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.
Just like every TaeBo video I’ve ever done, Billy includes plenty of slower cardio segments where you jog in place between moves or practice the moves at half-speed to get the moves down. He alternates this with short bursts of more intense cardio where you punch and/or kick rapidly to boost your heartrate, so the workout is sort of like interval training. These videos are great for beginners who want to kick things up a notch since most of the video will be easy enough for a beginner, but there will also be short sections that push you to move faster and work harder. If you are more of an intermediate level athlete, you can always make the videos harder by continuing the moves during breaks, doing the moves at full-speed while he breaks them down at half-speed, or using weighted hand gloves. I personally like to do TaeBo when I workout with a friend because it’s easy enough that I can sustain a conversation while doing it but hard enough that I feel like I’m still getting a bit of a workout.
As with Billy’s other videos, most of the moves are straightforward and require little coordination. But there are always a few that are hard for me to catch on to or that require really good balance. This video was no exception. There was also one section that actually made me feel dizzy, so I just modified it so that I didn’t have to turn as much. Also, most of his moves are quite safe—low-impact moves that are easy on the joints. However, you need to be sure you can spin your feet easily enough with the floor and footwear you are using that you will not be twisting your knees. Billy also has a few punching and kicking moves in this video that are done so quickly that it is hard to do them safely. One move in particular was a rapid lunge-kick combo that I did not feel was very safe. I modify some of those moves to make them safer for my joints.
Billy doesn’t do a lot of cool-down stretching in these workouts, and he does mostly dynamic stretching moves as opposed to the static stretching moves most of us are used to. Since the workouts aren’t super intense, you probably won’t get cramps or injuries or anything like that if you don’t do much stretching, but I always like a good stretch at the end of a workout, and I would have liked this one to be a little better.
Even though there are technically only 2 workouts included on this DVD, it’s really more like having 3 or 4 different workout options because the longer 88 minute workout is broken into two sections—a 58 minute workout and a 30 minute one. I personally liked the final 30 minute section the most, so I would skip the first 58 minutes and just do the final 30 minute portion by itself. There are also a couple of instructional videos that demonstrate proper form for doing the 4 basic boxing punches, the 4 basic boxing kicks, and the proper form for using the “Amplifier” (if you plan to use it).
The workout studio and outfits the models are using are a bit dated (I’m thinking mid 90s?), but the workout is still fun for those of us who are die-hard TaeBo fans….or those who are new to the TaeBo scene. I also loved the music in these workouts and wished it was a bit louder so I could hear it above Billy’s encouragement and instructions and the cast. The cast counts to 8 repeatedly throughout the video in order to count reps and keep rhythm. This might be annoying to some people, but Billy does a lot of his videos like that and I sort of like it. Sometimes, when no one else is home, I even count along with them.
You don’t need any equipment for either workout, though the “Amplifier” (a 3 pound sculpting bar that is marketed by Billy for use in his AMPED workout set) is optional in the Turbo Charged Far Burner video. I’ve read mixed reviews about the amplifier and simply use a 3 pound set of ankle weights instead. (I wrap them around my hands then grip them as I punch.) Also, at some points you stand on one leg and kick with the other for a long time without putting your other foot on the ground, so be prepared with a chair or something nearby to help you with balance if that sounds like a struggle!
As long as you can throw kicks in all directions, you’ll have enough space for this workout. There are some traveling moves, but you can easily modify them to fit in a tight space if you need to.
You should be able to walk briskly or do other light cardio (vacuuming, elliptical, biking, etc.) for at least an hour to try the Ultimate TaeBo workout; the workout is longer than an hour, but the energy and encouragement from Billy should help to pull you through. (There are also options to do shorter workouts if you don’t think you can pull off the full 90 minutes.) You’ll also need enough balance and strength to kick your legs, preferably up to waist height, but it’s fine if you can’t get them that high. You’ll work up to it.
What NOT to Expect
All of the kicks and twisting motions will definitely work your legs and abs a bit, and you may even feel a little bit of a burn while doing some of the moves near the end of the video, but it won’t be enough to really fatigue your muscles (in a painful sort of way). Using weighted hand gloves or the Amplifier in the Turbo Charged Fat Burner will also tone your arms a bit. But again, it won’t fatigue your muscles enough that they’ll be burning in a painful, I-can’t-possibly-do-any-more-of-this sort of way. Basically, do not expect bulging biceps or ripped up quads from doing this video.
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. There are some short bursts of heavier cardio, but they are not long enough to get you winded or anything like that.
How does Ultimate TaeBo compare to other similar programs?