Body Bar: Balance, Line and Strength

Clare Dunphy
Year Released: 1999

Categories: Body Bar , Pilates/Core Strength , Total Body Workouts

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Balance Line and Strength is a precursor to Dunphy's more recent Bodybar tape, Ripple. BLS is a hybrid of traditional strength training and core work. You can see the outlines of a standard issue health club sculpting class, but Clare's clearly chomping at the bit to get somewhere new, a goal she accomplishes with the later Ripple program.

Previous VF reviewers note she doesn't discuss what body part is being worked. I think she's attempting to build core muscles by adding resistance in unusual ways to traditional strength routines. So while an upright row might work the delts, by moving the bar away from the body in a circular motion she incorporates smaller supporting muscle groups and torso strength as a whole. Maybe this was just too much of a mouthful - but she probably should have discussed the theory behind what she's doing.

There's been discussion in the forum about what would be the appropriate body bar weight for these tapes. I began with an 18 lb bodybar, as an experiment, but quickly switched to my 10 lb Reebok padded bar. The heavier bodybar put way to much pressure on my shoulders anytime Dunphy strayed from traditional strength training motions. (As a point of comparison, I generally do Cathe Friedrich's tapes using the weights Cathe uses). Dunphy indicates she uses a 9 lb bar on BL&S, as she does on Ripple.

There's also been some curiosity as to how BL&S compares to Ripple. rates BL&S as advanced and Ripple as an intermediate tape. I'd say they were about equal and they're both fun, but difficult. Ripple has more unusual flowing motions and a longer standing segment - I guess you could say its more ballet like. BL&S is faster and punchier. Ripple raised my cardio rate more than BL&S, despite featuring what felt like slower movements, and I felt very very "worked out" after the tape. BL&S certainly seemed like a workout while I was doing it! Both tapes have a full compliment of killer planks, side planks, push ups and teasers with the bar. Not easy!

I don't think BL&S is a focused or well crafted as Ripple. I also preferred the music in Ripple, which was more techno/new age, compared to BL&S's typical dynamix track. Of course, BL&S did feature that nice Carey Bond - always a plus - as a background exerciser, and Dunphy herself is more animated in BL&S, but overall I found Ripple more enjoyable and interesting. They're both keepers for my collection.

Instructor Comments:
Clare Dunphy is very brainy.

Jane C


The question that I keep asking myself while doing this tape is, "Why do I need to do these movements (or this tape)?" I feel that although Clare Dunphy presents some interesting and unique movements with the Body Bar, I cannot see a whole lot of purpose for doing most of them. I don't think the movements particularly increase strength or balance. I think most of the movements are too complex in that the upper body is doing one thing with the bar which doesn't really increase any strength or feel like a stretch, as Clare claims, while simultaneously, the lower body is doing something for some other purpose, such as to increase balance or sometimes, just moving to add interest or difficulty to the whole movement. While some of the movements are challenging, I think that quite a bit of the challenge is in figuring out how not to strain something, like the wrists, which take a lot of stress in this tape, or how not to fall over. I also think that the Pilates ab work with the Body Bar held away from the body and the twisting movements are unsafe, especially for the spine and back muscles. I doubt I will use this tape much, since there are so many other tapes that are more fun and more effective. If I am looking for something a little different along these lines, I would choose Kari Anderson's Angles, Lines & Curves or a Karen Voight tape.

Instructor Comments:
Clare Dunphy is an average-good instructor who obviously has studied dance and would like to incorporate various dance-like movements into this tape. I agree that she does not explain the purpose of many of the movements.



