**Note: since I am doing two related systems together, the first few paragraphs in both reviews are similar.
I have come across a lot of new programs and trainers lately. Lindsay Brin is the latest. She has a DVD series titled MIF/Mom’s Into Fitness. Yeah, I’m a mom, but mine are out of the house, grown ups living their own lives. Nevertheless, these looked like some pretty solid programs even if they are targeted at mom’s with rugrats. I bought two of her fitness programs: Pretty Fierce: Weight Loss and Pretty Fierce: Lean Out because they looked pretty tough and I liked the length of the workouts. Oh, and they were priced very affordably when I bought them. I believe I bought this one on Amazon and it is still $34.99; Lean Out was on sale on another website for the same price, but it is no longer so inexpensive (however it is about $43 on Amazon).
Pretty Fierce: Weight Loss has some strength work in it but it seems primarily targeted at cardio/fat loss and core workouts. Pretty Fierce: Lean Out is more comprehensive with more resistance training focus. Both programs come in nice clamshells. A card was inside both of the programs with a website address so you can sign up and get the rotation calendars plus meal plans, a smartphone app and other bonuses. She sends a series of newsletter emails full of encouragement and information and sometimes even bonus online workout videos.
Pretty Fierce: Weight Loss comes with 3 metabolic strength workouts, 3 cardio/HIIT workouts, 5 core workouts and 2 yoga workouts (the two yoga workouts are the exact same workouts that come with Pretty Fierce: Lean Out). The workouts are anywhere from 6-15 minutes (the core and yoga workouts) to 23-34 minutes (HIIT workouts) to 34-37 minutes (strength workouts). So they can fit in any schedule. I was attracted to the length because they can be used as add-ons, doubles or 2-3 paired together to equal my hour long morning workout.
The intro on the first DVD gives an overview of what the program contains. Lindsay also tells you that if you are doing this program your children must be at least 6 months of age (check–mine are in their 20s) and you must have been exercising consistently for at least 2 months (check–15+ years, almost every day). She also tells you about the online tools she makes available to you when you purchase this program–calendars, nutrition plan, a smartphone app, short videos she created. I looked at all of it and watched the videos when they arrived in the newsletter and they are all full of good, encouraging information. She tells you the equipment you need for this program–dumbbells, a chair and sliders (Slide N Glide disks or you can use paper plates or furniture sliders). Finally she talks about Diastasis Recti which is a gap in the abdominal muscles that can occur during pregnancy. She has a little test for it and if you do have this condition, you should not perform the core exercises in the program. Your core needs to heal before you do the core exercises.
The Fit Test is 10 minutes long. You do one minute of 5 different exercises, trying to do as many reps of each exercise in that minute as you can. 1. 3/3 push ups (3 knee push ups/3 toe push ups), 2. power touch squats (squat jacks, touching the floor at bottom of move), 3. rowboats (in V sit, bring knees in and out), 4. switch kicks (jump kicks), 5. flexibility. You do this Fit Test before starting the program (and record your results) and then again at the end of the program to see how you’ve progressed.
On the same disk as the Fit Test are 5 core workouts that range in length from 6-11 minutes and a core bonus. Since this workout program seems more geared toward the mom who recently gave birth, the core workouts will be the first workouts I review here, even tho that is not the order I did the workouts. Despite the fact they are geared toward new moms, these are excellent and challenging core workouts (except the first one, Core A), so you don’t have to be a new mom to get a lot out of them. Core A isn’t bad either, especially for someone new to exercise and/or focused core work. Lindsay teaches you a lot about how to engage your core properly when doing exercises. The bonuses aren’t really bonus workouts. They’re just instructions. When you click on “Core Bonus” it takes you to another menu with two choices” Core Shredder A and Core Shredder B. When you click on them you get a weird graphic intro then instructions. For Core Shredder A you are instructed to alternate Plank Pelvic Tilts and Plank Boomerangs in ladder format (10 reps of each, 9 reps of each, 8 reps of each and so on); you do see Lindsay demonstrating each exercise for 10 reps but that’s it (and it is cut from other workouts, is in black and white and just has music, no voice). Core Shredder B is set up the same way with the weird intro and instructions, as well as black and white of Lindsay doing the exercise but no voice, only music. The exercises you are instructed to do are Plank Shifts and Boomerangs–also in ladder format. Both “bonuses” are 1 minute long.
