Come see what Judge Ian Visser can do with a 6-foot long piece of rubber band.
Finally…an exercise DVD that promises to make you look taller.
Prevention Fitness Systems: Slim, Strong, and Firm is the latest offering from Prevention, a health and lifestyle magazine. Like many exercise DVDs, this one takes advantage of the recent trend that incorporates disciplines like yoga, ballet, and Pilates into traditional exercise routines.
Prevention Fitness Systems: Slim, Strong, and Firm claims that following their ballet and Pilates-based routines will allow participants to get leaner, tone up, and even look taller.
Prevention Fitness Systems: Slim, Strong, and Firm provides users with the following routines:
Warm-Up: a combination of stretching and movement to get the body ready for the two workout routines. This is fairly light stuff and lasts about five minutes.
Pilates Core Workout: a 30-minute routine concentrating on working the core muscles of the body. Largely floor-based, the workout includes twists, leg extensions, and other Pilates-inspired movements.
Ballet Core Workout: another 30-minute routine, this workout uses ballet techniques to improve posture and tone the body. Users will be able to strengthen both the upper and lower body with these exercises.
Cool-down: mostly floor-based, this cool-down routine is again about five minutes in duration and is comprised of more stretches and poses to relax the body post-workout.
Prevention Fitness Systems: Slim, Strong, and Firm helpfully includes a 6-foot stretching band with the DVD. This is a balloon-material strip of flexible rubber that can be wrapped around the waist, hips, or feet and is used in the routines to provide resistance. The band is easy to grip and lets people exert a little more effort during the workouts. Users who don't care to use the band may employ light hand-weights, or skip either option for a lighter workout.
Instructor Lara Hudson leads the routines as users follow along. If you find some moves too difficult, another instructor is on-hand to demonstrate less-strenuous alternatives. Users are encouraged to complete the workout three times per week, combining the two main routines together for a full workout experience. Users can select an energizing or relaxing audio track to workout to and select just the music or both the music and the instructor play-by-play.
Those looking for an intense workout from Prevention Fitness Systems: Slim, Strong, and Firm are going to be disappointed. The routines are almost entirely static and require little movement beyond some light lunging and stretches. As a result, users looking to lose weight probably aren't going to meet their goals…you gotta move a lot if you want to burn significant amounts of calories. Prevention Fitness Systems: Slim, Strong, and Firm may promise to tone and tighten your body, but it will take more than floor stretching and a light rubber band to make the pounds drop off.
An unexpected problem with Prevention Fitness Systems: Slim, Strong, and Firm comes during the Pilates workout. Users have to face the television or lay sideways to it during the routine, which requires a user to raise or turn their heads to see what is going on. I was facing my set and literally couldn't see what the instructor was doing, because my legs were in the way during many of the exercises. This isn't a problem during the upright ballet workout, but being on the floor for most of the Pilates routine meant a lot of twisting about to see the television screen.
Second, there is little that users can do to increase the difficulty or intensity of the routines once they have been mastered. One could use heavier hand-weights, I suppose, but unless you want to run through the same routine twice or more, there is a limit to the improvements that can be made. This isn't the kind of routine that will serve users if done faster or harder, so it may have a limited shelf life for those who master its techniques.
The visual presentation is decent for this kind of offering. The full-frame image is easy on the eyes and doesn't contain any significant issues. The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track comes across well, the music being sharp and the commentary from the instructor clear and audible.
Special features for Prevention Fitness Systems: Slim, Strong, and Firm include a few offerings. The first is a tutorial demonstrating several techniques for standing taller, looking slimmer, and preventing poor posture. Also included are two segments that provide basic instructions for completing the poses and moves in the Pilates and Ballet workout sessions. These instructions illustrate the use of the rubber band, how to maintain balance and posture, and how to breathe correctly for maximum benefit. These are decent additions, but it would have been beneficial to have them labeled more specifically. As it is, there is no indication that these are instructional features that would best be viewed before starting the workouts.
Prevention Fitness Systems: Slim, Strong, and Firm is well-produced and nice to look at, but I have to question who will benefit from these routines. Experienced fitness buffs will likely find the exercises too easy, and those who start from scratch will probably master the moves in very little time.
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