Elegant StrengthPetra Kolber
Year Released: 2007
Categories: Abs/Core , Ballet/Barre, Pilates/Core Strength , Tai Chi / Qigong , Upper Body Strength , Yoga
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This is a 60-minute total body “fusion”-style strength workout, incorporating elements of tai chi, yoga, pilates and ballet as well as upper body toning with light weights. There is particular emphasis on balance training.
The workout is led by Petra Kolber, who instructs live. She mirror-cues, both right/left and directional (e.g. “leg closest to the television”). There are two background exercisers. All are barefoot. Petra wears flowing white pants which are lovely but sometimes obscure her leg and foot positioning. However the two background ladies have on pants cropped at the knee so you can pick up positioning from them. The only equipment needed is a mat plus a set of light dumbbells.
The set is simple and serene – muted colors with plants, screens, and a gold Buddha statue in the background. Petra and the cast work out on individual raised platforms. Music is nice and provides an appropriate beat, but is on the quiet side (as befits the tone of Elegant Strength). I’m not usually that sensitive to overall production values, but I can’t help noticing how beautifully Petra is filmed – her skin almost glows!
The workout is well-chaptered as follows:
-Body & Breath Connection (7 minutes): Petra warms up with flowing stretches and teaches a very short tai chi inspired sequence (reminiscent of her BREATHE workouts), which she briefly returns to at several points during the workout.
-Standing Legs and Core (20 minutes): A flowing series of standing moves taken from ballet, tai chi and yoga, incorporating several balance challenges (e.g. tree pose). Petra begins by teaching a basic move, then gradually adding on a few additional moves to create a short sequence. She then repeats the sequence on the other leg before moving to a new combination. You are often standing on only one leg, so this section can feel more challenging than it looks on preview.
-Standing Total Body (9 minutes): Using the dumbbells, Petra combines standard upper body exercises with yoga positions or a balance challenge (e.g. triceps kickbacks standing on one leg, lateral raises while moving in and out of Warrior 2).
-Floor Series (10 minutes): A down dog/plank/triceps pushup sequence, followed by shoulder retractions while propped up on elbows. Petra continues with table work (bird dog, moving arms/legs from front/back to out to the side). She finishes by flipping over to supine for bridge work with one leg extended.
-Core Series (7.5 minutes): More floor work begins with reverse planks, followed by crunches with variations then bicycles. Everything is done calmly and slowly. This section finishes with side knee drops (including a figure 8 variation involving the arms).
-Stretch (7 minutes): All done seated.
In Elegant Strength, when choosing a segment directly from the Main Menu, you are returned to the Main Menu after the segment concludes (rather than continuing automatically to the next segment).
Bottom line: A lovely, calming workout. I think it is a nice complement to my barre DVDs. Those who usually do more intense workouts might still enjoy Elegant Strength on an active rest day, especially if they want to work on balance.
As of the date of this review Elegant Strength is available at Collage and Total Fitness (there are clips at both sites), as well as Amazon.
Petra is one of the best workout video instructors out there. Her cuing is great and she is always encouraging. Her website is www.petrakolber.com.