By Su Reid-St. John
Ask most fitness experts for the perfect weekly exercise program and they'll likely prescribe three to four moderate-to-intense cardio bouts, two to three strength sessions (with lots of core work), and a yoga session or two. Acacia's new Fit in 5: Total Body Tone aims to live up to this ideal with five 20-minute workouts (pulled from previously released DVDs) on a single discâand it very nearly gets it right.
Here's a rundown of the sessions:
Strength: This peppy routine from trainer Desi Bartlett covers all the major muscle groups. Her cheerleader-esque voice-over is a bit fake happy, and there's little instruction. Still, the moves are good and the routine is fast enough to keep your heart pumping.
Yoga: Expert yogini Shiva Rea takes you through a flowing vinyasa routine composed of strong, simple poses to stretch and strengthen. The transitions are quick, so you'll need to know what you're doing if you want to keep up.
Pilates: This simple but challenging core routine comes from Pilates expert Kristin McGee. She's really likable and gives great how-to tipsâthis is the only newbie-friendly section on the DVD.
Abs: Made up of two 10-minute sessions, this workout from Fred DeVito and Elisabeth Halfpapp of Core Fusion fame is a killer. (Core muscles screaming for mercy after the first one? Stop there.) There's no real warm-up, but DeVito explains the moves clearly.
Cardio: This is an intense kickboxing workout from trainer Violet Zaki. She's my kind of instructor: strong and confident, with a tough-love approach of pushing you to the limit. The routine moves fast, with little instruction and no warm-up (you can do that on your own).
To get the perfect week from this one DVD, you could do the Strength, Yoga, and Pilates or Abs (you don't need to do both) sections once each. You'd need to do the Cardio program at least two to three times, though, which could get boring.
But who says you can't branch out? Add some walking, cycling, or skating intervals and you'll have a fitness program your body will thank you for.
Product: Fit in 5: Total Body Tone
Pros: It offers nearly everything required for an effective full-body toning plan.
Cons: You'll need to add extra cardio, plus most of the routines are too advanced for beginners.
Cost: $16.99 at Amazon.com
Extra tip: Don't do the Strength, Yoga, Pilates, or Abs segments on back-to-back daysâyour muscles need to recover, so take a rest one day, or do cardio in between.