PARROT REVIEWS: Les Mills Combat

Because having your own musical montage takes a bit of practice.

By Jean Paul Fender

 

The internet is all abuzz with the latest Beachbody workout, Les Mills Combat and reviews out there seem generally positive.  However, until I have anything to say all that talk is just chatter from the unwashed masses who will forever sit at the feet of the Dysfunctional Parrot.   Friends, if its one thing you can count on from the DP it is brutal honesty.  That and inappropriate gas during family get togethers.

WHAT YOU GET:
Program Guide, calendar, food guide, a tape ruler which the kids will destroy in seconds, and 5 DVD’s containing a total of 11 workouts and 1 orientation video ( which I will skip over ).  Your lead instructors will be Dan Cohen and Rach Newsham, two exceedingly happy yet fit New Zealanders.

COMBAT 30 – KICK START

30 minutes    Trainer: Rach

First thing you’ll notice is the happy people.  Say hello to them.

Secondly, you will also notice immediately that this is not RushFit.  It’s dance martial arts cardio.  In other words, TaeBo with better production values and thankfully no blinding color co-ordination.  For that at least I’m thankful. The music also has heavy vocals which really threw me off and more than once had me wishing it would just go away, but it won’t because unlike other Beachbody DVD’s the option is not there.  And it also seems Rach likes to occasionally sing.  Well…ok then.  OK, I’ll try and be positive.  This is a very good cardio routine but no harder than any other martial arts style cardio workout.

COMBAT 45 POWER KATA

45 Minutes    Trainer: Dan

I’ve taken karate for fifteen years and I know kata.  But I’ve never done a kata to “Walking in Memphis”.

This one will burn you but good, giving you the added benefit of having your own personal musical montage and as such you should be able to defeat the Kobra Kai in the All Valley Karate Championship when it’s done.  Another advantage is…Holy Mackerel is Dan singing????

Kata has a way of making every move count, so I give it high marks for that.  It also wears out Dan and Rach and by the end they’re thankfully knocking off the goofy antics.  And the singing.  But tomorrow is another day.

COMBAT 60 – EXTREME CARDIO FIGHER

Time 57 minutes    Trainer: Rach

The cast is oiled up and ready to put on the show.  This is an hour long musical montage of kicks, punches and uppercuts while jumping about to the beat.  And because of that you will spend 90% of your time trying to remain in step with the music.  Either you will like that or find it annoying.  But then again, that’s just the nature of this workout program and if it drives you nuts you probably wouldn’t have made it this far.

Occasionally the other cast members speak words of encouragement and hey…is that a purple skunk streak in Rach’s hair?  Was that always there?

HIIT 1- POWER

30 minutes    Trainer: Rach

Dan takes the lead here as you get into total body circuit training drills that kick your ass.  No kidding, the use of weights makes this knock out anything P90X or Insanity has to offer and I don’t say that lightly.  The trainers even cut back their manufactured excitement and seem uncharacteristically authentic as I imagine singing and dancing is hard to do when you’re on your final set.  The only downside is that this is only 30 minutes long.  But wow…what a thirty minutes.  This is like Asylum- Strength in terms of the cardio weight aspect, but I think even Shaun T would be out of gas after this.

HIIT 2 – SHOCK PLYO

30 minutes    Trainer: Rach

After a good 4 minute warmup it’s off to the races with Rach taking the lead.  As with any plyo progam you will endure squats, jumps and burpees.  Many sequences are repeated several times such as the Plyo-Lunge/run/powerclimb…all done to the beat of the music.  There is supposed to be weights involved, but it only gets used for one move in the whole thirty minutes.  Probably just as well as this is pretty quick and intense as it stands.  The upside is that it is high intensity, but low impact which means your knees won’t start to kill you as if you just did an Insanity workout for the tenth day in a row.

UPPER BODY BLOWOUT

Time: 25 minutes    Trainer: Dan

Happy Dan is full of jumping beans and ready to rock.  Don’t chuckle too hard though as he is going to royally give you a beat-down today.

UBB is pushups, presses, rows, weighted uppercuts and press squats that combine together for a truly exhausting cardio circuit that feels like it was straight from Shaun T’s kitchen.  A word of advice, watch it with the squat speed shoulder press…I clocked myself in the nuts with a 25 pound weight.  I then proceeded to spend the next 20 minutes praying for the sweet release of death.

