Health.com
August 25, 2011


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The term craze gets applied to so many trends, but Exhale Spa's Core Fusion phenomenon, with its ever-growing stable of classes, DVDs, and celeb devotees, actually deserves the title. Their just-out Cardio—Pure Intensity title is their first overt DVD foray into the world of heart-pounding, well, cardio. I had to check it out.

In case you've been living under a rock, the Core Fusion method is built around a combo of core conditioning, Pilates, ballet-inspired moves, and yoga. This "new" DVD is actually a revisiting of many Core Fusion staples. The five 10ish-minute workout segments (plus a stretch section)—led, as always, by likeable cofounders Fred DeVito and Elisabeth Halfpapp—pull from traditional Core Fusion classes and moves, just done at a faster pace. Translation: Don't expect pure cardio, because there's a lot of strength work in there, too. It gets your heart pumping, yes, but not in the way it would if you were running or power walking or dancing.

The segments are meant to go in order (they build on each other) so if you have time for, say, two of them, pick 2 and 3, or 3 and 4, or 4 and 5. Notice I didn't include the first segment, Energy Moves; that one is all about warming up and stretching, so if you've got only 20 minutes to blast some calories, it ain't gonna cut it. (Just be sure to do a quick warm-up on your own.)

A few words to the wise: First, if you choose to use dumbbells (instead of following the amiable lady in the second row doing the weight-free modifications), make sure they're 2 or 3 pounds, max (unless you're already seriously buff). The lightest I had on hand were 5-pounders, and they Kicked. My. Butt. (Well, at least until I abandoned them a couple moves in.)

Second, you'd better like mountain climbers, because no matter which workout you choose, you're gonna do a ton of them. That's not necessarily a bad thing—they're an excellent full-body move, targeting your core big time and ratcheting up that heart rate—but it does get a bit repetitive.

Third, know this: The Cardio Curl segment is all about on-the-mat abs, and you keep your shoulders lifted for pretty much the entire 10 minutes—even the rests are done propped up on your elbows. If that doesn't set your belly muscles afire, you're obviously fast-forwarding.

Caveats aside, this is a solid option for those days when you have only 20 minutes to work out and you're torn between doing cardio and strength. Why choose when you can do both?

Product: Core Fusion: Cardio—Pure Intensity
Category: DVD
Pros: You get five challenging cardio/strength full-body workouts that can be tailored to fit the time you have.
Cons: You'll need really light dumbbells to take full advantage of the strength aspect, plus the moves aren't very fresh and get somewhat repetitive.
Cost: $13.49 at Amazon.com
Extra tip: Not for newbies. Try this great cardio workout DVD for beginners.

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