Video Fitness

The Fitness Fix: Sports Conditioning (aka Advanced)

Denise Beatty

In her 3-DVD Fitness Fix series, Denise Beatty, an exercise physiologist, coach, and personal trainer, has put together excellent functional core stability training exercises, all of which have been approved by physicians, chiropractors, and physical therapists for safety. The Sports Conditioning or advanced DVD is for athletes and others who have progressed beyond the Intermediate DVD. The overall focus is on balance, functional strength, and flexibility; on her web site, Denise says the DVD is also ideal for "people looking for effective off-season training to improve muscle recruitment and balance to prepare them for hard training seasons."

This versatile DVD utilizes a wide variety of equipment, including a stability ball, a small ball, dumbbells, tubing, a balance disk, an Xco trainer, and a foam roller. However, Denise and her two background exercisers, Lindsay and Emily, always show various equipment and difficulty level options. The Main Menu of the DVD contains the following four options: Introduction (a brief overview by Denise), the Fitness Fix (links to the exercises), Equipment (overview of all equipment used), and Credits.

The Sports Conditioning menu breaks down the exercises into the following two sub-menus:

*Balance Warmup Fix - 9 min
*Upper Body Fix - 30 min
*Lower Body Fix - 30 min
*Core Fix - 20 min
*35 Minute Fix - 25 min
*Plyometrics - 20 min

Cool Down
*Upper Body Flexibility - 4 min
*Lower Body Flexibility - 6 min
*Foam Roller Massage - 15 min

The Balance Warm-Up begins with a brief review of six Bs of posture (Base of skull, Breastbone, shoulder Blades, Belly button in, Bottoms up, Breathe) and then moves into some warm-up moves including kneeling on the ball (which I was actually able to do using Denise's tips), arm circles, arm & leg lifts, squats, squats w/twist, and bridge on the ball. Both the upper and the lower body portions contain traditional exercises (e.g., bicep curls, triceps kick-backs, squats, lunges), but these moves are made more functional by the addition of a balance element (either the stability ball or balance disk or BOTH) as well as a strong core emphasis. Denise frequently works the same muscle at different angles; she fries the triceps in particular during the upper body work and provides plenty of great alignment reminders during the lower body portion.

The Upper Body Fix utilizes the stability ball, weights, and optional tubing and disk. Exercises include draw your sword, shoulder stabilizer/rotator cuff work in back bridge on ball, push-ups with hands on ball (feet on disk as option), triceps blaster, triceps push-ups, chest press, chest flies, skull crushes (all three in back bridge on ball), triceps dips on ball, lateral raise (Denise does this and the following exercises kneeling on the ball), TYI (three shoulder/upper back exercises in which you move like each letter), bicep curls, bent over row, pronated bicep curl, pullover in back bridge on ball, and Russian twist. She concludes with a quick 2-minute stretch focused mainly on the shoulders. The Lower Body Fix also uses the stability ball throughout. Denise begins with squats as a warm-up; she provides a lot of detail on form here. The exercises which follow include a 3-directional lunge, 1-legged side squats w/ball at the wall, 1-legged squats w/ball at the wall, speed skater squats using the ball (tough!), lying abductor raises performed at various angles, inner thigh squeeze with the small ball, hamstring work with feet on the ball (this is a very LONG and very challenging set!), donkey kicks, calf work with the ball at the wall, and a brief calf stretch.

The Core segment is largely on the stability ball. The exercises include vacuum (transverse abs hold), front bridge (elbow plank), front bridge w/arm & leg raises, side bridge w/twist, dead bug, front bridge on ball, side bridge on ball, pull ins (legs on ball), starfish/snow angel on ball, supported starfish/snow angel, curl w/throw, tick-tock, and starfish/snow angel on disk. I found this section challenging but actually easier than the Core segment on the Intermediate, perhaps because it is 10 minutes shorter. In the short (5.5 minutes of actual footage) plyometrics segment, Denise explains that you will be doing approximately 92 jumps as a means to train your muscles in an eccentric contraction; she suggests that plyometrics are appropriate for those who have been doing strength training for at least six weeks. Working in sets of 10-12, Denise does squat jumps, 1-legged squat jumps, running jumps, and ricochet. She instructs you to pause for 2 minutes between each set, which accounts for the 20-minute total workout time for this segment.

In the 35 Minute Fix, Denise works out alone, doing compound moves to work the arms and legs at the same time. After a brief warm-up, she performs exercises such as French press with 1-leg squat and side squat with shoulder work. This segment uses weights, tubing, and the stability ball; it includes abs work and ends with a quick 3-minute stretch. The footage is the same as on the Intermediate DVD, but a few additional exercises appear here to account for the additional 5 minutes. The Cool Down segments, consisting of flexibility work, are the same on all three Fitness Fix DVDs. The Upper Body Flexibility is performed seated on the stability ball and thoroughly stretches all of the major muscle groups. The Lower Body Flexibility also uses the stability ball; in addition to standard muscle group stretches, it contains moves that uniquely target areas such as the groin, inner thighs, and IT band. Finally, in the Foam Roller Massage segment, Denise leads you through a deep tissue massage for the entire body.

There is no music during this workout--rather, it is more like a one-on-one personal training session with Denise. Her enthusiasm for this work shines throughout the DVD, and she is extremely encouraging and motivating. She and her assistants are exercising outdoors against a beautiful lakeside Canadian backdrop with mountains in the distance. This is an excellent workout for advanced exercisers, especially if you follow the very challenging modifications which Denise offers (i.e., she does much of the upper body work kneeling on the ball!). Personally, I slightly preferred her Intermediate DVD to this one, as many of the moves here were beyond my level. However, I found the Plyometrics segment to be a lot of fun, and I would definitely recommend this DVD to anyone looking for a real challenge.

Instructor comments: As mentioned above, Denise is extremely enthusiastic; she seems genuinely excited about the workout and eager to share her knowledge. She cued well and gave great form pointers, particularly with respect to maintaining your posture, using your core, and aligning your lower body for lunges. I am in awe of her ability to use the balance disk and/or stability ball during so many of the exercises; she is a cute little thing but obviously quite fit, strong, and one tough cookie!

Her two background exercisers in this video are Lindsay, a former Olympian, and Emily, winner of the 2005 Philadelphia Marathon. Although obviously in good shape, Emily seems to be struggling through much of the DVD; the expression on her face actually looked like she was in pain some of the time.

For more details on each of the three videos in the Fitness Fix series (which stands for Functionally Integrated Training with Fun Innovative eXercise), including frequently asked questions, action photos, video clips, and workout schedules, check out Denise's web site:

Beth C (aka toaster)

August 16, 2007

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