Fitness Review: Emergency Workout

Current, 2001

Instructor: Minna Lessig (Ms. Fitness USA 1997), with two background girls
Formats: DVD and VHS. No longer in print, so you must buy from independent sellers such as those on Amazon Marketplace. A new copy goes for nearly 40 dollars and used copies start at almost 10 – Minna is well-liked!
The Big Draw: The claim is that you can slim down and get in better shape within 6 weeks, just in time for your wedding/vacation/whatever. You get two workouts which you can use together or separately: one cardio program and one toning program.
Bonus DVD Extras: Minna’s bio, success and nutrition tips, link to the Emergency Workout website (no longer online)
Special Extra: Includes a diet planner pamphlet with fit tips, menu plan, sample workout schedule for the Emergency Workout program, and problems and solutions. The same success and nutrition tips that are on the DVD are also in there.

Pros: Let’s start with Minna! She’s one of my favorite DVD instructors ever – upbeat and friendly but not overly perky. She is easy to understand, gives you a little extra time to get moves down, and performs perfectly cued with the music. The Toning program (which suggests “light weights” but I use 8 pounders) is a nice strenuous strength training workout for your whole body, and you can tell it’s doing what it’s supposed to. The diet planner includes delicious-sounding recipes. In fact, I’m going to make some!

Cons: The Cardio program, while fun, didn’t pose much of a challenge to me at all. Sure, I’m hardly a beginner, but I’m not Miss Superfly Fitness either! I didn’t break much of a sweat or feel like I was blasting major fat grams. I would recommend the Cardio segment only if you are entirely new to aerobics or haven’t worked out in eons. I do think anything that gets somebody moving is great, but I don’t see how the Cardio is conducive to helping you burn major calories for “emergency” purposes. Now on to a MAJOR flaw in this program. I checked out the recipes in the diet planner: it says each breakfast and lunch is no more than 250 calories; each dinner, no more than 350; each snack, no more than 200. I have been tracking calories and serving sizes long enough to know there is NO WAY this is accurate for these recipes! In my opinion, these are awfully low counts for meals anyway. But for example, one of the breakfast options is the following:

2-Garden Omlette (sic)
2 Eggs or 4 egg whites or Egg Beaters equiv. to 2 eggs, scrambled with 1/2 C sliced fresh mushrooms, 1/2 cup chopped red or green peppers, 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes.
1 Bialy toasted, with 2 tbsp. cream cheese. 1/4 Cantalope (sic) crushed.

Wow! If that amounts to 250 calories or less, I’m thrilled! Because a Bialy (a New York style bagel) most definitely has more than 150 calories, probably closer to 200. The cream cheese is about 50 calories. And there isn’t any size guidance on the eggs, but let’s say you get two of the smallest eggs you can find – still 50 calories an egg! The veggies and fruit don’t add many calories, but without even taking them into account, we’re still already up to 350! I think somebody messed up somewhere. Some of these other recipes are much closer to the counts claimed in the pamphlet, but many are definitely NOT. For example, one of your >200 calorie snacks includes 2 small biscotti (a regular biscotti is nearly 150 calories, and I have never seen a “small” one, but assuming it’s half the size of a regular = bam! 150 calories), and a carton of low fat (not nonfat) vanilla yogurt (which is 150-200 calories, or maybe 100 if you get the smallest size possible). That’s already well over – and there are three ingredients to this snack left. With that said, these are still mostly healthful recipes – but do not rely on your being able to put together an 1100-1200 calorie day with these as the pamphlet claims.

Verdict: Despite the caveats, the Toning workout is great and so is Minna, so this is not one I will be getting rid of.

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2 responses to “Fitness Review: Emergency Workout

  1. Nice blog. Note about the calories of the omlette. You’re right that they’re off a bit on the calories count. According to the Wegman’s web site, a 3 oz New York Bialy has 200 calories. If you use Egg Beaters, two “eggs” are 60 cals. Two tablespoons of cream cheese is about 100 calories. The rest of the items are pretty minimal as far as calories go. So you’re at at least 360 calories as you noted. So they might talking about a half a bialy maybe? or a small one, something less than 3 oz. Low fat cream cheese would be 40 cals less. So you could get to 250! But having said that, it still sounds like a pretty good breakfast at 350 or 400 calories. Wonder what the deal is on the “crushed” cantaloupe? And why bother?

    • You know, I was just wondering that myself (about the cantaloupe).
      While some of these recipes can be manipulated to get you closer to the calorie count, the average consumer probably isn’t going to bother with that. 1100-1200 calories is very low for one day anyway – especially if you are also doing a daily workout.

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