When Daniel Craig burst on to the big screen in James Bond 23, many critics heralded Skyfall as the best Bond in ages. Interesting then that Jackie Mills chose to include the theme song from that film as one of the tracks in Body Balance release 62, because this is the best Body Balance class in ages.
And that’s saying something because the releases have all been sensational for a good few years now.
Let’s face it. Body Balance is not an easy class. It’s challenging and promotes strength flexibility and calmness at the same time. But there have been occasions recently when some moves, in my opinion, crossed the line about what was achievable by most participants. The recent “bird in a basket pose” is a good example. It was more like a “bird sitting on the floor looking frustrated” pose.
Body Balance release 62 is certainly tough, but there is nothing in it that is unachievable, which is why it is a winner. Add to that a cracking choice of tunes and you might just have the perfect release here.
So let’s have a look at tracks.
Tai Chi Warm Up (Figure 8): We are on the move straight away to this energetic Ellie Goulding song. Unlike most Tai Chi warm ups, the choreographers have added multi-directional footwork as well as the usual arm circles. It’s easy to learn and expressive. Get low, bend your knees and you will become warm very quickly. I can’t remember another opener like this so it feels fresh and new. What a great start.
Sun Salutations (Fields of Gold): A gorgeous Sting song, and a lovely flowing sequence of yoga poses matched to breath. The three-legged dogs pre-empt the last track later in the release. With the extra movement in the Tai Chi combined with the sun salutation sequence here you are hot and ready for the hard work that follows.
Standing Strength (Impossible): At the Quarterly Workshop, our trainer expressed her view that this standing strength was easier that ones we had done in the past. At just under 5 minutes it is certainly shorter but I think it still offers a challenge because your legs work all the time. And I love the powerful transition from Warrior 1 to Warrior 3 in the second half.
Balance (Skyfall): This isn’t the Adele original but it’s an perfect cover. Here we have an example of a great powerful and melodic song (with the familiar subtle James Bond theme woven into the verses) matched effortlessly with amazing balance poses. Everything flows together perfectly. It feels epic, cinematic and dramatic. I like the standing modified half lotus pose and the Eagle Pose with side bend; two powerful moves we haven’t seen before. You might get way with a corny, “I’ve been expecting you, Meester Bond” line in this track, but I wasn’t expecting a balance track of this stature.
Hip openers (Let it Be): This is an innocuous hip openers track sitting in between two bigger pieces of music. So take the pace down in this slow version of the Beatles hit and use your breath to melt deep into modified half lotus pose and swan pose. Simple exercises but still a great release for tight hip and thigh muscles.
Core abs (Little Talks): Oblique knee lifts, frog leg oblique reaches and crunches offer a hot workout for your core abs. There is very little time to think, the transitions are fast and the action never slows down. The quirky music, by Icelandic group Of Monsters and Men motivates you to stick with the gruelling pace as your abs begin to burn.
To do the oblique knee lifts you have to perch on one hip bone, keep your back straight and lift your legs up on the diagonal. We’ve seen this move a few times now in Body Balance and I am getting used to teaching it and the classes are getting used to the effort needed. You can feel it working though and the groans and mail sack thud of bodies collapsing to the floor at the end is evidence enough of achievement.
Core back (Love is all I got): In earlier back tracks we’ve seen full back bends, camel poses and bridges. Here we face a much simpler set of moves. Beginning with half bow pose moving on to full bow, a few planks and upward facing dogs and then some arm pull back shoulder raises and leg raises. It doesn’t sound anywhere near as tough as the bigger back bends from older releases.
But I can’t think of a back track before this where I have felt the effects of the exercises so quickly. In truth the last sequence of single/double arm pull backs with leg raises is a killer combination. It’s so deceptive and yet so effective.
Twists (Winter Song): After the frantic pace and hard work in the two core tracks it’s time to catch your breath. Winter Song is a lovely mellow piece of music and the moves are equally sublime. Rest in a supine twist, start to re-energise during the horse stance twist and be ready to be up on your toes for the last lunge twist sequence. I like the way we begin this track quietly and build back the intensity.
Forward bends/Hamstrings (Stay): After that temporary respite we face the last round of hard work. Powerful 3 legged down dogs, pyramid pose and twisted triangle finish the main work out with more intense, but definitely achievable, poses. A great song from Rhianna and an uplifting finale. Or so we think. Actually there is a little more to come.
Relaxation/Meditation (River of Love): As we settle down on to our mats the first three minutes of so of this relaxation phase forms an extension to the forward bends/hamstrings track. The music is still lively and we do a series of delightful stretches finishing in happy baby pose. Then the music almost retreats entirely giving us six or seven minutes of peace and calm before the more lively music from the start returns at the end to revive us. Perhaps this structure of music was a ploy by Jackie to get participants to stay for the relaxation. If so it didn’t work. There will always be those who make for the door as soon as “the quiet” music starts. Those that choose to stay though reap their reward through calmness and reflection.
Another fabulous Body Balance release. Like Skyfall it is stunning, epic and memorable. And an absolute joy to teach, a great class for new people to begin on, and a challenge for the more experienced.
Now it’s your turn: Do you agree with my review of Body Balance release 62? Are you an instructor? Please let me know what you think? If you are a participant let me know whether you like the simpler structure.
Better still,if you want to review Body Balance 62 for my Podcast – Group Fitness Over Coffee – please record a 2-3 minute audio and send it to me and I’ll include it in a future episode.