splash Pool Workout!

Happy Training! à bientôt!

*Image from Fitnessmagazine.com picturing K-Tread from this workout.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

10 MINUTE ABS: 10 Crunch-Free Moves inspired by Pilates & Kickboxing!

I've never loved crunches and never did more than 10 at a time until I got into my university dance classes. In these classes, we had an hour of pilates, yoga, and other conditioning exercises before an hour of dance M-F. That summer was the most fit I've ever been, and the most capable of doing awesome stunts in modern dance! From this experience I have learned that a strong core means that you have more freedom and will-power to do things, even outside of dance.

 I found a circuit on Pinterest that is great for anyone's abs! This will burn, tone and even build some strength. :) It only takes a few minutes, but if you are reading through it for the first time then it might take a bit longer. I read through the exercises and walked myself through the movements before I really went for it. Then, I timed myself once I felt more comfortable with the exercises (with the guidance of the pictures) and I came in at 9 min. 35 sec.... And oh heavens...I'm feeling the burn! I started out comfortably warm, and now I'm melting from the sweat that these simple, non-crunch moves built up! 

Totally awesome, quick and I will definitely be incorporating this into my warm-ups!! Something helpful is that whenever you are contracting our abs you should exhale, pulling the belly button back to the spine to encourage flat abs, and engage the internal abdominals. :)

My favorites include:
  • Cross Knee Strike-the first step in the circuit, and I'm already sweating!
  • Front Knee Strike
  • Front Kick Tabletop-pictured above
  • Cross Punch Roll-up
  • Back Kick Plank
  • Side Kick Plank
Least Favorites:
  • Bob and Weave-Because it is difficult to find a comfortable speed/groove for this.
  • Abs Jabs-Just because I'm not a kickboxer.

Here is the link to the slides:

Happy Training! à bientôt!

*image from the Shape.com link above

HOW TO START RUNNING: Running for Beginners

Growing up I have always loathed the "fun-run" in school. I honestly could not run a mile in less than 12 minutes. Eventually, I think my teacher just gave up on me and told me to come inside whenever I ended up finishing.

I avoided running up until a couple years ago when, just to experiment, I went on a run. Because I had been doing a rigorous dance routine that summer the run actually wasn't too bad! I discovered that many of the activities in my dance schedule were key elements in helping me build my endurance. For me, this experience was a big first step in helping me run more consistently.

Now I know some of you may be thinking "well I don't dance, and I don't like to run...so how does this help me?" I think the biggest thing I hope to get across is that as long as you start somewhere that is comfortable for you, and stay consistent, it will get easier to do more physically rigorous activity. For me, I couldn't start with running, I had to start with dance. That eventually that got me to a level where I could run without hating it.

It is definitely hard to get started, especially if you aren't used to cardio activities. This is why I love this mini training workout. I love how it breaks down the different things to focus on while you are running (posture, breathing, motivation, etc) and helps you create a habit or a pattern that you can apply as you increase your running time or distance.

If you want to test the waters first, try substituting running for a brisk walk using the postures and techniques demonstrated in the article until you feel ready.

Here is the link to the workout, follow the instructions on each of the "slides":

Happy Training! à bientôt!

*Image pulled from Link for the workout.

BRYAN KEST'S POWER YOGA: Energize, Tone, Sweat

Ever since my friend introduced me to Bryan Kest's Power Yoga I have been a fan. There are three different sections to this DVD; Energize, Tone, and Sweat. The first two are definitely worth the purchase! With Bryan's routines you will definitely sweat and feel that awesome burn.

Some of the poses that I really loved and were worth the burn include:
  • Down-dog
  • Chaturanga
  • Up-dog
  • Warrior Poses
  • Prayer twists
  • Some balance poses
  • Boat pose

Energize: Beginners/Intermediate Power Yoga
Tone: Intermediate/Advanced Power Yoga
Sweat: Intermediate/Advanced Power Yoga

I just wanted to give a heads up that in the Energize sequence there is a lot of white spandex going on, which is a little odd, but you get used to it. There may or may not be interpretive meaning to the color schemes of each routine. :)

I purchased mine from Amazon.com:
<Bryan Kest Power Yoga on Amazon.com>

Happy Training! à bientôt!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

WATER BABY: Pool Workout (Updated)

I personally haven't had any children yet, but this is a workout that two of my sisters tried when they were pregnant. I've looked over the workout and actually tried it with them (yes, even though I'm not preggo) and it feels fantastic! 

