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X-TrainFit: At Home Workout [DVD]
X-TrainFit: At Home Workout [DVD]
Dvd ~ Stephanie Oram
Offered by X-TrainFit UK
Price: 27.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Amateurish camera work and sound, 17 May 2014
Given that these DVDs appear to be a home production by amateurs who don't even know that you need to keep still if you are holding a videocamera rather than moving it about, I am very surprised that this DVD set has got such good reviews. Every time I try to do one of these workouts, I start feeling sick from the camerawork, and the poor sound grates on me (and sorry but I find the trainer extremely annoying too) and I can't actually finish a workout. It is just unbearably poor quality production values. If you can get past the production values, maybe these are good workouts -- I actually don't know, because I find the DVDs too unbearable to stomach. So I am giving them the benefit of the doubt hence the 3 stars, as opposed to the minus-stars I'd give the production values. Please note that I was not looking for a DVD with beautiful models etc: the trainer seems keen to stress that they are not models and don't have hair and makeup done etc, and that is absolutely fine with me -- I like more real-seeming people in workout videos. I just can't get past the sound and the annoying chit-chat and the camera people appearing to be moving about almost as though they are filming while doing the exercises themselves.


Cathe Friedrich Slow And Heavy DVD
Cathe Friedrich Slow And Heavy DVD
Dvd ~ Cathe Friedrich
Offered by Online4DVDs
Price: 48.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Slow and controlled, 17 May 2014
Cathe's DVDs always seem to be very expensive compared to others but what you need to know is that hers have vast amounts of perfectly professionally produced and non-annoying stuff on them. This one, for example, says 3 workouts on the front, but there are many many possible workouts given the numerous options provided in the menus (yes, menus, not just one menu). The complexity of all the options and the sheer length of material provided on most of Cathe's DVDs makes them actually better value for money than some very cheap but also very simple and short DVDs with few options. In addition, Cathe's ability to give encouragement and accurate information about form without being annoying (given that you will be hearing the comments every time you exercise with a given DVD) is, I think, the best in the business. Perhaps I am too easily annoyed, but Cathe's DVDs are the ones that simple never annoy me no matter how many I do, no matter how often.

This particular Cathe DVD is an old-school weight-training DVD, not interval training, not cardio, just pure weight training. It uses 'heavy' weights (of course you can use whatever weights you prefer) and completes the reps very slowly and in a very controlled manner. This is therefore a very good DVD to buy if you want to start weight training but have no experience of it, because the slow speed allows Cathe to demonstrate clearly the right form and she carefully and clearly distinguishes good form from bad form. That is important information to have, to avoid injury. In addition, I think that it was weight training in a slow and controlled manner like on this DVD that strengthened my knees from horribly weak and injury-prone at the age of 18 (I couldn't even run on grass at that time) to normal, strong, issue-less knees. I love modern functional metabolic style DVDs too, but old-school simple and heavy weight training has been one of the most important tools I have used over decades to maintain good muscle density, strength and to prevent weight gain (or rather, fat gain). Dense muscles burn more calories than non-dense ones, and weight training is good for the heart and brain too.

I find these particular workouts so good that when I finished the full bis and tris workout this morning (after doing Ab Ripper X from P90X) I then did the shoulder workout from this DVD (one of the many options), and then 3 of the leg exercises, and I will probably do some more from this DVD later, after some treadmill time: her stuff is just that good. Her workout DVDs somehow don't have the dread factor or the annoying factor. This is high-quality stuff.

The only problem with Cathe's workouts is that she tends to (though not always) use loads of equipment that you might not have and might not want to get. To do these workouts properly you do need a good set of dumbbells of many different weights, and a step with extra risers to create a 'bench', and really you need a barbell and weights for that too, though you might be able to get away with using dumbbells at least until you get stronger and need the stability of a barbell for some of the exercises. But once you have invested in the equipment, believe me you will use it with many DVD workouts, not just this one.


Vicky Pattison's 7 Day Slim [DVD]
Vicky Pattison's 7 Day Slim [DVD]
Dvd ~ Vicky Pattison
Price: 12.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly brilliant!, 17 May 2014
I got this in Primark for a Primark sort of price, and was expecting it to be rubbish but actually it really isn't. It is genius.