Summary: Due to the fact I purchased Pretty Fierce Weight Loss & Lean Out at the same time, and did them at the same time, I am forced to compare them. So first, Weight Loss is more of beginner program than Lean Out. It is still full of challenging workouts, but if you are new to exercise or coming back to it after giving birth (or an injury) or have just fallen off the exercise wagon–this is the program to start with. Lean Out is much more advanced IMHO. But like I said, that doesn’t mean this program will not challenge you. I did like the length of the workouts; they work well as add ons and doubles workouts. What I didn’t like was the fact some of the workouts had no warm up and/or no stretch. That does seem to be a growing trend in the new fitness programs I have been purchasing (primarily the lack of cool down and/or stretch at the end) but I still don’t like it. Unlike the others, at least Lindsay instructs you to do it on your own. I use Cathe‘s stretches and warm ups from her workout DVDs. Her workouts are always chaptered so it is easy to go straight to the stretch. As far as enjoyability goes, I didn’t love any of the workouts in either of the programs. Some I blatantly disliked, others were ho-hum and some I did enjoy and will return to. So that isn’t promising. I love to workout and be challenged. I workout every single day–so I expect to enjoy what I am doing. Even when I hate it, if that makes sense. Some workouts (like Insanity) I have a love-hate relationship with. That is not the case here. There is no love for any of these workouts (not the love-love or the love-hate variety). However this program does do the job so it’s not a waste of money. The workouts I will return to are Core B, Tabata Cardio, Cardio Plyometrics, Muscle Splits Lower Body and yoga.
Core A is 8 minutes long. For the first minute Lindsay talks about the purpose of Core A–to train you to use your inner core muscles. It starts with a basic pelvic tilt, then a butterfly pelvic tilt. Next you will be engaging your core and pelvic floor (and she gives excellent instruction on how to do this properly) and extending alternating legs, this changes to marching legs, then reverse marching legs. Next is supermans. The last 3 minutes Lindsay takes it up a notch to more “traditional” ab exercises: basic crunches w/ legs lifted and bent, twisting/marches (oblique work–do marching legs while twisting torso and bringing elbow to opposite knee), pulsing crunches w/ butterfly legs. Repeat these 3 exercises. Lindsay ends by instructing you to do 20 pelvic tilts and 20 reverse marches every night to train your core.
Core B is 7 minutes long. This is a short but excellent and tough core workout! I really liked it a lot! It will be great to tack onto the end of other workouts. Starting in knee/elbow plank you do pelvic tucks. Next you will raise arms/legs into superman but rather than raising and lowering your arms/torso and legs, you hold this position while opening and closing your arms and legs. Turn over into C sit and do pelvic tilts. Put arms behind head and do oblique twists; you will twist toward your knees while remaining in C sit, but not coming all the way up to touch them. Next, you will lean back a little further, bring your arms out straight in front of you then lean torso/arms to side and do crunches. While still in this position bend the elbow that is closest to the ground (the side you are leaning toward) so that it touches the ground. After repeating on the other side of body, return to C sit and raise arms overhead in a V then bring them together in front of you, keeping arms straight. Repeat all C sit exercises. End with the knee/elbow plank pelvic tilts.
Core C is 7 minutes long; the first minute is an intro by Lindsay. This one was actually easier than Core B, which I didn’t expect, and different, too. It seems almost like C should have come before B in the progression. But it’s a decent core workout. Not a waste of your time. She spends time reviewing how to engage your inner core with the first few exercises. Start laying on your back with one leg crossed over the other knee. 1. 5 pelvis tilts with arms on floor at side, 2. 5 pelvic tilts with arms on floor overhead, 3. raise and lower leg 5 times, 4. double reverse crunch–same #3 but put arms behind head and raise shoulders/head, too, 5. take leg that was bent across knee and straighten it; reach toward ankle, raising head/shoulders 5x, 6. banana crunch–bring knees in to chest and raise head/shoulders; keep shoulders/head raised and straighten arms and legs out long then bring them back in 10x. Repeat everything on other side of body. Next is a plank series, so get into forearm plank. 1. 10 plank shifts–pushing feet forward from toes, so your shoulders shift forward, 2. 10 boomerangs (shift hips side to side). Repeat these two exercises 2 more times (so 3x total). Finish by holding side elbow plank for 20 seconds on each side.
