Exercise DVD Review: Bob Harper’s Beginner’s Weight Loss Transformation

I never actually intended on getting the Beginner’s Weight Loss DVD. My wife and I did the whole Inside Out Method Workout Plan, lost 100 pounds between the two of us, and have done well at keeping the weight off. I heard that Bob was making this DVD and I thought, good idea, get a way to prepare people for the other exercise DVDs, good show, all that, but I never thought I personally would use it. See, anytime I hear “beginner’s weight loss” I picture people doing some toe touches followed by a water break while Bob tells some funny anecdote about The Biggest Loser or something, followed by a vigorous set of more toe touches. The idea of a beginner’s workout just didn’t appeal to me.

Then the holidays happened. And by holidays, I mean from, say, Labor Day forward. I stopped working out regularly. My food choices shifted towards unhealthier options. As the weather turned colder and mornings got darker, the idea of getting out of bed at 4:30 am to exercise seemed more and more ridiculous. Pizzas were ordered. Ice cream was consumed. It took a while, but 10 pounds gradually made their way back. The Xmas break was the worst, and by the time it was over I was ordering cheesesteaks and pizza for dinner, eating a foot-long sub and half a large pizza and idly wondering if I should have a gingerbread whoopie pie afterwards. My pants became tighter. Things needed to change.

So when my wife noticed that Bob’s DVDs were 5 bucks a piece, getting the beginner’s workout didn’t seem like such a bad idea. Why not? Some toe touches wouldn’t be a bad way to start. Yesterday, we got up and did the 20-minute Pure Burn workout to get the feel for exercise again, and by chance the Beginner’s Weight Loss Transformation DVD arrived last night. Perfect! So, this morning, we decided to see how the workout would go.

Well. Let me tell you this. If you’re looking for toe touches and stories and waterbreaks, you are out of luck.

Bob advises you to start with a pair of light hand-weights, since this is either your first workout or your first in a while. If you’ve worked out with Bob’s DVDs before, you will recognize most of the exercises. If you haven’t, you’ll pick them up quickly, since these are essentially the basics – push-ups, lunges, jumping jacks, and the like – blended together in a 45-minute workout, plus variations and some new moves he hasn’t featured before, like free-style and butterfly swimming moves with weights. There are no waterbreaks. As Bob says in the video, if you want a break, take it after the workout is over. He’s such a sweetheart. The pace is maybe just a touch slower than the other DVDs he’s made, but I’m not even sure that’s true. This turned out to be a seriously intense workout.

Bob is Bob, no different than any of his other DVDs, ranging from relaxed and encouraging to sarcastic and intense. If you like him in other DVDs, you’ll love him here. He’s the kind of trainer I respond well to, but your mileage may vary (especially those people who think that Tony Horton is a hoot, because I hate that guy so much). He’s joined by 4 people, some familiar (Leah and Joe from Ultimate Cardio Body) and some new (Casey and ummm…crap…Shayla? I forget her name. I will fix it later.), all of whom are in fantastic shape. At first, they have no trouble keeping up through all the exercises, but gradually, just like me and my wife, they begin to sweat and huff and puff and drop to their knees during handwalks. This workout is no joke. You’ll be doing the exercises I mentioned above, but mixed with the aforementioned handwalks, prisoner lunges (hands behind your head, elbows way back, harder than they sound), jump squats, regular squats, sumo squats, rows, shoulder presses, deadlifts, and the bane of my existence: fast feet. I hate fast feet. Bob makes sure to save it for the end when you’re already tired, and of course makes you jump at random intervals because he loves his job, and his job is to make you sweat and nearly puke. I hate fast feet.

As with Bob’s other videos, it features a good warm-up and, more importantly, a good cooldown and stretch period, something that gets overlooked on a lot of exercise DVDs. Bob makes sure you get the stretches in before and after the workout, and as someone who kinda tends to hate stretching, this is a good thing. I’ve lost a good deal of flexibility in the past couple of months, but prior experience tells me that Bob will help bring it back in a hurry.

All in all, this is a great workout. If you are in seriously bad shape, this might just be your last workout. If you have moderate fitness at all, you will be pushed. For me, this was a perfect workout for someone in decent shape who hasn’t been working out regularly for a couple months. In fact, I may or may not have been at the breakfast table just after the workout, three bites into my cereal, suddenly fighting off exhaustion-related nausea. I got a bit light-headed but hey, it’s my fault for taking all the time off. If you are looking to blast back into an intense workout regimen, this video is for you. If you are looking for toe touches and uplifting stories, find something else. According to my wife’s heartrate monitor, she burned over 350 calories in 45 minutes, which is a good (and more importantly, accurate – I find a lot of the machines that give you calories-burned feedback to be somewhat overgenerous with their readings) amount for a workout of that length that includes the warm-up and cooldown.

I give it five fall-down-on-your-knees-during-plank-holds-gasping-for-breath out of five.

Other Bob Harper Review Links:

About Alan Edwards

An indie writer who does accounting full-time on the side.

Posted on January 10, 2012, in Reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. All I remember is me muttering over and over how much I hate prisoner arms… and I agree… they deceptively sound easy… not so much though. I think a beginner could do this IF they are realistic and know they might not be able to get through all the exercises. Like Bob says though, as long as you are still moving… if you need to put down your weights, do it… if you need to go to your knees, do it…

    I’m really glad we purchased this DVD, it would be worth the price even if not on sale!

    FIVE out of FIVE sweat puddles from me as well!

    • Heh, yeah, I do remember you cussing him out a few times as well.

      I am definitely happy we got it. It was NOTHING like I expected.

  2. Thanks for the review. It sounds completely different then what I thought it would be. I picked up a DVD of his at $5 as well and noticed this one, but the cover was deceiving and it looked to be for real beginners. Handwalks, jump squats and fast feet in a beginners DVD? Awesome! I’ll have to pick it up when I come across it. I ended up getting the Total Body Tranformation one (hard!) and that has the prisoner arms lunges which turn into jump lunges, and prisoner arm russian squat kick combo that are really rough, especially the second time around. I agree that they are much harder then they appear.

    • We picked Total Body Transformation up too at the same time. We watched it last night to get an idea of how bad it was going to be. Holy freaking schmidt. I told my wife that I thought it would be 4 to 6 weeks before I’d be able to do that video all the way through. I’m not sure it’ll be that long, but I’m terrified of that, especially seeing how badly all those insanely fit people were flagging midway through. That one is going to be fun.

      • I really, really hate the around the world push-ups in that one. They are awful, and the side burpees, don’t like those. All in all I liked Total Body Transformation. It is actually one of those that you are working so hard that you forget how much time is left. Seems to go by quick. I will be checking out the one you reviewed sounds good. I also picked up a neat little fitness device called a Striiv. Love it.

        • Those both looked really brutal to me. I could see it going by fast too, since the other ones do the same thing.

          Never heard of a Striiv – have to check that out!

  3. Hi Alan, loved your honest review!

    I have one question though I was given the DVD only as the case had been lost so I just wanted to know do you have the routine/schedule guide, how many days a week are you supposed to the routine?

    Please let me know!

    Many Thanks

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