Barefoot Cardio Review

Thursday, July 11, 2013

"Exercise can actually feel good"

I have loved Ellen Barrett ever since I picked up her Pick Your Spot Pilates VHS (yep, a tape) many years ago. I seek out her workouts on Amazon every now and then, and when I came across this one, I quickly threw it into my virtual shopping bag and checked out. How could I resist something called Barefoot Cardio?


Ellen Barrett is so easy to listen to. Her voice, her non-use of trite phrases, and her cheerful teaching style are all very refreshing. Doing a fresh workout barefoot makes it feel kinda like you're playing rather than exercising. For me, this is a great DVD to do for lower intensity days when I want an effective workout without the risk of over-training.

Here's the breakdown:

Minutes: 45 min
Heart Rate: for me, I averaged 106bpm with a high of 137bpm
Calories Burned: my personal calorie burn was 348

The moves

Barrett fuses aerobic moves with standing Pilates and barre-style moves that are completely reliant on body weight. Even the arm exercises don't require weights, but your arms will still feel the burn. Be prepared to do a lot of moves in a wide squat (plie) position. In between circuits, you always return to the pony move where you do a side-to-side 1-2-3 move with your "elegant arms" straight out to the sides. 

Through the entire video, you will be upright, doing moves from a standing or hopping position. This may be really good for those who have contraindications to moves that are on the back or stomach.

From my own experience, I find that the moves are super effective at countering jobs and lifestyles that require you to sit all day. There is a strong focus on toning the posture, balance, squeezing the shoulder blades together and finding length in the body. In addition to experiencing that long, straight feeling, the video also focuses on the mind/body relationship. Barrett gives plenty of cues on paying attention to breath, shaking out tension, calming down, and  not wasting any energy on stress. I can definitely get behind that!

From Barrett's own description on the video, she intentionally includes linear moves that balance the body from different angles. Runners and bikers often only move straight forward and in daily life we do a lot of front-based movements. So, in order to balance out the body, Barrett includes a lot of side-to-side movement.

Pros: 
  • No equipment necessary, not even shoes!
  • Being barefoot is not only fun, but it increases strength and allows for full expression in the feet and ankles. This would be a great way to ease a person into barefoot running by building up foot strength.
  • Helpful cues are given by Barrett at all times, so you know how to increase the effectiveness of the moves.
  • Barrett explains things in a way that's easy to understand but yet explains them in a truly fresh way. For instance, instead of saying to tighten your muscles she says to squeeze your muscles against the bones.
  • Not only that, but she also has a wealth of pleasant mantras and affirmations to keep you going.
  • Such a playful, refreshing way to exercise.
  • One of the exercisers gives modifications to most of the moves, so even if the video is too tough you can tone it down.

Cons: 
  • Didn't keep me in my target heart rate zone, but like I said, it's a good workout for "active rest" days. The amount of calories burned was pretty darn good for a 45-minute low-impact workout. It would also be great for a beginning exercise because it really eases you in.
  • Not much ab-specific work, but I'm OK with that. Plus it's called Barefoot Cardio, not Barefoot Strength Training. The focus is mostly on cardio.
Favorite quotes

"Pig out on air!"
"Exercise can actually feel good!"

If you're a beginner, this video might be the perfect place to start since it's a nice easement into exercise and requires no preparation or equipment. If you're an experienced exerciser, the video would still make a great addition to your cross training days, active rest days, or days when you're just not feeling it but still want to get a workout in. 


*I was not compensated in any way for this post. The opinions are all my own and based on my own experience with the workout.

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