With or Without You – Review of Body Balance Release 59

When I first watched the DVD master-class for Body Balance release 59 I thought, “Oh no! I might have to write my first negative review since number 39 – five years ago.”

The music didn’t excite me, the moves seemed bitty and lacked flow, and I felt completely underwhelmed.

A few days later I went to the Quarterly Workshop where trainer, Sarah Durnford, presented the new class. Well I loved the music and I thought the moves were tough and flowed perfectly. It was a great learning experience and I came away from the workshop fired up and ready to learn and teach Body Balance release 59.

review of body balance release 59
Body Balance release 59 poster

On reviewing the DVD I am sorry to say that what killed it for me was the mother daughter double act of Jackie and Diana Mills teaching. Whilst there were touching moments of motherly love, the constant talking, switching from one to the other (which sounded like they were constantly interrupting themselves), made the DVD painful to watch.

When I learned this release I did so with the presenter voices turned off. I know they were trying something different but for me this didn’t work.

Fortunately our clients don’t get to see the DVD and the good news is that this release has gone down a storm. Far from it being the worst since number 39 – it probably ranks as one of the best.

So let’s look at the tracks.

Tai chi warm up (Princess of China): A pretty good cover of a Coldplay/Rhianna song with two very simple Tai chi moves. The first sequence works your legs more than is normal in a warm up – you’ll feel this straight away of you go deep. The second is a lovely arm circle – but do you know what? It looks stunning in a full class of people. In my first class of 2013 the sight of 35 people circling arms upwards and sinking down was almost moving. I wished I had a video camera with me. In fact I might film it next week. Breathtaking.

Sun salutations (With or Without You): Another passable cover song but I would have preferred the U2 original. The music is very upbeat and I think that makes you work harder. The first two salutations are pretty standard apart from the twisting lunge, but the second two get more interesting as we add in standing lunge pose and warrior 2.

Standing Strength (Some Night): A cover of a track by Fun – and this track lives up to that group’s name. There are many poses in here: warrior 2, standing lunge, warrior 1, triangle, extended warrior, floating half-moon and finally sun warrior. Initially I felt there was too much going on, but actually you need the variety to take your mind off how hard you are working. I like the “tribal arms” sequence. One of the cues I use in Body Combat is “this would be a good place for a scary face” – I never thought the would be an opportunity to use this cheesy line in Body Balance.

Balance (A Drop in The Ocean): After a long and tough standing strength, this balance track is quite short with only eagle, star and dancer’s pose choreographed to a beautiful song.

review of body balance release 59
Hips track

Hips (Born to Die): We start in Hindi squat and stay there for ages. Then a wide legged seated forward bend which you can really take your time getting deeper with each exhalation. One lady in my class can get her whole chest and torso on the floor with her legs at right angles. Perhaps if we all did this track for the next 30 years we would get there too. I love the extended quad stretch where your reach out with the front arm and lower your head and body towards the floor. Keep holding that foot if your can. The stretch is exquisite.

Core abs (Home): A cover of a very quirky, if not odd, track by Edwards Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. It sounds like it’s out of a western. But we don’t notice the music for long. The crunches, the hovers variations along the way make your abs burn hotter than the sun in a western desert. Ouch but good.

Core back (The Other Side): This looks deceptively simple. But try those scorpion push ups on your toes and you will fatigue quickly. A good combo of diagonal pointers, bow poses and a catchy pop song.

review of body bbalance release 59
Twists track

Twists (If my Heart were a House): A lovely mellow track with gentle reclined and seated twists. And then just when you think you are chilling out along come the last twisted lunges with the option to bind the arms under the front leg. This is a very tough yoga bind which I cannot do – and so far no one in my classes can do. It gives us something to aim for but there is so little time before the track ends to really give it a go properly.

Forward bends/hamstrings (In my Arms): What a beautiful song. Simple seated forward bends then an optional standing split. After revisiting the Tai Chi moves from the first track, we finish in a standing wide leg forward bend which is another exquisite stretch.

Relaxation (If I Rise): This isn’t really a relaxation – more of a forward bends/hamstrings part two. But wide legged standing forward bend, down to happy baby and then finishing in butterfly pose certainly sets us up for the “real” relaxation track which is next.

Meditation (Contentment): More astonishing and relaxing piano playing from Stanton Lanier. This is the third or fourth time his music has guided our meditation and I find it most welcome. Though perhaps this one, at just under 9 minutes, is just a little too long?

So after my first reaction to the DVD it turns out that this is another very strong Body Balance release. A great variety of music, challenging standing poses, another couple of very tough core tracks, and lots of smiling faces and exhausted groans. Love it.

Your turn: Are you a Body Balance instructor? What do you think of my review of Body Balance release 59? Do you agree? Please share your thoughts. If you are a participant let me know what you think as well. Is it too tough? Click below where it says “Leave a reply” and share!

If you want to know more about Body Balance – read my article: What is a Body Balance Class?


4 thoughts on “With or Without You – Review of Body Balance Release 59

  1. Great review Roger. I agree with everything you have written including the DVD vocal presentation! I taught this release for the first time solo yesterday to a full class of all women. Imagine my surprise when at least 50% of them managed to bind the arms in twists!! I must try harder!

  2. Thanks Steve. The twist bind is so much harder than the extended warrior bind we did a few releases back (which I could do) – because we are twisting the other way.

  3. Do you know who covers If My Heart Was a House? I’m sure it’s sung by a lady and google suggests the original isn’t, but I really want the one from the class… I can’t find it on the les mills ‘track listing’ site!

    1. Hi Caitlin, according to the box notes for BB59 – this is an in house cover recorded by Les Mills themselves using the name Yellow Paper. It won’t therefore be available on iTunes or anywhere unfortunately.

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