Pure Cardio begins with the same so-called "warm-up" as the one featured in Plyometric Cardio Circuit: three increasingly intense cycles of Jog, Jumping Jacks, Heismans, 1-2-3 Heismans, Butt Kicks, High Knees and Mummy Kicks -- with no breaks. By the end of this ten-minute, 21-exercise sequence, your body's feeling more than just warm.
After a few minutes of deep stretching, the actual workout begins -- but not before Shaun T lets slip that he's "worried" about having to do this workout. What the fuck? How am I supposed to be able to tackle this when Shaun T gets butterflies before attempting these exercises?
This main section of Pure Cardio is only 15 minutes in length, but it's long enough to make you want to puke. During this 15-minute period, you don't stop, and there are no breaks. You just keep busting your ass until you collapse.
There are 15 moves in this section, each of which is repeated for a full minute:
- Suicide Drills (run/jump from side to side, squatting down to touch the floor each time)
- Switch Kicks (alternating jump kicks -- sort of reminiscent of a Russian Cossack dance)
- Wide Football Sprints (sprint in place with your feet wide apart, rotating and moving from side to side and front to back, then crouching down into a scrimmage-line stance before popping up to sprint in place with high knees)
- Stance Jacks (modified jumping jacks -- you squat down and twist your core, touching one hand to the ground as you jump your feet wide apart)
- Pedals (lunge with one leg, then the other, then sprint in place)
- Hooks & Jump Rope (8 hook punches followed immediately by 4 high jumps)
- Power Jacks (modified jumping jacks -- go into a wide squat as you jump your feet wide apart)
- Level 2 Drills (starting in a standing position, drop down into plank position, do 8 push-ups and 8 run lunges, then jump up to a standing position)
- Frog Jumps (starting in a low squat with hands on the floor, jump straight up and back, with your hands up in the air -- then jump forward the same way)
- Power Knees (starting in a side lunge position and your arms over your head, bring your hands down as you perform a knee kick with your back leg -- switch sides after 30 seconds)
- Mountain Climbers (high knees performed with an upper-body climbing motion)
- Ski Down (side-to-side jumps)
- Scissor Runs (scissor your legs back and forth while swinging your arms)
- Suicide Jumps (just like burpees: from a standing position, squat down with your hands on the floor, jump back to plank, do a push up, jump your feet back to your hands, jump up again)
- Push-Up Jacks (start in a traditional push-up position, but when you transition to the down position, jump your feet wide)
I wish I could say that I pushed through all 15 moves without taking a breather, but I had to sneak in a few breaks during Frog Jumps and Push-Up Jacks. Still, I wasn't alone: A bunch of the onscreen fitness models had to hit their personal "pause" buttons to catch their breath. Shaun T makes a point of walking around during some of the exercises, tapping folks and telling them to "go sit down" and rest. By the end of the workout, most of the group is on the floor, exhausted. Even Shaun T is on his back.
I'm a big fan of Pure Cardio. It's tough, and (as with the other Insanity videos) Shaun T doesn't waste time with a lot of detailed instruction or introduce any modifications. But by taking breaks and scaling down the intensity level when necessary, I'm confident anyone can get through this routine and still get an awesome cardio workout. (In fact, M is sick with a cold, and never tried any Insanity DVDs before tonight, but she managed to complete Pure Cardio about an hour ago. Have I mentioned before that my wife kicks ass?)