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This new DVD from Acacia stars Bethenny Frankel, bestselling author of the Skinnygirl series of books (e.g., The Skinnygirl Dish and Naturally Thin) and also known for her appearances on The Real Housewives of New York City. In the Introduction, Bethenny states that many fans have asked about what she does for exercise, and so she maintains that the routines presented on this DVD are "what I actually do." Bethenny recruited popular yoga and Pilates instructor Kristin McGee to join her for this video. Although Bethenny and Kristin are shown performing the routines together, it is Kristin who provides the actual instruction and cuing. However, the two banter back and forth, with Bethenny frequently suggesting modifications for the moves (sometimes to the point of interrupting Kristin). The set is arranged to resemble a large, spacious living room, and there is no music.
The Main Menu for the DVD offers the following options: Introduction -- Workout Options -- Bonus Features -- Also From Acacia -- Credits. If you select Workout Options, you are taken to a submenu which lists the following choices:
- Play All (55 minutes)
- Yoga (40 minutes)
- Strength Training (10 minutes)
- Booty Bonus (5 minutes)
- Main Menu
The yoga practice is strength-focused in nature. Throughout, Kristin and especially Bethenny talk about how the poses target muscles of the lower body in particular. Kristin begins the routine with three complete rounds of sun salutations, including full chaturanga and up dog in the sequence (although Bethenny performs modifications). She then adds on to the sun salutes, bringing in high lunge, warrior 2, and reverse warrior. Coming to the floor, she focuses a bit more on the core/upper body with side plank, 3-legged dog, and head-to-knee plank. Kristin returns to standing for a flow that begins in chair pose, then moves through warrior 1, reverse warrior, warrior 2, triangle, warrior 2 again, side angle, wide legged standing forward bend, pyramid pose, warrior 3, half-moon, standing splits, and finishes in a standing forward bend variation; this is completed entirely on one side before repeating on the other side. The final standing posture is tree pose; next, Kristin returns to the floor for pigeon and boat poses. She finishes out the practice with backbending (bridge repeated twice and then wheel pose as an option) and an inversion (shoulderstand or an alternative), concluding in a seated position with no final savasana (relaxation). Kristin instructs this routine well, offering mirrored cueing and plenty of form pointers. However, it is not appropriate for those new to yoga given that the difficulty level of the poses is more advanced beginner to intermediate.
For both the Strength Training and the "Booty Bonus" portions, Bethenny and Kristin are wearing sneakers; these two sections could easily be combined for a slightly longer workout. The Strength Training consists of two weights circuits: each contains three exercises performed for 12 repetitions, and then the full circuit is repeated once. Bethenny states that the first circuit is what she does when she actually makes it to the gym. The exercises here are side lateral raises, bicep curls, and bent over rows. She describes the second circuit as what she does in her "fantasy land" workout plan. These three exercises include front raises, triceps kickbacks, and overhead shoulder press. Again, it is Kristin who is leading the workout; she and Bethenny both use 5-lb. weights. Kristin also directs the bonus segment, which is very brief (less than 4.5 minutes of actual exercise time) and uses no weights. Kristen performs a single set of rear and side leg lifts followed by a set of squats; she then repeats the leg lifts on the other side, does one more set of squats, and that's it!
Several Bonus Features are included on this DVD. The bonus menu reads as follows:
- Cooking Segment
- Bethenny Frankel Biography
- Kristin McGee Biography
- Bonus from: Pilates for Beginners
- Bonus from: Exhale: Core Fusion Pure Arms & Abs
- Main Menu
The Cooking Segment, which is just under 5 minutes, illustrates how to make "Guilt-Free Artichoke and Spinach Dip," a recipe that is included in the DVD insert (along with several others from Bethenny's book, The Skinnygirl Dish). The two excerpts from other Acacia workout DVDs are each about 10 minutes long.
In summary, this DVD offers a nice, strength-based yoga routine with respected yoga instructor Kristin McGee. The yoga portion would be especially appealing for those who don't like the voiceover instruction found with most yoga practices on video. The strength practices, while well-done, are too short to be of much use. Personally, I don't think they would work well combined with the yoga (I don't like the idea of doing yoga and then having to put my sneakers on), but the segments might be useful as an add-ons to another weights workout. (An alternate option would be to do both the Strength Training segment and the bonus from Exhale: Core Fusion Pure Arms & Abs, this would make a quick but intense upper body routine!) For the right audience, I would recommend this DVD.
© 2010 Beth Cholette
Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students.