November 30, 2016
**Note Regarding DVD Playback: There have been some other issues from earlier reviewers stating an issue with picture quality and playback with this DVD, I did not find this to be an issue with my disc**
This DVD contains the perfect “all in one” package, for targeting not only your midsection, but leaning out, toning and improving overall cardiovascular endurance with the perfect combination of strength and cardio work, all while staying UP AND OFF the floor. Jessica created this DVD to work for a variety of fitness levels, from beginner to advanced. At the time I completed this view, I myself, am going on 25 weeks pregnant, and found a combination of intermediate to advanced levels to be suitable for my fitness level at this time. I am excited to see the degree of higher intensity and advanced modifications that I can continue to incorporate after the baby comes. For further reference, I am in my mid-30’s and prior to pregnancy, I was what I would consider an intermediate to advanced exerciser, and have routinely done Jessica Smith’s workouts, along with a combination of other trainers and programs for variety. With the help of Jessica’s “method” I have been able to continue exercising regularly 5-6 days a week for 30 to 90 minutes at a time, while maintaining strength, cardiovascular endurance, and the ability to feel like I am still taking care of my body, while maintaining safety during pregnancy. I think the same can be said for anyone, expecting or not, who tries this DVD.
A little more on this workout;
Jessica’s cuing is SPOT ON as usual, and those familiar with her routines, will recognize and appreciate her gentle, yet friendly approach. No drill sergeant “attitude”, no raised voices, or yelling. It’s like working out one-on-one with your best friend. One of the things that attracted me to Jessica’s workouts clear back in 2001 was the way she could motivate, encourage and inspire, without making me feel like I had to “kill myself” to get a good workout. Considering I still workout with her regularly after all this time, I think that says a lot.
As earlier mentioned, this DVD is created with its own “built in” schedule. The workouts come on a single disc, in a hard shell case with artwork as shown. There are no inserts, but a full workout calendar or schedule is included on the back of the DVD. This gives you the option to follow the Day 1-7 plan, or alternatively, you can mix and match the segments to suit your needs, or preferences each day. The DVD is roughly 105 minutes from start to finish; with each individual routine ranging from 20-45 minutes (combos for the daily schedules vary from 30-60 minutes). Equipment required for the workouts include a study high back chair used for the strength and cooldown sections, a set 16 ounce water bottles or a set of light hand weights depending on your level, used for the strength section, and AS AN OPTION, a yoga mat if you don’t have a soft surface, for the “advanced” abs specific work during the strength segment as well. This is only an “option” and is not required if you elect to do the work standing, as I did. Also, as mentioned before, there are three different levels. Jessica’s Mom, Debbie, on beginner modifications (uses water bottles, holds poses vs moving in and out of them, eliminates balancing and the majority of impact), Jessica, on intermediate modifications, and Raquel, who not only incorporates more impact, but also demonstrates some more “compound” options, and balancing, giving you room to graduate from one level to another, or move back of forth depending on your abilities on any particular day.
The workout is filmed on a professional set, which in my opinion, is not as exciting as some of the backdrops in some of Jessica’s earlier releases, but overall, does not detract from the routines. The music mainly consists of faster RPM instrumental and dance beats, with a bit of voice over in some songs. You can turn off the music at the start screen if this is your preference. Something I really enjoyed was the little “fit tips and blips” that would pop up on the screen during the workouts that made you “think”. Things that all related to helping reduce belly fat, like tips to eat healthier, getting more sleep, drinking more water etc. My one complaint is the lack of a “countdown timer” for any of the workouts, which was a concern with some of her earlier DVDs a year or so ago, that had been addressed, and has since been eliminated with this newer series of DVDs.
More on the specific routines;
1. Warm Up (5 minutes): This is exactly what it says it is, a short, 5 minute, slower paced warm up with walking and compound muscle movements using body weight to get you geared up and ready to go.