The first thing to bear in mind is that it is aimed at unfit people who quite possibly drink too much and are too busy burning the candle at both ends to notice their increasing girth -- fun people like Vicky, in other words -- people who live life for all they are worth. It is not aimed at people like I usually am -- very fit people who watch what they eat and are so busy keeping in shape that they (ok, *I*) sometimes forget to LIVE. So if you have a bookcase full of workout DVDs, run regularly, or spend a lot of time in the gym, this DVD is not for you.

Except that there may come a time when it is exactly what you need. I recently broke the habit of a lifetime due to some major life events, travel, medical issues and surgeries stretching over the last many many months. I do not remember ever having been this unfit my entire life. I was so unfit that I had forgotten what it is like to be fit. (For a fit person who has always been fit, that is difficult to imagine.) I lost all my fitness confidence. Everything seemed difficult. I could barely walk slowly on the treadmill, let alone do a workout.

When a person is very unfit, or has never worked out before, or has lost his or her confidence, or doubts fitness is possible, what they need is something effective but potentially doable. If they only manage the first two minutes of a workout, they need to have hope that maybe another day they might be able to manage a bit more, and that pretty soon they can just about get through an entire workout. And it needs to be fast moving to avoid time to think and dread.

Whoever devised this workout series really REALLY gets it. Each workout is only 10 minutes long, and each little part of that 10 minutes is over before you know it and you're on to the next bit, and so on. So if you can only manage the first 5 minutes, well, you've still done half a workout. That feels psychologically encouraging, as opposed to doing the first 10 minutes of a 45-minute workout. Vicky assures us that she was rubbish when she first started, and she and her trainer encourage us to keep going and keep trying. I love the banter between them, and it really isn't annoying (I am annoyed by most workout DVD chit-chat and always end up using them with the sound off just to avoid listening to them). And because each ten minute session is in fact packed with excellent compound functional exercises (that is, exercises that use multiple muscles all together) in a fast-paced short session that gets the heart rate up very effectively, they are very very efficient.

Within each workout, Vicky's trainer demonstrates an easier version and Vicky does the harder version. Each new ten-minute workout logically and sensibly increases the intensity and difficulty, and then, as they say, you can do all the ten-minute workouts to make one long workout. But by then, you will probably have become a lot more fit and you will have the confidence to branch out.

The fact that there are several 10-minute workouts helps avoid the excuse of not having enough time to work out. Genius! Who can say they don't even have 10 minutes?! I love the fact that I now have a series of 10-minute mini workouts for times when I just have 10 minutes. You could do more than one in a day but just using little 10-minute chunks of time. Doesn't that seem like a good idea? I used to use such 10-minute bits of time for abs workouts, but it is nice to have these more rounded functional metabolic workouts as an option. There was some research I remember reading that suggested that it is a very good idea for health to do short blasts of higher-intensity exercise -- even better than more standard 45-minute aerobic sessions (yawn).

One caveat: if you are a person with weak knees or other weaknesses, and no history of fitness, my advice would be to take it very easy initially. Decades ago I had terrible knee issues I thought would never allow me to go running, but I discovered that my knees had become strong after I'd been doing slow and heavy weight training involving things like static lunges or very slow lunges. Doing things like the Gorilla move, jumping lunges and jumping pile squats might be too much for some weak knees. But do consider very controlled, slow static lunges with good form to strengthen your knees. If your knees start hurting even a little, stop exercising immediately and do not exercise again until there is no pain whatsoever, even if that is a month later.

I think this is actually my favourite British workout DVD of all of them. And I have just about all of them. I do love the fact that these workouts are so time efficient (can't stand boring workouts!) and challenging enough to give one something to reach for, whilst being short enough not to seem endless. I used this DVD to get my confidence back, and it didn't make me feel miserably useless, it gave me hope.

Just to provide perspective, normally (i.e., when not unfit the way I have been for many months until recently) the kind of DVDs I like are Cathe Friedrich's (she is amazing), Rushfit, P90X, Insanity, some of the Get Ripped! ones, selected (harder) Jillian Michaels with the sound off (she is so annoying!), Patrick Goudeau's Lean Hot Body, Tapout, etc etc. I reiterate, if you are doing any of thee workouts, Vicky's workout DVD is not for you. Unless medical issues or life events make you so unfit that you fear never being able to get fit again. Then I think you'll find, as I did, that this is absolutely the perfect workout DVD to get you over the hump and back into working out. I really think this DVD is brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Highly recommended. I love it!


