I Can Change – Review of Les Mills Body Balance Release 71

What do you think about the Tai Chi Warm Up in Body Balance?

I’m not asking about the one in the latest release. I mean the “concept” of the Tai Chi Warm Up.

I love it. Always have. A great way to start a mind and body workout with slow flowing moves, deep breaths and gentle abdominal rotations.

In the last few releases however I felt that the choreographers had lost that genuine Tai Chi feel replacing it with more of an aerobic warm up. I missed the  arm circles and the flow.

Would Body Balance release 71 continue this or return to the true essence of Tai Chi?

Let’s have a look at the tracks.

Review of Les Mills Body Balance Release 71

Tai Chi Warm up 1 – Ain’t No SunshineBill Withers
Tai Chi Warm Up 2 –  Ain’t No Sunshine (Lido Remix)Bill Withers

Well I’m happy. The Tai Chi moves do indeed return to the graceful arm circles of old. Slow sweeping moves that encourage movement and breath to merge.

Except this return to form only lasts for about one minute and thirty seconds.

The “Side Bend Squat and Heel Raise” that follows is perhaps the clunkiest sequence we’ve seen in Body Balance. Awkward, it makes you step off your mat and the side bend is at odds with the leg squat. No amount of coaching and cueing can get participants to keep both legs bent equally. Everyone favours the side that bends. I practiced this endlessly in the run up to launch, and even after teaching the track for 5 weeks, it’s taken this long to do it justice.

Fortunately the “Head Arm Circle” and the return to the sweeping arm circles redeem the track.

Great music (apart from the water drips sound effects).

Best and worst of Body Balance Tai Chi all in the space of 5 minutes.

Sun Salutations – AfreenA.R. Rahman Nakash Aziz & KM Sufi Ensemble

A different Sun Salutations sequence than usual with Child’s Pose and Striking Cobra added in. After the awkward Tai Chi opener this could also have felt wrong but the moves do flow well and the driving beat of the Indian style music keeps us moving.

In the first few weeks of teaching I found I finished before the track ended. I  realised I’d missed out the “look over left/right shoulder after the cobra pose. Can’t remember this in a Sun Salutation before and it’s easy to forget.

Standing Strength 1 – WalkKwabs

Apart from the Intense Pose interlude in the middle of this track we effectively cycle between Standing Lunge and Warrior 2 poses. The feel is from power yoga or vinyasa yoga where you move constantly from one pose to another. Whilst we see this in the Sun Salutations we don’t see it often in Standing Strength.

A welcome change but who else noticed blisters on the balls of their feet from the swivel between  poses?

Standing Strength 2 – Chandelier (Four Tet Remix)Sia

A more traditional standing strength track, we hold the poses for longer. A combination of Extended Warrior, Triangle and Half Moon pose offers challenges. The latter is one of my favourite yoga poses and of course is as much about balance as it is about strength. Another strong song selection from Sia who is becoming a Body Balance regular artist now.

Balance – Hide And SeekImogen Heap

A strange disjointed vocal lends a similar feel to these balances. Individually the poses work but I find the transitions awkward again. Standing Camel pose needs careful coaching otherwise participants just squat. Even when performed correctly again something doesn’t feel quite right.

Probably the first track I’ll mix out.

Hip Openers – Everybody’s Free – TALA

A long hips track with delicious intense stretches we hold for long enough to really feel them. Always good to see Swan pose with a quad stretch, and the welcome return of Frog pose, held for an eternity, provokes moans from participants. We are so close to the line between pleasure and pain here.

Listening to the music I reckon from the moans of the singer during the outro she must have also been in frog pose whilst recording this song.

Core Abs –  I Can Change Brandon Flowers

How long did it take you to work out which 1980s classic song Brandon Flowers samples in this track. I teased my participants with this one,the riff is so familiar and yet buried deep in the memory. iIt is of course Small Town Boy by Bronksi Beat.

I don’t often choose the core abs track as the stand out, but the driving beat and the moves focused on the core muscles give a tough work out. The class wakes up here and realises it’s in a boot camp.

