The last release of Body Balance, No 49, was so near to perfection that nothing could exceed the standard it set, even if it was a landmark like the 50th class.
So for my review of Body Balance release 50 I have decided to re-base my opinions and consider number 50 purely on its own merits and not as something that lives in the shadow of what has gone before. I really like this class, and from the feedback I have got from the people, they do too. Body Balance is very popular in Edinburgh at the moment, with most classes full with long waiting lists. This is a credit to the consistent quality Jackie given us over the last few years (and hopefully our teaching as instructors).
Tai Chi (Soldier of Love): A very simple warm up arm wraps, a soft arm push and block and effectively a long series of arm circles and squats. Deceptively hard on the legs and if you encourage the participants to go deep then this can get sore before we even start. The outro into the second set of arm wraps just requires silence.
Sun Salutations (Won’t Give Up): An extended sun salutation with extra flat back extends and forward folds which stretch the legs nicely after the warm up punished them so much. The music is pleasant and the little breaks in between each sequence are welcome. The knee down and hands raised up after the lunge feels a little awkward. I actually feel this works better if you rise from low lunge to high lunge off the knee. Also the bent knee back bend feels a but strained as well. Straight legs feels fine.
Standing Strength (Breakeven): A standout track. Ann-See definitely “takes people places” in the DVD and you can take your participants deeper every time. I always like it when Jackie (and now Diana I suppose) introduce variations on traditional yoga poses, and the knee hugging Warrior One and the Side Bend Warrior One are innovative challenging and in the case of the side bend feel fantastic. Then it’s on to more traditional Warrior 2, Sun Warrior, Extended Warrior and then that lengthy drop into the deepest most challenging Intense pose of them all. Always elicits gasps from people at the end.
Balance (I see You (Theme from Avatar)): In the intro sequence in the Yoga Ballet Open Attitude Pose I have a strong urge to do something silly. I want rise up on tip toes and then start turning in a circle like a doll on a music box. Many lady participants are not Avatar fans so you shouldn’t over use the Avatar links – but the star fighter pilot in my likes to use the Aeroplane Pose to really dive down deep. Fire those lasers! Can’t really argue with a balance track with Dancer’s Pose in it.
Hips (Wanted): Lovely and simple hips track which really allows you to focus on the breathing to get deep down into that swan pose. The snoring references seem to make people comment about kicking their hubbies during the night – but the point here is to get the class focusing on breath. And lets face it in our busy lives most of us are breathing far too shallow anyway!
Abs (Sweet and Amazing): Apart from the music being sickly sweet and sugary like a great big cloud of candy floss – this track hits you with a sweet and amazing move that really works the “six-pack” muscles. Simple but effective. Two days after doing this track for the first time I found myself complaining of stomach ache. I started wondering what I had eaten until I realised it wasn’t food that had created the tenderness. It was Sweet and Amazing that did it.
Back (Hey Soul Sister): What a catchy bubbly feel-good song. You cannot help singing along however out of tune you are. Simple but challenging moves and no rest or respite for the full track. So good I want to do it twice.
Twists (Please Don’t Stop the Rain): This is a fairly standard twist track. Nothing wrong with the moves and they flow quite nicely. By this time most people, however well you try to co-ordinate the room are probably facing in different directions so from this track onwards I find it is all about “front leg” and “back leg”. Left and right just doesn’t cut it. Like the twisted down dogs and the child’s pose twist.
Hamstrings 1 (Vanilla Twilight): Lovely blissful calf stretches in the down dog and a different take on Triangle make this one flow along in the blink of an eye. Good music if a little difficult to find the “blocks” to match with the moves.
Hamstrings 2 (Here I confess): Another lovely Sleepthief song, Hindi Squats and a seated hamstring stretch sequence which some people would probably prefer to do with a yoga band. Quite challenging for the less flexible and means the class doesn’t finish with us lying on our backs – more sort of reclined.
Relaxation (Hundred Thousand Angels): I cannot remember the last time they used a proper song in the relaxation as opposed to an instrumental. This is a beautiful song and you cannot, repeat cannot talk over it. Let the people relax deeply and let them absorb the lyrics and the melody. I have had many people come up afterwards asking for the name of the song and the artist.
Relaxation/Meditation (Tally’s Lullaby): This is a lovely piano based outro to ease everyone back to the moment.
So a good strong release. Some quite simple tracks which hide within them some quite challenging outcomes. The DVD looks lovely as well with all the colourful costumes and the lightly is especially pretty with the “star-filters” used on the cameras. But I did just wonder whether the team were off afterwards to take part in a local production of Mamma Mia – it did look very ABBA. A great start to the fifties then.
Over to You: Are you a Body Balance Instructor? What did you think of release 50? Was it celebrating a milestone as you expected? Are you a participant? Have you enjoyed number 50?