Don't be scared off by the cover of The Trainer's Edge: Killer Abs and Back with Michael Olajide. Olajide's photo takes center stage, and he looks creepy. Very creepy. You might ask yourself whether you really want to do an exercise program hosted by a man with a reflective metal eye patch and a rather ominous glower. But I can assure you that once the actual program starts, Olajide turns out to be a friendly and personable athletic trainer. I'm still not sure what's the deal with the silver eye patch, but hey, we can grant him his eccentricities, given that he seems to have fun in the workout.
Killer Abs and Back is a 43-minute workout program that's intended (as the title says) to focus on the "core" muscle groups: the abdominal and back muscles. That's a very useful focus that makes the DVD stand out in a sea of generic fitness and weight-loss workouts. As it turns out, the actual program doesn't quite live up to its promise, but it does still have a reasonable abdominal workout to offer viewers.
The first half of the workout is predominantly cardiovascular; Olajide leads participants through a variety of jumping and punching exercises that seem to make a lot more use of the leg and arm muscles than the "core" muscles. It's not a bad set of exercises, but certainly not what I'd hope for in a targeted "abs and back" program. Olajide does claim, throughout the exercises, that you will be working your abs and back muscles while you're doing them... but in that case, the exercises are very poorly explained, because I really didn't feel like those muscle groups were doing much of anything.
The cardiovascular exercises presented here also make use of a lot of "exercise props": a stability bar, hand weights, ankle weights, and a jumprope. It does make the exercises more varied, but with the equivalent problem of requiring more investment in equipment as well as more space available to perform the workout.
When Olajide moves into the second half of the workout, that's when the abdominals really start working. Here, we get a number of variations on crunches and leg lifts that target the core muscles very effectively. The difficulty level is very high, in that it's very challenging to do as many repetitions as Olajide suggests, or as quickly, but the actual movements themselves are straightforward and easy to learn. The result is that this half of the workout lends itself to repetition, as participants gradually get better at the exercises and can keep up with the video's pace.
The exercise program appears in an attractive 1.33:1 transfer that will give viewers no cause to complain. The image is clean and reasonably sharp, with bright colors and good contrast.
The audio is only so-so, unlike the video. It's an odd Dolby 2.2 soundtrack, and it just never sounds quite right: Olajide's voice is flat and slightly drowned out by the background music, and overall there's a slightly tinny quality to the sound.
Viewers will be pleased to discover a useful 10-minute bonus workout here: "Killer Butt" led by Dolores Munoz. It's a highly targeted workout that is very effective at working out the gluteus muscles, and the brisk pace packs a challenging workout into those 10 minutes without feeling too rushed.
The Trainer's Edge: Killer Abs and Back with Michael Olajide offers a useful targeted workout with some challenging exercises. It's not as tightly focused as I would have liked, as the first half is mainly cardiovascular exercise, but overall it's a good program. Recommended.