August 15, 2013

Review: Physique 57 Online Workouts

When I visited the Hamptons last month, I got to take my first Physique 57 class – and I really liked it. So I was thrilled when Physique contacted me to review their online workout series! The idea of being able to take a class anywhere, anytime was really appealing, especially with my travel schedule.


First up, I tried Physique Cardio. I loved that it required absolutely no equipment at all, and also didn’t require much space – I actually did it in the little 5×7 area of my bedroom between my dressers and my bed, and no issues! This would be a great one for being able to count on doing in a hotel room, where I’m not sure of either space limitations or what equipment I might have. I was really impressed with how much sweat I worked up, and my only complaint was that it wasn’t quite as “dance-y” as I would have liked given the brand. Along those same lines, I noticed that the beat of the music wasn’t always the same beat that the models were moving to – and as I watched more of the Physique videos, I realized that they must have dubbed in music after the fact, because it didn’t line up perfectly. That ends up being the case in a lot of fitness videos, but I still found it a little disappointing for a barre-style workout.

Next on the docket was Physique 57 Thigh and Seat Booster. This was one of my absolute favorites that I tried! I got a ton of burn in my legs and butt (or “seat,” as most barre classes genteelly call it), and I was also very excited that it didn’t really have any ab segments. I loathe working my abs (at least, working them in isolation vs as part of another activity like running), and while I realize that’s probably a sign I need to work them more, I was happy to get to skip them here. This workout also didn’t require any equipment except a playground ball, but since the ball was mainly used to keep sandwiched between your calf and upper thigh during some standing barre work, it was easy enough to go without, and I don’t think it really hurt the workout too much to do so. (It also requires a ballet barre/substitute, but I assume that everyone has a suitable chair, table, or countertop that will work so I barely thought about that as an “equipment need.”)

Since my legs were burning the next day, I decided to give them a break – instead choosing Physique Arm and Ab Booster. As promised, this had tons of isolated ab work – but I was disappointed to find that the arms segment was very short. I would much rather work my arms longer and abs shorter (see above), but that wasn’t the case here. Since there was a lot of floor work and a lot of crunches, my lack of a playground ball also really hurt me here. I was able to use my foam roller as a stand-in for extra lumbar support on some exercises, but for others, I just gave up and did regular crunches instead of whatever I was supposed to be doing. (Oops.) This made it tough to do these workouts while traveling, since I don’t think I’ve ever been to a hotel gym that had playground balls stocked. But if you really like Physique/barre workouts and plan to do them frequently, it’s a pretty cheap investment to go pick up a playground ball. This was my least favorite of the workouts I tried, but I could see that being very different for someone who doesn’t loathe abs as much as I do.

My time doing the trial was running short, but I knew this review wouldn’t be complete without trying the Physique 57 Classic 57 Minutes Full Body Workout. (Note: this one is priced at $7 rather than the usual $5 for the ones that are around 30 minutes long; still totally reasonable, in my opinion.) I had mixed feelings during the warmup – on the one hand, I disliked that the instructor cried, “you’re looking slimmer already!” just 20 seconds into the intro. But on the other hand, the Physique warmup is pretty darn efficient – my heart rate definitely went up and I was already breathing hard by the time we started the actual workout. Despite being 57 minutes (which is usually longer than my 20-30 minute attention span for an at-home workout video), it progressed well through a series of circuits, and I actually felt like the time passed pretty quickly. But where I think I lost out was that some moves, like the pretzel, were really hard for me to follow. While watching this video, I couldn’t do the pretzel at all, so much that I wondered if I was doing something completely wrong. Unfortunately, that’s the downside of working out to a video instead of in a class! I eventually figured out the pretzel in the next video I tried, and I think if I went back now and did the 57 Minute Full Body Workout again, I’d do a lot better.

For my final workout of the trial, I went with Physique F.I.T. Focused Interval Training. I was really excited about this one, and it didn’t disappoint! Like the 57 Minute Full Body Workout, the time went quickly due to the structure of doing everything in short intervals with rests in between. It did incorporate both dumbbells and a playground ball, but the instructor gives you tips on how to do it without a ball. (Note: the tips on doing without don’t come till the second set, but don’t worry, they’re there.) I felt like this one had just the right mix of everything, and I didn’t even mind the abs section that much! Now that I’m done with my trial, I think this would be my go-to for when I’m craving a Physique fix.


Overall, I thought Physique did a really nice job with these. The convenience of getting to take a class anywhere, anytime, can’t be beat, and I honestly much preferred having them streaming on the internet rather than in DVD form that I’d have to pack in my suitcase. (Plus, my laptop doesn’t have a CD/DVD drive, so I’d have to get the hotel to send up an external player – annoying!) From a technical perspective, I didn’t have any trouble at all with the streaming (which I was afraid would be a problem when some hotels have bandwidth issues with their Wi Fi). I also liked that you could fast forward or rewind as much as needed (take that, stupid on-demand Fios that won’t let me go back!), and there is an easy option to make the video full screen or leave it in your browser window.

It’s pretty easy to get the workouts going – you just head to the Physique website, choose one of the nine workouts, and pay either $5 per class or $57 for a month-long all-you-can-exercise subscription. If you choose the $5 option, you get the video for 48 hours – so you might even be able to time it to get more than one watch 🙂  Since regular Physique classes are more than $30 each, you basically get unlimited access for less than the price of two classes – which is amazing if you’re a regular and already know what you’re doing. However, if you’re a beginner, I’d recommend taking more classes before going with this option. There were times that I was confused about the positioning, and for a barre class, one teeny tiny adjustment in form can make all the difference in where (and whether) you feel the burn.

In general, I really liked these – especially the Thigh and Seat Booster and the Focused Interval Training. I used them for only a week, but I genuinely felt like my legs got the tiniest bit more toned in that time – I think the results would be great if I keep using them longer. But I love that there isn’t any commitment beyond me thinking “I feel like doing Physique today,” and then being able to pay $5 and stream at my leisure. The Physique Cardio video got me super sweaty, but most of the rest gave me muscle burn without getting my heart rate too high – so they’re the perfect fit when you don’t have time for a shower but still want to workout. And at 30 minutes, it’s a great length to squeeze in on those days when I have just a bit of time between getting back to my hotel and going to a team dinner!

Are you a Physique fan? Have you tried the classes, the DVDs, or the online workouts?


4 thoughts on “Review: Physique 57 Online Workouts”

  1. I’m intrigued by these videos, but I don’t usually do online rentals. However if I get stir crazy this winter, I’ll be coming back to this post for something new to try!

  2. I’d be curious to try the DVD’s on online ones, definitely something to mix things up once in a while, especially once it gets colder out ( I much more classes and strength training then).

    I like that you said the time went by quick because of the format (short intervals)- that’s my kind of workout!

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