Cardio: Fun workout - challenging, but not discouraging. Easy moves – easily “learned” in a time or two. Would definitely do it on a crosstrain/non-running day.
Speed 1.0: Incredibly fun workout. Easier than Cardio or Total Body Circuit, mostly because it works in intervals – you work hard for a couple minutes and then you get a “break” where you work on stretching and stability. When finished, it feels like you just did a nice run with stride efforts or intervals. I probably looked forward to this one every week more than the other workouts in Alpha phase. I will definitely do this one again.
Total Body Circuit: Sigh. I’m going to give the most objective review of this I can. It’s no secret that I wasn't ever a big fan of this one. Does it work the whole body? Yes. You do everything from jumping moves to push ups to core work and everything in between. Did it raise the heart rate and give a good calorie burn? Yes. The one and only time I used a hrm during TBC I burned 225 calories, and for only 25 minutes of effort, that’s fantastic. So yes, it is effective. By the end of Alpha phase, I was able to complete the entire workout without modifications. But, on the downside, this workout was very haphazard, did not have a nice flow (especially if you don’t want to get injured!), and was just really not enjoyable. It wasn't because it was hard… I can deal with hard. It just didn't click with me. The moves weren't fun, they seemed very thrown together, even the crew in the video seemed like they were just doing it because they “had to” not because they “wanted to”. Meh. Hopefully someone else can find some enjoyment in this workout because I don’t think I ever will. It probably will not be leaving the DVD sleeve anytime in the near future.
Ab Intervals: I loved this workout. I can tell you why without much trouble, too. This was a fantastic core workout that wasn't just “let’s do 5 million crunches of different varieties. Maybe we’ll do 1 or 2 other things. Other than that – crunch, crunch, crunch”. There wasn't a single crunch to be had in this 25 minutes. It was great, and my abs BURNED by the end of it. Also, to break it up, there were short bursts of cardio to get the heart rate up AND still keep the core in focus. This is another one I’ll definitely do again.
Lower Focus: Lunges and squats. Squats and lunges. You’d better enjoy these because this workout really utilizes them and their variants. No worries, though, Shaun T makes this FUN. I will say that this workout is a tad on the tough side if done after a run or after say, Total Body Circuit, but it is still doable. I would do this workout again if I was looking to focus on my legs as an addition to another workout or on a light day.
Stretch: This really isn't just an Alpha specific workout, it is done through all phases of T25, but I love it! I do it after every long run now in place of my old standby routine. I think it really helps! I highly recommend not skipping it and adding it to your workout rotation.
Overall Impression of Focus T25 Alpha Phase
I think this is a great introduction to higher impact cardiovascular exercise with the option to modify to lower impact as needed. All of the workouts are very well thought out with the exception of Total Body Circuit, which, if I'm being honest, I do not recommend for someone who is just "just coming off the couch". If I were someone who has not exercised much, if at all before or even recently, I would substitute the TBC days with either another day of Alpha Cardio or a 30 minute brisk walk or easy run. Or even more structured circuit training/crossfit at the gym would be a good idea. I truly believe that Total Body Circuit done as quickly as presented with poor form is a prescription for long lasting injury.
The crew in the videos is decent - Tania is a machine even as the friggin' modifier. The super fit looking girls that rotate each video (Jan and Christina, I think?) are kind of annoying after a while. You can tell that the workouts aren't incredibly hard for them, but when they know the camera is right on them they make over dramatic faces like they've really got it so so tough. Something that cracks me up during the workouts is that when Shaun T goes to focus on one of the crew and they're doing something that requires stability they start wobbling around when he's next to them. It makes them a little more "human" to me. I like the two guys in the videos. They're usually right on with regard to form and speed for me and I typically follow them more than Tania (who I only really needed during the first couple of tries at Total Body Circuit - those dang oblique push ups!!) and the Fit Girl of the Day.
I agree with others who have said that it is a little misrepresented that the program is "25 minutes a day, 5 days a week". First of all, there's a 3-5 minute cool down active stretch at the end of each workout. Don't skip that. Stretching is necessary after these! Also, Fridays are "Double days", and even though it is "optional", if you are looking for the advertised results, you should do the program as written, right? So, in reality, it is "25-30 minutes a day, 4 days a week, and 50-60 minutes 1 day per week". Add Stretch into the mix (and I highly recommend that you do) and you have another 25 minutes to tack on. Still, compared to other routines and exercise programs, it isn't a huge time commitment, but it is not advertised well.
Another recommendation that I'd make - now being 2 days into Beta Phase - is that if you are still modifying a lot at the end of Alpha or you still feel like you're getting your butt handed to you during every workout to stay and maybe do another round of Alpha before moving to Beta. My husband is doing this. Trust me - I've only done the first 2 Beta workouts and they are totally on another tier above Alpha. So, if you don't have that foundation solid, you're going to struggle.
All in all, T25 has been good to me thus far and I do think it is worth the investment if you're looking to get started with something, have somewhat of a base of physical activity, and/or need something to supplement another program you're doing.
You can focus for just 25 minutes, right? (or 30 or 60... lol) ;)