Video Fitness

Balance Ball Fitness-Abs

Suzanne Deason

This is a 30-minute video that uses the Balance Ball (basically, a Flexaball) to focus on working the abs. This is a Living Arts production. It is of course beautifully produced. It is filmed on a platform in the woods overlooking a stream. The music is soft piano/instrumental. Suzanne Deason uses a Balance Ball placed on a yoga mat. You could do the workout without the mat, but I find that on my carpeted floors the mat helps me not to slip. I would call the difficulty level intermediate overall, but as with all ball workouts the farther from your center you place the ball, the more difficult the workouts will be. Beginners could do this as well, using modifications that Suzanne describes and demonstrates very well.

First is the warm-up/instructional section. This consists of getting properly positioned on the ball, some pelvic tilts sitting on the ball, rolling back and forth over the ball on your stomach, and doing a back-bending stretch over the ball. I sometimes do this part, but usually I'm warm from cardio or strength, so I often skip it. This section is 5 minutes long, and it is identical to the warm ups on the other Living Arts Ball tapes. Suzanne must have filmed this identical sequence three times, because she's wearing different outfits on each of the tapes.

The body of the workout (25 minutes long) starts out with a short segment of traditional crunches and oblique work lying on the ball. There are some great stabilization moves, reverse crunches with bent and straight legs with the ball between your knees, and a really challenging move where you roll your lower body into a plough position over your head with the ball between your knees. It's tough, but Suzanne shows a modification first that you can stick with if you need to. The moves are very reminiscent of Pilates, with roll-ups and such. There are nice stabilization moves. There is minimal work for the lower back, but Suzanne makes up for this on the Upper Body tape. All of the exercises are done in a very slow and controlled manner.

This isn't a "blast your abs" type workout, but it will really help you to develop core strength. It's a nice change of pace from other abs tapes, and it's so relaxing to do! The feeling I have after doing this tape is similar to what I feel after I do Method tapes--I feel like my posture is better and that my abdomen is flatter (probably an illusion, but works for me! :-) ).The setting and the music add so much to this tape. It's a good one!

Instructor comments: Every time Suzanne Deason comes out with a new video, I like her better and better. She is a certified Yoga and Pilates teacher, and it shows in the Balance Ball workouts. Her voice is relaxing, her cuing is precise, and her form is excellent. I'd love to see her do a Balance Ball video dedicated entirely to stretching.

Kristin Aziz
kristinaziz@hotmail.com
4/27/00

I just purchased this tape and had to try it out. Well, what can I say! I loved it! Suzanne mixes the principles of yoga and Pilates and puts them to use using the ball. I could really feel the core muscles in my abdominals and back stabilizing me as I went through the workout. I could feel my abs working in ways I have never felt before. (this is a good thing!) The setting is beautiful. It's just Suzanne outside near a bubbling brook. Very calm music and setting. I would say the workout is intermediate/advanced. She really does some challenging moves using the ball. It is definately a keeper! The total workout is about 35 minutes. She starts with a 5 minute warmup and then takes you through a series of floor work exercises using the ball and then more ab work done on the ball. A very well executed video.

Instructor comments: Suzanne is very warm and personable. She really knows her stuff and it shows! Her cueing is right on the money---she does the workout and her own voice does the cueing in the background.

Denise Ruble
rubleneesey@yahoo.com
4/30/2000

I really like this video. I'm usually a lover of traditional ab work -- gotta go for the burn -- so it's nothing short of a miracle when I endorse non-traditional ab work.

Like Kristin, I usually skip the 5-minute warm-up. I'm already warmed-up and even if I weren't, the warm-up mostly involves lying on your belly on the ball and rolling around on it, which doesn't do much for me unless I need help burping.

The remainder of the workout clocks in around 25 minutes and is a nice mix of traditional (oblique crunches on the ball), less traditional (sit with legs in v-shape, abs and thighs engaged, swivel right and bounce ball past right thigh and catch it; swivel left and repeat) and far-out (prepare to roll helplessly on your back and shoulders while attempting to gracefully mimic instructor Suzanne Deason.)

The workout flew by because of the variety and novelty of the exercises. Not a beginner level workout, but very well-suited for intermediate or advanced. I was surprised to find my abs sore following my first workout with LABBFA (gotta love that acronym.) I regularly torture myself with all kinds of inhuman ab work and I am NEVER sore!

As usual with the Living Arts tapes, they don't do mirror cueing. When they say "right," you have to pick whether you want to use YOUR right or go left to mirror them.

My picky complaints are with the warm-up -- it just seemed unnecessary -- and the scenery. I'm so accustomed to the gorgeous desert settings or the Hawaiian ocean from Living Arts, that this one, pretty as it is, seemed tame. Like being on the set of Good Morning America or something. It's a deck next to a running brook. Yes, I know, I know, I'm being REALLY picky. I like drama in my scenery, what can I say? It's like going to see Titanic and getting Love Boat.

