Total Body Balance

Jessica Smith
Year Released: 2013

Categories: Athletic Stretch , Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance , Total Body Workouts

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There are four workouts on the gem of a DVD workout, and you can play them individually, or play them all. A matrix option would have been nice, but I quibble.

In “Cardio Flow”, Jennifer is joined by one other person, and together they work beside a beautiful shimmering swimming pool. We begin with side-steps and add arms, then move into mini-squats and add arms, then add a side toe-tap with the option to turn it into a leg lift. (Jennifer reminds us to work at our own comfort level; we don’t have to do all the “layering” just because they’re doing it.) Alternating side taps are next, with added bow-and-arrow arms, then we sway side-to-side with “Figure 8” arms and add front toe-taps with the option to change the toe taps to leg lifts. Next is alternating corner-to-corner mambos, then we return to squats with added rear toe-taps and big arm circles. A rocking-horse move is next, then wide squats with chest-fly arms and pulse squats with wide “V” arms before finally moving into cat-cow and final stretches. The energetic percussion music in the background made this a real treat!

Jennifer is working with her partner again in “Sole Sculpt.” They are beside that beautiful pool, and there is fun calypso music in the background. We begin with step-taps that change into side lunges before moving into plie squats and dead lifts with arm rows. Next we do flat back plie pulses with wide-stretched arms, then move into spinal twists, with one arm toward the ceiling and the other toward the floor. We return to center and grab our weights (Jennifer uses 3-pound weights; her friend uses 5-pound weights) for side lunges with overhead presses. This turns into front lunges with overhead arms, then pulse squats with alternating chest flies and pressed back arms. All of this is repeated on the other side. We do a nice combination of plie squats with front reaches, wide-stance dead lifts with back arm presses, plie squats with “W” and “Y” arms (overhead arm reaches) before we move down to the floor for slow swimming, pulse push-ups, bridges, crunches, planks; and finally sink into some nice, well-deserved stretches!

In “Core Stretch”, Jessica is alone by the pool, with nice woodwind music in the background. She begins with plies, then add arms (arms overhead, arms forward with a flat back, etc.) and several forward fold into flat back moves. It’s back to plie squats, turning for a side lunge and bring the back knee to ground, then lowering the torso over front knee for crunches. This transitions to a twisting chair pose (back knee still on floor); then the torso lifts into a mini-backbend (knee still on ground, arms lifted overhead). After repeating everything on the other side, it’s down to the floor for a plank, side planks, cobras, and bow poses before gratefully sinking into child’s pose. But we’re not done yet! We work our way into boat pose, move into a seated forward fold, and do some pulse crunches and scissor legs. We finish with bridge, cat-cow, downward facing-dog, and a nice long spinal roll-up.

“Cardio Dance Sculpt” is the only workout done indoors, but it’s still a gorgeous setting: the crystal blue pool is visible just beyond the white curtains billowing around the large floor-length windows, and the lush green trees make a nice backdrop to the pool. The workout begins with marching in place, and moves to alternating side toe-taps. Next up are V-steps with an added twist; side steps with added arms and level changes, and alternating side mambos. We move into wide-stand plie pulses and alternate arms reaching overhead; then mini-squats while pressing arms back, adding knee lifts, and a crescent knee move. Repeat on the other side. We grab a chair for front lunges, rear leg lifts, and side crunches; this is all repeated on the other side. We continue to use the chair for tricep dips, then sit on the chair and lean back while first bringing alternating knees to our chest, then bringing both knees to our chest (sort of a “pike” move.) Then it’s back to standing for mambos and tap-outs with opposite arm overhead, finger pointed up (think “Saturday Night Fever”, LOL!) We return to the chair for some final stretches.

Instructor Comments:
Jessica offers gentle encouragement thoughout all of the workouts; it feels as if she is talking directly to me, like my very own personal trainer!! :-)

Debbie J


This is a beginner/intermediate workout (with a modifier who shows advanced options), broken down into four 20 (ish) minute segments: Cardio Flow, Sole Sculpt, Core Stretch and Cardio Dance Sculpt. You can use these as add-ons or as one full length workout and get everything you need: cardio, strength & stretch! The workouts are done barefoot and you will need some light weights, a mat and a chair.

Three out of four segments are done outdoors and the scenery is just beautiful. There is a glistening pool, swaying palm trees and a flowing river that make you feel like you are working out at some resort. I absolutely loved it! Mentally, the setting itself took me to a feel good place and the actual workout kept me there!

