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REVIEW: Travis Eliot’s ULTIMATE YOGI

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I’m a huge fan of yoga postures.  Especially as I hit my mid forties.  Maintaining a level of flexibility has done more to prevent me from injury than anything as mid-life drags me screaming into an alleyway.  So with that in mind it was an easy sell to get me to review Travis Eliot’s Ultimate Yogi.

ult_yogiWhat you get:

12 DVD’s, a calendar and fitness guide.  The program timeline is a 108 day schedule.

CROSS TRAINING

Time: 65 Minutes

Despite the title, there will be no throwing tires and jumping on plyo-boxes. This is straight up salutations and balance postures with occasional changes in tempo. If you’ve ever done P90X Yoga then this has many similarities and the benefits of both would probably be identical.  I guess I expected a little more considering the aggressive “Cross Training” title.

One thing is obvious, this is not for beginners.  Also, Travis never…and I do quite literally mean never…stops talking.  Down dog, updog, warrior one, inhale, exhale, now fold yourself in half…finding that mental calm gets pretty hard when you’re concerned about falling behind.

CARDIO

Time: 63 Minutes

Yoga at the speed of light.  If you had a hard time keeping up with Cross Training, this is not going to be a good day for you.  Still, if you give yourself some time and tune Travis out when necessary, you will have a pretty sweet cardio-core routine to start your day.

STRENGTH

Time: 65 minutes

I’m starting to see a pattern here.  Modern yoga by nature has a very limited set of moves.  Vinyasas, warrior postures, balance postures and general all around stretching.   That’s really about it.  So whereas the Cardio workout moves at a fast pace, Strength goes slower and has longer isometric holds.  Planks are held longer and ab work is slow and controlled.  Just don’t expect weight training results.

uy-strength
Hold those poses long for some serious core attention.

FLEXIBILITY

Time: 72 minutes

If P90X YogaX feels long to you, this might seem an eternity but that doesn’t mean you should bail.  The deliberate focus on slow, stretching and flexibility will be crucial for us older folks.

BALANCE

Time: 61 minutes

As the name implies, more focus is spent on maintaining balance postures.

uy-balance
Hold 'er steady...

HALFTIME

You will be told often..about 1,056,872 times per workout...to inhale/exhale.  Sorry, I meant  IIIIIIIIINHALE.  EEEEEEEEEXHALE.  It was getting to the point where my lungs were starting to develop a complex.

lungs
Stop telling us how to do our jobs already.

DETOX

Time: 73 minutes

Toxins are in you, therefore we shall wring your body like a soaked towel and squish them out.  Don’t ask me whether this will actually work as I’m only a fitness columnist, but I at least like the muscular benefits.  Think of this as a very aggressive form of Twister.

twister-game
But thankfully with no lingering regrets.

VITALITY

Time: 70 minutes

The intro to this is freaking hilarious, as Travis tells us we’re going to restore energy to earth ( although I’m sure he’s being facetious…right? ).  The poses remain the same except there’s a lot of expanding the chest out as if to imply energy release.  My volt-meter didn’t register squat, but it felt nice.

HARDCORE

It’s just Travis today as the cast is away getting their herbal tea colonics.  This is designed to focus on the abdominal area and is unquestionably one of the harder ab workouts I have done.

uy-hardcore
The moves are slow, adding a brutal isometric component.

YIN YOGA

Time: 65 minutes

Long and slow.  To be honest, this one is a lot easier to follow due to the reduced pace and the fact you’ll be on the floor for the entire time.  No warrior postures today.

GENTLE YOGA

Time: 55 minutes

We cut the cast down to 4 today.  The moves are back to the more traditional yoga with salutations and forward bends, with the last half focusing more on ground work.  The pace slows compared to most other workouts which makes this one a fine choice overall for most people.

MOUNTAIN POSE SERIES

Time: 30 minutes

While the outdoors does indeed make for a good set, this reminds me when my karate Sensei would make us run outside in bare feet. So sure, you could practice your yoga in the sandbox, but I would argue getting sand in your crotch is an inevitability.

Breathing, calmness and the quest to become the ultimate human being.  Wait…what?   Like an X-Man?  That makes no damn sense at all.  Think before you speak Travis.

The moves here are reaching high and bending forward, so a lot of hamstring action will be taking place.  It is actually a very nice series that allows one to get a fair bit done in with a short runtime.