De'Longhi Magnifica ESAM4200 15-Bar Bean to Cup Espresso/Cappuccino Maker - Silver
De'Longhi Magnifica ESAM4200 15-Bar Bean to Cup Espresso/Cappuccino Maker - Silver
Price: 279.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why didn't I get one of these before?!, 3 Mar 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The ESAM4200 silver makes simply the best espresso and cappuccino I have ever had in my life (using Whittard's Old Brown Java beans). The crema is spectacularly good, and it makes frothing milk for cappuccino such a pleasure.

Given that there seem to be many reviewers giving lengthy tips about this machine I slightly feared that it would be difficult to use, but it isn't at all. I can't believe how easy it is. Let me put it this way: for decades I have been making coffee in a cafetiere and never found it difficult, but now that I have this machine I slightly dread having to use a cafetiere again, because by comparison that is a lot more messy and fiddly to clean than this bean-to-cup machine. When the light goes on, you simply open the front door (just pull), slide out the drip tray, dump the used coffee grounds into a bin (they are in nice neat little cylinders, not at all messy like when you empty a cafetiere), give it a quick rinse (stick under tap for a second or two), then shove it back in and push shut the front door. It takes seconds, not minutes, and it is so so so easy and non-messy. I LOVE it.

Such a shame the price has gone up. I would have ordered another one or two for gifts had it not been for that.


Now That's What I Call Fitness [DVD] [2011]
Now That's What I Call Fitness [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Various Artists
Price: 9.90

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprised I enjoyed it, 7 Aug 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
To my great surprise, of all the British workout DVDs I have (including all the Davina ones, the Ministry of Sound ones and various celeb DVDs), this one is my favourite by far. It really IS fun, and there are several different dance workouts which incorporate cardio and strength training quite brilliantly. One of my issues with the other British workouts I have is that there are many parts that are interminably dull, with endless repeats, such that I can't do them, not because they are too difficult but just because they are too boring. Unlike some of the other British DVDs I have, which tend to be very 'old-school', this one seems more contemporary. Each of the teachers seems competent and when you have learnt the steps (which of course will take time, but it's fun!) you can opt to play the workout without the instructions, just with the music, so it feels even more like dancing in a club.

In terms of difficulty level, I'd say that this is a more effective workout than the MoS ones (which rarely feel to me as though they are doing anything) but until you know the steps enough to be able to really throw yourself into it, it is not a tough workout. It's not a tough workout even when you do know the steps. Normally, when I buy a workout that is on the low-intensity side, I feel disappointed and rarely use it, but this one is very different: it is so well-structured and genuinely fun that I do this workout whenever I am having one of those days where I have every possible excuse not to workout (too tired, heavy night the night before, something hurts, not feeling well, should I still be working out like crazy at 49?, too much to do, no time, it will mess up my hair, just don't feel like it, etc etc) -- and no matter how bad I feel when I start the workout, doing this workout cheers me up, makes me sweat a little, reminds my muscles not to atrophy tooo much, and prevents that vicious circle of not exercising-->harder to exercise the next day so you take another day off--->even harder the following day, and so on. I highly recommend this workout to anyone who likes the music (as I do), enjoys at least the idea of dancing (I can't dance to save my life) and doesn't mind not being at all good at following the steps (you really don't need to be able to do it at all well for it to be worthwhile) whether you are a beginner, super-unfit, or, like me, really very fit but have occasional days where you want something really fun rather than one of your normal workouts.