Core D is 5:30 minutes long. This was another short but effective core workout. Not so great that I will return to it frequently but a good core add on just the same. You start out laying on your back w/ legs straight and one foot stacked on top of the other. Do 15 small crunches. Do 15 small oblique crunches in this same position. 15 pelvic tilts in same position w/ head/shoulders raised. Repeat on other side (swap how feet are stacked). Next do 16 supermans. 10 straight leg bicycles. Hold legs in straight leg bicycle position (one leg a few inches off floor and one leg straight toward ceiling) and crunch for 10. Repeat straight leg bicycles. Hold legs in straight leg bicycle position again, but this time leg positions are swapped and crunch. Repeat the entire straight leg bicycle series except rather than simply crunching while holding straight leg bicycle, you will oblique crunch while holding that position.
Core E is 11 minutes long. This core workout is based on the tabata protocol–20 seconds on and 10 seconds off. It is a pretty good workout but at 11 minutes there are better core workouts out there by other trainers so this isn’t one I would return to. It’s not a bad core workout, tho. It is made up of 5 exercises. Each exercise is done 4 times for 20 seconds w/ 10 second rest. 1. bicycles, 2. in plank, bring one knee in and out (each 20 seconds you alternate knees, so each leg is done 2x), 3. in side plank, raise and lower hips, 4. in C-sit cross punch 4 times, then lower torso back further and punch 4 times (alternate high and low torso position), 5. lay on back with feet together and knees opened wide (butterfly position); crunch upper body and pelvis.
HIIT & Loading Hybrid is 23 minutes long, no warm up or cool down; Lindsay spends the first 1:30 minutes talking. She gives recommendations for how she wants you to warm up (jog) and how long you should cool down (walk around a few minutes and stretch 4-5 minutes). I jogged in place during her intro and did Cathe‘s X10 stretch afterward (the second time I did this workout I did X10 warm up before and the stretch after). This workout is set up in 7 blocks, each block contains 3 exercises and each exercise is done for 40 seconds with a 20 second recovery. You need a set of light dumbbells and a set of heavy dumbbells. I used 5 pounds and 8 pounds for my lights and 15 pounds for my heavies. There is a count down clock in bottom left-hand corner of the screen that counts down each 40 second interval and a bar along right side of screen that counts down each block. She shows modifications for most of the exercises and she chatters non-stop. This was a tough workout that had some exercises I really liked, but I didn’t enjoy this workout. I’m not sure why. It is the first Pretty Fierce workout I have done (I am doing both of the Pretty Fierce programs (Weight Loss and Lean Out) at the same time) so I’m not yet sure what turns me off about it or if it will even continue. And I did want to like this workout. It is the perfect length for a doubles workout or an add-on so I was disappointed I found it rather lackluster. ***After doing all of the workouts from both programs I want to come back and try this workout again; the workouts in both programs are hit or miss with me, but this one just seems like something I should like more, so I wanted to give it another try. So before I posted the review to this program I did this workout a second time. Unfortunately, my opinion didn’t change. Despite the concept, this is just another ho-hum/lackluster workout. It is a good workout, just not very enjoyable. Lindsay talks a lot; plus, she has no crew, it is just her doing the workout and the fact she constantly stops doing the exercises during the 40 seconds you are supposed to be going “all out” is pretty irritating, too.
Block 1: 1. jumping jacks w/ shoulder press using light weights; 2. bent-over underhand back row w/ heavy weights; 3. squat jump w/ upright row w/ light weights.
Block 2: 1. alternating deep lunges, never standing up straight; 2. box lunges (not using hands lower to knees then stand, using legs only; 3. jump lunges.
