Muscles in Motion. No Tricky Foot Moves.
As promised, here is a walking workout that can be done by mere uncoordinated mortals. This week, we review 5 Day Slim Down, from the undisputed queen of walking workouts, instructor Leslie Sansone.
The workout is divided into a 5 minute warmup, 5 different 1-mile walks (12-14 minutes each), and a 9-minute cooldown. There is also a fairly lengthy segment on healthy breakfasts.
It is refreshing to see a warmup where you actually get enough time to warm up, and a cooldown where you gradually lower your heart rate and still have time to do some yoga-based stretching. So many workouts race through these two sections (if they offer them at all), without spending enough time to get much benefit from them.
In the warmup, instructor Sansone goes over the four basic moves that are used throughout all 5 workouts: regular walking, side steps, kicks, and knee lifts. Once you’ve mastered these four moves (and really, that’s not difficult), you’re set. These are the only moves used in the workout, albeit with different arm movements and other slight variations (e.g. two side steps in each direction, instead of one; kicking your foot back instead of forward; etc.).
Each of the 1-mile walks has a different theme: basic, arms-focused, legs-focused, abs-focused, and fast (this last one is the 12-minute mile). Having this kind of variety in the workout is nice. All 5 segments are pretty good, although the legs workout was a little disjointed (she kept throwing in squats and lunges, which kind of broke up the pace of the walking).
With the warmup and cooldown added, a one-mile workout is just under 30 minutes. You can string together multiple miles for a longer workout. The DVD is chaptered, so it is easy to pick out the mile (or miles) you want to do on any given day.
Sansone’s cuing was pretty good. For the most part, she announced what you were going to do shortly before you did it. And really, the choreography is so simple that if you do get lost, it’s easy to get back on track again. There are only those four moves, and she sticks with each one long enough that you can catch up even if you start a few beats behind her.
Those familiar with Leslie Sansone’s workouts are aware of her somewhat nasal voice and her general chattiness. In this DVD, she is by herself, and while she does keep up running commentary throughout the workout, I don’t think it detracted from the workout itself. Regardless of the timbre of her voice, I felt the message she was getting across was important.
All the workouts are peppered with the standard encouraging phrases (at one point she even says, “Go, arms! Go, legs!”), but there are some comments she makes that seem tailor-made for the uncoordinated, like these:
- “Any time you say … my moves are a little tricky, I want to go back to some basic walking, you do, because the workout continues with a brisk pace no matter what moves you’re doing.”
- “If you just don’t feel the coordination coming, just put those hands down, and just keep the kicks going.”
- “I want you free to move. You don’t think about all that counting, or what my feet are doing … just move.”
- “You cannot do it wrong. When you want to put your arms down, go right ahead. It doesn’t interfere with the workout. You can change it up any way you want. Just keep moving, and you’re getting muscle conditioning, aerobic conditioning. Keep our pace, and you’re going to get fit; doesn’t matter if the moves match.”
- “Keep doing your double side steps if this isn’t for you. The workout’s the same. Remember it’s not the moves – its not these tricky foot moves that get you fit. It’s this pace. The pace keeps your heart rate up; your muscles are in motion.”
This last one was said while she was introducing one of my nemeses, the grapevine. Needless to say, I stuck with the double side steps, but it was clear that that was okay. At several points she flat-out tells you that if you get confused or tired, just switch to regular walking. She takes the stigma out of being uncoordinated.
In the intro, Sansone announces, “I love muscles in motion!”, and this mantra appears throughout the workout. She’s so enthusiastic about the exercise, in a sincere way, that she makes me love muscles in motion too.
This is what a walking workout should be: simple, accessible, effective. Muscles in motion. No tricky foot moves.