On Fire – Review of Les Mills Body Balance release 74

This workout is “On Fire”.

Intense enough so you can feel the stretches and the strengthening of your muscles to come away feeling you’ve worked hard. But not pushing into silly moves territory.

Readers of my recent Body Combat reviews will know I’ve not been keen on the past few releases. It seems the program directors have sucked out the fun and variety that makes Combat unique in the name of keeping up with fitness trends. Fortunately, the Balance choreographers haven’t felt the need to mercilessly tamper with a proven format.

And yet Body Balance release 74 still feels fresh, challenging, and according to the feedback from my participants, popular with people of all ages.

Let’s have a look at the tracks.

On Fire - Review of Les Mills Body Balance release 74

Tai Chi Warm Up – On Fire – Raleigh Ritchie

Much slower than tai chi warm ups of the past, this track benefits from the reduced tempo and lets you feel the moves deep in your muscles.

I’ve always been a fan of the arm circle move, and the bird’s tail inner thigh stretch, and it took a few tries to nail the slow pace. Sounds a bit daft to say a move is easy to do when it’s faster, but that’s the experience here. Never before have I felt such a deep connection to the exercises in a tai chi warm up.

The music is a little weird with some strange sucking popping noises that some people decided sounded like bodily functions. Once you get past that, the music fits the moves perfectly.

Sun Salutations – Stay – Kygo feat. Maty Noyes  

A powerful sun salutation routine with the added challenge of two sets of striking cobras during each sequence. A few weeks passed by before everyone could manage these without dropping to their knees. A great example of how people with different abilities can feel included and progress at their own pace.

Great music with an interesting synth melody, but for me it was the occasional drum role that powered the sequence along.

Standing Strength – Never Be Like You – Flume feat. Kai  

A long-standing strength track and perhaps the most switching between poses I’ve ever experienced in Body Balance. In just under 8 minutes we seldom hold any pose for more than 16 counts. It feels vibrant and fluid. Constant change. Constant movement.

By the time we reach the middle 8 in the music our quad muscles are screaming out for a break. We transition into the triangle and the strength focus turns to a stretch focus and we feel exquisite relief for a few seconds before the strength work starts again.

The last moments alternating between sun warrior pose and extended warrior showcase Body Balance at its most powerful.

Balance – 7 Years – Lukas Graham

A gorgeous 4 minutes of balancing with a perfect progression of poses. People find the track challenging despite its brevity. The wobbles set in and I catch people smiling as they try to avoid having to drop their foot to the floor.

And a gorgeous song. See how the lyrics “Once I was 7 years old…soon I’ll be 11 years old” progress with the poses. As the person in the song gets older we move through the balances.

Hip Openers – It’s Strange – Louis The Child feat K. Flay

A simple seated sequence of modified half lotuses and another synth oriented song. Feels good to be on the floor after the last three tracks and these stretches work.

Hip Openers – Bad Blood – NAO

A second hips track and we move into a kneeling quad stretch. This is too tough for many people even if they double up their mats so we modified this one to swan pose for those wanting an alternative.

An interesting burst of movement at the end as we lift up into downward dogs and lunges.

Core abs – Fast Car – Jonas Blue feat. Dakota

A familiar song starting with some deceptive abdominal exercises on our knees before the killer moves hit us in the chorus. We only perform 6 reps of the plank, knee elbow, 3 legged dog, knee elbow, plank sequence but your heart rate rockets and the sweat starts to drip.

The second half of the song is effectively simple bicycle crunches, but add those little double crunches in on the beat and your abs will quiver.

Short, sharp, hard and a hummable song.

Core Back – Lush Life – Zara Larsson

Have we ever seen so many bridge poses and variations in Body Balance before?Never.

Tough, challenging, your core is going to rebel by the end of this sequence. The 16 reps of the pulsing one-legged bridge is a game changer. They designed the full back bend in the middle to offer us a rest from the hard work but most people can’t do it and simply crumple back to the floor.

Great catchy Zara Larsson song too.

Core Back –  Lay It All On Me  – Rudimental feat. Ed Sheeran

” If you’re hurting. If you’re hurting,” goes the tune. You will be if you do these pointers and press ups you’re going to be sweating like a tap.

By the end of this track we’ve worked our core for just short of 13 minutes. A real core conditioning focus and one many people have noticed in the results they achieved.

Twists – Scars – James Bay

We need the gentle twists in the first half of this catchy song. Lying supine we regain our breath, stretch and allow the heart rate to return to resting beat.

For the second half, as the music beat gets louder, we move into the more challenging lunge twists. A traditional Body Balance twist track but carried by an awesome song.

Forward Bends and Hamstrings – Monday – Matt Corby

Some intense hamstring stretches to finish the workout. Pyramid pose it hard enough. Most people have to bend their knees a little.

But revolved triangle is a belting pose. One that allows us to flirt with the boundary between pleasure and pain. Always one of the most intense standing stretch poses, it’s good to see this back in Body Balance after a long break.

Relaxation/Meditation – Schein Und Widerschein – Deuter 

And a beautiful relaxation track featuring the sounds of nature before the music builds and wakes us up for the rest of the days ahead.

One of the places I teach at recently built a new studio with mood lighting. Put on the green tone and the sounds of nature in this music let you imagine you’re lying on a warm sunny hillside.

A perfect end to a solid, challenging, uplifting and all round satisfying Body Balance release.

Your turn:

What do you think of my review of Les Mills Body Balance release 74? Why not leave a comment below or share it on social media.

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