I hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend. I certainly did. Classes officially start for me this week so it was nice to have one last hurrah before the intensity strikes. Anyhow, back to the topic at hand.
Earlier this summer I tried a sculpting and strength training class here in New York city which humbled me. The class was the Tonique Method and I called it “the hardest workout in town.” You can read my review of the live class here. The class is currently offered on a limited schedule but luckily there’s a whole set of DVDs available for those unable to take a class!

Sylwia Wiesenberg, the creator of the Tonique Method provided me with a set of her DVDs, 2 of which (the original Tonique Premier and the newer Tonique 2) I am going to review today.


This DVD was the first of the Tonique Method DVDs. It is broken down into five main sections:
1. Drills: Jumping jacks, jogging in place, lunge jumps  (Total time = 5 minutes).
2. Squats: Ten different squat exercises including the basic squat, basic squat with front kick, basic squat with side extension, squat jumps, one-legged squats and more (Total time = 15 minutes).
3. Lunges: Ten different lunge exercises including the basic backward lunge, backward lunge with front kick, skating lunge, side-to-side lunge and more (Total time = 19 minutes).
4. Mat exercises: This section starts off with some cardio drills to elevate the heart rate and includes mountain climbers and jogging in place, before beginning the mat section which include donkey kicks, fire hydrants, hip lifts, one-legged hip lifts. It ends with stomach drills which include a pilates-style full teaser and side to side leg extensions (Total time = 17 minutes).
5. Cool-Down: Dynamic active stretching, including plies, and the warrior three pose borrowed from yoga.

The DVD, like the class is very challenging. Luckily, there are breaks between the sections. You can add a set of light dumbbells (1 or 2lbs is recommended) to assist you with added upper body work. It is filmed in a loft-like space and Sylwia is doing all the exercises herself. The voice-over is done by somebody else so at times it feels a little disjointed because there is a disconnect between the instructions and the actual movements. Each exercise is performed with a high number of repetitions (30, usually) and I found myself stopping to take plenty of breaks, at times completely out of breath. I felt great afterwards though! It is a complete body work-out that can efficiently be done in an hour.


This set is made up of 2 disks. While both discs are heavy on the squat/lunge formula that is the hallmark of Tonique, the first disk is described as being predominantly for sculpting while the second disk is more cardiovascular. Each disk is slightly under an hour and contains even more variations of squats and lunges compared to Tonique premier. Again, a set of light handweights is recommended for added upper body work that is performed in combination with the lower body work, such as a side lunge with an arm extension or a squat with a side-step and an added bicep curl.

The second disk contains also exercises such as diagonal knee lifts (lifting the knee to the opposite shoulder) and punching from side to side, movements which will elevate the heart rate. In addition the squat/lunge exercises are performed more dynamically, jumping from one repetition to the next, making it all the more harder (and relying more on cardiovascular strength than the first disk). Further, the second disk contains some arm exercises like triceps extensions and straight arm extensions.

The DVDs can be performed on their own (will take about an hour) or one after the other (taking up two hours). I liked Tonique 2 more than Tonique Premier for a few reasons. Firstly, the voice-over has been eliminated and Sylwia is the one giving actual instructions. There is a music-only option in the set-up if you prefer not hearing the cues. Secondly, the squat and lunge exercises are combined, rather than having separate squat and lunge sequences, as in Tonique Premier, which can get monotonous. I also liked that there was a split-screen for a few of the exercises so you can see the exercise done from different angles and adjust accordingly.

There were a few things I did not care for – one being the blue and white, slightly psychedelic backdrop, which I found distracting. I also did not care for the music, although, because of copyright issues that is a problem with most exercise DVDs. This DVD contains many repetitions of an exercise, and while I don’t find that to be a short-coming some may.

Overall, though, this is a killer workout. Like with Tonique Premier, I stopped to take many breaks. It is really hard but it as close to a live class as you are going to get, especially if you do both disks one after the other (the actual class is 2 hours long!). It will work you to the point of exhaustion but as Sylwia explains in the afterword, “Stay focused and stay positive and you can always go beyond your limits.” For me, the endorphin high made it all worthwhile!

Now for the fun part! Sylwia is very generously giving away 10 copies of her DVDs, which means that 5 lucky readers will each receive one copy of Tonique Premier and one copy of Tonique 2!

To enter, all you have to do is leave me a comment telling me what your fitness goals were this year and how close you are to achieving them, whether it was to run a 10K or to improve your tennis game or do a full-form push-up. The deadline to enter is 10pm Monday Sept 12th and I will randomly choose 5 winners and announce them on Tuesday Sept 13th.

*Open to readers in the Continental US only.


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23 Responses to Tonique Method DVD: Review and Giveaway!

  1. Andreas says:

    1. I remember when you reviewed the class! Sounds like a great workout! I’d love to add the DVDs to my exercise dvd collection! I’m doing more workouts at home, and I love having some really tough workouts. My goals for 2011 were to hike more (at least one long, difficult hike per month and shorter hikes each week), do one to two strength workouts per week and plenty of yoga and barre workouts. I’m pretty happy with where I am at. For the remainder of the year, I’ll just continue doing what I have been doing (which can be challenging as fall is always very busy…).

