In this DVD, veteran fitness instructor Gin Miller has incorporated a relatively new type of fitness gadget into the workout. Miller and her accomplice (Sharon Seagrave, a former Olympic athlete who shows modifications of the exercises), are wearing MBT shoes, a type of sneaker with a rocker sole which provides a balance challenge. (More information about MBTs can be found at mbt.com. Other manufacturers, including Reebok and Skechers, have produced similar products. I myself wore my Skechers Shape-Up Toners for this workout, although these have "toning pods" rather than the rocker sole).
Not only does Miller emphasize that she is not being paid to promote MBTs, but also she maintains that the shoes are not necessary for the workout. In her brief Introduction, she offers several other balance options, including doing the workout in bare feet, using a BOSU balance trainer or core board, standing on a cushioned mat, or some combination of the above. Other than your choice of balance equipment, you will need a chair/stool, a set of dumbbells (Seagrave uses water bottles), and a small, unweighted playground ball to perform the exercises in this DVD.
The Main Menu appears as follows:
Introduction – Warm Up – Workout 1 – Workout 2 – Workout 3 – Slow Stretch
The separate "workouts" are actually more like individual chapters rather than independent workouts, although they could certainly be used independently with the warm-up and stretch. I've provided descriptions for each segment below.
WARM UP, 9.5 minutes
In this segment, Miller is alone, and she focuses mainly on becoming familiar with wearing balance training shoes (of course, this makes the warm-up somewhat obsolete if you are not using the shoes!). The primary exercise is a rock/shift side-to-side move, but Miller also performs a few pliés, side lungs, and one-legged work. She concludes with a brief shoulder/hip flexor stretch.
WORKOUT 1, 30 minutes
Miller begins here with simple squats, holding the ball between the hands to add rotation and gradually incorporating a knee lift as well. (Note: In addition to wearing my Sketchers Toners, I stood on my balance disk to make these challenging.) For the upper body, Miller performs biceps curls and triceps extensions, but she continues to challenge the balance by lifting one leg. The toughest move in this section is actual quite simple--a static lunge with slow arm movements--but Miller performs several repetitions at a very measured pace, really targeting the glutes. In-between sides, she includes some overhead presses and work on the toes.
WORKOUT 2, 13 minutes
This section is more lower-body focused. First, Miller uses the stool to assist with balance while performing rear leg lifts. She starts with a single leg lift but gradually increases the difficultly level by lifting alternate arm/leg and even making things more unstable by resting the ball in the stool and placing one hand on it. Moving away from the stool, Miller performs bent over flys with the weights, adding in a combination fly/one-legged deadlift move.
WORKOUT 3, 9.5 minutes
Miller describes this segment as a chest and core workout. She starts with three sets of push-ups, progressing from on the knees to toes/knees to full toe push-ups. To further work the core, Miller performs a kneeling Figure 8 move (holding the ball between the hands) as well as a similar version of this exercise in a V-sit position.
SLOW STRETCH, 5.5 minutes
This final section features Miller alone for what she states is a "yoga-influenced" stretch; she suggests that the stretches can be performed barefoot or wearing MBT shoes as she demonstrates. She begins with a very modified version of yoga sun salutations, ending the series with a few cat/cow stretches on hands and knees. She then performs a few additional stretches incorporating the ball to stretch to finish. I found the music, which was somewhat electronic-sounding throughout the workout, particularly jarring in this segment.
Overall, this workout provides a nice opportunity to experiment with balance while performing strength training moves. However, I found myself becoming a bit frustrated by Miller's tendency to devote an inordinate amount of time to setting up each exercise; I felt that too much time was wasted in this workout. As a result, both the pacing and the difficultly level seemed somewhat uneven to me. Still, I would recommend this DVD given that working with the balance training shoes adds a unique aspect rarely seen in other workouts.
© 2011 Beth Cholette
Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students.