Block 3: 1. mountain climbers; 2. one leg tricep dips; 3. jump feet from plank to pike.
Block 4: 1. jumping jacks w/ shoulder press using light weights; 2. machine guns w/ light weights (fast alternating overhead press); 3. pike pendulums.
Block 5: 1. squat to back kicks w/ heavy weights (alternate legs); 2. alternating reverse lunges while remaining hinged at waist w/ heavy weights; 3. crickets (fast jump squats w/ heavy weights).
Block 6: 1. wide leg burpees; 2. burpee w/ push up; 3. 3 knee push ups, 3 toe push ups.
Block 7: 1. 6 high knee runs, 6 jump lunges; 2. side to side knee push ups; 3. pulse 6 times in static lunge then jump lunge to switch and repeat.
Shredding is 30 or 34 minutes long; warm up is 3 minutes and cool down/stretch is 5 minutes. There are two options–you can do the 30 minute version, or the version with a finale which is 4 minutes longer. Both are unimpressive. For the workout you need slide and glide disks, light and heavy dumbbells. There is no way you can truly lift heavy in this workout, but we will get to that in a moment. This is a cardio + toning/metabolic workout. My favorite kind of workout so I really wanted to like this one. You alternate cardio blasts with strength work. The cardio was ho-hum as usual and the strength work is done so rapidly that not only is it difficult to lift heavy, but it is difficult to do the moves at her pace and preserve proper form so that you get the most out of the exercise. It is a workout that has a great deal of potential but fails IMHO. And it can be done well; Cathe, Michelle Dozois, Lindsi Sansor, Patrick Goudeau, Amy Dixon, Jillian Michaels, Paul Katami, Toby Massenburg, Shaun T and even Dashi Libin all do it far better than what is presented here. BTW–even Lindsay does it better in Lean Out–much better (Total Body Strength). So it is doable–it can be effective and fun and challenging–and you can get a lot out of these types of metabolic workouts. I know! Because they are my #1 favorite types of workouts! And I am completely unimpressed with this one. So big disappointment. Anyway, here are the exercises:
25 Squat Jacks
20 Mountain Climbers
15 High Knees
10 Mini Suicides (1-2-3 knee)
5 Wide Leg Burpees
Disk Mountain Climbers
Plies with “W” Overhead Presses
Static Lunge w/ Overhead Tricep Extensions
Static Lunge tapping DB behind heel
Rear Delt Flys
Curtsey to Side Lunge w/ disk
Raise DB from floor to ceiling while in Side Plank
Lunge w/ Bicep Curl, Plie, Lunge w/ Bicep Curl, Plie–keep alternating
Staggered Push Ups
5 Push Ups
High Knee Run for 5
Repeat 4 times
High Knee Run for 5
Repeat 4 times
50 High Knee Runs
Tabata Cardio is 26 or 29 minutes long (29 minutes long if you chose the version with the finale). Lindsay does a one minute intro before moving into the 2 minute warm up. There is a 2:30 minute cool down/stretch. Finally! A workout I like. I do not love it–it isn’t great or creative and certainly not the most intense tabata/HIIT workout I’ve ever done. But it is a decent workout for 29 minutes. The tabata concept is to do an exercise as hard and intense as you can for 20 seconds then take a 10 second recovery; you do this 20/10 cycle 8 times for one 4 minute tabata. Lindsay has altered this slightly. She has you do seven 20/10 cycles then you take a 40 second recovery (this equals 4 minutes) before moving on to your next tabata. There is a counter in the bottom left hand corner of the screen that counts down each 4 minute tabata. Again, these are definitely not the most intense intervals, so I would put this at an intermediate level–definitely no Breathless Body or Tabatacise. Nevertheless, I did like it and will return to it. Exercises: 1. shuffle jabs (4 jabs with high knee shuffles to each side); 2. high knee run forward for 8 and back for 8; 3. speed skaters; 4. football shuffle (fast feet for 10 then touch floor); 5. jump rope 8 w/ 1 tuck jump. Finale: the finale is 2:30 minutes long; do each of the exercises you just did one time, one right after the other, to the 20/10 cycle.
