Exhale: Core Fusion Barre Basics

corefusionThe full title of this workout is Exhale Core Fusion Barre Basics for Beginners. I chose this workout because, in spite of the word “beginner” in the title, it got some impressive reviews. One in particular swayed me. She posted the review in May of 2013 then updated it in August of 2013. She had been doing it consistently a few times a week and, according to her review, her results were impressive. Having discovered the incredible benefits of barre already, I decided this workout needed to be sampled.

There are 7 ten minute workouts on this DVD. The title is actually deceiving since of the 7, only 4 of them are actually done barre style. What makes this a “beginner” workout, I think, is the level of instruction. Each 10 minute workout has a 1-2 minute tutorial giving very specific instruction on how to do the exercises within that workout properly–alignment, stance, foot position, as well as what not to do. It is very useful and detailed. Each workout has the option of playing it with the tutorial or without. You can also choose to play all 7 workouts, one right after the other, rather than one at a time–both with and without tutorials. Of the 7 workouts, 5 are focused on lower body work, 1 is core and 1 works both lower body and the core. As for these being a beginner workouts–I don’t agree. They were all painful. It definitely isn’t the most fun barre workout I’ve ever done but it burned out whatever muscle group it was working completely by the end of 10 minutes. In fact, I cannot imagine doing all 7 workouts, one right after the other–70 minutes of torture. However they are intense little stand-alones. Most of them have short warm ups and they all have stretches–some of the stretches are deep and comprehensive. When I did these workouts I either paired 2 together (a thigh + a glute) or used a core as an add on to another workout.

Elisabeth Halfpapp and Fred DeVito are the creators of Core Fusion. I watched their introduction about the DVD where they explain how they used to teach the original Lotte Berk Barre Method (the creator of barre workouts) and they still teach barre instructors. They discussed how they have made some alignment changes (they call them “innovations”) that are safer for the spine. They have 30 years of experience teaching barre.

The actual workouts are done with voice over. The cuing is pretty good–not perfect but they do a decent job. The tutorial segments at the beginning of each workout are not done voice over–Elisabeth or Fred demonstrate the different exercises as the other points out form and alignment. During the workouts one of them is always showing a modified version of the exercise while the other is doing the more advanced versions. One thing that was weird is sometimes Elisabeth was smiling overly happy during the workouts–as if someone off camera had said something to amuse her immensely or maybe her and Fred were sharing some inside joke. It was kind of irritating.

I am moving this workout to my wishlist, though I am not certain how quickly I will purchase it. It is full of intense and surely effective mini-workouts that are excellent for add ons or combined for a very effective short or long workout. But like I said, it wasn’t fun like some of the other barre workouts I’ve done so far. And also, though I have discovered that barre workouts often focus on small movements and isometrics, these seem to use even smaller movements than all the others. I don’t know why that seems to make me feel it is less effective, but it does. I know that is not true at all–by the excruciating pain I often felt during the workouts! I think a variety of barre workouts that use different methodologies will round my barre selections out even more, so in the end I probably will order this DVD if I continue doing barre workouts (which I think I will).

