Video Fitness

Fitball Upper Body Challenge

Cheryl Soleway

I didn’t see any reviews of this workout, but I took a chance and purchased it anyway. I’m glad I did! I think this is a great int/adv stability ball workout. It is well taught by Cheryl Soleway, a certified physical therapist. I find Cheryl very poised and obviously well acquainted with stability ball training.

The setting is in a gym, with equipment situated in the background. At first, I thought it would feel claustrophobic, but it really didn’t bother me during the workout. The music is light jazz with some techno stuff thrown in - it worked well with the flow of the workout. The camera cuts away once in awhile to show two of her students, who are not in the workout with her, doing the same or similar moves. This neither added nor detracted from the workout. The only equipment required besides the stability ball are “heavy med balls” or light dumbbells. I used 5# dumbbells (8# for biceps) and they worked fine.

The workout is divided into 8 sections, including warm-up and cool-down. The DVD is chaptered this way also. Each section is arranged by your position on the ball. This avoids unnecessary repositioning and I can appreciate that. Those who want to break out the exercises specifically for chest, for example, may have difficulty with the way the DVD is set up since chest is worked in two chapters, in the midst of other body work. I’m able to break out the ab work, but it requires two different chapters, plus a portion of a third.

The chapters are as follows:
*Ab Challenge #1
*Chest and Shoulders
*Upper Back, Chest & Shoulders
*Side Flexors, Shoulders
*Ab Challenge #2
*Cool down & Stretch

Each exercise starts with a basic move, then Cheryl shows modifications to make it harder. There were many moves I have never seen before, although my experience with the stability ball is limited to Cathe and a 45 minute Core Secrets. For instance, in Ab Challenge #1, she starts with basic crunches on the ball, then proceeds to increasing the leverage by holding your arms over your head. Next comes a move similar to a swimming backstroke, a “row your boat” type movement, then boxer-style explosive crunches, then explosive crunches with a twist. This segment only lasted 3 minutes, but it was probably responsible for the DOMS I had in my abs the following day. In the Chest and Shoulder segment, Cheryl starts with chest flies while lying on the ball, then has you lower and raise one arm at a time. You have to really stabilize your core to do this. It is then followed by rolling side to side while your arms are straight and holding a weight, she then has you lightly toss the weight from one hand to the other as you roll.

Although named Upper Body Challenge, about forty percent of the workout is focused on abs. It’s also rather heavy on the chest, back, and shoulder work. I feel it is rather lacking for the biceps and triceps. A good compliment to it would be a Tamilee Webb’s “I Want Those Arms” segment, or perhaps Gilad’s Quick Fit Shoulders and Arms.

Overall, I feel this is a challenging and unique workout and I will reach for it often on the days I want to work my upper body.

Instructor comments: Cheryl is competant and comfortable in front of the camera. She gives form pointers throughout and is very encouraging.


October 7, 2004

I am an int/adv exerciser. I don’t do videos with heavy weights, I prefer doing strength work with my own body weight.

The workout is a little less than 45 minutes long. It starts with a warm-up and ends with a quick cool-down and stretch. Otherwise the section are nicely chaptered and listed as the following:
Ab Challenge #1
Chest and Shoulders
Upper back, chest & shoulders
Side Flexors, Shoulders
Ab Challenge #2
Cool-down + Stretch
This video is tough, but it’s paced very well. I am never frantically trying to get in position, but I also don’t find myself waiting around. The video is excellent for functional fitness, stability, and overall strength. You will use the ball to be able to do increase the range of your movements. I liked this idea, because it increases the work down in the body to stabilize those larger movements. The is a strong emphasis on doing the exercises with correct form – and so there are a ton of form pointers throughout the video. Also, she will often point out exactly where the “match” is, or the other muscle that is activated to effect proper stability on the ball. This part was nice because I could tell whether I was using the correct form or not. While it is not a really advanced upper body workout, I always feel it the next day (I don’t own an really advanced upper body stuff like anything of Cathe’s so it’s hard to compare). You will also definitely feel it in your abs.

The style of this video is very no-nonsense. You are getting trainer points by a physical therapist, and it shows. She emphasizes strength and stability and not how your body will look. There are lots of cool ways that the ball is used. This video, along with Lower Body Challenge, have done wonders for my core strength and balance work.

Instructor comments: She is nice and no-nonsense. I like her style a lot because she makes the workout seem like serious PT training and not just another fitness video.

Alison ~alikruegs


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