It may be only just over 20 minutes, but you won’t be able to do a single push up after it’s…wait…is that a remix of The Final Countdown by Europe??

LOWER BODY LEANOUT

Time: 25 minutes    Trainer: Rach

Rach leads the workout in what is really another cardio routine with a martial arts flavor.  That means kicks, squats and some plyo…but mainly kicks.  That means if you ever find yourself in a bar surrounded by ninjas, you’ll be good as gold so long as a funky beat is playing on the speakers.

This is a good one that in my opinion does more to work out the glutes than anything and helps develop flexibility as you try and kick higher each time.  In fact, I was shocked how bad my kicks had gotten over the years.  So if you’re looking for the perfect side kick to break your opponents femur and then dance over his broken body then this is thirty minutes well spent.

CORE ATTACK

Time 17 minutes    Trainer: Dan

You guessed it, it’s an abdominal workout.  But be warned, this one is probably tougher than Ab Ripper X.  The occasional use of a weight will see to that.  In every sense of the the word, this lives up to its name.

There is also a strong emphasis on strengthening the lower back and that makes this a true winner in my book.  Either the music is better than usual here of I’m warming up the this programs style of music…right down to doing some crunches to a James Brown-ish remake of War.  What’s it good for any way?

STRETCH and STRENGTH

Time: 20 Minutes    Trainer: Rach

It’s a lot of slow moving blocks that are done while holding a stance. It ends with a few minutes of old-school stretching, but contrary to the name this doesn’t really stretch you out that long or that effectively. It feels more “Tai Chi”-ish in contrast to the fast moving rhythm of the main workouts. Just keep in mind this won’t in any way replace a good yoga or stretch session.

I do appreciate the good form of the cast, as clearly they have indeed taken some decent karate training ( not sloppy TaeKwonDo McDojo stuff ). Their blocks are sharp and deliberate and their stances long and strong.

COMBAT 30 – LIVE  and COMBAT 60 Ultimate Warrior – LIVE

Times: 30 and 60 minutes respectively.    Trainer: Both Dan and Rach

Going live is tricky business.  Like when you go to a U2 360 concert and The Edge plays “Streets With No Name” in drop D tuning.  Interesting, but it’s…NO!!!…that’s just not how it goes!!

I’ll review both LIVE from Bristol, UK workouts at the same time because they’re essentially just stage versions of their counterparts except now you’re working out with hundreds of sweaty strangers.  They’re really just repeat workouts so I suppose they’re here to add variety in what you see, but not really in what you do.  Hard to say how many times you’d want to work out to this kind of video before it got a little old.  Personally I always find things like this sort of awkward.  Like when someone in the adjacent urinal comments that I have a nice watch.

CONCLUSION

The big push with Les Mills workouts seems to be the music soundtracks.  It’s techno pop with lyrics.  Between you and me the music took a long time to ease into as I honestly feel good music died in the 70’s ( when people could play more than 3 chords ) and that techno is the essence of uninspired computer generated junk.  But that might just be me being an old fart.

The skill of the instructors is never in question.  They obviously have a solid background in martial arts and bring that skill to you in a very unique fashion that will absolutely work you in very creative ways.  The main way they do this of course is with music.

Being a cup-half-empty kind of guy that I am, I also must speak of some bad news.  Unlike other Beachbody workouts, the option to kill the music is not there.  Turn it down yes…but not off.  In a way that makes sense as having co-ordination with the music is just about inseparable from the actual workout itself.  Without it your rhythm with the cast will seem extremely random.

What about the instructors?  Don and Rach will either motivate you or irritate the ever-loving Hell out of you.  Let me elaborate:  Does Tony Horton not sit with you?  Then put your credit card right back in your wallet because although Tony can be a little well, Tony…he is nonetheless authentic.  To many Dan and Rach might come off as displaying phony, manufactured energy and humor.

That’s not to completely write this off.  As a martial arts cardio package this will work you to the extreme, it just might take a little getting used to for most people.  If you’re under 25 and therefore have had all musical taste genetically removed from your DNA and think autotune hacks like Beyonce are actually legitimate musicians, then this might be the cardio-ticket you’ve been waiting for.

3.5 Feathers out of 5

  

© 2013 – 2014, Dysfunctional Parrot. All rights reserved. No reproduction of written material is permitted.

