Every once in a while, I try out a workout and I just don’t love it. Then a debate starts in my head: do I want to review it on my site? Do I want to be the kind of blogger who only posts recommendations, or a blogger who talks frankly about things she both likes and dislikes? Does it lend more credibility to the things I recommend if I occasionally discuss things that weren’t for me?
Honestly, I still don’t know which I think is best, but I’ve settled on transparency. I’m not going to love everything, and that’s OK. Maybe the thing that turns me off from a workout or instructor will be exactly what someone else is looking for, right? Right.
Element is a whole suite of fitness DVDs, including several for yoga. Targeted Toning Yoga consists of three separate 20-minute segments: The Arms &Shoulders, The Abs & Core and The Glutes & Thighs. Each segment can be performed separately or programmed together in any order you choose, a nice touch. I did all three segments together, for about an hour workout.
I found the DVD to be a bit of a contradiction, all around. Instructor Meghan Kennedy Townsend takes her time to explain the fundamentals of breathing and yoga philosophy at the beginning, seemingly lending itself to beginning yoga practitioners. She excels at explaining the correct mechanics of each pose, so that undue strain won’t be placed on the body, and muscles will be worked properly. However, these explanations have a tendency to run long, interrupting good flow and breathing and necessitating that poses be held for quite a long time. I found that, sometimes, one side was being worked a good deal longer than another because we were getting so much beginner info, and I wondered whether a true beginner, who would need the explanation, would actually be able to hold the pose for that length of time.
The workout was definitely tough, and some of the setup movements were new to me, which I enjoyed. Townsend was usually great at cueing to change sides, etc., but I did find that as the workout progressed, she would sometimes forget to explain what we were doing until we were in the second repetition of the pattern. This gets particularly irritating in yoga, where it’s difficult to look up at the screen to see what’s going on. A beginner might be truly frustrated and feel like giving up.
This mild annoyance was definitely something I could overlook, because I was truly enjoying the challenging workout and the interesting change of pace. The real turn-off for me, though, was Townsend’s motivational style. This is something that really may be just me, but when I practice yoga, I’m really looking for peace, relaxation, and a chance to unwind. I want a good workout, but I want things to be calm, and I really want it to be a time to check in with myself and how I’m doing. The. last. thing. I want is to hear someone shouting boisterously at me to “Bend it! Bend it!” as if I were in an aerobics class, or to “Imagine the body [I] want RIGHT. NOW.” It just was not the style I was after, and I left the whole experience feeling kind of unsettled and frustrated.
All of that said, I was really stinking sore the next day! The core workout, in particular, was pretty darned tough, and I really liked the moves Townsend incorporated into her arm workout for the upper back. I feel like that’s a really difficult area to work without weights, and her workout was clever. Her lower body workout was good, too, but I think I prefer her abs & arms routines.
What do you think? Have you tried Targeted Toning Yoga, or any of the other Element videos? Am I way off-base?