Barre Fitness with Jessica Smith Review

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Another Jessica Smith review! I received a complimentary copy of Barre Fitness for review. Also, I’ve marked Amazon Associate links (*).

I really do love Jessica Smith workouts! Her routines are varied. There are many different styles–dance, walking, barre, yoga…

Barre Fitness includes three ballet-inspired workouts. Each workout is 20 minutes and are done without shoes. The description of each workout from the cover:

CARDIO BALLET (20 Minutes) Forget that boring treadmill; burn calories with the grace of a barreballerina! This fat-burning, ballet-inspired session works up a surprising sweat in a small amount of space, no equipment required.

BARRE BURN (20 Minutes) Lift, shape and define your entire body with this cardio sculpting barre workout. A sturdy chair and a set of light hand weights (2- to 8-pounds, depending on level) are recommended for this routine.

FLOOR BARRE (20 Minutes) Cinch, tighten and stretch – without ever leaving the ground – with this total body conditioning routine. A mat and a small soft ball or pillow are recommended for this workout.

The Cardio Ballet workout is more challenging than expected. It is at an intermediate level. There are some jumps, but Jessica demonstrates modifications. Jessica also reminds you that no one expects you to be a perfect dancer! But, in the privacy of your own home you can kind of start to feel like one!

Barre Burn is a standing workout. There are strength moves that also work balance and coordination, and you can start to feel the burn. As Jessica says, “Burning means it’s working. That’s our motto with barre.”

The final segment, Floor Barre, is done on the floor. I used a mini stability ball*. Whew! This one works your abs! (“Hello abs!”)

Jessica is always friendly and gives great cues and modifications. Her chatter is sometimes spontaneous and good for a chuckle. At one point, she indicates that something should be where your back pocket was if you’re wearing jeans. She stops for a second and adds, “I’m sure you’re wearing pants, just not jeans, right now.”

Barre Fitness is available at Jessica Smith’s website.

Jessica Smith also offers great (FREE) workouts on her YouTube channel.

Here’s another one to use that mini stability ball:

 

The Maze Runner Movie

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I saw a screening of The Maze Runner in Houston last week.

The Maze Runner was directed by Wes Ball. While the movie departs in places from the YA novel by James Dashner, it was thrilling to watch. The cast (check them out on IMDb) did a nice job of bringing the Glade and the Maze to life on the big screen. For most of the movie, the onscreen personalities are a group of teenage males. They are stuck in The Glade and have built a functioning society in a mysterious setting surrounded by the Maze. It may remind you of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, but in The Maze Runner, the terror comes from without instead of within.

The movie reminded me of an M. Night Shyamalan film, especially movies like Signs and The Village. There was the physical presence of danger, but there was also a psychological element. I don’t usually watch movies from the horror genre (unless they are 1930s classics), so this PG-13 film was about as scary as I like my movies.

The Maze Runner will be in theaters September 19.

Galveston & Moody Gardens

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We took a trip to Galveston the weekend before school started. (Trip is in kindergarten now!) We stayed at Moody Gardens, and basically did everything they have to offer: an indoor rainforest, an aquarium, a ‘discovery’ pyramid, moves in 3-D and 4-D, and a ride on a replica sternwheeler. And, of course, the water park! (Ropes course and zip line will have to wait for another visit!)

We had one-day passes for Saturday. I thought it was going to be exhausting, but it was actually really fun. Moody Gardens may have a lot of attractions, but it wasn’t sprawling. It was easy to get from one place to the next. (Plus they had shuttles running.) Staying at the resort, we were able to use the water park all weekend. The water park was just about right for Trip (5yo). He could do almost everything (he didn’t make the height requirement for the big water slides).

The ride on the replica steamboat, the Colonel, was fun. I spend a lot of my time researching/writing about/thinking about steamboats, so it was fun to have Trip ride on a replica. You can sign up to have your kid in a drawing to be an “honorary captain,” and Trip won! He received a few tokens of the trip as Captain. He was quite happy to take charge and play captain with my husband, mother-in-law, and me as his crew.

Enjoyed the aquarium and the rainforest immensely. You can see why:

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The movies provided a nice break. The 4-D movie was a truncated version of Rio (brilliant idea…20-minute summaries should be available of more movies!!!), and we saw Galapagos in 3D.