Jean Paul Fender

Jean Paul Fender

Supreme Overlord at DysfunctionalParrot.com
Jean Paul Fender ( aka. The Dysfunctional Parrot ) is a disgruntled Systems Analyst who wanders the Canadian wastelands saving small villages with the power of Kung Fu.  His chair is also a little too close to the twenty year old microwave.  As you can well imagine, this has had certain side effects. Jean Paul is also the author of the comedy apocalyptic novel, LOOPBACK.
Jean Paul Fender
 
 
  • Jack

    Great review as always, unlike insanity I think this program is much more adaptable to beginners. I recommended this program to my little brother who rarely exercises and I watched as he worked up to a pool of sweat doing this, on the other hand he could barely last through the warmup of insanity.

    I agree the music in this program is a hit or miss. I’m not a big fan of the music either, I could imagine my testosterone level take a dive when the trainers start singing. In my opinion nothing beats the soundtrack from asylum volume 2, when you are exhausted and on your last set, and all of a sudden that piece of your favorite track start playing in the background, you will be inspired and maybe even drop a tear of joy as that endorphins fire up again to temporary suppress the pain in the muscles.

    Now that’s the magic of good music.

  • morat

    Great article very funny.I think the music on all these beach body products are aweful still annoyed that I can’t turn it off in the one on one series. Have not as yet tried this one as beach body uk doesn’t seem to believe that people in the uk need these dvd’s until a year or so after the US. Oh well
    Am fighting through the skogg system at the moment any thoughts on trying a kettlebell regime?

    • http://dysfunctionalparrot.com Dysfunctional Parrot

      Haven’t really seen a kettlebell routine that appealed to me. However, that Skogg System you mentioned looks awfully tempting though. I’ll have to add that one to my short list!

  • Pige.

    Hi DP Could we try imagin for the sake of the argument if you was able to turn Odd the Music and trainer comments etc and only focused rating the workouts how maney feather do you Think you Would have given the program ? And is the hiit work really the same intensity of insanity ?

    • http://dysfunctionalparrot.com Dysfunctional Parrot

      That’s a very good question. I would probably rate it about the same as although I wasn’t into the music, I was able to work past it.
      I should clarify that while there are the odd workouts like Shock Plyo that might feel “Insanity-ish”, the program as a whole is not as extreme. 60 days of this will be a good workout, but 60 days of Insanity will be a serious accomplishment!

  • kakashi

    Hi DP I really like your reviews. I have heard that P90X3 will be a MMA inspired program like Les Mills Combat I hope this is not the case because p90x/x2 are great and a MMA one will be not as good. have you hear anything about it?

    • http://dysfunctionalparrot.com Dysfunctional Parrot

      I have heard that it is in the brainstorming phase during interviews with TH, but nothing about MMA. I personally doubt Tony would go that route as I find he’s the one that does new stuff and people copy him…not the other way around. Not to mention this whole MMA training thing is getting a little saturated.

  • Mike

    Hi parrot i am on my 2nd round of This and i have really gotten familiar with the moves in the combat workouts Annyway am i crazy to consider power hiit and shock plyo as intense as insanity plus my quads burn alot more i know in its entirety of the program is maybe not as intense but i found the hiits to be or even more so

  • KB

    DP, I have been doing Combat for the past 7 weeks, and am almost done with the Supreme Warrior workout. I am wondering what kinds of results you got from doing the program? I am losing inches in my hips, waist, and thighs/gaining inches in my arms, but have gained 5 pounds since starting the program. Did you see this as more of a maintenance workout compared to stuff like P90X and Insanity workouts? (which I have done). Overall, what are your thoughts on results you got from Combat?

  • July M.

    DP, I’m a 30yrold female looking for an honest opinion about this program so thank you for your review. I recently tried the Insanity- Fit Test and it left me sore for 5 days. I don’t think I am ready for the intensity of that program especially since my knees sometimes act up. I’m definitely at beginner level; would Combat be a good place to start? You only
    gave this program a 3.5 star rating, what was lacking? Or are you basing it on the difficulty level as compared to P90X and Insanity?
    I curious to what the music sounds like, I googled The Final Countdown by Europe. What else would I listen to on youtube to get a feel for the music?

