Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cardio Coach -- ever heard of it?

A few years ago (I guess in 2004 -- boy the years keep flying by, don't they?) I heard on the VF Forum about a new audio workout called Cardio Coach. I'd done a few audio yoga workouts before and enjoyed them. You have to know what you're doing with yoga to follow along well without a visual, but it's peaceful and personal. With cardio, I wasn't sure how it would work.

The concept is that there are many ways to get your cardio exercise in on your own -- running, walking, cycling, tread mill, elliptical, or any of the cardio machines at the health club or at home. But sometimes people get bored (or lazy) with exercising alone and may not push themselves to new heights. Cardio Coach does just that -- guides you along so you make the most of your time doing cardio.

My two favorite methods of cardio exercise at home are the step and the rebounder. I would run (did for years in college), but we live in the forest on narrow windy roads and it's just not safe to go running right out my door (not to mention the mountain lions seen several times next door :)). I usually use Cathe's step video workouts for stepping, but haven't really found any rebounding videos that I want to do over and over every week. (FitPrime G-Force and Cardiolates are the only rebounding dvds I've enjoyed, but I probably do them each once a month). I had been searching for more rebounding options since it's so much easier on my knees than stepping. I use the Reboundair rebounder by the way.

Sean O'Malley (THE cardio coach!) is an expert fitness trainer (can "expert" be an adjective?) who talks you through your cardio workout from before you begin, into the warm-up, steady state cardio, hills, sprints, and intervals throughout. One thing I like is that he always lets you know how many minutes you'll spend on each section. You don't have to wonder, "How much longer?" as you sprint like crazy. You know in advance, "Okay, I just have 2 minutes -- I can do this!" Finally Sean helps you cool down and stretch (and hear some words of motivation at the end). It's a pleasant balance of coaching and leaving you alone with the music for the most part to get your work done. Some talking, but not too much (and no hype -- it's all done in a nice mellow way). He calls Cardio Coach a "guided workout series." Perfect way to describe it. I've missed running or swimming laps over the years because I liked that tuning out with my thoughts while I did cardio. Cardio Coach allows me to do that without tuning out from challenging my body.

Right now, Sean has 7 volumes of Cardio CDs and one that includes weights as well -- the earlier ones are shorter, the most recent one is the longest. His 8th volume will be available for download sometime soon. He used to sell the downloads and/or a professionally produced & packaged CD. This is still available for the first 6 volumes. Now he just makes the CD-Rs for sale plus the MP3 downloads. This probably saves in production costs and allows him to make more great workouts for us. He just awarded some free downloads of volume 8 to a small group of people (first ones who e-mailed him about it). I was late to the party, but a friend from my VF check-in group (Vee) got one and gave a fun review. She loves it. Can't wait to try it myself.

I just barely downloaded Volume 7. I'll try it out tomorrow and will let you know how I like it. So far, I've only done the workouts with the CD playing in my stereo. I want to use my Sony MP3 player to see how that is. I think it will be even better with full volume capacity. I can't turn it up too loud in the morning on the stereo since most of my family are still sleeping. Somehow they sleep through the sound of my rebounder though -- thank heavens for that!

Sean also has a cardio/weights circuit audio program called Cardio Coach Pump! It sounds like it would be great to take to the weight room in the gym. (I may try it someday if I ever get tired of doing my strength work with Cathe and Debbie. With Cathe's STS coming soon, that will probably be awhile).

I'll set a little goal for myself to review each of my Cardio Coaches here in the next little while. I have volumes 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. (Does it drive you crazy that I wrote all five instead of just saying 3-7? It looks like more to me when I list each one :)). I would have bought 1 and 2 when I ordered most of these, but the others had better reviews -- now 1 and 2 have been revised and the reviews are great. I'll probably eventually get them too. I need to do them all again so I can remember which is which! They are similar, but each have their own time frame and schedule. Until then, you can check out the reviews on VF if you'd like. Here's the link for reviews on the first 6 volumes. 1 and 2 might be the older volumes and it looks like the volume 6 reviewed was another version with Candace. I'm not sure how that one was different. I remember hearing that there were 2 different versions, but I never ordered that one. Take it from me that the one with Sean is excellent though. :) I don't know if you love reading reviews as much as I do before I purchase (and sometimes even after), but here's a review page from the Cardio Coach website that has specific reviews for the first 7 volumes by Paige Waehner, a fitness reviewer at There are also links to multiple reviews by fitness magazines and big city newspapers on his home page. I know you'd rather read my reviews (*wink*) so I'll make that a goal for this and next week -- to do all the volumes I have and post about them. Should be fun!

Also, Sean's CD packaging is pretty spectacular. You get full information on the workout and guidelines on how to use it. Here's an example of the six-fold cardboard Volume 3's CD case:

Hopefully that will line up well! Don't you love the illustration of Sean? Pretty fun. I wish they'd post bigger like the one at the top so you could see all the detail in instructions. Maybe you can find a way to zoom in on it. Maybe I'll try later to add pixels to the photos or something. I've had that work in the past, but don't have time for it today. Check back later to see if you're interested. (Update, tried one thing and so far, no luck -- it gets bigger, but is very blurry. I guess you can just get the general idea, then buy your own to see the details :))

What else . . . (think, think, think). Oh, Sean has a spot on his website for sending comments . I wrote something to him a few weeks ago and heard back from him right away. He's e-mailed twice and is super personable and helpful. He truly takes his job as fitness coach to heart!

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