TaeBo Ripped Extreme
with trainer Billy Blanks
You will love it if:
The basic premise of TaeBo is that by punching, kicking, and doing other self-defense type moves with music, you can get a great cardio workout while learning some self-defense at the same time. Billy’s target audience is females who might not otherwise workout or those who want to supplement other self-defense training with cardio workouts. The first half of the workout focuses on cardio and includes the 4 basic punches and 4 basic kicks used in kickboxing (plus some other moves Billy throws in). Each cardio move is done slowly a few times so you can get down the proper form. You then do the move at twice the speed to get a good cardio workout. Because of all the time spent showing the moves slowly and taking breaks between the moves, the cardio workout is probably only a late beginner level. You can make it more challenging by continuing the last move during the breaks, doing the moves at double time even when Billy is demonstrating them slowly, or using weighted hand-gloves.
The second half focuses on toning the arms and shoulders using small handweights but includes some standing abdominal moves and leg toning work too. I used 5 pound weights for the arm toning section, which was a bit heavy, but manageable. I liked that the toning section was designed in such a way that you can really feel the burn on each move without having to switch back and forth between heavier and lighter weights—you can feasibly use the same sized weights throughout the entire toning portion of the workout.
This is mostly a low impact workout, so it is pretty safe for the joints. There are a few high impact toning moves near the end of the workout, but not many. There is also a lot of twisting and turning in this workout, so be sure you are doing this workout using a floor and footwear that you are able to twist easily with in order to protect your knees. There was one kicking/punching sequence called the “L punch” that I just could not catch onto even after several times through the video. It was fine while I was doing the move slowly, but when the move sped up to double time, I lost all coordination and had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. Other than that move, the rest of the workout was pretty easy to follow.
There are 7 female actresses doing the workout with Billy (including Shellie, Billy’s adopted daughter, who is in many of his videos). There are a lot of things in this workout that struck me as a bit goofy. For example, the workout begins with everyone jogging around the fitness studio. Also, throughout the workout, the actresses count to 8 in unison for each of the moves. They also address Billy as sir, often responding with “yes sir” when he gives instructions. Even though all of this was a little weird compared to what I’m used to, I sort of liked the boot camp-like feeling of the workout. (The boot-camp-like feeling I am referring to includes the “yes sir,” counting to 8 repeatedly, and jogging around the room in a line….Don’t worry, the workout itself is definitely nowhere near as difficult as actual bootcamp!) Shellie does get a little too intense for me near the end of the workout—the workout is really not hard enough for all of the grunting and shouting she starts doing—but other than that, I thought it was a very enjoyable workout and actually liked it better than the TaeBo videos that came out in the 90s. (I was more of a Zumba fan back then.)
You will need light hand-weights (2 to 5 pounds) or weighted hand-gloves. You will also need a floor and footwear that allow you to turn easily while you punch and kick in order to protect your joints.
As long as you can throw kicks in all directions, you’ll have enough space for this workout. There are some traveling moves near the beginning of the workout, but you can do them as stationary moves without losing any of the intensity of the workout.
The cardio portion of this workout is about the same difficulty as a brisk walk or light jog. The toning portion is only as hard as you make it. (You can always use lighter handweights or no handweights at all if the moves feel too challenging.) Anyone who is able to stand and walk around for at least an hour should be able to finish this workout. You should also have enough balance and strength to kick your legs. Bonus points if you can kick your feet all the way up to waist height. But even if you can’t, no worries….You’ll get better with practice.
What NOT to Expect
While this is a great upper body toning video, the weights used are too small and the number of reps you do is too high to make your muscles get much bigger. If you want to build muscle mass, this is not the workout for that. This workout also does not include much abdominal or leg toning. All of the kicks and twisting motions will definitely work your legs and abs a bit, but not enough to really fatigue your muscles. Also, do not expect a super advanced cardio workout—your heartrate will probably stay in the heart health or weight loss zones throughout the workout.
How does TaeBo Ripped Extreme compare to other similar programs?