Confession: I've purchased many a workout DVD throughout the years, and most of them I've done only once. It's rare I find one I actually stick with, usually for one of two reasons:
- The exercises are so overwhelming right off the bat I practically keel over long before the 20 or 30 minutes are up. I'm all for pushing myself, but sometimes it's just too much, too fast.
- The instructor is so cheerful and hyper I just can't handle the pep (the same exact pep) on a regular basis. I consider myself a pretty positive person, but sometimes working out just isn't that enjoyable.
I'm also one of many people (including more than 600,000 Twitter followers) who adore Bethenny Frankel. I laughed at her sarcasm and wit on "The Real Housewives of New York" and tuned in when she broke away from the other gals and got her own reality show. I'll admit I haven't yet tried her Skinnygirl margaritas or sangria -- I know, shame on me.
So when the opportunity came to try Bethenny's new Skinnygirl Workout, set for release on DVD September 12 at Target stores and on Target.com, I jumped at the chance to give it a test run. Because past experience aside, I'm always hoping the next DVD will be the one that sticks (aren't we all?).
Part of the reason I wanted to try this workout -- okay fine, most of the reason why -- was because it's Bethenny's workout. I'd be disappointed if I didn't crack a smile or chuckle at least once during those downward dogs and warrior poses, because her humor and personality are why her fans love her.
I wasn't disappointed.
The first time working out to a new DVD is always a little tough -- especially when it's something like yoga -- because you don't know what's coming next, and you constantly have to look up at the TV screen while trying to stay in all sorts of complicated positions. Craning your neck like that is pretty much a no-no in yoga (Bethenny refers to it as "Shar Pei neck").
The workout is led in part by New York City yoga instructor Mike McArdie, whom Bethenny has known for several years. There are three segments -- two 15 minute segments and one longer 20 minute segment.
I really appreciated the pace and the difficulty of the workout. It wasn't too fast -- McArdie took time to explain the poses and just how your body should be positioned -- and the poses were just hard enough to make me feel like I had something to work toward, but not so difficult I felt defeated.
And there was absolutely no guilt-tripping going on. In my amateur opinion, there's nothing worse than feeling like the instructor is shaming you through the television screen for only doing the easy version of a pose instead of the difficult. At some points even Bethenny takes a break and opts to stay in her favorite stretch for a few moments longer, assuring the viewer there's no shame in going at your own pace and passing on the moves that are just too much for your body to handle that day. Like she says, as long as you come back and finish, that's all that matters -- even if "coming back" means the next day.
There are moments of comic relief, too, such as Bethenny asking about McArdie's recent man-icure (a pedicure for a man, for those not in the know). Even the beloved Cookie makes an appearance, strolling through the background.
Two days later, I gave the workout a second round. The poses were easier, and I could stay in them longer. I could focus more on my breathing and my positioning rather than on glancing up every other second to make sure I wasn't missing something. I even succeeded in getting into the "rock star" pose, which I had completely skipped the first time through (I believe my thoughts were somewhere along the lines of: "How on earth does does this guy expect me to get into that position and not fall over?!")
My favorite portion of the workout was the stretch at the end -- rather than just doing a brief cool down, Bethenny and McArdie do a separate 12 minute segment. I was working muscles in my shoulders I didn't even know existed, and I felt fabulous afterward. Overall, I found Bethenny's Skinnygirl Workout great for someone like me, who has done some yoga before but needs a little more encouragement (and humor) to keep at it.
Hopefully, I've found a workout DVD that won't end up in a garage sale pile.