I think that the benefits of this workout would include: 
  • It's easy on the joints
  • Takes the pressure off your poor preggo back
  • It gives great resistance
  • It's fun!!
Here is what my sister had to say:

"I avoided the ones that required a pool noodle since I didn't have one and I don't like laying my head back in the water.

#5 - 'upper body sweep' was my favorite exercise to do since it reminded me of yoga. It is a balancing pose that also luxuriously stretches the muscles from your back and shoulders down to your toes. It was so freeing to elongate my whole body without the fear of falling on my tummy. A good water-yoga continuation is to stretch your arms forward, palms touching, and lean forward until you can no longer balance, then allow the leg you are balancing on to drift up and straighten behind you, level with your other lifted leg.Slowly skim forward to come into a belly-float with your entire body stretched out flat for a few seconds. You don't have to put your face all the way in the water, but that is how it should be done for the full stretch. Repeat on the other leg."

Here is the link to the page:

Here is the link to the actual workout (or click the "click here to view water baby workout" link halfway down the page from the above link):

Happy Training! à bientôt!
 *image pulled from the fitpregnancy.com Water Baby page.

YOGA ZONE: Power Yoga for Strength & Endurance

My friend and I have been doing yoga in the evenings, and last night was Yoga Zone with Lisa Bennett. Both beginner and more advanced variations are demonstrated. This is a great workout for anyone looking to tone, strengthen and even work on their balance. My legs were burning before we were halfway through, and I even felt the burn in my ankles and sometimes in my feet! It burned so "good" and I definitely will be doing it again. It is older so their outfits are slightly dated...particularly Charles, that is demonstrating some of the variations for you. But, if anything this just adds some fun to your workout. :)

Poses include: chair pose (very much like holding a squat), warrior poses (lots of lunges), chaturanga (like a push up) and down-dog. 

If you don't mind commercials and don't want to invest in the DVDs quite yet there are some routines on Hulu for free:

I purchased my DVD from amazon.com but you can find it other places too, I'm sure.
Happy training! à bientôt!

SHIVA REA: Fluid Power, Vinyasa Flow Yoga

This is a great DVD for Intermediate/Advanced level participants, however beginners could probably simplify things and work up to the more difficult variations and poses. It has great cinematography and beautiful music that helps you get through each sequence. After warming up to Shiva Rea's instruction style and the movements themselves I really enjoy these sequences for either warming up my body in the morning, or relaxing in the evening before bed.
If you've never done anything like this before you might be self-conscious because some of the movements may be unfamiliar to your body. You may want to find a room where you can completely release and not let any tension get in the way of enjoying these movements. You probably want a clear space of about 8'x8' for almost everything on this DVD because she uses directions and movements that require a little bit of space. As you become more familiar with the sequences then you can perform all of them more freely and enjoy them.
Below, I’ve listed a description of each sequence on the DVD. My favorites were Backbend Flow, Hip Opening Flow, and Beginning Flow. I'm also anxious to try out the "Yoga Matrix" that supposedly allows you to customize your routine!

Vinyasa Flow Yoga- From what I can gather it is the connection of your breath to your movement. Shiva Rea talks about how we are made up of water and moving with the fluids in our bodies and joints is good for us. 
Shiva Rea-From what I can tell she is a master of Vinyasa Flow Yoga and is highly respected as such.

Disc 1
Yoga Matrix-You can design your own yoga routine using the sections provided.

Backbend flow-108 min. Begins with a chanting/meditation sequence. You can skip this if you like. Then it moves into sequences that are probably my favorite sequences on the DVD! There are lots of twisting movements and stretches that feel fabulous! She goes through progressions that build on each other, and it is done in a way that makes sense to the viewer. Those of you who enjoy Power Yoga would like some of these sequences. The intermediate back-bending sequences are more difficult, but feel oh-so-good!

Hip opening flow-77 min. Begins with the same standing movement meditation that Beginning Flow uses...the one that makes you want to belly-dance :). LOL! You then move into sequences that flow through positions and you learn some new transitions. Shiva Rea checks in with pelvic alignment every so often, which is so good for protecting your lower back from injury! This is also a routine for power yoga lovers. A handstand sequence which requires a wall and a backbend sequence has some great bridge pose variations! Two meditation sequences close the routine one sitting the other is the very same deep relaxation corpse pose meditation as Backbend Flow and almost every other pre-set routine.