Instructor comments: Suzanne is pleasant, earnest and gives good form pointers through out. Like most of the Living Arts tapes, she doesn't engage in any small talk. It's the workout and nothing but the workout.

Daphne M

5/02/00

I have made some purchasing mistakes of the past, so when I found this video at a local store, I ran home to read the reviews at VF. I normally work abs 4-5 days a week, 20 minutes, such as Joyce Vedral's Bottoms Up middle body, and also Kathy Smith's Ultimate Thigh & Stomach tape, so I thought some cross-training with a ball would be good. I read the reviews and found one saying that the level was more intermediate/advanced, and another stating it would be great for intermediate and also advanced. WRONG--Collage was right, it is a beginner/int. level tape. I was so unhappy that I relied on these reviews. I thought it would prevent having to list another tape to the exchange.

If you work out as often as I do, and for that length--pass on this video! It was too easy, and too long. One exercise= with the ball between your feet and rolling onto your upper back, so that you are looking at the ball hovering over you--looks plain unsafe to me, too.

Anonymous
10/02/00

Balance Ball Abs is a Pilates-influenced workout using the large inflatable balance ball. Its music, ambiance and setting are meditative and pretty. It is filmed outdoors in a garden. Instructions are given in voice-over.

It probably isn't challenging for those who have strong abs, and it's not a sweat-fest, but I find it really works the abs deeply. My abs are sore for more than a day following this workout. If you follow the cues carefully, and really focus, you can get a good workout. Although some Pilates knowledge is beneficial, it works for those who aren't familiar with Pilates. I recommend it for those who enjoy or don't mind a "quieter," slower, focussed workout. It's only about 30 minutes (and you could easily skip the warm-up & intro) so it works as an add-on. Lynnee

May 2002

As long as I skip over the entire intro, I enjoy this workout, a cross between a stretch and an abs workout. I have to be in the mood for that type of workout and I do it periodically. With strength work, I am an intermediate exerciser, who doesn’t really want to move up to advanced work. I have really enjoyed getting into ball and Pilates workouts as an alternative to traditional strength training. This workout is a "sort of " combination of the two.

Suzanne leads this workout by herself in a garden setting with decent instrumental music. Her instructions are given in voice over. She does give modifications to some of the moves. The one I needed to use wasn’t very engaging and it felt rather pointless. The workout does take some space as you are rolling backward and forward on the ball, sometimes taking your body in front of it and supporting yourself on your hands.

People with wrist issues may not like this workout as you do need to support yourself on your hands several times. I have found I am okay in this workout since my abs and core have become stronger. Several months ago, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it at all given my wrist and hand issues.

At the end of the workout, my abs do feel gently worked out. And, I do feel relaxed at the end of it. I’ll hang onto this workout and do it when the mood strikes.

Instructor comments: She is calm and knowledgeable. She cues well. She also doesn't give very good modifications for some of the hard moves.

Laura S.

September 3, 2004

Balance Ball Fitness Abs is a slow-moving yet tough workout which will really challenge your abdominal and core strength. Prior to the start of the workout, instructor Suzanne Deason spends approximately 5 minutes providing basic instruction plus a few warm-up moves on the ball, including rolling the pelvis and hip areas plus draping yourself over the ball. The workout begins with some basic twists and crunch movements both sitting and lying on top of the ball. You then move to the floor on your back, placing the ball between your legs for a toe tap series both with and without arm movements; many of my Pilates videos include similar exercises. Next come two additional Pilates moves: rolling up from a lying position and doing a twist while in a seated stradle position. In these exercises, the ball really helps to assist with correct placement and form.

You will then lie on top of the ball, face down, for a series of tough moves in a plank position. Particularly difficult was forming a plank with only your toes on the ball and then rolling your knees in towards your chest--you will definitely feel this one! Following this, Suzanne does a nice relaxing side twist, but you're not quite done: the most challenging work is still to come. In the final segment, you again return to lying on the floor on your back, this time placing the ball between your feet for some moves which concentrate on the lower abs area. For the most difficult of these, you lift your hips, moving your legs overhead and setting the ball down on the floor behind you. This looks like a yoga pose, the plow, but the exercise is actually dervived from the Pilates rollover, and it requires quite a bit of prerequiste core strength. Suzanne ends the routine with a few minutes of nice back and side stretches over the ball for a total workout time of 26 minutes (not including the instruction/warm-up).

I felt that this video gave my abs a great workout, and I particularly liked the excellent lower body work towards the end. I would classify this as an intermediate abs workout, and prior experience with intermediate Pilates moves would be extremely beneficial. The setting for this workout is rather serene--an outdoor stream with soft guitar music in the background--and the pace is slow and steady, so it is not for those looking to break a sweat. However, if you want to do some concentrated work on your abdominal area with an excellent instructor, I highly recommend this video.

Instructor comments: Like the setting of the workout, Suzanne herself comes across as quite serene. She is an older woman (50s?) with an obviously supple, youthful body. Her instruction, which is done through voiceover, is very clear and includes frequent inhale-exhale prompts.

Beth C (aka toaster)

January 22, 2005



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