The Method: Balanced ZonesJennifer Kries
Year Released: 1997
Categories: Pilates/Core Strength , Strength Training (Total Body)
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It is divided into 3 sections. My biggest complaint is that the first and 3rd section do not have music or background sounds. It gets really boring after a while. I did all 3 sections and mid way through the third section I was bored silly and wanted to call it quits. I was hoping for more challenging toning work. The arm work especially was very wimpy. The ab work was tough and I had to modify a bit but that does not make the whole tape. Even the yoga work, I felt could have been more challenging. I have to say I was disappointed.
She has a nice voice and gives good instruction. But she refers to left as her left, not the viewers left. It is annoying.
For this review, I'm going to compare BZ to popular "Method" toning tapes: 'PT' (for Precision Toning), 'TS' for Target Specifics and 'BZ' for Balanced Zones. Note: I'm not including Precision Sculpting because I only tried it once (borrowed from the library) and didn't like it at all-- I can't remember why specifically, but I think it was because there was too much upper body (which I really don't care for from the Method. I prefer Cathe and Cory) and very little ab work (which is why I like the Method).
BZ is probably my favorite Method toning tape. It's right in between PT and TS: it's not as boring as PT, but is much more thorough, has much better instruction and is more intense than TS. BZ is divided into 3 segments of 25-30 minutes each. It's way too long to do at once, but it's easily broken up.
The first section is all ab work (most similar to PT), which is my favorite. This section isn't as boring as PT, since it is a class setting, uses music (I think) and isn't as long, BUT, it's harder, doesn't move as fast (rep wise) and has better instruction than TS's ab section.
The second section is upper body and abs again. You use the 'Method' toning bar (3 measly pounds!). You can substitute dumbbells somewhat easily, and use nothing for the abs. I think the Method's upper body work is basically a joke, so I usually FF through until I hit the ab work. Actually, this segment reminds me a lot of Clare Dunphy's Balance, Line, and Strength (but hers is a lot harder, since you're using heavy weights).
The last section is lower body. This is similar to TS's last 2 sections: ballet, yoga and 'side series' (also in PT), but it's longer and harder than TS (and also has more thorough instruction than TS).
All in all, I think this is my favorite of the Method's toning videos. It's not as boring as PT, but has better instruction and is more difficult than TS.
Jennifer is so flexible and elegant. She gives great form pointers. She's perfect for this type of video. I hope the Method makes more tapes like this, rather than clips from their TV series. I really like Jennifer.
Whenever I feel like I have had enough of jumping up and down or heaving weights, this is the tape I pull off my shelf. It is gentle, relaxing and challenging at the same time. The setting is colorful and pretty with a classic Grecian look to it. This workout starts out with deep relaxing breathing and moves on to a mixture of stretches like Active Potted Palm and Dipping Your Foot in the Pool, as well as the Method abdominal exercises. My favorite stretch is the Saw; it is for both the inner thighs and the side muscles. The abdominal exercises are not your typical crunches, but are unique, challenging and effective movements based on Pilates. The "lifting" segment uses a 3-lb. Method toning bar; however, I found a tautly held towel (for stretching) and light dumbbells worked quite well. A lot of the upper body toning exercises also incorporated plies and rising up to demi-pointe in first position, so the movements have a graceful, ballet-like feel to them. Then it is back down to the floor for some more great stretching and ab exercises. The spine stretch feels especially good. The last segment, Balanced/Lengthening, has a lot of movements taken directly from ballet, such as plies in first and second position and rising up on demi-pointe. There are also more wonderful lengthening and stretching exercises with a greater emphasis on the legs. I would not recommend doing this workout if your sole purpose is body shaping, but it is very effective for increasing one's abdominal strength and improving flexibility/posture. The length of the workout is 90 minutes but it can easily be broken up over 2-3 days if one is short on time.
Jennifer Kries is beautiful and elegant and has a warm, encouraging teaching style.
The workout starts off with deep breathing and stretches with a yoga feel to it. There is no music. Then Jennifer does some pretty intense ab work using the legs and arms. This is not traditional ab crunches and oblique twists. Alot of leg lifts using the abs.
