When last I left The Biggest Loser conditioning guru Bob Harper, he was helping me learn how to walk better (or at the very least differently) with the Power Walk video, which included participation from some of the contestants on the show. In Cardio Max there's a bit of a different flavor, though the food is the same.
For those unfamiliar with The Biggest Loser, Harper is one half of the fitness duo responsible for the radical transformations for the contestants on the show (Jillian Michaels is the other). And while Michaels has been making her own tapes and spinoff shows, Harper has remained largely quiet, but is apparently starting to make some exercise videos of his own. With the help of former show contestants Tara Costa and Sione Fa, Harper helps outline and perform a multi-level cardio workout designed to support weight loss at a low or high level. Along with the workouts, there are warm-up and cool down segments regardless of intensity level. Harper pops in and out of the routines on the disc and save for the level one weight-loss routine, the workouts last 10 minutes or so in length.
Harper's a capable instructor, and Tara and Sione are supportive if not identifiable voices; they know how to do the routines based on their past, and Harper is a firm but supportive director for the exercises. He encourages you to soldier on and marvel through the successes at the end of each segment.
However after immediately coming off of their Power Walk disc, Cardio Max would appear to be the same vodka, just in a different bottle. The instructor led sessions are a mix of Harper, Fa and Costa, they are broken into smaller segments and are delivered similarly to the other disc. The only thing that is different between the two discs in the material, which is disappointing as I was hoping for a little bit of variety in the program.
Ultimately, the differences between Power Walk and Cardio Max lie on personal desire and preference. If you want to learn how to walk better or more efficiently, got for the former. But if you want something that targets other muscle areas while throwing in a little bit of minor toning in the process, the latter is your best bet. You're not losing anything in the transition of the instructors. If that's the desired goal in each of the Biggest Loser discs, mission accomplished I guess.
Like the Power Walk disc, Cardio Max is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Unlike the Power Walk discs, the exercise routines are performed indoors. There is little discernible haloing or image artifacts, the show is shot crisply and to the point. There's not much image noise and the overall result makes for acceptable viewing.
You get a two-channel Dolby audio track, but within the programs, you have your choice of with or without spoken instruction. The action happens in the front channels and stays consistent throughout the segments, and you get what you'd expect to here.
A multi-week program option that shows you what levels to do and how often over the course of several weeks is the only notable bonus.
Cardio Max from a viewing perspective delivers exactly the same message as the Power Walk disc, but the benefits differ between the two easily. Holding the same tone as the instructors do puts the decision on what to target on the consumer which is the logical thing to do I suppose. Definitely worth renting if you're looking to put the "Lose Some Weight" resolution to actual use.