I also reluctantly went to the Discovery Dome exhibit of “Real Pirates.” Only went because it was part of the ticket. My issue with this exhibit is that it profits treasure hunters. From an archaeological standpoint, the work on the Whydah (which is the focus of the exhibit) was questionable. Investors in the commercial recovery of artifacts from the ship were hoping to profit from gold and treasure reportedly on the ship. These commercial attempts to find lost treasure on ships just do not pan out. Yes, there are ships to be found, but the rumored treasure just isn’t there. Artifacts do have historical value, which leads to the creation of museums/exhibits like “Real Pirates.” It turns historical intrigue into financial gain. That being said, the exhibit is slick and nicely put together. Okay, stepping off my archaeology soapbox now. I could go on, but remember when I said I research and write about steamboats? I have to get back to that now…

Walk On with Jessica Smith: Strength & Balance Review

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I received a complimentary copy of Strength & Balance for review purposes. Amazon Affiliate links are marked with a (*).

Jessica Smith’s workouts are awesome! Jessica Smith is conversational and friendly as an instructor. Her workouts are varied and interesting. js

Walk On with Jessica Smith: Strength & Balance includes two half hour programs. The first is “Stride & Strength,” which is a total body toning and cardio session. This is an intermediate level walking workout. There are bursts of high intensity, but modifications are shown. A pair of hand weights (from 3-8 lbs.) is suggested.

The second session is “Fusion Walk.” It is tempting to think this is an easy walk, but it is designed to give a light workout on recovery days. There are dance, kickboxing, and standing Pilates moves. The walk is done barefoot, and there are moves to help strengthen the feet and ankles.

It is suggested that “Stride & Strength” is done on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. “Fusion Walk” is for Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. This would be a nice program to follow for a month or so. You can adjust the intensity of the workout and add weights to progress as needed.

The workouts are done outside. Jessica’s mom and a friend joined her. Her mom shows the lower intensity options. There are times when Jessica’s friend is struggling a bit to keep up with the workout, which shows that this isn’t an easy workout. This is not the most polished fitness workout I’ve seen. There are some weird camera angles and a few sound issues, but it does not detract too much from the workouts.

It looks like new copies of this DVD are sold out. Digital copies can be purchased on Jessica Smith’s website. This workout is also included in the Walk On three-disc set*.

ALSO!!!!!!!!!!!! Jessica Smith has posted some excellent, wonderful, fantastic workouts on her YouTube channel. These seem like low-budget productions. Generally, these are done in what looks like a corner of her home. She is often joined by her cute pup, Peanut. (This makes her infinitively more relatable to me. My dog and cats are always around when I’m working out and home!) Despite the low-key feel of the set, Jessica Smith is organized with her instruction and the music is usually pretty good! There is a lot of variety in the workouts, including sessions on strength, Pilates, walking, dance, stretching, barre, high intensity cardio, and more!

One of my favorites this summer was “Tank Top Arms.”

Similar scenes occur at my house:

It’s all good!

WORLDFOODS Sauce Review

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I received WORLDFOODS Sauces for review through MomsMeet.

WORLDFOOD makes sauces inspired by Asian cuisine. WORLDFOOD makes quick work of making these dishes at home. The jars have serving and recipe suggestions. Plus, they have a whole list of recipes online if you want to get even more creative.

The buzz from the company:

  • WORLDFOODS only uses authentic herbs and spices along with 100-percent natural, fresh ingredients to WORLDFOODScreate each of its unique flavors.
  • Currently the brand offers 65 different sauces, dips, and marinades all inspired by the tastes of Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, China, and India.
  • These sauces are perfect for individuals with dietary constraints. Each of their products are allergen and gluten free!
  • Free of added oil, trans fat, artificial ingredients, preservatives, or food flavor enhancers.
  • The retail price for WORLDFOODS sauces varies based on retailer. To find a store near your visit: worldfoods.com.my/wf/where_to_buy/index.php.

My favorite was the Thai Ginger Lemon Grass Stir-Fry Sauce. I sauteed tofu, onions, and peppers and then added the Thai Ginger Lemongrass Sauce. I served it over rice. Easy!

The flavors of the sauces I tried are pretty mild. Trip tried some and–well–he didn’t spit it out. So, that’s something. He didn’t eat very much either, though. I, however, loved the sauces. They are a great addition to leftover vegetables and rice or noodles. The jars can be refrigerated after opening, so you can play with portions.

WORLDFOOD Sauces are available online and in stores. In Houston, they are available at Fiesta.

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I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms MeetSM program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms MeetsSM blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Medai Group LLC or the manufacturer of the product.

SHAPE Cardio Sculpt Pilates Review

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This is a review. FYI…Amazon Associate links are marked with an (*).

