This workout features Dr. Emily Splichal, who is a certified exercise specialist with a background in podiatry. Splichal describes V-Core as a functional approach to training the core muscles of the body. The program is designed to improve both balance and posture and to stabilize gait, thus reducing back, knee, and foot pain. The only equipment necessary for is a mat a light dumbbells (Splichal suggests 3 pounds). The setting is a bright, loft-type studio, where Splichal is shown teaching live to three background exercisers as upbeat music plays in the background; all four women are performing the routine barefoot. Splichal does not mirror-cue, so her left-right references might be confusing to some.
The Main Menu of the DVD offers the following options: Warm Up--Core Basics--Core Dynamics--Floor Core--Stretch & Realign. There is also an "Extras" menu which has more detailed breakdowns for both the Basics and Dynamics segments; in these approximately 3-minute tutorials, Splichal provides one-on-one instruction to one of her background exercisers.
I have described each section of the workout in greater detail below (all times are approximate).
WARM-UP (4.5 minutes)
Given modern exercise recommendations, I found the Warm-Up surprising, as Splichal moves right into static stretches without any type of aerobic warm-up (generally thought to be counter-indicated). She includes down dog and lunges here as well as some more basic stretches.
V-CORE BASICS (19 minutes)
Splichal states that Basics is designed to target the feet and ankles, the hip/glute complex, and the upper back. I found this section, which contains many one-legged static holds, to be the most challenging from a balance perspective; those with weak ankles and/or calves are definitely likely to feel the work in these areas. The basic stance is on one leg with the other knee up, and from here, Splichal slowly moves through many variations, including extending the leg to the front, to the back, and pulsing it to the side. Arms work is incorporated as well, as Splichal performs basic arm movements such as overhead press, triceps extensions, and rows, all while continuing the balance work.
V-CORE DYNAMICS (16.5 minutes)
Splichal describes Dynamics as targeting core strength. As the name suggests, the exercises here are more dynamic and flowing than in the Basics segment. For example, although Splichal begins with a static rear lunge, this moves into a balance hold, performed at a slow, controlled pace. Splichal also flows from one movement to the next for mini-combinations, such as a rear lunge/dead lift combo, a squat/curtsey lunge combo, and side lunge/side extension combo. This segment also includes some brief upper body work with weights, combining a lunge with a back row and a side leg and arm extension. The final move is a rear lunge with a small pop up to balance.
FLOOR CORE (14 minutes)
This section targets the abdominals and obliques; Splichal states that it will challenge pelvic alignment and build strength through stabilization. Unlike her deliberate work in the first two segments, Splichal moves much more briskly here, virtually flying through a sequence of challenging push-up and plank exercises (she does offer the modification of doing these from the knees). The first variations include a slow push-up, a ladder plank, and a side plank with leg lift. Splichal also throws in a few superman moves on the stomach and crunch-type moves on the back. The final plank sequence includes reverse (face-up) plank, side plank with hip dip, and planks with knee-ins.
STRETCH & REALIGN (8.5 minutes)
The final stretch focuses mainly on the hips and glutes, the areas which are most targeted by the V-Core Workout. Splichal starts in down dog for a calf stretch and then moves to child's pose, taking it to either side to incorporate the lats. This is followed by a lunge concentrating on the hip flexors. Lying back on the floor, Splichal further stretches the hips with the thread-the-needle pose, then comes seated for a full forward bend. Retuning to standing, Splichal performs another lunge, this time adding an arm stretch. She concludes by repeating several of the basic stretches from the Warm-Up.
Although upper body exercises with weights are incorporated into this workout, the focus remains mainly in the lower body throughout. V-Core is a challenging routine that is most appropriate for experienced exercisers, especially given that with the exception of the Core Floor segment, Splichal does not suggest any modifications of the moves. Also, Splichal sometimes walks around the studio as she is instructing (i.e., similar to a live class), which can be somewhat distracting during balance moves. A final issue is that Splichal has a few minor verbal affectations which some might find annoying--e.g., a tendency to say phrases such as "nice tall" and "nice strong" rather than to make use of the word "and." Personally, I found that I was focusing so much on keeping my balance and engaging my core and glutes that I was only minimally aware of Splichal's instruction. In summary, V-Core provides a unique workout experience which is likely to challenge even seasoned exercisers.
Link: V-Core webpage
© 2010 Beth Cholette
Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students.