with trainer Shaun T
You will love it if:
Focus T25 is like Insanity without the steroids. Some of the videos are as challenging as the first level of Insanity, and some are easier. All of the workouts are only 25 minutes each (plus a few minutes of stretching at the end), so they are definitely a little more manageable than the Insanity workouts (notice I wrote, “a little”). Who doesn’t have 30 minutes to workout?! Shaun saves a bit of time in each workout by cutting out the warm-up/stretching at the beginning of the workout. Instead, he sort of eases you into the workout with a warm-up that blends seamlessly into the harder part of the workout. He also brought Tania back (who does all of the modified moves in his insanely popular Hip Hop Abs and Rockin’ Body series). Tania was in Insanity, but she didn’t demonstrate modified versions of the moves, which is a total bummer. In Focus T25 she is back, and she does a great job of showing you how to keep the workout challenging while modifying the high impact moves to protect your joints. This is one of the few really intense cardio workouts that is accessible to workout junkies who have joint problems.
I appreciated that some of the videos were at more of an intermediate level and save those for the days when I didn’t get enough sleep or I already had a challenging day at work and really don’t feel like doing a workout. This way, I feel like I’m still getting my workout in (25 minutes of an intermediate workout is better than nothing!) without being so overwhelmed by the thought of completing a long and grueling Shaun T workout that I talk myself out of working out altogether. For me, these videos were like a little break from the Insanity—I felt like I was maintaining most of the fitness level I had built up while doing Insanity and could switch back to the Insanity videos without much trouble if I wanted to improve my fitness level again. You could also use this program as a booster set if you are out of shape and want to try Insanity but aren’t quite ready for the challenge.
Many of the workouts in this series are based on a progressive movement method where Shaun T introduces a progressively harder version of the same move every 30 seconds then switches to a new move after 2 minutes. For example, you might start out by doing squats for 30 seconds, do jumping squats for the next 30 seconds, switch to jumping jack squats for the next 30 seconds, then finish off with 30 seconds of squat jumps with a 180 degree turn. You would then switch to a completely different move like lunge or push-up variations. I sort of like the way the progressive movement method breaks the workout up into small manageable chunks and allows you a bit of a break every couple of minutes while you do the easiest version of each move. It also makes the videos pretty predictable, which I liked. As with Insanity, these videos are very cardio and plyometric heavy and usually do not require equipment. (A few of the strength videos require handweights.) They also do not require much coordination for those of us who are sick of cardio dance videos that make us feel awkward and uncoordinated. Shaun T gives very few breaks, but he does throw in some slightly easier moves at times to allow you to get your breathe back. There are 11 workouts total, each focusing on different components of fitness: 3 focus on cardio and core work, 2 are circuit strength training, 1 focuses on arms, 1 focuses on legs, 1 is for stretching, and 3 focus on cardio and plyometric training. One caveat—the videos are arranged into an easier “Alpha” round workouts and a harder “Beta” round workouts. However, I felt that some of the videos in the Beta round were much easier than videos in the Alpha round. If you are planning on following the training calendar, I would switch the “Upper Focus” video with the “Total Body Circuit” video and the “Dynamic Core” video with the “Ab Intervals.” This will make all of the Alpha videos Intermediate to Late Intermediate and all of the Beta videos Late Intermediate to Early Advanced.
Hopefully, this isn’t true for every copy of the workouts produced, but some of the extra features on the copy I borrowed didn’t work. There are options for English subtitles (which worked fine) and options to play the video with music “loud” or “off.” However, the music continued to play at the same volume when I chose “loud” or “off.” And, as with all Beach Body workout DVDs, there are ads and trailers and other junk at the beginning of the workout that you have to skip through to get to the workout. The good thing is that you can skip through and get right to the beginning of the workout.
As always, Shaun T is a blast to workout with. (His competitive personality comes out really strong in the Insanity: Asylum videos…which may be my all-time favorites.) He is definitely one of my favorites. Period. I honestly love working out with him even while I hate how exhausted I feel. Even while I write this, I think longingly back to the months when I was borrowing these workouts and wish I had them back in my possession!
Most of the workouts don’t require any equipment, though I would recommend doing the ab, core, and circuit workouts on a yoga mat or soft floor since they include some mat work. You’ll also need handweights for the Upper Focus and RipT Circuit workouts. I would recommend 5-12 pound weights for women and 10-25 pound weights for men.
These workouts require hardly any space. If you can put a yoga mat down on the floor, you’ll probably have enough room. Try stretching your body out (hands above your head) while lying on the floor then spreading your arms out like a T. If you can do both of those things, you’re golden.
You really don’t have to be in great shape to attempt this workout program. Just start out with the easier videos and try the modified versions and then work your way up to harder workouts. Since Shaun T breaks pretty much all of the videos down into 30 second moves and there is a countdown timer at the bottom of the screen, you can also try things like resting for the first 5 or 10 seconds of each new move to make the workouts a bit more manageable.
What NOT to Expect
Don’t expect to gain a lot of upper body strength doing these workouts. The workouts do a good job of strengthening your legs and core, but you’ll only be working your upper body sporadically (unless you do the upper body workout and/or circuit training workouts a few extra times per week. These aren’t the most exciting workouts in the world either. They are all a bit different from each other and certainly aren’t boring, but there’s nothing super exciting or different and compelling about them either. They consist of pretty run of the mill workout moves pulled together into predictable routines. Not that there’s anything wrong with that—a lot of people will love that Shaun T didn’t try to reinvent the wheel when he created these. Also, don’t expect Insanity in a compact form. Though these workouts are challenging and will get you into good shape, they are not as tough as the Insanity workouts.
How does Focus T25 compare to other similar programs?
If you want a cardio focused workout series that is a bit more challenging than these, try Insanity or ZCUT Power Cardio. If you want something that includes more strength training but is still a very challenging cardio workout, try ZCUT Power Strength or some of Jillian Michael’s videos (I recommend 30 Day Shred, Killer Buns & Thighs, and 6-Week Six Pack). Another advantage of the ZCUT videos is that they take even less than 25 minutes but are super killer workouts. If you really like dancing and workouts that are a little more “exciting,” you might try TurboFire; it is a little easier than Focus T25, but is still a cardio heavy program and might be a better fit if you want a workout that is both “fun” and challenging. (If you are even a little bit coordinationally challenged, skip the TurboFire and stick with T25…trust me!) And if you just plain don’t want a cardio heavy video at all, check out my core and strength training reviews.
EASIER & MORE FUN
EASIER & MORE DANCING
Hip Hop Abs Ultimate Results
SHORTER & NO EQUIPMENT
ZCUT Power Cardio
HARDER & NO EQUIPMENT