Ballet Fitness by Jennee (Ballet Blast)Jennee McCormich
Year Released: 2012
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Title: Ballet Fitness by Jennee (Ballet Blast)
Instructor: Jennee McCormich
Time: 50 Minutes
Level of Difficulty: Intermediate-High Intermediate
DVD menu: Play workout, play workout without introduction
Production quality: Medium (very bland background and repetitive music)
Equipment used: Light weights (she doesn’t suggest poundage but about 2-5# I’d guess)
A little about me: lately I have dappled in barre as my main strengthening exercises, and have gone crazy trying out new barre (and barre style) workouts, supplementing with Tonique and Dream Body for cardio. I have so far tried Booty Barre, Ballet Physique, Turbo Barre (Cathe), Squeeze Stronger, and similar workouts like Tracey Anderson Omnicentric and Callanetics, and consider myself to be an advanced exerciser. I have been going lighter on the intensity on barre days (but still expect a challenge) and going more intense on my cardio (DB/Tonique/running) days. So my goal is to find barre workouts that really burn out the muscles, especially with those little pulses and squeezes that barre work is known for.
Upon preview I thought this workout looked interesting because it incorporated some more athletic cardio (burpees, plyos) into the barre work, which is why I picked it up. There were in fact quite a few plyo plies, but only one set of burpees. My main complaint is that the workout is exceedingly repetitive. The workout is chaptered into warm up, “Plie Blast,” “Cardio Ballet,” “Ballet Sculpt”, “Ab Sculpt,” and cool down. Each chapter about 10-12 minutes, except abs which was about 6 minutes. Plie Blast is just that – about 12 minutes of plie squats with some different variations (leg lifts, heels up). I love plie squats but this was incredibly boring and repetitive. There are so many ways to work the legs effectively with barre, so why limit yourself to plies? The Cardio Ballet included the aforementioned plyos and burpees, but most of this chapter was made up of various leg lifts (repeated ad nauseum), some of which challenged your balance by being on one leg. The last chapter, Ballet Sculpt, was upper body focused and used the light weights. I would have appreciated a recommendation on poundage, and used 4# which felt good for the barre sytle upper body exercises. I probably enjoyed this chapter the most, I enjoyed the variety and felt a good burn in my upper body muscles, and even enjoyed the “kettlebell swings” and “ballet deadlifts” but agree with the other reviewers that a chance to pick up a heavier hand weight would have been more effective. The ab chapter used the light weights but felt like a lighter (2-3#) would have been better, continuing to work the upper body (primarily chest) while performing some c-curve and pilates style ab work. At best I found the workout to be unremarkable and moderately challenging (intermediate/high intermediate), at worst I found it to be repetitive and boring. There are so many better barre workouts out there (any of the ones I mentioned I would recommend over Ballet Fitness by Jennee) and it would be hard for me to recommend this except for the extreme plie squat lover. For me, this goes in the trade pile.
Jennee is friendly and not chatty, but doesn’t provide many form pointers, or even thorough instruction (example: during one set her heel was up but the backgrounders wasn’t, she didn’t mention anything and I only noticed this important alteration at the end of the exercise reps). She also doesn’t mirror cue, which is okay, except I would have preferred a generic “this leg” or “other leg” to “left leg” and “right leg.”
Jennee leads the workout with 2 background exercisers in an open studio with large windows. After an adequate (albeit unmemorable as of this review), Jennee brings on the plies. Lots of plies with arms extended at shoulder height (whew!) A lot of repetition here (about 15 mins of plies.) Next up is the cardio segment, featuring traditional ballet moves including bat mas, tendue, passe, etc. Further into the segment things advamce more to a cardio-level, with the inclusion of jumps and "ballet burpees." This is a pretty fast-paced workout for ballet. The sculpting is up next, using 2 lb weights. Most of the moves are performed quickly through a large range of motion so 2 lbs is appropriate. However, for the dumbbell swings (which Jennee calls kettlebell swings) and "ballet deadlifts" a bit heavier would be more effective. The abs segment is last before the cooldown and is performed on the floor holding the dumbbells. Some of the exercises are in high c-curve with arm movement (bicep curls, chest press, etc.) and some are on the floor with head and shoulders elevated with more arms and leg movements. I did have to modify this segment by resting my head on the floor or dropping the dumbbells to cradle my head.
I have never done the cooldown.
Jennee is likable as an instructor but very no-nonsense and business-like. No chatter, just the workout.
This ballet-style workout begins with a short (but fun) warmup followed by plies -- lots and lots of plies! You are holding your arms out by your side the entire time; this may not seem like much, but after 15 minutes, my arms were burning! Next is cardio, basically ballet kicks and ballet “burpees” which are done by going to the floor with wide legs then kicking them straight, then moving back to wide legs and returning to standing with plie pulses. Next is upper body sculpting with light weights: Overhead side lifts, bicep lifts, tricep kickbacks, shoulder presses, and "kettlebell" swings. Jennee used the same weight for this entire section, but I would like to have used lighter weights for some moves (like windmill arms) and heavier weights for other moves (like kettlebell swings); and she moved too quickly for you to switch on your own without missing some of the repetitions. Next was abdominal work on the floor, followed by a lovely stretch. The setting was bright and pleasant, and the music was upbeat. All in all, this was an excellent low-impact cardio & toning workout.
Jennee is a pleasant, "no-nonsense" instructor.