I got this video on the exchange and now that I've learned the exercises, I'm exchanging it again. There is a very low number of repetitions in the abdominal and low-back sections so the video is more instructional than a stand-alone workout. Nevertheless, it is enjoyable and I'll be replacing much of the floor work in FIRM videos with exercises on the "Shaper Ball." Some of these exercises I had seen before, demonstrated by stick figures on a handout given to me my an athletic trainer for rehabilitation after my two abdominal surgeries, but I couldn't quite figure them out until I saw them demonstrated in this video.
The warm-up is more six minutes of getting used to the ball and stretching than getting the blood flowing. The next section is seven minutes of abdominal work, beginning with curl-ups, the intensity of which varies according to where you position yourself on the ball. Here, as throughout the video, Kathy's sidekick demonstrates an advanced version while Kathy does the beginning or intermediate version. Next you slide down the ball and raise your hips using the lower abdominals. Then you move on to kickbox oblique curls-- fists in boxing position, twisting and lifting. All of these crunches and curls are far more comfortable on the ball than on the floor and just as, if not more, effective.The segment ends with those long line side curls that seem to be omnipresent in every stability ball video. Kathy explains that you can get a range of motion here not possible on the floor.
The lower back section is five minutes long. It begins with a kind of innovative exercise were you rest your head and shoulders on the ball and have to hold your hips up in a tabletop position. While here, you alternate extending each leg. This one is pretty tough as it works a lot of different muslce groups simultaneously. The next exercise is performed laying your stomach on the ball and then raising opposing arms and legs. The last low back exercise is the standard hands behind the head and raise up routine. This is more comfortable than on the floor as the ball keeps you from straining your lower back--and you don't have to eat carpet!
The lower body segment is by far the most intense part of the video. In this section, the relatively low number of repetitions is not as much a factor as in the abs and low back section. First you start with hip raises. That ball is far more comfortable than doing these things on the tall box (as in FIRM Maximum Body Sculpting). Then to make it really tough you combine raising the hips with rolling the ball in with your heels. Sitting up, you work the inner thighs by squeezing the ball inbetween them. After my favorite hamstring stretch (stretching leg supported by the ball, ball resting on other thigh), there is a set of side leg lifts laying sideways on the ball. Kathy points out that you can either push your hand against your thigh, add ankle weights, or rest a weight on your thigh to add resistance. The reps here are very low, especially when ompared with, say, similar floorwork in the FIRM.
The grand finale, as in the Gin Miller Flexaball video, is the wall squat, squatting with the ball between the back and the wall. By lifting one leg, you can make this one pretty intense.
Like the Gin Miller video, this is a good introduction to stability ball exercises or a decent 30 minute add-on to a cardio or upper-body workout. I prefer the Kathy Smith video, however, because the exercises are a bit more innovative.
Instructor comments: Kathy is her usual warm but low-key self offering great, innovative form pointers --- such as putting the fist underneath the chin when doing ab curls to make sure the head is not going too far backwards or forwards.
The previous review describes this video well, but, Oh My! This one *might* have to go up against the early Firms for its suggestiveness. Maybe it's just me, but Kathy doing hip rolls and pelvic tucks in those SHORT shorts on those HOT PINK balls with boy toy Michael going "Mmm, that feels gooood!!" was just too much! I think for an intro video I'd stick with Gin Miller's Trim, Tone and Tighten, which has almost all of the same moves (and no boy toy!).
This one feels like it is set in kathy's
living room. It was my first stability ball
workout and I loved it for a very long
time...until I discovered better workouts
on the market for the ball.
The feeling I get from this one, is that it
is from a time when the stability ball
was thought of as just for ab work. The
exercises are mainly abdominally
focused and are very simple to do.
The ball that Kathy uses is significantly
too small for her and her moves come
across as awkward at times because of
While this is an ok video for beginners -
there are many other, much better
stability ball workouts on the market
that would be so much better to learn
February 28, 2004
I just got a stability ball, and this was one of the first workouts I tried. Kathy and her assistant, Michael, begin with a 6 1/2 minute warm-up: moving with the ball held in your hands, stretching using the ball, and sitting on the ball both to open your hips and to get used to balancing. Next comes a 7-minute abs segment which includes a total of 4 exercises: the first three work your upper abs, lower abs, and obliques respectively while seated on the ball, and the final works the side muscles. The following segment consists of a series of back extensions, the first performed face up on the ball and the last last two performed face down; this section is 6 minutes long. The final section, which I clocked at 9 1/2 minutes, focuses on the lower body. I found the hamstring work to be particularly tough as well as the three sets of wall squats (the last two are performed on one leg). The workout ends with a single stretch, no cool-down, for a total of 29 minutes.
There are two things that I really liked about this video: 1) Kathy shows three different levels of modifications for every exercise, so you can make each exercise easier or more challenging, and 2) brief stretches are included between many of the exercises, and these feel so good on the ball. On the negative side, I did not feel that this workout was very intense, as I would have preferred if Kathy had spent less time instructing and more time actually performing the movements. Furthermore, I would have liked to have seen some upper body work included in the routine. Overall, however, this was a decent introduction to ball work and would be good for those who want to build back and lower body strength.
Kathy is her usual self here: detailed instruction, good cueing, and a bit goofy at times.
Beth C (aka toaster)
January 15, 2004