I love trying new workout DVDs. I have my own workouts that I like to do on a regular basis, but every now and then it’s nice to mix things up a bit. I like to think that I have a somewhat adventurous personality and that this extends even into the realm of fitness DVDs. So I was excited when I received Linda LaRue’s Core Transformer workouts in the mail to review.
Nevertheless, I’m also a skeptic, particularly of workouts that claim to target the core. It’s not that I don’t believe in the core muscles; it’s just such an ambiguous term at this point. I’m also slightly allergic to peppy instructors, which is why I loved the serious, no-nonsense tone of Andrea DuCane’s Kettlebell Goddess. Nevertheless, in my experience, a lot of workouts that make glitzy claims and feature smiley instructors actually turn out to be pretty good if I give them a chance.
This was definitely the case with the Core Transformer DVDs. I knew right away when I saw the smoking (literally) abs on the front cover that I would have aesthetic issues. The back cover claims the workout is “the perfect combination of standing total-body ab work and core mat work that blends functional training with yoga and Pilates inspired moves – all intensified by using the constant resistance, 3-dimensional CORE TRANSFORMER tubing method.” “Wow, that’s a mouthful,” I thought to myself skeptically. Would this DVD prove to be yet another “functional” flop?
Thirty minutes later, I knew the answer. Linda LaRue’s workout is challenging and a lot of fun. The workout is unique in that it combines traditional moves with the resistance tubing, or Core Transformer. The tubing is similar to standard resistance bands except that you can attach the midsection to your shoes and hold the ends in your hands. I felt like a less graceful version of Spiderman at first and got some laughs from my family members, but once I got used to it I really liked using the tubing. It allows you to easily increase the intensity of normal bodyweight moves but with even more resistance. For example, you can make a simple move like a squat much more challenging by simply taking a wider stance, which adds more resistance and difficulty. The exercises are all scalable, with variations for more or less experienced users.
The “total-body” workout claims were also accurate. I felt it just as much in my shoulders and butt as I did in my “core” muscles. The name “Core Transformer” might automatically bring crunches and other traditional abdominal exercises to mind, but Linda’s program is much more dynamic. There wasn’t a single floor exercise in the 1,000 Calorie Burn DVD 20 minute workout, but there were plenty of exercises to strengthen the whole body, like the clock squats with optional plyometrics.
I would recommend this series for people who are on the lookout for workouts to do at home. The 1,000 Calorie Burn DVD is great because it has 20, 30, and 60 minute workout options. For a fast, high-intensity workout, the Fat Burn Fusion DVD is perfect. The resistance tubing is also compact, which would make the Core Transformer a good option for a travel workout.
I would also recommend the Core Transformer workouts to women who have had recent pregnancies and need a strengthening workout that doesn’t isolate the abdominal muscles like standard crunches. I had a c-section last year with some nasty complications, and it has taken me a long time to recover and rebuild my strength. For a long time, my doctor recommended that I not do isolation exercises to avoid re-opening my incision, which kept coming open for some reason. The Core Transformer workout would have been a good option then, since it’s very scalable and works other muscle groups without putting too much pressure on the abdominal muscles.
Overall, I would say the Core Transformer series exceeded my expectations. I don’t know if it really burns 1,000 calories and I doubt that it “smokes off” belly fat (that sounds unpleasant anyway). But it is a fun challenge that I would recommend to others.
The Core Transformer kit is available for $34.95 at CoreTransformer.com.