Creative flow-63 min. I haven't done this yet, but I assume that it involves a large amount of structured improvisation.

Beginning flow-43 min. Begins with standing movement meditation. My inner belly-dancer tells me that anyone that likes wrist twirling and hip movements would love this meditation...including myself. :) You then move into a movement sequence that uses cat/cow, down-dog, plank and up-dog; flowing through each of these positions and learning some new transitions. The next sequence is a series of hip opening poses, centered around Pigeon pose that is the same section from Lunar flow. This segment ends with a deep relaxation sequence.

Lunar flow for flexibility- 41 min. Begins with meditation and some standing improvisation then moves into some floor poses including Pigeon pose variations. There’s some small improvisation on the floor and which ends with meditation in corpse pose. It felt fantastic to have the fluidity while in the poses in order to get a more dynamic stretch and work my muscles into the poses. The great thing about Shiva Rea is that she gives you a pose and you can either stay there or do the variation with her. This is great for adapting it to any level!

Meditation-26 min. This sequence sees the viewer using sound, breath and movement for meditation. This consists of chanting in a song-like manner while you are completing fluid movements and moving with the breath. The second sequence is also seated and feels delicious on the spine. The third sequence is standing meditation where Shiva Rea talks you through body systems and imagery. The last sequence is the same ending meditation as Lunar Flow and Beginning Flow.

Disc 2-
I haven't looked at yet but it is supposed to have some special features. :)

If you are interested in more Shiva Rea you can take a look at her website:

Happy Training! à bientôt!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Ballet Beautiful is a foundation that I recently came across while searching for new exercises to try. I like to look for exercises that dancers can do without bulking up simply because being muscle-bound is not my goal. First I watched the DVD to see what I was in for, and it appeared simple, lovely and not too difficult. I then tried the first three sections (Swan Arms, Body Blast, Butt Series Part 1) back to back this morning. To be perfectly honest I couldn't make it through the last section without a break first. It was a lot more difficult than I expected it to be, and this is now one of my favorite ballet exercise DVDs! I found that much like Ballet that appears lovely and not too difficult, it certainly is a work-out. I can already feel my arms and legs getting sore. She does move fast, so for those unfamiliar with basic ballet movement be patient, pay close attention to her posture and try to keep your shoulders down and relaxed as much as possible.

I would recommend that you do the exercises at your own pace, whether or not you have ballet experience because you will still get the workout, for sure! Something that I would also do is pause it whenever she takes a breath to stretch and take a little longer if you feel like you would like a better stretch.

She is precise and stays to her 15 minute limit for each of these 4 sections. This time limit can be used to give motivation because it is very short and oh so worth it! You can also mix and match or do the entire DVD all the way through. Whatever you need. I personally love it, but everyone is different.

Mary Helen seems to also have a YouTube Channel where she posts information on her new releases:

There are also live classes offered for a fee over the internet for those of you interested in that, you can find more info on her website:

It looks like she also has a book that should have some good recipes, and exercises. If I ever get to take a look at it then I will definitely blog about it!

Happy Training! à bientôt!

Monday, July 16, 2012

TARA STILES: Strength & Energy

This post is my personal review on the Deepak Chopra & Tara Stiles  DVD Yoga Transformation: Strength and Energy. I have always been a fan of Tara Stiles since my mom introduced me to her book-Slim Calm Sexy Yoga. I have to admit that I am a little biased because I love yoga anyway, and to have a dancer as a yoga instructor I was just so excited! I'll blog about her book in a different post, this one is about the Strength and Energy DVD. I've been doing yoga almost every night the last few weeks to aid in my cross-training before the semester begins. Tonight was Tara's night. I have to admit I didn't think it would be as difficult as it was. Tara uses a lot of Down-Dog-Split which is so great for strength and flexibility. A little over halfway through the work-out she moves into some balancing, core and back-bends. By this time I was warm and "glistening" well enough that the simple balances and moving through the poses on one leg was a great addition to the workout!! Totally do-able, great for any level because it can always be adapted. Not the most difficult work-out but definitely worth it. I've included the link to the DVD below for anyone interested.

If you are a starving student and have to save up before a purchase there are some good 5-15 minute sequences on YouTube that I have compiled into a playlist. That link is just below:

Happy Training! à bientôt!