I hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend. I certainly did. Classes officially start for me this week so it was nice to have one last hurrah before the intensity strikes. Anyhow, back to the topic at hand.
Earlier this summer I tried a sculpting and strength training class here in New York city which humbled me. The class was the Tonique Method and I called it "the hardest workout in town." You can read my review of the live class here. The class is currently offered on a limited schedule but luckily there's a whole set of DVDs available for those unable to take a class!
Sylwia Wiesenberg, the creator of the Tonique Method provided me with a set of her DVDs, 2 of which (the original Tonique Premier and the newer Tonique 2) I am going to review today.
This DVD was the first of the Tonique Method DVDs. It is broken down into five main sections:
1. Drills: Jumping jacks, jogging in place, lunge jumps (Total time = 5 minutes).
2. Squats: Ten different squat exercises including the basic squat, basic squat with front kick, basic squat with side extension, squat jumps, one-legged squats and more (Total time = 15 minutes).
3. Lunges: Ten different lunge exercises including the basic backward lunge, backward lunge with front kick, skating lunge, side-to-side lunge and more (Total time = 19 minutes).
4. Mat exercises: This section starts off with some cardio drills to elevate the heart rate and includes mountain climbers and jogging in place, before beginning the mat section which include donkey kicks, fire hydrants, hip lifts, one-legged hip lifts. It ends with stomach drills which include a pilates-style full teaser and side to side leg extensions (Total time = 17 minutes).
5. Cool-Down: Dynamic active stretching, including plies, and the warrior three pose borrowed from yoga.
The DVD, like the class is very challenging. Luckily, there are breaks between the sections. You can add a set of light dumbbells (1 or 2lbs is recommended) to assist you with added upper body work. It is filmed in a loft-like space and Sylwia is doing all the exercises herself. The voice-over is done by somebody else so at times it feels a little disjointed because there is a disconnect between the instructions and the actual movements. Each exercise is performed with a high number of repetitions (30, usually) and I found myself stopping to take plenty of breaks, at times completely out of breath. I felt great afterwards though! It is a complete body work-out that can efficiently be done in an hour.
This set is made up of 2 disks. While both discs are heavy on the squat/lunge formula that is the hallmark of Tonique, the first disk is described as being predominantly for sculpting while the second disk is more cardiovascular. Each disk is slightly under an hour and contains even more variations of squats and lunges compared to Tonique premier. Again, a set of light handweights is recommended for added upper body work that is performed in combination with the lower body work, such as a side lunge with an arm extension or a squat with a side-step and an added bicep curl.
The second disk contains also exercises such as diagonal knee lifts (lifting the knee to the opposite shoulder) and punching from side to side, movements which will elevate the heart rate. In addition the squat/lunge exercises are performed more dynamically, jumping from one repetition to the next, making it all the more harder (and relying more on cardiovascular strength than the first disk). Further, the second disk contains some arm exercises like triceps extensions and straight arm extensions.
The DVDs can be performed on their own (will take about an hour) or one after the other (taking up two hours). I liked Tonique 2 more than Tonique Premier for a few reasons. Firstly, the voice-over has been eliminated and Sylwia is the one giving actual instructions. There is a music-only option in the set-up if you prefer not hearing the cues. Secondly, the squat and lunge exercises are combined, rather than having separate squat and lunge sequences, as in Tonique Premier, which can get monotonous. I also liked that there was a split-screen for a few of the exercises so you can see the exercise done from different angles and adjust accordingly.
There were a few things I did not care for - one being the blue and white, slightly psychedelic backdrop, which I found distracting. I also did not care for the music, although, because of copyright issues that is a problem with most exercise DVDs. This DVD contains many repetitions of an exercise, and while I don't find that to be a short-coming some may.
Overall, though, this is a killer workout. Like with Tonique Premier, I stopped to take many breaks. It is really hard but it as close to a live class as you are going to get, especially if you do both disks one after the other (the actual class is 2 hours long!). It will work you to the point of exhaustion but as Sylwia explains in the afterword, "Stay focused and stay positive and you can always go beyond your limits." For me, the endorphin high made it all worthwhile!
Now for the fun part! Sylwia is very generously giving away 10 copies of her DVDs, which means that 5 lucky readers will each receive one copy of Tonique Premier and one copy of Tonique 2!
To enter, all you have to do is leave me a comment telling me what your fitness goals were this year and how close you are to achieving them, whether it was to run a 10K or to improve your tennis game or do a full-form push-up. The deadline to enter is 10pm Monday Sept 12th and I will randomly choose 5 winners and announce them on Tuesday Sept 13th.
*Open to readers in the Continental US only.