I agree with what Emily and Helen have said about this video. It is kind of a "Great Weighted Workout meets The Method." The exercises are excellent for building core strength. This is not a muscle-building tape. With this tape, you either need to use a bodybar or an unloaded barbell; most of the moves wouldn't modify well with dumbbells (although you could probably use dumbbells for some of the upper body moves and a dowel for the balancing moves). You will definitely be challenged, and this video is excellent for developing your sense of balance. That said, I'm not really sure if I like this tape a lot. This might sound kind of strange, but aside from improving balance and core strength, I'm not sure how effective this tape is, even though it is one of the more challenging tapes that I've done (does that make any sense?). I used a 15 lb. bodybar, and often that weight wasn't enough, and sometimes it was a little too much. Although the style of the tapes are different, I much prefer Christi Taylor's Strength, Balance and Flexibility to this video. I feel like it is more effective overall than this one (at least for me), and it's more fun to do.

Instructor Comments:
Clare Dunphy is an adequate instructor. Her cueing is good, as are her form pointers. There was really nothing that stood out about her for me, either positively or negatively.

Kristin Aziz


This is a very unique video. Clare sure finds creative ways to use a body bar. This video combines weights with yoga, dance, and pilates. It is not a muscle building tape. But it sure will test your balance. Sometimes you will lift the body bar while balancing. For example, you bend forward doing bent-over rows. At the same time, you lift your leg up and down. Whew, I had trouble balancing on this movement. Another example is when you do a clean and press while balancing. To do this, on the upward movement of the upright row, you lift your knee. During the upward phase of the press, you extend your leg forward. During the downward phase of the press, you bend your knee again. Then during the downward phase of the upright row, you extend your leg back. Another compound move is doing plie squats while doing bicep curls. There are other compound moves in this tape. Most of the movements work several muscles at the same time.

Clare also uses the body bar as a ballet bar. You do ballet leg lifts while using the bar for balance. Sometimes, Clare also uses the body bar as a stretching tool. She also does yoga moves while at the same time lifting the body bar. Some moves are really tough. For example, you balance on one arm while your body is facing sideways. So the only thing touching the floor is your right hand and the side of your right foot. This move might hurt some people's wrists. If that wasn't enough, you use your left arm to lift the body bar off the floor towards your chest and then extend your arm so that both arms make a straight line. I know this is a yoga move but I can't think of the name right now. But it's a lot more difficult when you add that body bar lift. You move the left arm back to the original position and repeat the movement for about five reps.

This video really works your abs in original ways. A lot of the ab exercises are Pilates based. They are very hard if you are not used to this kind of movement. Overall, I think this is a good video to get long, lean strong muscles. If a person likes yoga or pilates, I definitely feel that they will like this video to use on their muscle sculpting days. Clare gives really good form pointers and is an excellent instructor. Other people might like it for a change of pace from gym style workouts. However, if someone is looking for a heavy weights-low rep video, this one is not it.

Instructor Comments:
Clare sure knows her stuff. You can tell she took ballet and teaches Pilates. She is also very inventive and original with the body bar.

Helen Stephens


This is an awesome muscular endurance workout. It's very rare that a strength workout makes me sweat. I like to think of BLS as a Pilates styled GWW (Karen Voight), or a Method tape with more traditional exercises and real weights. It's a workout for your entire body. She even hits the front of your calves and lower back, which I wish more videos would do. There's a ton of shoulder work, but not enough biceps, or forearm. If you have wrist problems, you might want to skip this one because there are several exercises you're supported on it (I drop one of my knees to help alleviate my wrist). I don't have a bodybar, but I used my 4 foot, 15 pound barbell and it was perfect. My big complaint is that you can't really up your weights--adding plates to my barbell would not work. It's both standing and floor exercises, a lot of which work several muscle groups at once. BLS is a unique blend of Pilates and traditional strength exercises. It's hard to describe the exercises, but not because it's off-the-wall different, it's just that the exercises are put together very uniquely. This is definitely a keeper for my "endurance" rotations, along with GWW, Target Specifics, Body ART, and Body Max. The music was typical Dynamix, I recognized some from CIA 9908. I highly recommend this tape for your muscular endurance workouts.

Clare was very good at explaining exactly where your body should be positioned. However, I did not like the fact that she didn't always explain which muscle group you were supposed to be working (there's an exercise that I think it should be abs, but I really felt it in my chest).