I collect and love intense to super-intense workouts like these American ones: advanced Cathe Friedrich workouts of all types (she is the best!), Georges St-Pierre RUSHFIT 8 Week Ultimate Home Training Program, Insanity: The Ultimate Cardio Workout and Fitness DVD Programme., Beachbody P90X: Tony Horton's 90-Day Extreme Home Fitness Workout DVD Programme, the Supreme 90 series (fab and very cheap in America), Jari Love's Get Ripped series and even some Jillian Michaels (whose workouts are technically good, efficient and contemporary but I find her so annoying I have to turn off the sound). This is nothing like those workouts. If you are want that level of strength training and/or intense plyo cardio or super-intense intervals, this is definitely not the DVD for you. But if you are not super-fit OR if like me you are very fit but you have the odd day here and there when you need a less intense but FUN workout, and you don't mind being rubbish at following the moves initially, and you won't be upset if you don't turn into a professional dancer after doing the workout a couple of times, you might enjoy this one, as I do.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 18, 2014 10:03 PM BST


Syntrax Nectar 907g Lemonade Whey Protein Isolate Drink Powder
Syntrax Nectar 907g Lemonade Whey Protein Isolate Drink Powder
Offered by Monstersupplements
Price: 39.99

5.0 out of 5 stars I really love this stuff!, 19 Jun 2012
I would call this "cold lemon souffle" or "lemon mousse" rather than "roadside lemonade". I was initially disappointed with it, expecting it to be like sour lemonade. It is not that sour. I'd love it to be more so.

Having said that, if you mix a scoop of it with a little tap water, then top it up with cold seltzer water (carbonated water with no additives) it is really very refreshing indeed.

This protein powder has zero grams of carbs and zero grams of fat, is gluten- and lactose-free, and has loads of protein (23g in a 100 calorie scoop).

I have also used this protein power sprinkled on cooked but unsweetened rhubarb.

Be aware, though, that you can't cook with it. The protein denatures at hot temperatures.


Nadia Sawalha - Fat to Fab [DVD]
Nadia Sawalha - Fat to Fab [DVD]
Price: 5.87

7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fit and miss, 28 Jun 2011
As someone who is perhaps an advanced exerciser despite my advanced age (47), in that I like to exercise almost every day and do the toughest workouts on the market (most of which come from America, like Cathe Friedrich's stuff, P90X, Supreme 90, Steve Cotter's stuff, etc), I really have only myself to blame for having wasted money buying this DVD. The title of this workout, Fat to Fab, should have told me that this workout would be insufficiently challenging. Anyone who likes workouts to be as challenging as anything from Jillian Michaels upwards, will find this a disappointment. I have been looking (so far unsuccessfully) for British workouts that are as challenging as the American ones I do, but Fat to Fab is in style of workout more like an old Jane Fonda workout that I had on VHS in the 80s, which I didn't find challenging enough then either.

However, if you are a total beginner and extremely unfit, this might well be an excellent choice for you, assuming you want a very gentle start. (Another approach might be to choose a tougher workout and work up to doing the whole thing. At any rate, that is my preferred strategy, because working up to a greater challenge helps me retain interest and motivation and stops it feeling boring or like a complete waste of time.)

But for extremely unfit beginners, as I said, this might be good, because you are unlikely to feel discouraged by how little you can do of the Fat to Fab workout, so that might help you keep doing it and thus get fitter and be able to move onto something else.

The music on this DVD is fabulous dance-style beats that make me want to move, and Nadia has a lovely personality and makes it all a lot of fun. She is also very motivating. The trainer cues well and gives lots of information to ensure good form. The one thing that I find irritating on this DVD is that the trainer keeps screaming "Woooooo!" But not liking that is no doubt just my personal idiosyncrasy.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 9, 2012 4:40 PM GMT


Famous Five: 1: Five On A Treasure Island
Famous Five: 1: Five On A Treasure Island
by Enid Blyton
Edition: Paperback
Price: 4.79

147 of 152 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Warning: this is an EDITED version of the book, 11 Aug 2010
This book is not Enid Blyton's original text but an edited version. It is an outrage that this is not made more clear. If I want to read Enid Blyton, I want to read the original words, not a doctored 'modern' version. Apparently the original (first folio) version is still available so you might want to look for that instead of buying this one. I would give the original version 5 stars, incidentally. I loved the Famous Five books as a child.

UPDATE: Amazon is currently adding reviews of each version of the book, to all versions of the book. I was reviewing the 2010 EDITED edition but I see that my review is appearing under the first folio (original) edition too, so please check carefully which book you are ordering. Amazon: I urge you to separate the reviews. The edited 'modern' version is a significantly different book from the original version. The same applies to other books by Enid Blyton that have been doctored.
Comment Comments (10) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 22, 2014 6:42 PM BST


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