Workout Review: YOUv2
If you were setting out to learn the Russian language as a beginning student, you wouldn't expect to show up to your first class and have a complicated discussion of philosophical ideas, all in Russian. In fact, if that's how your instructor handled it, you'd be completely lost... right?
When learning a new language, we start with the most basic of basics—food, colors, furniture, animals—and we do it that way for a reason. If during the first lesson, the instructor started asking you about existentialism and postmodernism—in Russian—and then got mad when you didn't understand, would you feel bad about that and feel like it was your fault for not understanding?
Not a chance! You'd probably assume the instructor was crazy and you'd go find a different instructor. Most of us know that languages need to be taught in a progression, starting with simple constructions and building from there.
I like to encourage my clients to view fitness the same way. If you're someone who's never worked out before, you can't just dive right into Insanity and expect to have a good experience. Your body needs to learn the "vocabulary" of exercise.
Sure, some rare individuals might do an Insanity workout as their first step and do all right—but most people will feel like they're dying, and what follows is a spiral of negative thinking: I hate this. I'm no good at this. I'm so out of shape. Why do I bother?
That's why I'm so thrilled with Beachbody's latest workout program. It's a dance-based workout called YOUv2 (slogan: "It's you—only better!") led by Leandro Carvalho, the creator of Brazil Butt Lift.
For a supposed "chick" program (I say that tongue in cheek because I don't believe there is such a thing), Brazil Butt Lift is actually surprisingly difficult. It leaves me drenched in sweat, and I've had clients give up in frustration due to not being able to follow the steps. It's no Insanity—but it can still be discouraging for people whose bodies have yet to learn the "vocabulary."
YOUv2 is an ideal "on ramp" program for someone who's new to exercise or who hasn't worked out in awhile. It's also a good intro program for people who are interested in Beachbody's other dance-based workout programs, such as Cize, Country Heat, and Hip Hop Abs. YOUv2 features simpler steps and more repetition than these other programs, often zooming in on the Leandro's feet so you can see what he's doing nice and close up. Some of the dance steps (e.g., box step, V step) are repeated in many different dance and cardio programs, so once you learn these they're like "vocabulary words" you'll recognize even when doing a workout that's brand-new to you.
I also think YOUv2 would be a good program for women getting back into exercise after having a baby. The movements are gentle, and engaging the abdominal muscles in natural movements like walking and turning will be more effective than doing crunches (although there are a few in one of the sessions, and those should be approached with caution for postpartum mamas dealing with abdominal separation).
The music for this program is a lot of fun—’80s and ’90s hits including "Let's Get Loud" by Jennifer Lopez, "Believe" by Cher, "She Works Hard for the Money," "Hit Me with Your Best Shot," "Good Vibrations," and more. And I absolutely love the mindset piece of it—that it's not about wishing you looked like a different person, but your goal, rather, is an upgraded version of your very own self—YOUv2!
Program length: 4 weeks
Workout length: 6 full-length workouts of 30 minutes each; 4 of them are dance routines and the other two have more of a strength focus
What equipment is needed? No equipment is required, but I used light hand weights (3 lbs) for many of the sessions to make them more challenging from a strength perspective. One of the strength sessions focuses more on upper body so I used hand weights for this one; the other focuses more on lower body, and I wore ankle weights for this one.
How is it structured? The first two weeks repeat the same session every day (6 days on, then 1 rest day). In the final two weeks, a dance session alternates with a strength session, and the dance moves become a bit more complex.
What kinds of moves are involved? In the dance sessions, Leandro guides you through learning and practicing simple 32-count combos. The moves from the combos are then put together at the end of the session to dance to the main song (which is only played at the end; it's instrumental music throughout the rest of the session, but still pretty good music). The choreography is not complicated, nor does it tell the story of the music (like you might expect if you've done Cize with Shaun T). This program is more along the lines of Country Heat, with simple moves that are repeated for 8 counts and strung together. Very easy to follow, but it delivers a full-body workout—especially if you focus on engaging your abs, getting low in your squats, using big arm motions, etc. The strength sessions contain some push-ups and strength moves for the shoulders and back, plus leg and booty toning moves a la Brazil Butt Lift.
Low-impact? Yes, 100% from start to finish!