Core Back – You Know You Like It DJ Snake & AlunaGeorge

You can do the moves on your knees or on your toes. But the toes version is ten times harder. Again we need to coach the toes version because many participants stick their bums in the air and not trying to keep a flat back. Once you nail the moves on your toes you’ll sweat like a tap.

Actually too tough for some, I’ve suggested that people do round one on their knees and round two on their toes. Doing the lot on your toes is hard. Perhaps too hard.

How’s this one been for you?

Twists – That Girl  – Justin Timberlake

If you’ve just done the core back track on your toes this twist track comes as sweet relief. Supine Twists. A gentle time to recover your breathe. After that Kneeling Lunge twists complete the set.

And Justin Timberlake always goes down well.

Forwards Bends – Let It GoJames Bay

Another chilled sequence focussing on deep stretching. Seated forwards folds and seated forward bends almost take us straight into the relaxation. If we didn’t have to come up to our feet for the last standing forward folds and Yoga Squats then we’d probably nod off before the end.

I love the guitar riff in this one. It almost makes the sound of the muscles stretching.

Relaxation 1 – Bread Of AngelsStanton Lanier
Relaxation 2 – Dreams In The NightStanton Lanier

Stanton Lanier features often in Body Balance relaxation tracks. It’s a shame that most participants won’t see the instructor learning video, because for this release the artist played these piano pieces live in the studio A lovely way to finish off the class.

So is Body Balance 71 the best release ever? No.

Is it the worst? Definitely not. The music is good. I’d still prefer to see some “different” sounds like the Conjure One and Sleepthief of old and not just current chart sounds. Body Balance often explored new types of mind and body music. Jackie and Diana seem to have abandoned this.

Moves are varied with some challenges but for me something, a wow factor, is missing. My participants are enjoying it which is the main thing.

A seven out of ten I think.

Now It’s Your Turn:

What do you think of my review of Les Mills Body Balance 71? Please leave a comment below. Or share it with your friends on social media and let them post their thoughts.

8 thoughts on “I Can Change – Review of Les Mills Body Balance Release 71

  1. I agree with most of these comments, I really don’t like the side bends in track one, I have already swapped out the balance and back tracks, absolutely love the rest of the release, great review!

  2. I think you’re review is spot on, I love most of 71 – the standout music for me was I can change and sun sals! Love all the tai chi apart from the side bend! And least favourite is balance – participants have commented strange music and standing camel strange move!

  3. As a participant with 2 hip replacements and multiple surgeries due to complications of breast cancer surgery,including abdominal surgery,I love this release.Like the tai chi opening sequence,far,far better than getting up and down,and bringing the legs through on the salutations.

  4. I’m PASSIONATE about this release!! My BodyBalance classes make my week – I have a fab instructor though – and that really does make a difference.
    Love pretty much all the music except Track 4.
    Love love love the tai chi – sooo much better than in BB70 – I even like the side bends/squats.
    Really love the Standing strength first track particularly – ende up buying the whole Kwabs album – some amazing music there! I seem to always love the Track 3 songs, but then I’m a proper yoga-freak now. (No blisters either 😉 )
    Hip track – great – hate ‘Frog’ pose intensely – and since the knee is now taped up (due to something else) I won’t be continuing to do it!!
    Love the music and the pilates challenges this time (unusual as I don’t love pilates as much) in 6 & 7 – trying very hard to do track 7 on my toes (not a huge amount of strength in my arms) and I will get there eventually – I’m a determined bunny!!

    An amazing and strong release to start the year. Looking forward to seeing 72 in London in March as I’m loving a lot of the music from that release too 😉

  5. I agree with your comments. I think that in recent releases they’ve been trying really hard to come up with new tai chi moves, to mixed results. I like the mellowness of the music across the whole release, but I subscribe to the drama school of Body Flow and so for me this release is forgettable. The only track that really excites me is the sun sals.

    P.S. Hated the Imogen Heap song the first time around and I still hate it now. Please bring back some Sleepthief!

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