This will be the first of a number of individual reviews of the new P90X2 workouts.  Today I popped in the first disc, X2 Core.  As I assumed, this is very much a new version of Core Synergistics from the original series.  It is a key part of the "foundation" phase.  The DVD is about 55 minutes and requires a lot of equipment - ideally a stability ball, a medicine ball, a foam roller, and a mat.  However, one of the great things about P90X2 is that one person is always doing the "hotel version" using only bands or no equipment, so there is no question how to modify if you don't have all of the equipment.

The workout begins with a number of light lifts and twists while holding the stability ball, which weighs maybe 2 lbs.  Then comes a long, long sequence of stretching using the foam roller, as well as some other warm-up exercises.  In fact, the main workout didn't start until about the 20 minute mark.  However, the stretches were very valuable.  I do not own a foam roller, so I was a little bored just doing standard versions of the stretches, but did like some of the warm up exercises.

When the main workout begins, it was a series of completely new moves, many of which take advantage of the use of the balls to cause instability and force you to engage the core to balance.  In fact, I'd say most of this workout is about balance and control, instead of strength and speed.  Some of the highlights were traditional core syngergistic moves taken to the next level, like "Roll the Boat" which alternated boat (the yoga position) holds with a tuck and roll onto the back.  Additionally there were a set of banana holds where you hold the stability ball and in between holds pass the ball from the hands to the feet and back again.  Many moves are based on the "sphinx" position from original core synergistics as well.  There was a great warrior 3 balance move as well which was really tough to hold.

Some of the moves were plyometric in nature, including a single leg leap frog squat and one of the lunge moves.  One of my favorite moves was a one legged burpee using the stability ball.  There was a medicine ball pushup which was kind of the same motion as a clapping or plyo pushup.

The one move that I wasn't a big fan of was the medicine ball Dreya roll.  I've publicly stated that I think the Dreya roll is a strange move that doesn't really seem to work anything, but is more of a "show-off" move.  I decided instead to do sit-ups while holding a 12 lb. weight.

Overall I would say that this workout tested my mind and focus as much as it did my body.  It was my first time through so I'm sure now that I know the form I will get a better workout the second time through.  My overall impressions is that the original core synergistics is overall a "harder" workout.  I remember the first time through core syn, I was out of breath and dripping in sweat, and though I felt "worked" that wasn't the feeling at the end of X2 Core.  There were more push ups in that original P90X workout, and some classics like steam engine, towel hopping, and plank to chaturanga runs which really got the sweat on.  But one of the things it says in the P90X2 guides is that there is no traditional "cardio" in the sense of a cardio only focus.  Obviously all workouts test your heart and lungs, but these workouts really focus on performing moves with good form in the presence of instability and are not about isolation, but total body focus.  Some of the original moves in P90X(1) were what Tony called "Cardio Core" like football hero, etc.

I'd give this workout a B+.  I was challenged, felt worked by the end, and really accessed my core in new ways, but I was hoping to feel more wasted by the end like I did the first time I tried Core Synergistics.  The workout production value is really clean and moves forward and Tony is his usual self with a couple of great one liners including when he sings "Roll, roll, roll the ball" to "row your boat."  I'd say while Tony's original Core Syn is all about "engage," and that is something you constantly have to think about in Core Syn 1, in X2 Core it's impossible to not engage the core.  The exercises are set up that you can't hold them without engaging, so that is definitely a plus.  I'm looking forward to trying Plyocide tomorrow!

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