Aching since the start of the year, my legs and hips haven’t become used to Les Mills Body Balance release 67.
I always expect “Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)” with a new exercise regime.
But I also expect it to ease off as the weeks progress. Not so here.
At first glance Body Balance 67 seems “easier” than recent workouts. Indeed some of the tracks are short – over in minutes. But I think choreographers Jackie and Diana Mills have lulled us in to a false sense of security because the DOMS speak for themselves. Participants appreciate this hidden challenge and the results it brings.
But for me the music misses the mark on a few occasions and this prevents Body Balance 67 from out-ranking its predecessors.
Let’s have a look at the tracks (Click on the links to see the Music Tracks on Amazon).
Stay High feels less flowing than previous Tai Chi warm ups. We rise and fall into squats matching breath and this certainly warms our leg muscles quickly. However, the main sequence accompanying the chorus seems to cause confusion however well cued.
We circle our arms from bottom to top then drop them to the right (whilst weight shifting to the left) and then drop them to the left (whilst weight shifting to the right). Instinctively our brains want to weight shift to the same side as the arms drop. Only a minor issue but it creates frustration among participants and we don’t want that so early in a class.
Whilst I like the music, I’ve mixed Stay High out already.
Back to basics. After more complex Sun Salutations last time round we flow through a basic set of poses four times and then we’re done.
At the start of a new year, with clubs packed with newcomers, it’s a good idea to go simple. I’d teach this routine to a beginners Hatha Yoga class. A great introduction to a yoga sequence and I imagine we’ll see more complexity back as we progress through 2015’s classes.
The first of two Standing Strength tracks, this is where the leg burn begins. A deceptively difficult flow of Warrior poses (including the smile inducing “Joyous Warrior Pose” which I’m sure Jackie and Diana made up), work our legs giving us many opportunities to go deep.
I like the music and would happily listen to Free on my iPod but in my opinion it does not work as a Standing Strength track. Lacking power and edge, it feels weak. Standing Strength music needs to feels strong and bold. A more confident song might have created even deeper focus on the tough poses.
Musically more suited to a standing strength track, XO continues the work out including a return of the Joyous Warrior. We finish the sequence with a move Jackie calls “Extended Warrior 1”. In Yoga we call this one “Humble Warrior”. I don’t think we’ve seen this (well with the clasped hands raised up behind the back) before in Body Balance.
Short and sweet with a couple of balance poses to give us the wobbles after those tough leg tracks. Warrior 3 pose adds to an almost complete set of Warrior poses used in this class.
Perhaps the longest Hip Openers track in Body Balance history. And another culprit for aching legs the day after. Deep lunges, modified half lotus, and the last long, exquisite exploration of Swan Pose deeper and deeper make this the stand out track of the release for me.
Swan Pose might be my favourite ever yoga pose. Rarely in Body Balance however do we have the time to explore a pose as fully as we do here. A perfect pace and a deep experience.
Justin Timberlake’s son compliments the moves well. However the strange electronic voice effects in the lengthy Swan Pose sequence have led participants to call this the “Quack-Quack” song. Perhaps it’s more Justin TimberDrake and a Duck Pose and not a Swan.
A huge thumbs up for this segment.
At only 2 minutes 47 seconds you wouldn’t expect an abs burner of this intensity. But in the short time we have here we work hard. Two slow cross crawls and then that abdominal biting three create fire and a flood of moans and groans from the floor.
And of course everyone can declare that today “I CAN CAN CAN!”
Has anyone tried doing this one twice?
Musically a song of many sections with different feels. Again a lengthy exploration of Table Top pose and not the quick in and out we’ve seen before. Camel pose and then those tough one-legged planks (thanks for the knee down option) with push ups.
The musical beat during the push ups is strange. A participant explained to me that the phrasing was off-beat and irregular beats to the bar.
A tough core back track finishing with Bridge Pose and the option of full back bend. As always I do worry about adding the full back bend in with such a short time to coach it effectively.
With the hardest parts of the work out over, we flow into a pleasant sequence of twists accompanied by a catchy pop song. A twist track to smile to.
A long sequence with epic sounding music that meanders through many poses. Supine twists, three-legged downward dogs, Hindi/Yoga Squats and many forward folds. Suitably climactic this brings the work out to an end with power and precision.
But then we have to listen to “Map of Canada Man”.
Including a short piano driven ballad to take the edge of a powerful hamstrings stretch track has worked nicely in the past. They give a pleasant bridge into the relaxation and meditation tracks.
But this version of A Case of You is an abomination. The original song by Joni Mitchell on her excellent “Blue” album is a song of exquisite beauty. James Blake’s cover is dire. I’ve actually had participants ask me to skip this song and end on the power of the previous track.
Ironically I have to use the PPL Free version of Body Balance (all Les Mills produced cover versions) at one club I teach at. The Les Mills cover of James Blake’s cover is more true to the original Joni Mitchell song and goes down better with participants.
Relaxation – Relax and Sleep Better Healing Massage Spa – Chunky Happy
Mediation A – Quiet Soul Ultimate Relaxation Spa Dreams – Hearty Young
Meditation B – Canon In D Ultimate Piano Relaxation Massage – Hearty Young
A beautiful relaxing trio culminating in the delightful piano sound of Canon in D. We drift off into meditation and begin to use deep breathing to offset the aches we feel in our bodies.
Les Mills Body Balance release 67 is a strong work out which creates muscle aching results, let down by a few poor music choices. Whilst they are great songs in themselves they do not fit in the context of the release. So overall not the best release of Body Balance but by no means the worst.
Now it’s your turn:
Do you agree with my Review of Les Mills Body Balance release 67? Do you agree with my comments on the music? If not let me know why. Please leave a comment below or post a link to your own articles.