    • Scout Luyben

      I think I herd “Cum on feel the noize” in one of the videos.
      I’m in agreement, whenI did P90x I set the music to off, and played my own. (usually Metallica)

  • https://twitter.com/LaPantera507 Elizabeth

    Hello DP,

    To be honest I prefer to call you Mr. Batman! With all those programs you’ve already tried I’m sure you have became a kind of super hero, isn’t? Superman watch out!!

    I’ve read all your fitness reviews… All of them! And I’ve laughed as you have no idea! I love your sense of humour!
    I’m doing Les Mills Pump in this moment (week 5), and so far I’m loving it, even I felt it started kind of easy for me, I was already training with my ultimate 10kg sandbag before starting, and the first pump challenge I not even break a sweat (I started easy with the weights), and let me wanting to work out a bit more, so I aumented my weights, at first I was kind of intimidated as never used a barbell before, but after that change I’m feeling good, and loving the barbell thing so much, I bought my barbell at a sporting good around my place and it cost a lot less.

    Btw, I just wanted to point that Dan and Rach are not Australian, they are actually both from the UK, and living in New Zealand from some years now.

    Keep up the great work up, and the amazing reviews coming up!
    God bless.

    • http://dysfunctionalparrot.com Dysfunctional Parrot

      Thanks for the compliments! Next review coming up will be Focus T25 from Shaun T!

      • https://twitter.com/LaPantera507 Elizabeth

        You’re welcome! And I can’t wait for that review!!

  • johnique jordan

    Thanks for the review, once you mentioned Tony Horton I understood completely. Although I liked his program, he is very annoying.

  • BC

    They’re not Australian.

    • http://PetiteFitnessNerd.weebly.com Petite_Fitness_Nerd

      Yeah, yeah… they are from Auckland, New Zealand.

      • http://dysfunctionalparrot.com Dysfunctional Parrot

        Article updated to properly reflect Kiwi origins!

  • SEM

    I have not done all the workouts yet, but the 2 I have done, I liked. I use them for my cardio, because it is low impact and my knees love me for it..lol

  • Heather T

    I love your reviews, but I’m confused as to why you took off a whole feather and a half! Especially after reading your reviews on other workouts that you seemed to find more fault with. I just started this workout a week ago (I’m doing the Ultimate Warrior), and I LOVE it.

    First of all, I don’t think it is a dance workout. Punching and kicking in time to music is not the same thing as dancing. I love to dance, and I’ve been doing Zumba for the past 3 months before starting Les Mills Combat. So I think your review gave me the impression that this would be more like TaeBo, and it’s not nearly as, well, dancey (it’s a word). You hop around a lot more in TaeBo, and do other things besides punching/kicking. Also, I think describing LMC workouts as a dance workout may turn off men who have actually seen TaeBo and don’t want to be like any of the men in the background of TaeBo (or at least the ones in the DVD I had). Men like my husband, who is currently doing Body Beast and refuses to even look at anything with semi-girly-men in it. No offense to girly-men, of course. The point is, these workouts feel very co-ed, much more so than TaeBo. I’ll add that I don’t have a problem with it not being as dance oriented as I thought it would, because the workouts are fun in their own way.

    I don’t find Dan and Rach annoying. I read the reviews on the Beachbody site, and it seems like most other people agree with me on that. They are cheesy, yes, but in an amusing way. My husband even agrees. Maybe we are just incredibly cheesy people. Anyway, I don’t get that “fake” vibe that you see in so many other workouts. I think Dan may genuinely be psychotic. But he’s a likable psychotic. Plus, Dan and Rach really have a unique dynamic between them. I find their banter really helps to distract me from the pain and motivates me to continue when I feel like dying. I’ve already been obsessing about what program I want to do next. Because after searching so many other programs, I am concerned I won’t be able to find another with such interesting instructors.

    The only complaint I have is the music volume. It’s either so low you can’t hear the music, or it’s pumped up so loud you can’t hear the instructors. I mean come on, I need the option to hear Dan and Rach AND blast The Final Countdown!

    If you are not in any kind of shape, this workout will absolutely kill you at first. It seems pretty well rounded for a total body workout. I like that it incorporates some strength, because Zumba was straight cardio, and left me wanting for more. Also, it supplies the option for lower intensity, but I am able to do most of the unmodified moves without knee pain (except for single plyo lunges, I’m still working on those).

    One more thing. I read one of your other reviews, and I’m super jealous that Mrs. Parrot has a mini-trampoline :)

 
 
 
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