The Fitness Fix: Beginner

Denise Beatty
Year Released: 2006

Categories: Balance/Medicine/Mini/Stability Ball, Bosu and Balance Disks/Boards, Total Body Workouts, Foam Roller

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In her Fitness Fix series, Denise Beatty, an exercise physiologist, coach, and personal trainer, has put together excellent functional exercises, all of which have been approved by physicians, chiropractors, and physical therapists for safety. The Beginner DVD is intended for those who are not very active or who or recovering from injury/illness; it is also designed for those with back, knee, hip, or shoulder problems. The overall focus is on balance, functional strength, and flexibility; the workout does not include cardio.

This DVD utilizes a wide variety of equipment, including a stability ball, a small ball, dumbbells, tubing, a balance disk, and a foam roller. However, Denise and her background exerciser, Kim, always show different options; Denise often uses no equipment, whereas Kim displays more advanced version of the moves. The Main Menu of the DVD contains the following four options: Introduction (a brief overview by Denise), the Fitness Fix (links to the exercises), Equipment (overview of all equipment used), and Credits.

The Beginner menu breaks down the exercises into the following two sub-menus:

*Balance Warmup Fix - 11 min
*Upper Body Fix - 23 min
*Lower Body Fix - 22 min
*Core Fix - 22 min
*40 Minute Fix

Cool Down
*Upper Body Flexibility - 4 min
*Lower Body Flexibility - 6 min
*Foam Roller Massage - 15 min

The Balance Warm-Up begins with a 2-minute review of the six elements of posture (base of skull, breastbone, shoulder blades, abs, bottoms up, breathe) and then moves into some simple balance work: balance on one foot, squats with knee lift, squats with heel kick, arm circles standing on one leg, and stability ball work (roll outs, bird-dog).

Both the upper and the lower body portions contain traditional exercises, but these moves are made more functional by the addition of a balance element (either the stability ball or balance disk) as well as a strong core emphasis. The Upper Box Fix includes push-ups, triceps blaster, double kickbacks/1-arm triceps, punching, draw the sword, row, hammer curl, TYI (three exercises resembling each letter), skydiver/angry cat, bicep curls w/balance, rows w/balance, overhead pull, field goal (shoulder rotation), and shoulder stabilizing work. The Lower Body Fix includes 1-leg squats, rear lunges, wall squats (narrow and wide), wall calf raises, glute raises, donkey kicks, hamstring work (heels on ball), clamshells/outer hip lifts, inner thigh squeeze, and a 2.5 minute stretch.

The Core Fix mainly involves stability ball and plank work; exercises include abs scoop, neck retraction, bird-dog, skydiver, front bridge (elbow plank on and off knees), plank w/leg lift, front bridge w/roll-out (using stability ball), side bridge (side plank), dead bug, foam roller series, back bridge with leg lifts, starfish, supported starfish, and a 1.5 minute standing stretch. The 40 Minute Fix contains select exercises from the upper body, lower body, and core portions with no warm-up or cool-down. Most of the exercises are filmed as individual segments, so the transitions are slightly choppy at times; I found this to be more of an issue with the shorter 40 Minute Fix than with the full workouts.

The Cool Down segments, consisting of flexibility work, are the same on all three DVDs. The Upper Body Flexibility is performed seated on the stability ball and thoroughly stretches all of the major muscle groups. The Lower Body Flexibility also uses the stability ball; in addition to standard lower body muscle group stretches, it contains moves that uniquely target areas such as the groin, inner thighs, and IT band. Finally, in the Foam Roller Massage segment, Denise leads you through a deep tissue massage for the entire body.

There is no music during this workout--rather, it is more like a one-on-one personal training session with Denise. Her enthusiasm for this work shines throughout the DVD, and she is extremely encouraging and motivating. She and Kim are exercising outdoors against a beautiful lakeside Canadian backdrop with mountains in the distance. Overall, this is an incredibly versatile, extremely well thought out DVD that provides endless options for beginning and recovering exercisers (as a high intermediate, however, I found it to be a bit too easy). I would definitely recommend this to others, and I look forward to trying the Intermediate and Advanced versions for myself.

Instructor Comments:
As mentioned above, Denise is extremely enthusiastic; she seems genuinely excited about the workout and eager to share her knowledge. She cued well and gave great form pointers, particularly with respect to maintaining your posture and using your core. Although overall, the pace of the workout was fine, sometimes I found that I didn't have quite enough time to setup the exercise, especially given the variety of equipment options (ie, it took me time to decide whether to follow Denise with tubing or Kim with weights). And one other minor thing: Denise says "exactly!" quite a bit. ;)

For more details on each of the three videos in the series, including frequently asked questions, action photos, and video clips, check out Denise's web site:

Beth C (aka toaster)