Apparently there's a fine line
between a workout program aimed at women, and soft-core porn aimed at
men... Or at least that's what it seems like in the case of the Envy
Girls Workouts for the Spots that Really Count. What you see on
the cover is basically what you get: four scantily-clad women in
suggestive poses. Oh, and a little bit of a workout... but not a good
OK, what's the idea here? The four
"Envy Girls," who in very porn-star style are referred to
by (fake) first names only, each have a "superpower": great
abs, buns, legs, or arms. (As if these things can come in
isolation...) The idea is that we women don't just want to feel good,
we also want to look great, or to be more specific, we want to be
envied for our fabulous-looking bodies.
Let's establish my reviewing
credibility here. I'm an athlete, a national-level competitive
fencer. I take fitness seriously, and I know the importance of "core"
workouts and free-weight training for toning muscles and developing
overall fitness. For me, workouts are about muscle strength, injury
prevention, increased flexibility, and greater endurance: what I need
to win on the fencing strip. And yeah, a fringe benefit is that I
look pretty good in a bikini, I admit. From that point of view, I've
already got what the Envy Girls are selling - in fact, I definitely
have better muscle tone than any of them - so I feel like I can
evaluate their offering pretty objectively.
Each disc provides a program for a
particular body part... but don't let the four-disc format fool you.
All four workouts could have fit onto one disc, so the size of the
set is pure puffery. On each disc, we get a general intro to the idea
of the "Envy Girls" and a short warmup routine (both are
the same on each disc). Then we get a 20-minute main workout plus a
5-minute quick workout. A short segment afterwards provides a little
bit of instruction by the trainer, Michael Carson. He is described as
a "celebrity fitness guru," which I suppose means whatever
he wants it to mean, but to me does not mean a whole lot.
I found the exercise programs here
to be seriously deficient in two ways: content and presentation.
As far as presentation goes, one
problem is that the camera seems more interested in the figures of
the "Envy Girls" than in showing how to do the exercise
properly. The close-up shots are too close, cutting off parts of the
lead instructor's body. The other camera shots circle around the
girls much too quickly, changing angles so rapidly that it's hard to
get a good idea of how to do the exercise. The trainer's tips section
is a bit better, with a clearer demonstration of the move (probably
because it's a man giving the demo; the camera doesn't ogle him).
Like the rest of the program, though, it feels rushed, with the
trainer speaking rapidly and whipping through the explanations.
For content, I really didn't like
the selection of exercises. Part of it is that I dislike the
philosophy that's gradually revealed: surface appearance over
strength or health, with a peculiar idea of the ideal female body.
For instance, in the "abs" workout there's an emphasis on
doing "lengthening" ab exercises and avoiding "crunch"
type workouts. Why? Because "crunching" can build up "wide"
ab muscles in a way that might not be feminine! Puh-leeze. Not only
is that a flaky idea, but I object to the idea is that having actual
muscle tone is unattractive. This odd avoidance of anything that
might actually form a muscle explains why the exercises seem poorly
The exercises aren't hard, exactly,
but most of them are exercises that I wouldn't recommend doing
without a coach or trainer there to correct your form. Some of them
are borderline unsafe: for instance, a lot of the bun and leg
workouts involve deep squats that are rough on the knees, especially
if done incorrectly... but there's no explanation of how to do the
bends correctly and how far down it's correct to take them. Likewise,
the arm and ab exercises involve a lot of rapid twisting and slinging
of the arms. Speaking as someone who's currently rehabilitating a
rotator cuff injury, let me assure you that it is possible to hurt
yourself by slinging weights around without proper attention to form
and technique, and without (horror of horrors!) building up the
The program appears in 1.33:1
format, but with the actual image as a windowboxed widescreen format.
I really don't see the point of that, since it gives what feels like
a very cropped picture. Colors are bright and clean.
It's a bit flat, with the background
music tending to be too loud in comparison to the voices of the
There are two choices for the audio.
The standard selection has instructions from the "Envy Girl"
leading the workout. The other option is to have the "trainer
commentary," which gives explanations of what the girls are
doing and why the exercise is supposed to help your body.
Speaking as an athlete who works out
on a daily basis, I can't recommend the Envy Girls workout.
The workouts are poorly conceived, with inadequate explanations and
poor camera work; more to the point, they present badly explained,
rushed exercises that are much too easy to do incorrectly and
actually cause injury. Skip it.