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I naturally expected The Perfect Design Series to be some kind of variation of the Mat Workout with maybe a few alterations. In a way, I was both right and wrong. The Perfect Design series does continue the line of the Mat Workout, but with far more variations than I had expected!
So, what's new? Almost everything. The first video is slightly reminiscent of the Mat Workout, whilst the third one is a completely new thing, and the second video is a transition between the two. There is a more prominent Tracy style visible in the series and it is far less conventional than the Mat Workout. As you move to the third, advanced, level, you may get the impression that you are starting a dancing class. This may seem annoying to some people (I know that Tracy's Dance Cardio is not rated very high), but look at it from another perspective: the moves have more grace and balance in them than any standard gym workout. So many will find this dance trend quite pleasurable, I'm sure.
I don't think I will manage to stop comparing The Perfect Design Series with the Mat Workout, so will just have to continue my review the same way. The Series focuses on the same areas as the Mat Workout (legs, arms, abs, butt and thighs), but the line between different types of exercises is not so distinct, so most of them involve the whole body and you cannot say that this one is only for legs and that one is only for arms. Probably, the abs exercises are the most narrowly targeted. The arm exercises are given less focus than in the Mat Workout and are gradually more and more integrated into other types of exercises. So no arm-waving with weights non-stop for ten minutes.
Most descriptions refer to three hour-long videos, but I think they are hardly longer than 45 minutes and feel more like 30 minutes each (at least the first two). They even seem quite easy to do and sometimes it is possible to do two videos one after the other. And yet I find them quite powerful and on most occasions, having finished one video, I feel pretty tired. But tired in a nice way, tired and relaxed. I find The Series a perfect way to meditate without sitting still and doing nothing (something I find very hard to do). This is a kind of active meditation and helps the mood as well as the body.
To support this meditative image, Tracy is less cheerful and easy-going in the videos. Her seriousness might put some people off and seem like not enough encouragement. It's a bit strange at first, but then you will probably get used to it.
Like in The Mat Workout, you won't need much equipment. A dining-room chair and a mat, a couple of weights if you like, but even they are not necessary. But make sure you've got some space around, so you don't bump into the furniture. Many moves are on the verge of dancing and require you to move freely.
And, of course, there is the question of effectiveness. I love the Series and think the workouts work. I haven't got much weight to lose, but I am perfectly happy with the state of my muscles and the relaxing, meditative effect of the exercises.