Taiwan is part of Virtual Active’s new Run Series 6. Sadly, VA is not releasing their workouts on DVD any longer and this is only available as a download. ($7.95 US for a SD download and $10.95 US for an HD download. I got the HD download and it was well worth the extra $3.00.). I say “sadly” because as much as I know downloads are more convenient for some people, more cost-effective for companies to produce and that they’re the way of the future, so far all the VA downloads are only offered as “basic” and not “guided”. This means no instructor and no music—only ambient and nature sounds. I love how the VA DVD’s give you so many options—guided with music, guided without music, unguided with music, unguided with no music, captions, etc. I’m really going to miss all those options. I loved the Tawian Run but I really missed having the guided option as I love learning more about the location I’m in and I like following the drills and workout the instructor designed.
Since there’s no music or “designed” workout involved in the basic downloads, my reviews for VA downloads will be different than my other reviews. I’ll basically just be giving a description of the locations and my thoughts on the workout overall.
The locations in the Taiwan Run are stunning. You start in Taipei City and pass a small market, travel along a river and visit a temple, among other things. I enjoyed seeing the city but it was my least favourite part of the workout because once you get out of the city is where the Tawian Run really shines. You run along side a gorgeous gorge and along a (very) narrow path alongside what looks like a bottomless cliff. You run through misty green forests and along swinging bridges. You run through a thunderstorm. My favourite part was running through tea fields in the rain. The fields themselves are spectacular and the falling rain added a peaceful, zen feeling to the atmosphere.
Since the workout is unguided, you can make it as easy or as challenging as you want. On the VA website, the time is listed as 50 minutes but it’s actually 55 minutes when you add on the five-minute cooldown. Most of the terrain is relatively flat, but there is a point where you climb many, many steps so I used that opportunity to stand on my spin bike (yay!). (The run scenery moves a bit slower than the scenery in designated bike workouts but I had no problem doing this workout on my spin bike.) As I already mentioned, there’s no music but there are “ambient” sounds like birds and cars. I played my own music but kept it low enough so that I could still hear the ambient noise and I loved hearing the thunder and the rain. Even though I don’t always enjoy the music in VA workouts, I appreciate that it usually matches the locale and the BPM (beats per minute) of your expected cadence/speed during a guided workout. Even though I liked the music I played during the workout, it didn’t really fit the “feel” of Taiwan so I really missed having the music option.
Overall I loved the Taiwan Run. It’s a perfect length, the scenery is gorgeous and it’s nice to have the option of making the workout as easy or as challenging as I want. As much as I’ll miss having the “guided” VA workouts, the Taiwan Run helps soften the blow a bit.