I have had SHAPE Cardio Sculpt Pilates* (2010) on my wishlist for some time. What an extreme disappointment.

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First, this is a reissue of a previous SHAPE Pilates workout from 2006*. Nowhere is that mentioned on the cover or in the description. The title has been changed. Cardio Sculpt Pilates was put out by Gaiam, and Gaiam is known to release previous workouts without new content and without notification to consumers that the product was formerly released. Just be careful when purchasing Gaiam DVDs. They release plenty of new material too, but you have to watch out for repeats.

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The original release

Next, this workout is in no way a “cardio” workout. In other workouts, Pilates-style cardio will often be done standing up. This workout is done entirely on the floor. It is a Pilates mat workout. There is no cardio element. Having cardio in the title makes no sense! Maybe it sounded trendy?

That being said, the workout itself is a decent beginner/intermediate Pilates workout led by instructor Lizbeth Garcia. There are traditional Pilates moves like roll-ups and leg sweeps. Lizbeth adds some new elements to these classic moves, like a twist. The workout isn’t boring…but once again, it’s not the cardio-sculpt Pilates I thought I was getting. A mat is required.

There is also a twelve-minute bonus workout. It is a total body sculpting workout led by Tracy York. This requires two sets of hand weights and a mat. This workout has also showed up on other DVDs, but I have far less issue with that when it is “bonus” content.

If you’re truly looking for a cardio sculpt Pilates-style workout, may I suggest looking into Ellen Barrett? For example, see my review of her Sleek Sculpt Express workout.

Leslie Sansone, Walk to the Hits: Party Songs Review

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This is a review; I checked out this workout DVD from my local library! Amazon Affiliate links are marked with a (*).

Leslie Sansone has made her career out of creating at-home walking workouts, but it feels like she’s having trouble keeping workouts fresh and unique.

Judging by the cover, Walk to the Hits: Party Songs* (2013) should be a workout I enjoy.

This is a review; I checked out this workout DVD from my local library! Amazon Affiliate links are marked with a walk(*).

Leslie Sansone has made her career out of creating at-home walking workouts, but it feels like she’s having trouble keeping workouts fresh and unique.

Judging by the cover, Walk to the Hits: Party Songs* should be a workout I enjoy.

The cover describes the workout:

Hit music to pump up the pace & amp up results!

Herein is my first problem with the workout. The music. Yes, the music includes hit sons like “Can’t Touch This,” “Dancing on the Ceiling,” and “We Got the Beat.” The hit songs, however, are not done by the original artists. This takes away a lot of the appeal of this workout. At one point during the workout, Leslie says, “We should have invited Lionel Ritchie!” Yes. You should have because these hits are missing the mark. Leslie does admit at another point, “It’s not really Lionel. That’s all right.” No…no it’s not. If you are going to market a workout that is focused on the soundtrack being hit party songs, I would think you’d find some hit party songs with original artists not sad covers.

In addition to the disappointment over the soundtrack, it seems like Leslie is sometimes fighting to give her cues over the volume of the music. The transitions between songs is not always smooth.

The workout itself is 45 minutes, which in Leslie’s Walk at Home system translates to three miles. The intensity level is probably best for advanced beginners. There are some higher impact moves (like bounces), but the moves can be modified.

The workout also features “HIIT” training. Sort of. HIIT, of course, stands for High Intensity Interval Training. And HIIT is so trendy right now, so I can understand why Leslie would want to include it. True HIIT workouts have waaaaaaaaaaaaay more intensity and effort than what is done in this workout. This workout doesn’t really challenge to the maximum effort. It is probably better described as an interval workout or “boosted” walking done in some of her other videos. The intervals include 30 seconds of high intensity followed by 2 minutes of very low-intensity recovery.

If you’re familiar with Leslie’s Walk at Home workouts, the moves in this workout should be familiar. Leslie doesn’t offer anything substantially new.

What I do like about Leslie Sansone is her personality and instruction style. Like all her other videos, Leslie is enthusiastic and friendly in Walk to the Hits: Party Songs. Leslie focuses on health rather than strict appearance. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her say anything like, “Imagine yourself in your skinny jeans.” So many instructors attempt to motivate in that way. Not Leslie. She’s more focused on the positive health benefits of walking, and she wants you to have fun doing it.

Another things I consistently like about Leslie’s workouts is her background walkers. She always finds some great people to walk along with her, whether it’s other walking instructors, people who have used her system/studio, or professionals. In this workout, the background walkers appear to be having fun, and they each show off a different walking style.

The soundtrack just lost me in this one, and the workout itself did not get me interested.