Strength In The BalanceLeigh Crews
Year Released: 2004
Categories: Balance/Medicine/Mini/Stability Ball
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This full-body workout led by Leigh Crews uses a stability ball and a chi ball (or other small weighted ball such as a medicine ball). Leigh is alone on the set instructing live. There is music, and although it wasn't overly loud, I found it to be quite distracting--it is not choreographed with the moves at all, and the same repetitive riffs (reminded me of INXS) are played over and over.
There is no warm-up to this workout; instead, Leigh encourages you to spend a few minutes warming up on your own. The stability ball is used throughout, which means that you are strongly working your core in all moves; in fact, after doing the workout yesterday, I can feel it in my abs/obliques today. The chi ball, while not used in every move (ie, Leigh sometimes uses body weight alone, such as doing tricep dips off the stability ball), is frequently added for resistance as well as incorporating a functional aspect to the movements. Some of the exercises were uniquely well-suited to the chi ball, such as doing alternating chest flyes while lying on the stability ball. For other moves, however (eg, the lying triceps extension), the ball did not seem to provide an adequate amount of resistance. Similarly, I felt that the intensity level of the workout was a bit uneven: some of the exercises felt pretty easy, especially given the low number of reps (Leigh usually performed one set of 8 reps) and the lack of resistance (the inner thigh lifts were one example), yet there were other exercises that felt quite challenging, such as the pike/push-up combo with toes on the stability ball.
The strength portion of the workout is 38.5 minutes long, but Leigh finishes with a 10 minute extended cool-down using the chi ball (including some nice massage work) to bring the total workout time in at just under 49 minutes. If you are looking for a heavy weighted workout, this isn't it, but intermediate and above exercisers who want a thorough core workout with some light resistance training may enjoy this.
Leigh was fine--her instruction was basic and nondescript, which pretty much fit with the overall workout.
This does use the Chi Ball, but I ended up using a 3 LB green genie ball, to make it more of a challenge. It doesn't have any of the Tai Chi moves, but is a good core workout, really burning the abs, plus you do some interesting moves for your lats, work your glutes, abductors, adductors, hamstrings, quads, triceps, rear delts, chest, upper back --- almost everything. I added some bicep curls at the end, because I felt like was the only muscle she missed. Nice stretches, too, some using the chi ball - sort of like a yamuna ball rolling feel to some of this - stretching your feet, calves, areas on your spine and neck...
Some of the workout reminded me of the TLTs - one move you're lying with your upper back supported on the stability ball, lower body off in bridge pose, and you take the chi ball in both hands above your chest and then alternate lowering one arm at a time to the side for flys, while holding the other arm up, so you work your chest, and your core to keep you from sliding off the ball.
There are tricep dips using the stability ball, pikes with push ups on the ball, lean across the ball on your belly to work upper back, lean across the ball on belly again and place the chi ball in the bend of one knee, then lift that leg for hamstring work, one of the lat moves also really work the core at the same time - kneel behind the ball, put hands on the ball with palms facing each other, keep a tight core and lean forward from the knees as you roll the ball out, then back in - very challenging to me. This isn't all the moves, or even the correct order - just some that popped into my mind now.
It was a good, sweaty workout, with some interesting moves I've never seen before, as well as some that are more recognizable from other ball workouts.
I wore my HRM, and it didn't record a great calorie burn - I think because so much of it is done supine and prone on the ball, or kneeling leaning into, from the side, or on the floor with feet on the ball, or the ball between your legs....anyway...lots of low HR #s even though I was working like a dog!
Leigh gives good form pointers, cues well, and is pleasant. Not overly chatty, more businesslike, but she does smile and seems like she'd be a great trainer.