2. 2- Mile Belly Fat Blast Interval Walk (30 minutes): My favorite of the routines on this DVD. This routine is split in half, starting with 3 minute segments of moderate intensity moves, followed by 2 minutes of low impact “Hiit” style intervals, repeated until the halfway mark, and then the sections are flipped, starting with 2 minutes of the moderately intense movements and 3 minutes of lower impact, higher intensity moves. The principle behind this walk, is rev up the metabolism to continue burning calories long after the workout is over. We see a lot of Jessica’s “signature moves” throughout this routine, including power walking with forward and back motion, side to side steps, heel digs, hamstring curls, jumping rope, knee raises and punching/kickboxing etc. with focus on core engagement not only by maintaining posture and engaging the core, but my using the upper body and arms to incorporate the muscles in the back and core. I was a sweaty, yet HAPPY, mess by the time I was finished with this routine. There is NO built in warm up or cooldown, so you will want to add these sections to this routine for sure.
3. 3-Mile Flat Abs Power Walk (45 minutes): This walk differs from the 2-mile walk, simply by the fact that it is STEADY STATE CARDIO throughout the duration without intervals. The pace is steady, but not as fast as the 2-mile walk, and designed to create a steady caloric expenditure, while increasing cardiovascular endurance, which will in turn, allow you to become stronger during the HiiT intervals in the 2-mile walk. There are 3 separate miles that flow seamlessly between one another during this routine each lasting 15 minutes each. The first mile features a lot of Jessica’s signature moves, with marching with arm raises and pushes, forward and back walking, side to side stepping with low rainbow arms, knee raises, heel digs with high rainbow arms, hamstring curls and a bit of kickboxing inspired movements. Mile 2 was my favorite, this entire mile is kickboxing inspired, so lots of punches of various variety, core twisting (nothing major on the back I promise), knee lifts, single and double arm speedbags etc. This was where the sparkle really started for me. Mile 3, is similar to mile 1, but with a bit more of a dance-y feel. As with the 2-mile walk, there is no built in warm up or cooldown, so you will want to select these if you are not doing a “premix”
4. Belly Blasting Strength Circuit (20 minutes): My 2nd favorite routine on the DVD, because I LOVE my strength work. This DVD can be done with two 16-once water bottles, or a set of hand weights (depending on your fitness level, I used a combination of 5 and 8 pounds depending on the move). You may also want to have a chair on hand to use as a reference point for some of the lower body work. I really felt this strength routine packed a lot of punch in it’s short run time. Rather than just working one muscle at a time, you work 2, sometimes THREE muscles at a time, to get MORE DONE in a short amount of time. You also have the added “core focus” with a lot of these moves, by the incorporation of balance, and arm/leg movements being used at the same time to work the core. There are no bizarre strength moves, most everything is basic, but it’s the combination of these moves that make the magic. The majority of these moves are done in circuits, with most sets being repeated twice. Some of the exercises included deadlifts with bicep curl and overhead press, weighted squats (with the chair as a reference point), plie squats and lunges with sword pulls, standing chest presses, rows, bicep curls with a single leg balance (optional), chest scoops, and side leg lifts, this is followed by a short series of standing ab work (which can be done on the floor for an advanced option). These moves include standing crunches, planks on chair and one arm, one leg knee pulls. Again, no included warm up or cool down, so you will want to do those as well, especially the cool down, to stretch things out afterwards.
5. Cool Down (5 minutes) Pretty self-explanatory, this short section slows down the pace a bit, and focuses on breath, and stretching the muscles. A chair is used to help with some of the stretches like pigeon, which felt really awesome, especially after the strength circuit.
My opinion overall of this DVD is that the presentation and set up do work hand in hand to create the perfect “belly blasting” system, when strength and cardio are done in conjunction with each other as designed. If you’re looking for a lot of new or complex moves, you won’t find a lot of that here, but the set-up is designed differently from Jessica’s other workouts, which keeps things fresh, and provides more opportunity to reduce exercise boredom if you’re looking to add in a new DVD. If this is your first Jessica Smith DVD, it’s also an excellent choice! The various levels of intensity, also give you room to grow, or tune things back depending on how you’re feeling from day to day. After completing these routines, I felt refreshed, not drained, and pleasantly sore the day following the strength training routines. I look forward to using this throughout the remainder of my pregnancy, and beyond.