It's as hard as you allow it to be
cottagegardener | Annapolis, MD USA | 09/21/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Like any exercise, if you don't focus, this workout can be pretty easy (if you're already in reasonable shape--if not, prepare to sweat and quiver!). But if you really establish your foundation like the instructor says (on this one and all the Lotte Berk DVDs), you'll know full well why dancers look like willow trees--you're working those muscles harder than you have ever done before. I'm a big yoga exerciser and tried Pilates for a few years, but I get bored with Pilates since all my instructors take themselves so SERIOUSLY as if it were some dictatorial, overly pious religion. Lotte Berk's method is simply more FUN. You work like a dog and, by doing the regular program and adding the "bonus blast" program you'll be shaking...a good thing. Really pay attention to how they tell you to set up, just like you would in yoga and Pilates, and you'll protect your joints, spine, and truly get the most out of these exercises. If you just go through the motions, you'll not get much out of it. Try it...the Method is a great complement to running or your other exercise. If this is your only exercise, do it every day instead of once or twice a week, and you'll see a big difference within a few weeks. Really!"
Get ready to get serious about reshaping
TBM Devotee | Lovely East Coast | 07/12/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"We all know who the irreverent Lotte Berk was and that she designed these deceptively simple work-outs to help herself get back into shape after a paralyzing car accident. Lydia Bach brought the Method to the U.S. where other programs were spun off (Callanetics, The Bar Method, Core Fusion, etc) These are the originals and these gals are serious about sculpting and reshaping your body. I know there are a few comments regarding snob appeal and snootiness but I honestly did not detect any of that from the instructors. They seem genuinely involved and invested in getting you to understand the Method and do it correctly. Not all of the instructors appear comfortable as background exercisers but each as the lead instructor is absolutely confident in what she's doing.
So. Having babbled all that, here we go. (I do tend to compare them to The Bar Method and that instructor Burr Leonard, which is where *I* started so indulge me.)
These workouts are approximately 30 minutes each and the time flew. You are working hard right away. There is no easing in.
Muscle Eats Fat is led by the most advanced instructor, Barbara. She is 49 and incredibly strong and shapely. Her waist must be 16" honestly. Really.
There were a couple of exercises you know from Bar Method and Callanetics, such as the tuck work at the barre; however, the instructor really explains what she's doing and why what you're doing is important. She also explains why the stretch after each exercise is crucial. While Burr has us gently tucking while doing the arm exercises, this chick has you intensely tucking while each time, asking you to bend your knees and lower yourself a few more inches with each set. So you are tucking, holding hard and periodically dipping a bit lower ALL THE WHILE working the arms with weights. They're light weights but by the second set, you're trembling and shaking (and taking her name in vain, lol)
The only issue I had here (and what prevented me from giving her five full stars) is the commentary during the arm work. She wasn't on beat while she was counting and some of her "encouragement" was distracting. You grow accustomed to it and after a while it doesn't bother anymore at all. Her personality does grow on you because you can tell that she really wants you to understand what you're doing and why so that you do it properly and don't waste time. She gives more reminders than Burr and she points out where you should be feeling the work. But initially, to be honest, you just wish she'd shut up so you can scream and curse in peace.
There is an exercise called The Plank (and if you do Yoga, you're already very familiar with it but in Yoga, you go down much lower and hold just an inch off the ground.) and what makes it so difficult is that you're lifting the opposite leg and raising and lowering it while keeping your abs pulled in and your weight balanced on your arms. It looks like a full-blown push-up but you're on your forearms rather than your hands. Very challenging, very tough, very effective.
The knee dancing, according to the instructor, is the key to the workout. It seemed very challenging and did make me laugh, unlike Burr's knee dancing and marshmallow punching. I didn't initally like sitting on my heels and this bothered me at first but by the third set, I was pretty well stretched and it actually was kind of fun. Now (I've been doing Lotte Berk since 5.13.05) I can sit easily on my heels and I'm far more flexible now. I can do the knee dancing easily. I'm still winded and grateful for the respites but I don't think I'm going to fall over the way I did at first.
The stretches, she reminds you are not for relaxation but for elongation and you do stretch each and every time. There are three instructors and one does a modification for beginners. This workout was exhausting but in a completely relaxed and gratifying way. You understand what I mean, lol. You feel as if you have worked every muscle in your body but you're strangely calmed and refreshed at the same time. Not sure how they accomplish this mind/body/spirit relaxation and serene reaction to the workout but they do it marvelously.
The Bonus Blasts are kick-your-bum tough. In *all* of them, particularly this one.
I've changed my body to the point at which people in my office are asking me what I'm doing.They don't want to do the work, though. People always expect a quick fix and when I explain the workout, I can see the disappointment in their eyes. BUT, if I'd known how difficult these exercises were initially, I wouldn't have done it either. But I'm glad that I didn't know because this program is outstanding. What Burr Leonard began in The Bar Method, this program finishes with a lithe and strong body. My goal is Labor Day and I know I'll be in my tiny goal size because I've already dropped to an 8 (I'm 5'9").
I wholeheartedly give it a thumbs up. BUT be warned: it's tough, it's challenging and you will work very hard. But the body you create is well worth it. I promise.
TBM Devotee | 04/21/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have been searching for a short, challenging, effective and fun workout for the last year that would help me get back in shape, and strengthen my knees, back and abs. I am a long time fan of "The Firm" tapes, however my old favorites are now just too long (60 mins.) and too intense for me to use. This Lotte Berk DVD is just what I was looking for: two different segments, a beginner and an advanced, 30 mins. long. This video remind me of the intense modern dance exercises I did in college. One thing to note is that the exercises only LOOK easy as you watch them being done, but, they are challenging! After using this just once, I could feel my "dancer's legs" trying to make a comeback...and It felt great!!! My back and knees must be getting stronger -- because they don't ache anymore! I highly recommend this DVD. I have already ordered a second in this series and I can hardly wait to try it out!"
Laura Kolker | Philadelphia, PA | 07/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I really like this workout. It's pretty effective. She's very good at explaining what she wants. The emphasis on stretching is really nice. The workout's not terribly long (30 min?) It feels pretty reasonable. There's no real aerobic component. Lots of weights/toning and stretching.
The instructor is very good. My favorite part is when she says (in this serious guru-diva voice): Stretching is NOT relaxation... Its's elongation. Cracks me up! But I'm easily amused.
One small warning:
If you have knee problems, this might not be the video for you. Most of the exercises have an obvious dance like origin. If you can't comfortably bend your knees, you won't be able to do the lower body section, and if you can't sit on your heels (legs completely bent at the knees), you won't be able to do the Hip Dancing(?) section. This being said, I have somewhat sensitive knees; the instructor talks about how not to injure one's knees when she's doing the lower body excercises; and I've suffered no ill effects.
All in all: I love this workout, and I'm considering buying more of this type."