I like this workout primarily because there is not a lot out there like it. It's pretty unique. This is all work done on the big swiss ball, with a very good instructor, in a beautiful setting. The workout consists of a warm up, about 15 to 18 minutes of cardio work on the ball which mostly is of the squat/lunge bouncing variety, and some of which can be quite challenging
for the quads, followed by an active cool down and some supine toning leg work with the ball. While I do like this workout as an add-on to another cardio workout, I have to say I do ahave a few criticisms. I think the cardio
portion is way too short. To feel like I've had a somewhat decent cardio workout on the ball, I must do the cardio portion twice through. Secondly, if you are
looking for fat burning benefit, in my experience, my heart rate did not stay in my target zone to have much of a fat burning benefit. This is a personal
thing though, every body is different, so take that for what it is worth to you. Lastly, the toning portion I would describe as a supine choreographed leg routine. I found the moves hard to catch on to- because the number of
reps per move is low, and then you are on to another add-on move, so if you don't have the first move down you will have to rewind and do a bit of studying to get it down. While this is fine, the rest of the tape seems geared to people newer to the ball, and while the leg work isn't very strenuous, it does take some agility and quickness because the moves aren't really too slow and controlled when you are doing them in a series. So all in all I'd say it's a bit unbalanced. But if you take it for what it is, and use the parts that you enjoy, it's a unique addition to any fitness video library, good for pulling out when you want a little something different, not difficult, and with a fun factor.
Liz Gillies is personable and friendly. She cues well.
This 30-minute video is divided into four sections (not including a short warm-up and cool-down stretch): bouncing on the ball; lunges off the ball; standing exercises; and floor work. The "fat burning" is a bit of a misnomer; although Liz talks a lot throughout this video about what great "cardio" we're getting with the ball and about how high her heart rate is, my heart rate didn't change too much. (I am a high intermediate-advanced exerciser). I still think this video could be interesting to the more advanced exerciser for a light day: it offers a good introduction to exercise on the ball, and I found it very pleasant. I can see using it as a gentle add-on to a strenuous workout, as an extended warm-up or cool-down. I might also use it along with one of the Living Arts balance ball videos to spend an hour with the ball. Beginners would find it sufficiently challenging by itself, as some of the toning work can be intense. Beginners seem to be the target audience as Liz talks a lot about what beginners can expect as they continue to use the tape and progress. (Collage rates the video Begin/Inter). Choreography is basic and it's all low impact.
There is some good work for the thighs in the bouncing section and the floor work (these two sections will be the more challenging of the 4 sections for advanced exercisers). Liz demonstrates controlled bouncing, which is kind of like doing a plie or a squat. You definitely feel it in your thighs. The floorwork section consists of different bridges; good hamstring work there.
The lunges section was my least favorite. In this section, you turn to the side and rest one hip on the ball while you do static lunges. Liz varies the lunges so you don't get bored, but I found all of them awkward, perhaps because I didn't have my ball pumped up enough. It was difficult to maintain proper form, however, when half my body was leaning over onto the ball.
The standing work is very basic--lifting the ball over your head, swinging it from side to side. But if you squeeze the ball while doing these exercises, you will get some chest work.
The video ends with a short but pleasant stretch. The setting is the same sandy beach where Tamilee Webb's Total Body Stretch for Beginners was filmed; it's restful and attractive. Liz is very enthusiastic and cheerful. She teaches the exercises and cues very well. She also emphasizes that the workout is supposed to be fun--she frequently says things like "Wasn't that fun?" and "Let's increase the fun".
Since this video is called "Body Sculpt" Big Ball Workout, I was hoping for a workout routine which would provide strength training exercises for my entire body using the ball. Rather, this is a lower-body focused workout which adapts traditional toning moves to the stability ball; furthermore, some of the moves have a slight Pilates flavors.
The workout begins with a 4-minute warmup. This consists largely of moving stretches on the ball with a few static holds towards the end. Abs work comes next, beginning with work performed while seated on the ball. Because instructor Liz Gillies is facing you rather than towards the side, it was often difficult to see her exact positioning on the ball; she did explain where the ball should be behind your back but failed to describe exactly how your feet should be placed. Furthermore, although some of the abs moves seemed like they might be effective, Liz performs very few reps, so my abs muscle barely had a chance to begin feeling the work. After the seated exercises comes some oblique work lying sideways over the ball, which I felt a bit more. The entire abs segment is about 6 minutes long.
Liz then moves on to thigh and butt work. Again, you will begin seated on the ball, this time working your legs with moves like hip raises. Here again, I did not feel that Liz performed enough repetitions to really feel the work, and I also struggled with correct placement over the ball. However, Liz included some side kick moves (lying sideways over the ball) that could be felt within a small number of reps. The final toning segment focused on the glutes while lying face down over the ball. This was my favorite part of the video, as I could finally feel my muscles working during the leg extensions, hamstring curls, and heel beats. The workout concludes with a series of cool-down stretches; despite the length of this segment (7 minutes), it felt rushed and not very relaxing.
The entire duration for this workout was about 30 minutes, and by the end, I did not feel that it was time well-spent. Although I have previous experience using the ball, I had trouble with finding correct positioning to really feel like I was working the intended muscles, and I felt I got a benefit from the final section only. Liz did give a lot of form pointers, but somehow, these just didn't work for me. However, if you are looking for a ball workout that focuses on the lower body without being overly strenuous, this video might be right for you.
This was my first experience with Liz. She reminded me a little of Leisa Hart--warm and friendly but with a manner of instruction that I found annoying at times (of course, if you like Leisa, you'll probably like Liz as well!). Similarly, the music reminded me a bit of the music from Leisa's Arms & Abs of Steel 2 workout--a bit too loud and a bit too flashy for the routine. However, the setting is the pretty outdoor pond-side set that the Yoga Zone videos often use. Finally, as I mentioned above, although Liz gave plenty of form pointers, they just didn't work for me, and I had a lot of trouble finding the correct position on the ball to feel the work.
Beth C (aka toaster)
September 2, 2005