Cardio Plyometrics is 29 minutes long w/ a 4:30 minute warm up and no cool down/stretch. She does instruct you to walk around for 2 minutes to cool down and to stretch afterward. I really liked this workout. Again, this is not the most intense or difficult cardio/plyo workout I’ve ever done and there was actually very little plyometrics (at least of the variety I am accustomed to), but it was a good cardio workout and I enjoyed it. So yay! I am not impressed with a lot of these Pretty Fierce workouts, so I am thrilled when I like one of them. This workout is set up in circuits that Lindsay calls “stacks.” On the menu screen you can choose to play the entire workout or just choose one stack. The first stack includes the warm up.
Stack 1: mini suicide (1-2-3 knee), toss backs (high knee runs w/ twist), run forward/run back, double toss backs, 4 fast cross punches/2 jacks, cross punches only, standing side-to-side ab crunches, slaloms (lateral tuck jumps), hop 3 times/cross punch, hop w/ cross punch, high low jabs, high low jabs with hop, speed bag, fast feet; break b4 next stack
Stack 2: rotating helicopter (similar to skaters), 180 squat jumps, mountain climbers, 180 squat jumps, scarecrow (bring knee to elbow at side of body), pulsing jump lunges, scarecrow (other side of body), pulsing jump lunges, speed skaters, 12 & 3 jabs, switch kicks, 12 & 9 jabs (other arm), switch kicks (other leg); break b4 next stack
Stack 3: same as Stack 1; Lindsay says you will do it faster this time but you don’t.
Yoga is 13 minutes. It is included on a DVD that contains a one minute clip explaining why Lindsay feels you need yoga and a 2 minute tutorial showing various poses and proper form/alignment. Also on this DVD is Yoga Hybrid. BTW–this is the exact same disk that is included w/ Pretty Fierce: Lean Out–it just has a different picture on the face of the DVD; so Lean Out does not contain different yoga workouts. The 13 minute Yoga workout is a pretty decent yoga flexibility workout. I like it. Lindsay starts out warming you up for the stretching with chair poses and knee raises. Next you will do a swan series where you bend at the waist, stretching your hamstrings/back, then you stretch your chest and end with tricep/chest stretches. Planks and updogs. Downdog on toes. Warrior 1 & 2 and triangle ending with wide leg hamstring stretch (do this series 2x on each side of body). Runners lunge. Hamstring stretch. Child’s pose. Thread the needle. Downdog w/ heels down. One leg down dog. Updog. Shoulder stretch. Figure 4 glute stretch. Bridge stretch. Deadbug. Roll knees/hips side to side.
I don’t like Yoga Hybrid nearly as much as Yoga. Yoga Hybrid is 14 minutes long. You need 3 or 5 pound dumbbells for this workout. It is a hybrid between dynamic yoga and core work. Since I didn’t like it and will not return to it, I am not going to break it down much. It starts out with a “warm up” that includes a move she calls the “sunflower” which is circling the arms while leaning forward in plié squat alternated with a plié squat; next plié squat while leaning and reaching toward same side ankle; pelvic tilts; the warm up ends with marches. Next you do some warrior poses with dumbbells, a right angle while raising and lowering a dumbbell to open the chest. Next is warrior 3s. Then triangle with the dumbbells. Get into plank and do inverted V. Elbow plank w/ hip tucks, child’s pose, threat the needle. Next you do some low back work w/ cobra and superman poses. Then two minutes of Lindsay’s tough core work. The final two minutes are on your back: bridge, happy baby and leg stretch.
Muscle Splits: Upper 35 minutes total; however it is broken down into 3 parts: Warm up: 4 minutes, Chest/Back/Shoulders 19 minutes, and Biceps & Triceps 12 minutes. There is no “play all feature”; so you have to do the warm up, then it takes you back to the menu to select which you split you want to do next. These were both decent workouts. Not the best, not the worst. I would combine them with something else tho. When I did this workout I combined it with Pretty Fierce: Lean Out Upper Body Strength. And I still didn’t get an “awesome” workout. But it was decent. You could also pair it with Lean Out’s Upper Body Endurance (which is a great workout).