Cardio Flow
This segment got my heart rate up! It really is a constant flow of low impact movement, from one to the next, that uses a large range of motion for the arms and incorporates some body weight toning as well (squats, plie, side leg raises, etc.) I felt it was well sequenced with just enough time spent on each move. There's not much repetition and I liked that. The moves were basic and easy to follow.

Sole Sculpt
This is a light weight, hi repetition segment for toning from head to toe. The compound moves keep your heart rate up too. There were just enough reps for me to feel the burn, but it was not overkill. Again, there is a great flow of movement from one to the next that kept it fresh and interesting. It includes standing and floor work. Oh, and it was in this segment that I noticed the beautiful flowing river in the background!

Core Stretch
This segment is just like it sounds, core work and stretching! I've never combined the two, but I really enjoyed this; it was very relaxing. Jessica does a great job of engaging the core while stretching and elongating the body. I really felt the core work in my obliques!

Cardio Dance Sculpt
This segment was a lot of fun! I especially liked the disco feel towards the end. You use the chair for this portion for some lower body toning moves. The dance moves aren't complicated and don't require a lot of space.

I can't say enough good things about this workout. I just felt so darn good after completing it. It didn't feel like a workout; it felt like a really good time with the added bonus of burning calories! I can't say enough about the gorgeous scenery, Jessica's wonderful personality and the fact that this is such a well balanced routine. As Jessica says "find movement that you love and that makes you feel good, and you'll never have to workout again." Total Body Balance is the epitome of that statement!

Instructor Comments:
Jessica is very encouraging throughout this workout and her cuing is fantastic.



Full disclosure: I received a free review copy of this workout.

My background with Jessica's workout has been a change in progress. I tried her DVDs, some of the more recent ones from the past year or two, and didn't keep them. I liked HER in the workouts, but the workouts were hard on my hands and wrists and/or knees. Given I have arthritis in those joints, I look for workouts that don't have much impact and that doesn't require you to support body weight on the hands and wrists. So, I had given up on her DVDs. Then, I tried the workouts on her YouTube channel and loved them - both her and the workouts. So, when she came out with this DVD, I decided to try it given that some of my most favorite LOVES on her YouTube channel are this style of workout. And, am I ever glad I did!

I would rank this DVD as a beginner/intermediate workout with the modifier showing more advanced options. Jessica will often show the easiest option, then they will do the intermediate version, and then the modifier will do the most advanced option. Throughout the whole DVD, Jessica encourages you to work at your pace and your level and to stay in tune with your body. There's not any pressure to achieve a certain move or level, which I found refreshing and nice. As usual, Jessica is really good at leading this workout. She comes across as caring and encouragine. Plus, her cueing is really good; I always knew what I needed to do when I needed to know it.

The whole DVD is set outside except for Cardio Dance Sculpt and that workout is set in front of a window so you can see outside. It really is set in a pretty space and made me feel warm (on ridiculously cold March mornings when winter just wouldn't go away!). Very little space is needed so those with a small workout area can celebrate throughout the workout. As far as equipment goes, you'll just need a mat (unless you work out on carpet like me), a chair, and some light dumbbells. The workout can be done barefoot, so you don't even need shoes, if you don't want to put them on.

This DVD is divided into four 20-minute segments (give or take):

> Cardio Flow - This is a flowing cardio workout with low-impact moves. She uses moves wiwth a large range of motion for the arms and does some lower-body toning work

> Sole Sculpt - This is a toning workout using light weights. I really enjoyed the first 10-11 minutes which was standing strength work and didn't enjoy the floor work she then moved to. But, I hate floor work. I can see me using the first part of this segment with the two cardio sections.

> Core Stretch - This is core work and stretching. It was a good mix that engaged the core and stretched out the body.

> Cardio Dance Sculpt - I would call the moves in this segment dancey. You use the chair for some lower-body toning moves.

Each segment was pretty much described by its name and I knew what I was getting when each segment started. For those that like to create their own workouts with a segment from here and a segment from there, this DVD is ideal for you. You can use these as add-ons or stand-alone segments for a "spark". Or, you can do it 2, 3, or 4 segments as a full-length workout and get what you want: cardio, strength, stretch, or all of the above.

I really, really like this DVD and look forward to using it in the future.

Instructor Comments:
I love her in this workout. She is encouraging and engaging and fun. Oh, and she cues really well, too!

Laura S.