Video Fitness

Flexaball Workout (a.k.a. Tone, Trim, & Tighten)

This video came with my Flexaball. I got the whole shebang for $24.99 at Target, a pretty darn good bargain. I've had two major abdominal surgeries and was experiencing great pain whenever I did the fast abdominal crunches present in so many fitness videos. An athletic trainer recommended stability ball work; she often uses to rehabilitate athletes after surgery for appendicitis. If you hate crunches, for whatever reason, then the Flexaball is definitely for you.

The video begins with an explanation of how to inflate the ball to the proper size and an assurance from Gin that the ball can support up to 600 pounds so go ahead and "have that cookie before you work out." The set is light and airy, with a multi-colored assortment of Flexaballs in the background. The music is early-90's dance mix type tunes, including C&C Music Factory, and to my horror, that Rick Astley guy. But the music isn't loud enough to be obnoxious and I'm always concentrating too hard on maintaining correct alignment and balancing myself on the ball to really notice the music, for better or for worse.

The six-minute warm-up wakes up the abdominal muscles with a lot of step touches combined with crazy eights holding the ball, lifting the ball overhead, and standing back stretches. Then you sit on the ball, bouncing, rocking, circling, sliding up and down and then a few leg stretches. Although the video suggests an alternative warm-up of jogging or walking for several minutes, doing this warm-up is probably a good idea as it gets you used to the ball and is the best way to really loosen up all those stabilization muscles.

The abdominal section starts with crunches on the ball. Gin shows a rather intense version ("I'm trembling, too . . . like Elvis") and an inset demonstrates a less intense version where you sit lower on the ball. Oblique crunches with back on the ball, side curls sideways on the ball, and side leg lifts. The leg lifts work the hip more than the abs but Gin reminds you to keep your abs in alignment. The leg lifts might not do much for your hips, though, if you're used to using ankle weights FIRM-style, but learning proper alignment here is valuable and will enhance your other workouts.

The lower back section consists only of lying with your stomach on the ball and raising your head and shoulders. Doing it on the ball gives a much fuller range of motion and you don't have to smell the carpet (I hate doing these on the floor!). Gin only demonstrates one set and then a screen comes up saying that you may wish to rewind and repeat three times. This could be annyoing.

The lower body section includes several compound exercises which Gin builds slowly in by teaching each component separately and then combining. You begin with bridge work/hip raises, then squeezing the ball between the inner thighs, and then a combination exercise of squeezing between the thighs and then raising the hips. The next move can be made very difficult - raise the hips and then press the heels into the ball and roll towards you. Then you move onto lower abdominal work, squeezing the ball between heels and thighs and then rolling the hips off the floor. The segment ends with a hamstring stretch, the back of your stretching leg supported on the ball, the ball resting on your other thigh. This is my favorite hamstring stretch because of the nice support (no shaking!). Even with the FIRM towel stretch I can't get into a good position to really stretch my hamstring.

The next section is wall squats done with the ball between the back and the wall. Once again Gin only does one set and the message tells you to rewind and repeat up to three times. The video ends with stretches sitting on the ball.

All in all, this is a pleasant 30 minute workout. The stability work is intense enough that you may not need high reps-- you're working your stabilizer muscles the entire time-- but the low reps demonstrated here may make it easy to outgrow. The most valuable part of this video may be learning exercises and then substituting Flexaball work when doing other videos (e.g. lower back work on the ball when it is done on the floor as in FIRM Tri-Trainer All Cardio).

Instructor comments: Gin gives good form pointers throughout, such as using your abdominal muscles to stabilize instead of the glutes. She tells you where you should be "feeling it," where the small of the back should be placed. She talks constantly - 30 minutes straight on correct form. Gin, as usual, gives great detailed instruction but with personality.

Gretchen Vaughn
vaughngr@aol.com
2/3/99

This is a really fun tape! I wish I had known about Ball workouts sooner! This could be done by beginners since their are low reps & the ball amazingly supports the body so long as you balance yourself. Gin begins by telling you how to inflate & care for the ball, & the neutral sitting position. For some reason it's called Resist-A-Ball in the video, maybe that's the name they had selected originally before it was released. First is the warm-up, some moves consisting of step-close, figure 8's (all holding the ball), squat-close, lifting overhead & stretches. It is mainly abs, lower back, & leg work. I notice again a tipping of the pelvis- I've noticed that alot of non-traditional disciplines use this movement alot. Some segments will flash a message saying to rewind 3 times for more intensity. The abs is the toughest, especially the move when you lie your back on the ball, spread your legs shoulder-width apart, support your head in neutral, & lift your head & shoulders while tilting your pelvis. There is a less intense version insert shown at the bottom of the screen. There is also outer thigh lifts, inner thigh by squeezing the ball in between, & a tough move where you put your ankles firmly into the ball, lift your butt off the floor & roll the ball with your ankles till it touches your butt or thighs. Now that move is really challenging & requires good balance. Last exercise shown are squats. Then slow stretches. The music is like R&B Prince-type funk, vocal (C&C Music Factory)& instrumental. The workout is about 25 minutes & it goes really fast & I didn't break a sweat, but I felt the moves though. I definately want to check out more Ball workouts. A+ for instruction, A for the introductory workout.

Instructor comments: This is my first Gin Miller tape. I know she's famous for her step workouts, & I'm sure she's fun in those, but I hate step! I was surprized the time I saw her in an infomercial endorsing that useless leg shaping machine by Nordic Track(or was it Soloflex?). She cracked me up through out the workout with the goofy comments she makes! But that's good. She's alot of fun & her cueing is excellent.

Michelle

3/2/99

This video comes with the Flexaball purchase; I'm not sure if it is sold separately. Instructor Gin Miller begins with a general overview which includes inflating the ball, caring for the ball, and using neutral alignment on the ball. She then leads a 6-minute warm-up, mostly having you move the feet while moving the arms holding the ball; this did open up my back and shoulders. You then sit on the ball for a few minutes of additional stretches.

The next segment, abdominals, is 8 1/2 mintues long. This part (as well as the butt/thighs segment) is very similar to Kathy Smith's Shaper Ball workout: you work upper abs, lower abs, obliques, and the side muscles, plus do some additional hip work thrown in at the end. Back work is next, but here, Gin shows only one set of a single exercise; a message then comes on the screen suggesting that you rewind to complete additional sets.

The final segment is a butt/thighs workout, also about 8 1/2 minutes. In this section, you are mostly lying on the ground with your feet up on the ball, and you work the backs of your legs, your hips, and your inner thighs. Finally, Gin shows one set of wall squats using the ball at your back; again, the video cues you to rewind to complete additional sets. Gin ends with a few minutes of stretches, bringing the total time for the workout to about 27 minutes.

I especially liked the abs section of this workout, and I liked how Gin included stretches throughout inbetween the exercises--the ball is great for stretching! However, I would have preferred additional back work and wall squats to be incorporated into the workout; I also didn't like the fact that there weren't any upper body exercises. Finally, for a routine that is almost 1/2 hour long, I felt only very mildly worked out. However, this is a nice introduction to ball work and would probably be well-suited to beginning exercisers as well.

Instructor comments: This was my first video with Gin. She instructed well with good cueing, although she was quite goofy at times, often making very silly comments which I found to be a bit distracting.

Beth C (aka toaster)

January 17, 2005



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