Chest/Back/Shoulders 19 minutes. Lindsay has you do push ups and renegade rows on your knees but I did them on my toes to get the most out of this workout. There is a chair present in this split but it is only used for a modification. You need dumbbells and sliders. You do 15 reps of every exercise.
Renegade Row on knees (DB)
W Overhead Press (DB)
Kneeling Elbow to Knee (DB)
Side to Side Push Ups w/ disks
Serve the Platter (pushing DB from hip out straight to side)
One Arm Pinky Fly (DB)
Chest Fly (DB)
Bent Over T Flys (DB)
Repeat all exercises and end with one minute stretch.
Biceps & Triceps 12 minutes. You do each exercise for 15 reps. You need dumbbells and a chair. After some of the exercises Lindsay will stretch out the muscle group you just worked. At the very end of this workout she gives you a “finale” except you do not actually do it on the DVD–she tells you what to do and expects you to do it after the DVD workout ends: 15 machine gun hammer curls and 15 tricep kickbacks.
Simultaneous Hammer Curls (DB)
Tricep V Lifts (DB)
Bicep Curls with Arms straight in front of you (DB)
Tricep Kickbacks w/ palms facing forward (DB)
Concentration Curls (DB & chair/step)
Tricep Kickback Pulses (DB)
Repeat all exercises and end with 30 second stretch.
Muscle Splits: Lower is 40 minutes total; however it is broken down into 3 parts: Warm up 4 minutes, Glutes/Outer & Inner Thighs 21 minutes and Quads & Hamstrings 15 minutes. And just like Muscle Splits: Upper, there is no play all feature; you do each segment individually then it returns you to the menu. I really liked this workout. I didn’t love it, but I did like it. It stands on it’s own, I think (if you do the full 40 minutes or combine it with other workouts–do Muscle Splits Upper & Lower for a total body workout or combine it with Lean Out‘s Lower Body Strength, which is what I did. That will give you an hour long excellent lower body workout). Unfortunately, Lindsay was again frequently moving too fast for full range of motion or good form. A few of the exercises that was necessary–Reverse Disk Lunges you did not use full range of motion, but that was the point, staying low to burn out the glutes, but still, slowing down a little would have burned them out even more. Still, this is a good workout. Every exercise in both workouts is done for 15 reps.
Glutes/Outer & Inner Thighs is 21 minutes long with a 2 minute stretch. For this portion you need dumbbells, a chair and a towel (or a pilates ball). You do 15 reps of every exercise.
Penny Pick Up (DB) (reverse lunge, touching dumbbell to floor near front heel and when you stand, do a knee raise)
Side Leg Raise (need chair) (you will do a pendulum between sides; so 15 right leg, 15 pendulums, 15 left leg)
Inner Thigh Squeezes (chair + towel or pilates ball) 15 reps + hold for 15 seconds
Long Reverse Lunge (holding onto chair seat) (this is a very deep lunge that you never stand up during, that’s why you use the chair seat)
Hinged Alternating Curtsey Lunges
Crab One-Leg Inner Thigh work
Reverse Disk Lunges w/ DB
Standing Hydrants (chair)
Bridge One-Leg Inner Thigh work
Repeat all exercises and end with 2 minute stretch
Quads & Hamstrings is 15 minutes long with a 40 seconds stretch. For this segment you will need dumbbells, sliding disks and a chair. You will do 15 reps of every exercises. Lindsay has one of her optional “bonuses” at the end which you do not actually do on the DVD; she just gives instructions. Do 15 more running heels while in bridge w/ disks and 15 more Sissy Squats.
Pelvic Tilts on toes w/ chair
Squats series on toes w/ chair (you will do 3 sets of 15 reps with different foot/leg positions: feet close together, open knees a few inches, then feet shoulder width apart; you will end with 15 “heel pumps” or heel raises)
Single Leg Deadlifts
One Leg Bridges (you will actually be in more of a crab since you will be resting on hands/straight arms and one foot, rather than shoulders and foot)
Sissy Squats (squats w/ heels raised on DB)
Running heels while in bridge w/ disks
Repeat all exercises and end with 40 second stretch
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