Battle of the Core Workout DVDs: Jillian, Jazzercise or Suzanne?

We love how many functional core workout DVDs are on the market these days. But with so many to choose from, how do you know what’s good and what’s whack? We try them out so you can find your true workout DVD BFF!

Jillian-Michaels-Abs-DVDJillian Michaels: 6 Week Six-Pack

Between all of her different projects, I don’t know when Jillian Michaels sleeps, but I do know one thing: God bless her for putting out so many good workout DVDs. If you left me alone on a deserted island with only her DVDs, a TV and a DVD player, I’m pretty sure I’d be in ridiculous shape. And Jillian Michaels’ 6 Week Six-Pack would certainly be my go-to core workout.

Set up similar to the 30 Day Shred DVD, you get an easier Level One 35-minute workout (the DVD says 30 minutes, but it’s really closer to 35) and a darn near impossible Level Two workout of the same length. In both levels, after a short—and intense warm-up (only Jillian does high-knees to begin a workout)—you get straight into a brutal circuit of functional core exercises and high-intensity cardio moves. From mountain climbers to spider planks to plyometrics to jack knifes to side plank back-leg kicks (the soreness these caused me was incredible), you work hard. In Level One, you go through the circuit first slowly, then again at a much faster pace for a killer workout. And in Level Two? You take what you did in Level One and add more intensity with weights, jumping and new torturous positions. And you power through the circuit even faster than in Level One. Again, brutal.

FBG Rating (Out of 5):

Instruction: ★★★★
Long-Term Likeability: ★★★★★
Music: ★★★
Fun Factor: ★★★★
Meets Expectations: ★★★★★

Overall: ★★★★1/2

Best for: Jillian really gets what getting a six-pack is about: burning calories, shedding fat and developing overall core strength. And this DVD does all that and more.

jazzercise-abs-DVDDancin’ Abs by Jazzercise

I know that Jazzercise can provide a good workout in person, but in DVD form? Believe it or not, this is our first time reviewing a Jazzercise workout DVD! About time, I know. And this DVD was no let-down. Sure, it’s not quite as fun or exciting as being in a real class with real people and loud, pumping music (personally, my fave part), but it’s a great one to add in your dance workout DVD rotation. Just like the live classes, the moves are fun and timed to specific songs, you get your heart rate up, and the DVD just has that jazz-hands aerobics feel. Which I’m totally a sucker for.

You get two workouts in the DVD: a full 60-minute class and an express 30-minute workout (which is a collaboration of songs from the full hour workout). Both have a warm-up and a cool down and feature choreographed dance moves that work the core, along with specific standing ab work. You may think that because there are no crunches or mat work that you’re not working the core, but you’d be mistaken. I can personally vouch that the moves really work your abs because I did this DVD the day after Jillian’s and holy goodness was I sore, thereby feeling every single ab contraction.

The cuing in this DVD is fabulous with instructors Shanna and Young pumping you up, showing modifications and giving excellent alignment cues. The hour-long workout was a bit long and got a little boring in my opinion, but the 30-minute workout was—as Goldilocks says—just right. And the hip-hop song that you pump your fists and pop your chest to at the end of both workouts? SO. FUN.

FBG Rating (Out of 5):

Instruction: ★★★★★
Long-Term Likeability: ★★★★
Music: ★★★★★
Fun Factor: ★★★★
Meets Expectations: ★★★★★

Overall: ★★★★1/2

Best for: If you like Jazzercise, Zumba or other dance-based workouts, this is your perfect core workout DVD!

Gorgeous Core with Suzanne BowenGorgeous Core with Suzanne Bowen

I love the name of this core DVD. There’s no mention of fat or six-pack or thinness—just that you’re going to get your core gorgeous. Dahling. With six different quick segments, you get a little bit of everything in this DVD from Pilates to traditional core work to challenging plank series. You even get some leg and butt toning to go along with it.

Instructor Suzanne starts it off pretty easy in the 12-minute sections of Lean, Long & Strong, and Class Abwork with Pilates moves that all have modifications for beginners. Then she takes it up a notch in the segment Sleek Physique that is a solid 12-minutes of planks, T-stands, side planks and other variations on this get-you-shakin’ move (my fave section!). Metabolism Bootcamp is the most cardio of the segments with 12-minutes of squats, mountain climbers and standing balance work to engage the core (my second fave section). Then to round out the DVD there’s the shorter 5- to 7-minute segments of ABsolute Challenge! and Total Core Fast Blast that are a nice quick mix of Pilates (think V-sits and single-leg stretches) and traditional abs.

Suzanne is quite likable in the DVD and cues form beautifully, although I have to say that I was expecting this DVD to be more traditional strength than it was. This is definitely a more Pilates and dance-based workout reminiscent of these DVDs we just reviewed!

FBG Rating (Out of 5):

Instruction: ★★★★★
Long-Term Likeability: ★★★★
Music: ★★★
Fun Factor: ★★★
Meets Expectations: ★★★★

Overall: ★★★1/2

Best for: If you’re a Pilates fan and are looking for a quick workout that focuses on the entire core, Suzanne is your gal!

FIT BOTTOMED LINE: IF YOU LIKE JILLIAN’S NO-HOLDS-BAR STYLE, GET HER SIX WEEK 6-PACK DVD. IF DANCING IS MORE YOUR STYLE, TRY JAZZERCISE TO WORK THE MIDDLE. PILATES DEVOTEE? SUZANNE HAS YOU COVERED!

Do you do workouts specifically to strengthen your core? Tell us about it! —Jenn



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