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American Gladiators: Ultimate Workout

Until last year, American Gladiators was but a memory of my childhood. Now, it’s back—accompanied by a workout DVD, of course. While I haven’t watched the new 2008 season, from what I’ve caught online it looks to be a modernized version of the 1990s show. Knowing how buff the Gladiators are, I was quite interested to see what the workout entailed.

The DVD features three main workouts, including two strength segments and one cardio section. Three 5-minute workout challenges are also included for the glutes, abs and arms.

Muscle Madness (Strength 1)
The 25-minute Muscle Madness introduces you to Titan, Phoenix and Wolf dressed inflashy, tight silver outfits. Whoa! While the warm-up and cool downs are glossed over, the meat of the workout is solid. Lunges, it must be said, are the basis of the workout. Titan begins with lunges with weights, bent-over rows, squats, bicep curls and wide rows. Titan, it must also be said, has the most massive thighs I’ve ever seen, so it did get on my nerves that he acted like he was exhausted after about two reps of anything.You don’t get those thighs taking it easy. Next, Phoenix takes the lead, introducing some cool combo moves, such as forward and side lunges with rows. Wolf comes in to finish off the set, focusing on the core. Side twists with weights trim your middle, and side-to-side lunges with a dumbbell work the obliques. The toughest move for me was lifting weights overhead while in plank position.

Muscle Makeover (Strength 2)
Toa, Crush and Jet again rush you through a warm-up before kicking off the workout with dead lifts, always guaranteed to make my hams sore. Push-ups, curtsey squats, tricep kickbacks, and regular squats worked both the upper and lower body. Leg raises from plank position were a challenge for both my legs and arms. My worst frenemy—mountain climbers—are also included here. Squats with chest scoops and combo push-ups with leg lifts were challenging as well.

Crush didn’t seem too sure of some of her directions, saying “I guess you do it like this…” which doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence. On the other hand, Jet does a good job of instructing, encouraging and discussing which moves help which body parts. She focuses on core work, planks and abs. This segment is about 20 minutes.

Cardio Crusade
The whole gang teams up for the cardio segment. You immediately start with a couple of static stretches (odd at the start of a workout, I think) before moving into half-hearted dynamic stretches. You start the real cardio with a boxer shuffle and punches to start the heart a beatin’. Upper cuts, repeater knees, lunges and jumping jacks keep your heart pumping. Heavy on boot-camp moves, football drills and mountain climbers are also included, along with torso twists that will keep your heart rate up for the segment’s 19 minutes. Some brief stretching at the end finishes off the the Crusade.

5-Minute Challenges
I won’t detail each of the 5-minute segments, but they featured only one Gladiator whofocused on one section of the body. I liked the one-on-one better because it was easier to hear the instructions than it was in the group format (more on that below). These segments are great if you’re short on time—they pack in lots of basics in just a few minutes.

While the workout consisted of a lot of basics and boot-camp style moves, it wasn’t always fluid. Because they’re Gladiatorsand not instructors, it sometimes seemed that they were unsure of what was coming next, which led to a somewhat awkward DVD at times. Background chatter and giggling also meant that you couldn’t always hear what the leader was saying, while the rock music reminded me of something you’d hear on a generic how-to video and was too repetitive for me to enjoy.

FBG Rating (Out of 5):
Instruction: ★★
Long-Term Likeability: ★★
Music: ★
Fun Factor: ★★★★
Meets Expectations: ★★★
Overall: ★★1/2

Fit Bottom line: Amusing to watch and full of effective moves, this workout would have been rock solid with longer warm-ups and cool downs and less background chatter. —Erin

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