The second section uses the Method Toning bar. You can make this useful by using your own resistance. I don't feel that this will build muscle though. Some of the moves are lift up on your tippy toes and look right then left and then bring the bar up in front of you. Some other yoga moves using the bar) like proud warrior but you hold the bar above you) I have to say that I felt this was a waste. I want a workout that will give results. I don't have much time being a busy mother so it's important to me to do a video that will give good results. The whole workout is done barefoot. It is a workout that does a lot of deep stretches too. This section does have music. Tribal beat that is done by a live band in the background. Then Jennifer goes down to the floor still using the bar for more stretches and ab work. Full situps( roll ups and reaching over your toes) are done using the bar. It is very slow so it gets tough especially when they come down and do a twist. I tend to have trouble with my back on full situps but Jennifer does give mofications for beginners. She keeps emphasizing breathing and to resist gravity as you do each move which is really important to her.
The last section is lengthening moves doing yoga. It has no music. It starts off with plies with toe raises. Then some stretches and then it goes into more yoga positions( Sun Breath, Sun Salutations, Plank, Cobra, Cat Position, Downward Facing Dog, Proud Warrior,ect). A lot of inhaling and exhaling. Jennifer does a terrific job on teaching this part.
The set and music of the video was very nice( a mansion setting with upbeat tribal beaton the second section) but it was all done in EP so the tracking keeps coming on my screen and Jennifer's voice keeps buzzing which gets irritating.
Friendly and super flexible, Jennifer gives good clear cueing and great form. She reminds me of Tracie Long but with an Ectomorph Body. Very graceful looking. She also looks like Christi Taylor.
This is definately a unique video. It combines yoga, ballet, and Pilates moves to "balance" the body. The first section is about 20 - 25 mins long, and focused on the abs. I found the ab work very effective. The second section is also about 20 - 25 mins long, and focuses on the upper body. She uses a "method toning bar" (I used a broomstick; those of you with dowels could use those instead). The idea in this section is that you imagine the bar is very heavy, while doing things like bicep curls. This is the only section of the tape with music (a drum beat). The final section is lower body toning for about 30 - 35 mins - here she relies on a lot of stretching, plus yoga moves like proud warrior. I found this section very long and boring. The tape ends a bit abruptly - I think in the original design section two was actually meant to be the end of the tape, because she ends that section with a comment like "thank you for joining us in the balanced zones." Section three ends with no comments at all.
What I liked about the tape: the instruction was generally good, and it was interesting to do something different. Also, I found the ab work fairly effective, and I really enjoyed the emphasis on good posture. What I didn't like: the background exercisers are almost zombie-like, the tape quality is less than other exercise tapes (e.g. the Firm or even Cathe Friedrich's tapes), and the workouts were a bit boring. Also, I was not sure how effective the exercises were - there was no doubt the ab work was good, and even the arm work felt not bad. But I have trouble believing I will reshape my legs by stretching. I am open to the possibility that I was doing something wrong, but this then suggests that the instruction should be more thorough.
Overall I would give the tape a B, or a B-. I ended up trading the tape away, but despite this fact I would be interested in trying other Method tapes. However, I will think of the tapes as yoga and abs tapes, rather than as body sculpting tapes.
Jennifer Kries is a good instructor with a wonderful figure. What I did not like was the fact that she did not cue to the home exerciser properly - for example, when she said "left", she was refering to her left, rather than to mine. This is a bit aggravating. Also, after only a few exercises, she always stops for a relaxation stretch of some sort. I felt like that was a waste of my time. Finally, at one point in the tape she comments about how the exercises will have us "dripping with sweat" (something like that) - I am sorry, but stretching does not cause me to break out in sweat! One good thing about her instruction is that she really stresses posture, something that I wish more instructors would do.
I've been impressed with all three of the Method tapes I have. This one is 90 minutes, divided into 3 sections. You can do them all at once or split them up. There are upper and lower body strengthening moves, stretching, and yoga, but the "guts" of the program is the ab work. It's not traditional ab work, and Jennifer really doesn't even refer to it as ab work, but you work your entire torso as a stabilizer for whatever move you happen to be doing at the time.
The first section is almost entirely devoted to abs, and it is *superb*. This is the most challenging ab routine I've ever seen, even moreso than Keli Roberts' tape. I'm sure it will be awhile before I master it, but I know that once I do, I will be one strong woman! I highly recommend this tape to anyone who likes Keli Roberts' ab training style. This uses a similar philosophy, but goes one step (or many steps?) beyond. Grade A.
Jennifer Kries, in addition to being one of the most strong and graceful instructors I've ever seen on a video, is also very warm, friendly, and encouraging. She gives excellent instruction and shows modifications for beginners.