If you follow Fashioned by Love from the very beginning you may remember a couple of fitness-related posts I wrote in 2011. I know, it’s been a while… Not that I don’t like exercise – it’s quite the opposite. I get my endorphins topped up regularly and feel out of my comfort zone whenever something prevents me from sticking to my routine. I just don’t tend to blog about it unless I feel there’s a need for a muscle-strengthening-body-fat-reducing story of my life that might grab your attention.
Today was the day that felt right. I had my usual “happy hour” and decided to share a few post-workout thoughts. How knows, maybe some of you will find them interesting or even adopt a few new habits comes 2013… At least this resolution will be very easy to stick to.
Just in case you haven’t read my previous posts (which I totally understand), I would like to start by saying that when it comes to exercise I DIY, big time. I don’t do gyms or personal trainers. I met a few, it was a total disappointment, so I decided to go with what I know best and that’s good old home workouts.
I like exercising in a comfort of my room, using my own shower afterwards and not wasting time on packing my belongings and travelling back and forth. I do, however, spend plenty of time choosing my DVDs and that’s exactly what I am going to talk about today.
Two years ago I’ve discovered Tracy Anderson workouts, tried them and fell in love. Her routines made me feel good and re-shaped my body exactly how I wanted even though I chose not to follow her advice 100%.
Diet-wise, I just did what I preach since it would be unwise not to use the knowledge I’ve got.
When it came to the fitness part, I used her body shaping workouts three times a week rather than every day as she urged everyone to. The sensible schedule allowed my body to rest and recover in between, so instead of burning out (it will always happen if you aren’t careful) I kept on going. In addition, whenever I felt like it, I mixed in a bit of Tracy’s cardio, on alternative days, of course.
Which DVDs did I use? I have a few and rotate them every 6-8 weeks. If you’ve never tried Tracy’s workouts here are my suggestions to get you started.
As much as you may be tempted to go for the 30-day Method, pick the Post-Pregnancy Workout instead. Although it may sound like an odd choice, it is the best one for any beginner. I received it by mistake, but once used it became one of my favourite DVDs. Both abs and legs routines are mostly floor-based and target the areas that can be very difficult to deal with – the lower abs, muffin top, bottom and thighs. She also included some arm exercises, too, so the area won’t be left untouched. Frankly, once done you are going to feel like you just had a muscle strengthening massage that made you tired to the core. It’s a wonderful feeling (if you like to feel the burn like I do).
And just in case you are still reaching for 30-day boot camp – fair enough, but be prepared to concentrate more on your remote control on/off button rather than your routine in order to complete the exercises. This is the only DVD that does not play continuously.
Once you feel that you can easily complete the first DVD (or did it for 6-8 weeks), move on to Tracy Anderson Method. It’s a bit more challenging than the first workout, but it’s just as enjoyable and beautifully presented. This time most of the leg exercises are of a standing kind (you will need a chair for that) and so are some of the abs. Although both parts are good, my favourite one here is the arm section because it really is brilliant, made my arms ache (in a good way) and improved the muscle tone. Sometimes I just use the arm section after doing a cardio or even on its own if I am short of time but fancy a bit of exercise. I really do love it.
It’s also worth mentioning the cardio routine because there are a few of them and Dance Cardio Workout is the only one I like. Ironically this video received quite a bit of negative feedback on amazon – please do not be put off by reading those reviews. I understand that everyone is different, but the DVD really is fun and worth trying. As I mentioned above, I use it 1-2 times a week on days when I don’t do any other exercises.
There are eight routines, each lasting about 10 minutes or so. Some are definitely more complex than the others, so it’s a good idea to watch the whole video before starting your workout just to familiarise yourself with the moves and challenges you are about to face. I never used the break down part – I always find that most manuals take away my enthusiasm for life, so I only refer to them in case I get stuck, which, when it comes to dancing, never happens.
The only downside to the video is the missing cool-down part, so normally once I am done, I walk around the room for a few seconds and then move onto doing some simple stretches. If you have no idea how to stretch, there are some good routines and advice on Shape website.
I didn’t find the technical part (i.e. the moves) too complicated, but my cardio levels were rubbish, so I was out of breath and very beetroot-like after my very first attempt. Instead of being a hero and going through the entire workout (which would probably be a matter of life and death), I began by completing part one, then adding part two a week or so later and so on. In four weeks I was able to dance through 6 routines without feeling uncomfortable. I deliberately skipped two parts because I wasn’t too keen on the music, but the rest was absolutely brilliant and made me believe that I could actually dance.
If or when somebody mentions that this DVD is not for beginners, don’t count yourself as one (even if you are). Go for it, have fun, try and try again and you will notice the difference in a few weeks. Just make sure you have plenty of water, hard floors and very good sports shoes. The latter is crucial because you will be doing a lot of jumping and if you ignore the footwear you may have to deal with an injury at some point. As soon as I watched the DVD I went and got myself a pair of appropriate trainers at JD Sports to dance happily ever after. My calve muscles still ached after the first few sessions, but trainers provided the much needed cushioning for the joints and ligaments. Please bear this in mind.
In addition to these trio, I’ve also got Tracy’s Perfect Design Series, but I will tell you more about those next time.
Photo source: Natasha Poly in Vogue Italia October 2010 (photography: Craig McDean)