Allaire Back Fitness: Intermediate User's Guide & Class

Lisa Allaire
Year Released: 2006

Categories: Abs/Core , Balance/Medicine/Mini/Stability Ball, Instructional / How To Videos , Special Health Conditions , Foam Roller

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This corrects the previous review. Dr. Allaire is located in Northern California, not Southern California.



Dr. Lisa Allaire is a chiropractor located in Southern California. She has produced three DVDs/DVD sets which are designed to strengthen the core and back — two “seasons” consisting of 27 workouts each and this one, which is a “class” (but you are the only participant). You can purchase these on Dr. Allaire’s website,

The DVD has two chapters: 1) a “User’s Guide,” a 33 minute segment in which Dr. Allaire talks about the purpose of each section and where she gives form pointers for use in the upcoming workout; and 2) a 62 minute class which puts these principles into action. Both sections are filmed inside in a room that looks a little bit like an exercise room in a gym. Dr. Allaire instructs alone, and there is no music other than a few bars of instrumental guitar at the beginning of each section.

Dr. Allaire states that the focus of this workout is to create healthy movement patterns and create healthful changes in your body, and she therefore emphasizes that it important to do every repetition with good form. Because most of the User’s Guide is devoted to form pointers, it’s not really a stand alone workout; then again, I don’t believe that it was intended to be. Dr. Allaire tells you to come back to it every now and again for form reminders so that you can get the most that you can out of the actual workout.

The class consists of six segments. Each segment is separately chaptered and lasts around 9.5 - minutes. The segments consist of the following exercises:

Trunk Flexion (9.5 min):

The first three truck flexion exercises are on the foam roller, and the last one is on the stability ball.

o crunches with arms folded over the chest (2 sets)
o isolation holds w/ the knees lifted at a 45 degree angle & fingers off the floor (3 sets)
o isolation holds with knees lifted and alternating legs extended (3 sets)
o crunches with arms folded over the chest (2 sets)

Trunk Extension (9.25 min):

All of the truck extensions are on the stability ball.

o extensions of opposite arm and leg (1 set)
o nose touches to the ball (2 sets)
o supermans with arms overhead (1 set)
o push outs (1 set)

Planks (10.75 min):

All of the plank exercises are on the stability ball.

o half plank (hips on the ball) with alternating arms extended (1 set)
o full plank (shins or lower leg on the ball) (1 set)
o full plank with alternating legs lifted (2 sets)
o full plank with pushups (2 sets)
o push and pull (roll knees in to a semi-jackknife position) (1 set)
o full plank with feet on the floor and hands on the ball (2 sets)

Bridge (6.5 min):

All of the bridge exercises are on the stability ball.

o basic bridge with shins on the ball and hands on the floor (1 set)
o basic bridge with hands overhead (6 reps)
o bridge lifting alternating legs, with hands overhead in the final reps (2 sets)
o push and pull (roll ball in towards hips and push back out) (2 sets)

Linked (10 min):

These exercises are all standing. No equipment is used.

o reverse lunges, ending with a plank and standing table top (1 set)
o reverse lunges into one-legged balance, ending with a plank & table top (1 set)
o reverse lunges into one-legged balance, ending with a plank/leg lift & table top (1 set)
o squats, ending with one leg extended behind and balance on other leg (2 sets)
o calf raises onto toes, starting from a bent leg position (2 sets)

Stretching (16 min):

The first and final few stretches are standing and the rest are on the floor. You’ll need the following optional equipment: a strap, a stability ball, a foam roller, and/or two yoga blocks.

o forward bend
o runner’s lunge
o figure 4
o lying twist with knee across the body
o knees to the chest
o child’s pose
o standing shoulder and chest stretches
o side bends
o neck stretches
o forward bend ending up on toes


You’ll need a mat, a stability ball, a foam roller, and (optional) yoga blocks and a strap.

What I Liked

The form pointers are exceptionally clear, especially in the Users Guide; if you follow them, they will definitely help you develop healthy movement patterns. Equally beneficial, Dr. Allaire shows you what not to do; she tells you why the “bad” movement is less effective or, worse, harmful to your back. This is invaluable from an awareness perspective. I’ve done both of her “Seasons” and I still learned something from the User’s Guide.

There is a hefty balance component to the workout, so it’s not all core strengthening. Or maybe it is — a strong core helps maintain balance. In any event, this was the most challenging part of the workout for me. I found the pushups on the ball and the push and pulls pretty challenging too, however.

During some exercises, there is a popup box which shows a more advanced version. In other exercises, Dr. Allaire also tells you how to modify to increase or decrease the challenge. There are no modifications shown sometimes, but the ones that are given are helpful and allow you to level up or down if needed.

The stretch segment at the end was almost 16 minutes. The stretches are held long enough to feel useful, and there is a nice variety of them. Figure 4 stretch and the side lying twist are two of my favorites, and they are particularly nice here.

What I Didn’t Like

The set isn’t very interesting, and it would have been nice to have music. Neither of these is a deal breaker for me. I point it out because they make the workout have more of an instructional vibe than a typical workout.

The 62 minute length makes for a full workout. This can be good. However, because of the set and the lack of music, I’ll have to make myself do this workout, rather than actively looking forward to it.

This Workout vs. The Seasons

Dr. Allaire also has two “Seasons” of workouts which are available on DVD. They were originally shown on PBS and are set in beautiful locations (Costa Rica and Mexico). The Season workouts are shorter, and they focus more on building great form while slowly increasing strength and balance. They are a good place to start if that’s where your interest lies. However, if you’re looking for a “real” workout, you will get it more here.

I’ve done this workout twice — once long ago and then again after almost completing Season 2. I remember being fairly frustrated with this DVD after my first attempt at it; I fell off the ball more than I thought I should have, and the workout is so dry that I wasn’t motivated to return to it. Now, after Season 2, I found all of the exercises doable.

Things to Consider

To get the full benefits of this workout, you’ll need a foam roller and a stability ball. You can do the exercises without them, but a good deal of the challenge comes from the balance component that this equipment provides.

This DVD requires that you have some strength and and balance already, and if you don’t have both then you may find it frustrating. This is definitely not a DVD for a true beginner. It’s labeled intermediate, and I think that’s appropriate for most of the exercises.

Instructor Comments:
Dr. Allaire gives clear form instruction, and she exudes positive energy. Her technique is great, and she is very encouraging. This workout is more functional than fun, but Dr. Allaire does the best she can with it.