Exercise DVD Review: Bob Harper’s Ultimate Cardio Body
It’s been a while since I did one of these, but I feel like I’m almost obligated to do reviews for workout DVDs now. You can find my other Bob Harper and other reviews here.
I bought the Ultimate Cardio Body DVD a while ago but never got around to reviewing it. Why? Because I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle doing the actual workout. Since I hit my target weight, I eased back some on the workout front. I still exercised, only not as much, and I know from prior experience that doing a little bit of exercise will not leave you in good enough shape to truly experience a Bob Harper workout. Jillian Michaels has built a money-making machine around the idea that she is TV’s Toughest Trainer, but you wouldn’t know that from their exercise videos. Bob Harper will drive you into the ground and make you smile while he does it.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Ultimate Cardio Body, honestly. Besides cardio. Would it be like his previous cardio-centric DVD? Would I be able to not use weights? Would I collapse and die partway through? This morning, I finally got a chance to answer those questions. After five weeks of getting up at or around 4:30 every morning to do a cardio workout, I felt ready for a new challenge, so I threw in the DVD. (By the way, the answers are Yes, No, and Nearly.)
Ultimate Cardio Body is a one hour workout; well, to be technical, it is 1 hour, 1 minute, and change. You can tell because of the little bar at the bottom that counts down as you go, similar to his prior DVDs (except the kettlebell ones, which if I recall correctly didn’t have them). There was one nice little change to the countdown bar that might only mean something to console gamers, but it seriously made my wife and I happy: at the 25%, 50%, and 75% completion points, a little ding sounded and the bar filled in with blue and let you know you’d hit a milestone. It was like getting an achievement on an XBox 360 game. Yes, it seriously made us happy. Yes, we are seriously lame.
The workout gets right to it. No real speeches, just Get To Work. With Bob are 4 people, 3 females in amazing shape and one dude who’s tall. I think Bob likes having tall guys there, since at various points he likes to inform us of Joe’s height (he’s 6’2″). Like every other Bob DVD, the guy is the first one to start flagging and half-assing moves. It’s understandable, though, because it is a punishing workout.
It starts with some stretches. The real hell begins when he asks you to grab a weight. One weight. You start doing Alternating Lunges. Get used to them. You will be doing a lot of them. More than you’ve ever wanted to do in your life. I actually made a sob-like noise later on in the workout when he made me start doing them again. Oh! And as a reward for doing all those lunges, he makes you do jumping lunges! He’s so swell that way.
As usual, I’m not going to do blow-by-blow analysis. It’s better to be surprised somewhat. You will need handweights, probably in multiple weights for when your shoulders collapse in on themselves or burst into searing jets of flame and you need to go a little lighter. Just know this: you will be worked, and you will sweat, and you will want to curl up and cry at some point. Maybe it’ll be during Ass Burners (yes, the actual name of the exercise is an Ass Burner. Yes, it’s quite apt.) or Runner Lunge Pushups or whatever the hell he calls them (in plank, do a pushup while simultaneously bringing one knee to your elbow. It’s a new level of Holy Shit That Hurts) or while you endlessly hop on one foot, which sounds easy but isn’t, no, nope, not a bit. But it’ll happen. You will want to give up.
But the difference between Bob Harper’s DVDs and the others that I’ve done comes down to Bob himself. He’s dynamic without being huckstery like the PX90 dude, he gives instruction without sounding robotic and boring like Jillian’s videos for the last 5 years, and he makes me want to try harder because he knows that I can. It’s weird, but his personality is all over his videos and makes a big difference in replayability for me. See, when I watch an exercise DVD and the bulk of it is some trainer telling me how to do the moves, I know that is going to be dull as shit the 10th time I try to do it. I still occasionally do Jillian Michaels’ Banish Fat Boost Metabolism and No More Trouble Zones videos, and I can’t even watch the screen anymore. It’s her pointing out on someone else how to do a move I’ve done 8 billion times by now. I don’t give a shit about form anymore. I know how to do the exercise. I need someone who will inspire me to work my ass off.
That’s where Bob pays off for me. His energy is high, he works his helpers until they actually aren’t even doing the exercises anymore because they’re as exhausted as I am (which makes over-edited and -produced videos such a waste to me. I don’t want to look at some skinny asshole with a shit-eating grin doing the exercises without a trace of sweat because they get to have breaks and multiple takes that get edited out). As odd as it is, I get a good feeling from outworking the people on the screen. It makes me feel good about my effort.
Bottom line: This DVD is as good as any of his previous videos, and it’s among my top 4. It is hard, but I know it has great replay value, it’ll push you to the limits of your endurance and beyond, and it will give serious results. Like all of Bob’s videos, I recommend that you be in somewhat decent shape to bust into these, or else you may get discouraged quickly by having to skip or modify constantly. If you are serious about working out and ready for a serious challenge, I highly recommend this.
Oh, one final note: Bob should fire the Art Director or whoever approved the cover for this DVD. It is hilariously bad to me. Just awful. Forget the FiveHead. It makes Bob look like the Leader from Marvel Comics.
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