  2. Cameo says:

    Hmm sounds intriguing and I would love to try it out! My goal for 2011 was to get my figure “back” haha. Meaning, drop a good 15lbs of the 30lbs that I gained during the whole muscle freak out period of my life…sadly I think I only lost like 5. But, I feel great! And I am running again! And, I got a second opinion that gave me some of my fitness life back…so I am pretty happy anyway.

  3. Amber says:

    Aaaah! I was obssessed with this review when you wrote it and then I never did anything. Thanks for reminding me! I definitely wanted to purchase this so it would be even better to win a copy! I had two big goals for this year: one was to lose the last 10 pounds of my 15 pound marriage weight, which practically fell off this summer. The second was to complete a half marathon in a good-for-me-time – which, hopefully will happen this weekend.

  4. Karina says:

    My goal is to acquire and maintain a flat tummy once and for all!! And maybe increase my pitiful endurance……

  5. Ashley says:

    My fitness goal was to workout at least 3 times a week. I have to admit I have been slacking this past month.

  6. Sid says:

    My goal is to strengthen my core and develop greater flexibility. I’ve just restarted my power-yoga routine so it will be about 6 months to reach my goal =)

  7. Sarah says:

    Hi Sam My goal was to lose about 20 pounds and gain flexibility and strength, to tone my muscles and gain definition in my arms. I’ve taken some steps -I’d say I was about halfway there through yoga, running, and boxing and eating healthier.

  8. Trish says:

    That workout looks great! My goal for 2011 was to workout 5-6 times/week, and follow a “clean” diet. So far I’ve been committed to my goal, but it’s difficult to stay motivated when you don’t see the scale move! I’ve been addicted to P57, but I need to switch it up a bit.

  9. Kim says:

    –Sam, You are inspiring me to get off my butt. Xx

  10. Mary says:

    Hi Sam, My goal is to assess my fitness-healthy living one week at a time! This week I plan on incresing my running days because I have entered a 15k which is comng up at the end of October! Next week may be a different goal because your fitness challenges should always be different!

  11. Jess says:

    I just started running before the start of the new year, and my fitness goal this year was to run a 5k. I did that in May, and now will be running at 10-miler in a month!

  12. Keelie says:

    Sam, this is an awesome giveaway! My fitness goals were to train for my first 1/2 marathon (which sadly got cancelled due to the hurricane) and to put an emphasis on strength training in my workouts- I love how I look and feel when I lift! 🙂 So excited to see you soon!!!

  13. Jen says:

    My goal is to stay in shape during residency training! AT home DVDs seem like the perfect way to get a good class in on my crazy schedule.

  14. Jennie says:

    My goal was to incorporate more HIIT into my training. To be honest, I’ve been having trouble pushing myself hard enough on my own so I’m thinking about signing up for a bootcamp program. These DVDs sound like they would help me achieve my goal though. Thanks for hosting such a great giveaway!

  15. Lauren says:

    Ooh, these sound good. I’m in the market for a couple of DVDs as in Vermont (if there’s still a vermont, oh no) in the winter, I will do a DVD. Funny, I haven’t heard much about this class. As for fitness goals, I’m doing a marathon this month but want to really get better at skiing and maybe consider an ultra for 2012

  16. Cindy says:

    My goal is to improve my fitness level. Tonique is a wonderful workout, especially since I do mine at home !!

  17. Jill says:

    I just want to lose some (ANY) of the baby weight!

  18. Leslie says:

    i’m intrigued by this, though i’d probably have to modify some of the higher impact things, my curiosity is piqued enough to want a copy! my fitness goal of the year: master handstands. i did my third one ever last night, but i still need the help of an instructor to guide me up. i’ll get there on my own though; i’m determined!

  19. Maria says:

    my fitness goals are to pass my AF PT test with higher scores than I got last year & to lose about 20lbs which will bring me to my pre-fiance/husband weight.

  20. Melissa says:

    my main goal is to run the nyc marathon, it hasn’t been an easy season, but I still plan to finish.

  21. Shana says:

    My goal this year was to get back to my 2007 weight and then tone up. I made it down to my 2007 weight. Now I just need the Tonique DVDs to help me tone up!

  22. Rachel says:

    I would love to win these DVDs! In the past 2 years, I have lost over 60lbs, mostly through diet changes and spinning classes. This year, I decided I need to diversify my workouts so I can become more toned. I started taking physique 57 and total body fitness classes and it has helped a lot. I also ran my first 5k! I work out 5 days a week and I threw out my metrocard! I have grown to really love working out and trying new fitness classes. I would love to win these dvds, as I enjoy bar classes, but they are quite expensive to got to everyday. Thanks for all you do with this blog:) It has really helped motivate me.

  23. Laura says:

    My fitness goal is to get stronger, move my body daily. My goal is to lose a dress size by Thanksgiving and to do a side plank for 30 seconds on each side, while improving my full form pushups.

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