Sunday, March 20, 2011

Giving Physique 57 a second chance

Have you ever tried to like a workout DVD, doing it 2 or 3 times before realizing it just isn't for you?  Or maybe you disliked it so much, you chucked it into the garbage can after 10 minutes?  Very few workouts have that affect on me (*ahem, Kettleworx), but ever-so-often, I find myself deeply disliking a workout.

 Last fall, I found myself jumping on and then quickly off the Physique 57 bandwagon.  I was initially glad to be rid of those DVDs, but recently, I found myself rethinking my opinions on P57.

Let's face it, I'm a full-blown fitness vidiot when it comes to trends.  Like any fitness vidiot, I find myself intrigued by hype and buzz about a hot new trendy workout.  Like any fitness vidiot, I wait for mostly positive reviews to reiterate and reinforce my interest, and ignore the few negative ones.  Like any vidiot, I break out my credit card and purchase the workouts immediately, especially if it is during a sale or special offer.  Like any vidiot, I eagerly await for it to arrive in the mail and throw it into my DVD player the day it comes.  Like any vidiot, I do the workouts and quickly evaluate my pros and cons.  Like any vidiot, I either decide I love it and it was worth it, or I label it a "dud" and immediately put up on an online trading board in hopes of getting my hands on another hot, trendy workout.  For me, P57 initially fell into the latter category.

I'm assuming a majority of my audience is fitness vidiots, but if not, here is a sample of P57 to get you up to speed:

I think one of the reasons I didn't fall head-over-heels in love with P57 is because it falls into the category of barre/bar method, a form of exercise based off the Lotte Berk-Method, which infused ballet techniques with pilates and a little bit of yoga.  The thing that makes or breaks the efficiency of barre-type workouts is form.  If you don't have great form, you will feel like you are wasting your time.  Don't get me wrong, form is important across all types of exercise to prevent injury, but your body can still feel worked with poor form in something like circuit training or plyometrics.  Because I was so use to fast-paced workouts with heavy weights or high impact moves, I failed to break even an ounce of sweat the first time I tried P57.  I did like the set, the music, the feeling of being in a live class, and even found Tanya Becker's over-the-top personality bearable, but it didn't feel like a real workout.

The funny thing too is that P57 is considered one of the more advanced barre workouts on DVD, but since I wasn't seeing the bigger picture, I wrote it off as frivolous and vacuous.  In fact, I viewed (and somewhat still do) barre/bar method workouts as one of most shallow forms of exercise marketed towards women.  One doesn't have to know too much about barre to recognize that it can lead some impressionable people to believe that if you do exercises similar to what dancers do, you'll have a dancer's body.  Yes, don't remind me that I am a Tracy Anderson fan.

After getting rid or P57, I initially felt grateful for ridding myself of such tripe, but as time passed, I did feel somewhat guilty.  Did I fail to see something?  Was there something else clouding my judgement?  Would I have to swallow my pride and admit that I just wasn't doing th exercises correctly?

It didn't help that I kept reading about the great results.  Tons of women from all ages and backgrounds were seeing excellent results.  Yes, I know I just labelled P57 as shallow, but I'm only human.  I would love to see the thigh-shrinking, arm-defining results all these ladies were seeing.  But as someone who also values functional fitness over aesthetic results, I was also reading how P57 helped these same women improve posture, flexibility, and not one person lost strength from previous forms of weight training.  In fact, some even reported gaining more strength.  Crap, what did I miss!?

Just when guilt couldn't deepen any further, lo and behold, the Gilte Group website comes to the rescue.  Not only were they selling the volume 1 set that I traded away, but they were selling a package with the newest, more advanced volume 2 set.  For $80+ I could have it all back and then some.  Yippeee!!

It finally arrived this weekend and I was ready to welcome (yet again) P57 with open arms.  Upon trying volume 1's full body workout again, I was still a little hesitant to declare my love for P57, but I did make some progress.  This time I did sweat a little and I concentrated harder on my form.  Okay, I thought, I just need to give it some time. 

But it didn't take my long for my opinion to do a full 180 degree turn.  Today, I completed the advanced 30-minute express workout from volume 2 and all I can say is "sh*t, it burned like hell!"  Unlike my previous experiences with P57, this was quite a challenge and I walked away dripping in my sweat.  I think since I came to love the soreness and DOMs associated with traditional strength training, I failed to see the uniqueness in barre training.  Although I likely won't be sore tomorrow, my body is feeling rejuvenated and sufficiently worked.

With my newfound excitement over owning the complete P57 set, I'm thinking of incorporating it into my current rotation of circuit training, occasional cardio, and some weekend yoga.  I'm aiming for 4-5 days a week of doing at least one the DVDs for the next 4-6 weeks.  I will definitely write about my experiences and afterthoughts when I finish this rotation.   Gotta admit, I was hitting a plateau and a feeling of exercise burnout, but my enthusiasm for fitness has just been renewed.


Anonymous said...

I think it is important to remember that different exercise methods suit different body types.Personally i love Physique 57 especially the advance DVD.It is however one of those DVD if you stand there and mindlessly ( and I am not saying you did I am just saying in general ) you will think that does nothing, that will never work. As you said above Bar methods require concentration and awareness of where you are placing your limbs.To get the work out you must have good form.Super important in and exercise where you are standing on one leg , is to get the standing leg bent,ie make it work do not stand locking your knees out using your bones to hold you up rather than the muscle.Constantly checking your squaring off your hips, that you elongate through each move. That you keep neutral spine that makes a huge differences.Hip bone, pubic bone in alignment.These tips will make you feel the burn.However personally I never get DOMS either because of the way it is constructed, you work the muscle then you elongate fact I do my weights session then I move into Physique 57 afterwards so I never get DOMS at all.Have you tried T-tapp yet ?

Liz said...

Wow, the timing of this comment is eerily fitting because I am considering pulling out P57 and doing a rotation after I finish JNL. You make a lot of excellent points, especially about being mindful of your body and form.

I have not tried T-tapp yet, but based all the wonderful reviews and stories about excellent results, I do believe I will give it a try sometime this year.