Bella Strength

Gin Miller
Year Released: 2005

Categories: Total Body Workouts

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Bella Strength
This is a straight-forward, no-frills, effective weight workout. Gin instructs using voice-over and consistent with her reputation, her cuing is impeccable. The workout using traditional moves squats, lunges, biceps curls, etc., in a 14-rep (upper body) to 24-rep (lower body) format, with 2 to 3 sets of each exercise. The workout is well-paced so that there is an opportunity to go moderately heavy without sacrificing form. The exercises in the workout are well-organized, with alternating lower and upper body exercises.
The DVD uses a barbell, dumbbells and step. I recently purchased a 18 body bar and use this instead of the barbell. I have also done the workout with dumbbells only, and without the step.
This workout is appropriate for intermediate exercises, especially those who like workouts that are simply, but effectively, choreographed. It is also appropriate for those looking for a slower-paced workout to increase weights, and anyone looking to improve their form as this workout provides excellent form pointers.



This is a well thought out total body strength routine requiring a step, some dumb bells and a bar bell. I used my 15 pound body bar and it worked well for me, but you could get along without a barbell or a body bar. I really like the pace; she gives you plenty of time to move from one exercise to the next and get set up for it. The music is generic and too low. Gin instructs using voice over and gives lots of form pointers. The two women performing the exercises are very fit looking and use very good form as far as I could tell. There isn't really anything inovative or exciting here, but it is a nice solid strength workout. Overall grade: B+

Instructor Comments:



I really like this strength workout. It's been called everything from beginner to advanced but as with most strength workouts, it's really adaptable--the heavier the weights, the harder the workout.

Basically the format is that you do 8 sets of an exercise at a third of the level (a third of the way down on a squat, for example), then two-thirds, then the full range of the exercise. Then you follow that up with 24 reps. It's one basic exercise per muscle group; bicep curls, squats, lunges, bent-over rows, push-ups, tricep dips (or extensions, as an alternative), the move where tip from the hip and dip the barbell, then pull up to work your hamstrings, and butt work (leg extensions while leaning over and supporting your hands on the weights on the bench). Then you do several sets of inner thigh lifts while leaning against the bench, then ab crunches, oblique twists, and the bicycle.

Two women work out with Gin's voice instructing. The music sounds mostly like pleasant original instrumental guitar with a Spanish flair (until you get to the abs, when it takes on a decidedly Asian flavor).

The sets of 24 reps can really work you if you've got the right weights. It's a very straightforward, solid weight workout and I'm glad I got it.

Instructor Comments:
I really like Gin's vocal instruction here. Gin is always competent, lovely and funny, but in many of her old tapes I found her hamminess and tendency to burst into song or vaudeville just a bit much. Here her voice is calm, friendly, professional and with the same great cuing and form tips she's always had.



This is a 1-hour full-body toning workout with a few functional fitness moves and an uninspiring ab segment. It's a solid intermediate-level workout, much along the same lines as Simply Strong or Simply Endurance. Gin voices over instructions and the pace moves at a slow to moderate rate. I would compare this workout to a Body-Pump-inspired workout (although it uses dumbbells as well as a barbell) except the music is not loud driving rock/pop tunes - it's pop instrumental at a moderate volume.

The workout is billed as beginner-intermediate level at Gin's website although I found it to be intermediate-level, Collage ranks it as 'advanced.' Also Gin clearly states that Bella Strength was definitely designed to be used by fitness instructors who need suggestions creating a barbell-based toning class for group instruction, although it can be used as a home-workout.

If you're looking for a intermediate full-body workout to give you some variety from Jari Love's Ripped or your Body-Pump workouts, this might be a good choice. If you love Gin's style - straight-forward, lots of form pointers, slower pace - you'll definitely like this workout.

If you're a FIRMie who loves a fast-paced AWT workout, this isn't it at all. Hardcore Cathe-ites will not find this workout challenging enough.

The setting is a calm studio setting with hardwood floors, light blue wall in the back and a stylized pink "Bella Training" sign in the background. Kelly & Suzanne perform the routine side-by-side. They use 8" full-sized club steps, one pair of dumbbells (8-10lbs) and a barbell (20-40lbs).

The camera work is mostly front-on view with frequent closer views of each of the exercisers performing a move.

Gin cues in 'voice-over' and the workout is well-cued, with good form pointers. Instructions are precise and she is very encouraging. The voice-over is a little less 'freaky' than when Gin voices over herself performing the workout - for some reason that makes you feel like you're inside the head of a schizophnrenic. However I think the end result is that Gin is constantly talking - she does not pause at all. If constant chatter bothers you, this will.

The music is mostly pop-instrumental meets tribal percussion. There is one familiar FIRM tune, one banjo/country instrumental tune and a rockin' rock instrumental beat in one section. The music is not loud - it's medium to soft volume throughout, although it seems a bit louder during the rock instrumental tune.

The workout is designed to show you one set of each exercise beginning with slow partial range-of-motion or partial reps, then fuller/deeper reps, then complete reps. For example, you'll do one set of squats - 4 reps at 1/3 depth, 4 reps done two-thirds of the way down, then 4 reps at the lowest depth. Then there are usually one or more additional sets with 14-24 reps. Gin alternates upper & lower body exercises so you can rest one part while the other works. There are short stretches between all exercises, mostly side stretches or deadlift reaches.

Sometimes one exerciser shows an easier modification (she stays with the initial ROM demonstrated) but for the most part both exercisers do the full intermediate-advanced version. Gin will describe a beginner's modification where one is not shown.

The RPE (rate of perceived exertion) chart is shown at regular intervals throughout the workout so you can evaluate how hard you're working.

There is a 5-minute 'pre-class guidelines' introduction which describes required equipment, introduces the RPE chart, discusses proper form and illustrates neutral posture.

The DVD has only two choices on the main menu: the workout or the pre-class guidelines. The workout is NOT chaptered, so you cannot easily skip between sections - not even from the warm-up to the main workout, for example.

Here's the breakdown of the workout:
8 min Warm-Up (stretches including hamstring, calf and lunge stretches)
47 min workout (Collage breaks this down as 29 min standing work, 18 min floorwork. Content includes 20 min lower body work, 19 min upper, 8 min abs)
- push-ups with hands on step
- barbell squats
- lateral raises db
- unilateral raises db
- barbell deadlifts
- bicep curls db (shifting to outside bicep curls)
- torso sideways bicep curls db
- reverse & static lunges db
- barbell deadlifts (short set)
- bent-over row bb
- rear leg lifts
- tricep dips (alternative shown: overhead extensions)
- seated inner thigh lift
- one-armed db rear flye (seated side-saddle on step)
- standing bent-over db bilateral rear flye
- abs/core work:
-- leg walks (these were HARD, done in slow-motion)
-- crunches
-- oblique crunches
-- reverse bicycles
-- oblique twist bicycles (3 sets)
6 min cool-down (child's pose, hurdle stretches, downward dog, stretches for back, hamstring, chest, neck & sides)

Overall a workout I enjoyed and will do on those days where I have the time to do a full-body workout but I don't want to wipe myself out with a Cathe Power Hour/Muscle Max/Muscle Endurance-type workout.

You can buy this workout from Gin Miller's website or from Collage Video. Gin carries the DVD-R format for a lower price and Collage carries the 'true' DVD format at retail price. Gin's version comes in a clear jewel case with no insert.

Instructor Comments:

Dawn P