Review of Physique 57

Review of Physique 57

I recently tried some barre type classes/DVDs, and found it to be a new, interesting form of exercise that I wanted to keep in the mix of my regular gym visits. A friend who teaches barre classes in another state recommended Physique 57 DVDs, so I purchased the first volume (which includes 3 DVDs and a workout ball) for $60 plus shipping from physique57.com.

The first volume of the workout series includes the full-body 57-minute workout, a 30-minute abbreviated workout for when you’re pressed for time, and a 30-minute arms and abs booster workout. The workout ball was clearly made of phthalates and the smell bothered me, so it’s been airing out in my garage since it arrived. Instead, I used my kids’ playground ball from Crocodile Creek. You’ll also need some hand weights (I use 5 lbs and 8 lbs). If you visit their website, you can download a workout for $5-7 for 48 hours, which is what I did to sample it before purchasing the program.

The Pros:

  • This program is challenging, especially for the thighs and abs. I could definitely use more arm and seat work, but I still can’t make it through all three sets of thigh work in the 57-minute DVD despite being in great shape and doing the DVD a couple times a week for 6 weeks.
  • The ab work focuses a lot on the lower abs, which is exactly where most women need help. The ab sections are filled with unique moves that aren’t easy. Form is awesome too. Yay!
  • Love the emphasis on keeping the belly in throughout the workout. Too many DVDs/classes completely forget the transverse abdominus, and if you want flat abs, you have to engage it.
  • They balance the ab work with some lower back extensions–a must for a balanced core.
  • The music is decent.
  • There are a variety of people doing the exercises, and not all of them have tiny little dancer bodies.
  • One person modifies the moves down, another makes them more challenging.
  • I like how you really fatigue one muscle group and then stretch it before moving on. You want to be burning, quivering, and shaking!
  • No impact, but I still get the burn and sometimes break a sweat too.
  • I like how stretching is sprinkled in throughout the workout, and not just lumped at the end, where I often skip it if I’m pressed for time. Flexibility is a huge weakness of mine, so I really need this.
  • I’m so happy to see the pelvic tilts at the end, although I have no idea why they call it back dancing. These moves have been recommended to me by my chiropractor and two physical therapists. I never remember to do them on my own, so having them incorporated into my workout is great.

The Cons:

  • I find the personalities of the instructors to grate on my nerves a bit. Tanya Becker, one of the co-founders of the program, instructs two of the DVDs. She mostly knows what she’s doing and saying, but the constant descriptions of “how we make muscle” irritate me. My two-year old also asks why the teacher is yelling. :) The other instructor, Shelly Knight, doesn’t stop to take a breath as she spits out multiple instructions in rapid succession. I guess it’s time to start doing the DVDs on mute?
  • There don’t appear to be chapters on the DVDs, so you have to actually fast forward to the section you want. What a shame for when I want to use just a specific part of the DVD.
  • Three DVDs just doesn’t offer much variety. While I enjoy the workouts, I’m getting a bit bored. Perhaps it’s time to purchase Volume 2 (which is $50 plus shipping, a little cheaper since it doesn’t include the ball).
  • I want more challenging work for the glutes!!! And hamstrings too would be nice.
  • I’ve never been sore–and I like that to happen, at least in the beginning, so that I know it’s working. I swear I’m trying to push myself, and my muscles burn and quiver during the workout. But nothing the next day…
  • Tanya is not quite on the beat of the music, which I’m sure drives dancers and musicians crazy.

I can’t really speak to changes to my body based on this program. I visit the gym 3-4 times/week and do the DVDs on the days I don’t go. I aim to do them 2-3 times/week. The recommendation is at least 3. After 6 weeks, I *think* my butt might be more lifted and my abs a touch flatter, but my thighs aren’t any slimmer. I do find that doing these exercises correctly really works the gluteus medius and minimus, which are weak for me and for a lot of people. So I’m happy to have some exercises to strengthen them (like the pretzel, which I’ve never seen in any other DVD).

I think this program is much more preferable than the Tracy Anderson Method, which I reviewed a couple years ago. If you want to tone and tighten and look like a dancer, I think that Physique 57 could get you there.