MEDITATION

Time: 37 minutes

While I’m certainly a fan of relaxing the mind, I try to keep it online enough that my grey matter doesn’t ooze out of my ears.  I mean, we can meditate on giving gratitude for the good things in our life, but who are we giving the gratitude too?  Travis and the kids would like to thank the impersonal “universe”.  Take it from a theological junkie, you don’t want to get me started…

ul-med
Pretty sure the cosmos isn't craving anyones gratitude. Also certain it doesn't have ears.

SUN SALUTATIONS

Time: 50 minutes

The intro implies I’m a different human being if I made it this far.  Cool.  The outdoor set also looks great, but that jagged stone floor has got to be murder on the casts feet, even with a mat.  Poor saps.

This workout is a non-stop sequence of 108 sun salutations.  No queuing from Travis at and to be honest it is rather nice as any constant advice during this time would be distracting.

CONCLUSION

If you want advanced yoga then you have unquestionably come to the right place. Travis Eliot delivers a program that is high on skill, if not somewhat lacking in variety.

I do have some gripes with this program though.  For example, Travis specifies that this is good for people with injuries.  I would advise people to have more realistic expectations.  The pace in Ultimate Yogi moves far too fast and there is not much opportunity to settle in.  Anyone with knee or joint issues should find a beginner program and move past this until they are ready.  It will only lead to further injury.

So what’s the trainer like?

This is a very subjective thing.  Personally, I doubt me and Travis are going to be long term workout buddies.  Not lying, there are times this can feel like a goofy hipster-cult initiation ritual.  Travis has a somewhat unique way of talking that will either comfort you or make you throw a brick at the screen.  Everything is slow…damn slow…and monotone to a ludicrous extent ( think 60’s hippie maaaaaan ).  He has less voice intonation than Siri.  What compounds the issue is that every sentence Travis speaks you know he feels in his heart it is brilliant even though it is usually pretentious, convoluted nonsense.

ult_yogi1
Yes my children, let death's loving embrace cloak you like a warm blanket.

Like most yoga practitioners you have to be prepared for a hefty truckload of bullshit and in my opinion, Travis delivers a little too much of it at times.  No matter how much you stretch or calm yourself, you will not ‘find yourself‘, create a better life out of nothing, nor gain the wisdom of the universe.  Can you fold yourself in half and with ninja like skill calm your heart-rate to near zero?  Great…but you are not a better human for doing so.  Sorry kids, being a better person comes with age, values and experience, not on a rubber mat in a room with east-Indian decor.  Therefore, every time Travis had some meaningless Yoda-advice such as “moving with compassion”, I would politely yell ‘shut up’ and tell him to go back to making my non-fat latte.

latte
Say what you will about yoga masters, they make the best baristas.

There is also the perpetuated myth that this form of yoga is thousands of years old.  Perhaps parts are, but those sun salutations and stretch techniques have more in common with Indian gymnastics.  While I am a huge fan of the health benefits of modern yoga postures, I just don’t believe yoga teachers when they say their art has been passed down through the ancients…unless they are referring to 60’s stoners.

nudeyoga
I know what you't thinking too...that elephant is clearly not doing a proper upward dog.

All that nitpicking aside, Travis has created something for the masses craving a dedicated yoga program.  The sets are attractive and the audio/music is very appropriate.  It would be nice to have a timer bar for those of us on a schedule but that might run counter to the goal of losing yourself in the moment which Travis was aiming for,

If you’re a hardcore yoga buff then I highly recommend Ultimate Yogi.  It never strays from its premise even though the workouts don’t have a lot to distinguish themselves.  If you like variety or prefer to have trainers with a more pragmatic worldview, there’s a good chance Travis will get on that last nerve.  Newcomers especially may wish to first consider more lightweight options or they will be left in the dust.

3.8 FEATHERS out of 5

REVIEW: Travis Eliot’s ULTIMATE YOGI
7.2 SCORE
Pros
  • Probably one of the most advanced yoga programs out there.
  • Appeals to advanced practitioner right away.
  • Cons
  • Fortune cookie advise is bullshit.
  • Trainer can be like working out with Tommy Chong.
  • Difficulty too advanced for beginner.
  • Summary
    Solid yoga program designed for the intermediate to advanced enthusiast. The program lacks variety in most workouts, yet still accomplishes the goal of increased flexibility. Just don't get too caught up in the "Yoda" wisdom.
    Production Values8
    Music8
    Instructor7
    Cost7
    Variety6

    John Paul Parrot ( 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.

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