  1. Turned Out Thigh (10 minutes; 13 minutes w/ tutorial): for the first half you will do pulsing plie squats in first position w/ heels raised. Next you will step back from the chair, hands still on top of chair and back rounded, feet still in first position; raise one leg, toe pointed and inside of foot to ceiling–pulse leg. For the final exercise, get into first position and raise up even higher on toes while lowering into plie squat and leaning upper body back; press knees out.
  2. Parallel Thigh (10 minutes; 12 minutes w/ tutorial): stand behind barre/chair with feet together, bend your knees and raise up on toes; raise and lower in this position. Repeat but go lower. Next place a rolled up towel or a yoga block (I used my pilates ball) between your thighs and get back into position, but keep feet flat and press thighs in to towel. Come up on toes (knees still bent) and raise and lower. Turn to the side with only one hand on chair now; get into position, up on toes, knees bent, but lean torso back pressing hips forward; press thighs in on towel then tilt hips up and down. Set towel aside and stretch quads. Knees on floor, sitting on heels and raise arms over head; raise and lower hips off heels using thighs. Next raise hips off heels and move them side to side. Stretch.
  3. Standing Gluteal Toner (10 minutes; 11:30 minutes w/ tutorial): standing behind chair you will be pulsing straight leg with pointed toe behind you but in various positions (directly behind you, slightly diagonal, different foot angles, etc.)
  4. Gluteous Sculpt (10:30 minutes; 12 minutes w/ tutorial): stand behind barre/chair far enough that you can lean over back of chair. For this workout you will be raising the leg behind you to hip height and pulsing it in various positions. For each position you will first pulse slow, then pulse fast, then hold isometrically. Here are the positions: leg straight out behind you and pointed, then still straight behind you but with foot turned out (still pointed), then with knee bent and foot turned out (still pointed); the final position is with the leg bent and foot pointed straight to the ceiling. The stretch at the end of this workout was very uncomfortable. I didn’t like it. But I did the advanced version. Next time I will do the easier version.
  5. Pretzel (10 minutes; 11:30 minutes w/ tutorial): The pretzel is a very challenging but very effective glute exercise. To get into position, sit on mat, one leg bent in front of you and the other bent behind you, so your legs are in a sort of Z or pretzel. First just reach back and grab your back foot and stretch in the pretzel position. Release foot. With knee on floor, raise and lower foot then hold with foot raised. Next raise and lower knee and foot. Raise knee and foot while pressing foot and knee back. Next raise and lower foot while knee is on the floor with opposite arm raised to the side. Arm still raised, lift and lower knee and foot. Stretch and repeat on other leg.
  6. Flat Back/Round Back Core (11 minutes; 13:30 w/ tutorial): this workout is more of a combination of core and lower body work and it is tough! I attempted the advanced version for everything but about half of the time I couldn’t sustain at that level and had to revert to the modified version. The title of this workout refers to the fact that for some of the exercises your back will be rounded and for others it will be flat; for some of the exercises you will be sitting with your back against a wall. One more note before I break it down; I usually workout with shoes on for everything–even yoga, but for this particular workout I feel my shoes really got in the way and in the future I will do it sans shoes. After a brief warm up of high knee marching, sit on the mat with knees bent and back flat, finger tips on the ground near ankles; alternate raising feet/calves but not knees (like you are marching); advanced is raising both feet/calves at the same time. Raise feet off ground and open and close legs. Open knees so you are in a butterfly, but your feet are not close to your crotch and hands are on the floor behind ankles; alternate lifting legs (advanced version is lifting both at the same time). Open and close feet/legs while still in the butterfly position. Extend legs straight in front of you, bend at the hips (rounded back) with fingertips on floor just past knees; alternate lifting legs (advanced version is lifting both legs at the same time). Open and close legs while in this position (legs straight, toes pointed). Repeat all of the straight leg exercises but turn feet out, toes pointed (legs still straight). Sit so your back is against the wall (and straight), knees bent, fingertips on the ground near hips; alternate raising feet/calves but not knees (like you are marching). Straighten legs and flex feet; open and close legs. With legs still straight, cross one ankle over the other and point toes; raise and lower top leg. Slide your hips forward, back still against wall but rounded now; stretch each leg by raising it and grabbing the calf and pulling straight leg toward face; after doing each leg, stretch both legs the same way but at same time. In this same position, raise one leg straight w/ pointed toe toward ceiling while the other is bent with foot on floor, hands on floor near hips; raise and lower straight leg. Stretch both legs again, this time you are gently pulling calves toward face/wall.
  7. Pure Core (10 minutes; 11:30 minutes w/ tutorial): this is done on the mat and it is just variations on the boat/half boat yoga pose–I did primarily the modified versions! They start with feet on floor and spine curled up, then one leg raised, then straighten the legs out to full boat. I did sometimes try the advanced, but I always went back to the modified version. This is hard! And the reason why, is that it is primarily isometric. You are pretty much holding the poses while doing different arm motions for 10 minutes with very short breaks. Like all of these workouts, this is all about form. When I really focused on the form (which they really help with because they frequently give form pointers during the workout) I felt all of the moves so much more intensely.

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