Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Meh days, brisk walks and Crunch "CardioSculpt"

VIDEO: "CardioSculpt," from the Crunch series, available on Netflix instant streaming
STYLE: Circuit training-style combo of light aerobics and quality dumbbell exercises
INTENSITY: For beginners, moderate to intense. For intermediate and up, light to moderate.
STRUCTURE: Just over 30 minutes total; brisk 4-minute warm-up; 20 minutes alternating aerobic and weights exercises; 4 minutes floor exercises; 3-minute cool-down.
GIST: A pretty solid 30-minute workout that gets your heart rate up, but focuses more on an all-over tone than serious cardio work. Interesting variations on classic exercises make the workout challenging and semi-fresh even for more advanced folks. The cardio exercises are so-so, and the look and feel is definitely same-old, same-old.

Some days are going to be sloggy. Meh. Comme ci, comme ca. The usual. Not every day can be brazzle-dazzle, dancing on a lighthouse with Helen Reddy and wearing amazing sailor pants. But a meh day is better than a terrible, awful, no-good day, right? And looking back, you realize it wasn't that meh at all, because it was just another day of wins and losses, ups and downs -- another day of being alive.

Sometimes, circumstances -- misplaced your fave videos, tired of your workout routine and needing something new in a pinch, just generally feeling pissy, etc. -- require us to do the more "meh" workout, because it's better than no workout. More important, it can save us from slipping into "Whatever, I'm getting cheese fries" regression. Or worse, (unless you're the Fat Boys).

A walk is my ultimate safety-net workout, because even though it feels "meh" in intensity, it's amazing for my state of mind and it still helps my heart, lungs and bones. (Brisk walking is probably the single best exercises for total beginners and older folks, and it's proven to help stave off Alzheimers and build memory/mental ability. In fact, a University of Pittsburgh study found that a 30- to 60-minute brisk walk caused overweight people to shed pounds even if they changed nothing about their diet.)

So yay walking. But we trade in workout videos here at World of Sass, so for meh days, I recommend the Crunch series' "CardioSculpt." It's available on Netflix instant streaming, (which I guess is just regular Netflix now that Qwikster has hatched).

It's about 30 minutes long, which is short-but-still-beneficial for more advanced exercisers and definitely good enough for beginners. There's almost no fluff in this workout, as the lovely, kinda-bland hostess Violet Zaki gets us straight into squats, light cardio and standing toning work. The bulk of the workout is taken up by alternating cardio and weights exercises, some of which are pleasingly fresh and even kind of complicated. I did it on a low-energy day and started sweating by about 10 minutes in.

The music is 90's house-ish muzak, but it's not bad! In fact, I clearly detected a genericized version of "Rhythm is a Dancer," which is always a step in the right direction.

If you're used to doing weights exercises on your own or you've never done weights exercises at all, this will give you some great ideas to add to your personal routine. It isn't a terribly memorable or fun workout, but it's inoffensive and I have no major complaints. It cuts to the chase and helps you get the job done.

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