BALLET BODY: UPPER BODY WORKOUT
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Lose inches while building lean muscles with movements inspired by ballet, dance, Pilates, and yoga. Ballet BodyT by Leah Sarago integrates traditional body-weight resistance exercises with muscle-elongating techniques to achieve a long and lean physique. Suitable for all fitness levels, these workouts draw on isometrics, the stretch-reflex principle, and muscle-contraction training for optimal results. Strengthen, sculpt, and define your upper body with this dynamic, results-oriented workout. Start with mat exercises for the arms and core, then grab a pair of light hand weights for some dance-inspired movements. You'll improve your muscle definition, posture, and strength without getting big or bulky. It's the ultimate workout for a toned, sleek, and graceful upper body. Equipment needed: mat and 2 to 5 lb. hand weights
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This workout begins with about 25 minutes of mat/plank work, followed by 20 minutes of weighted arm work; it concludes with a wonderful five-minute stretch that really gets into all the tight spaces. It's the only one of the three workouts that requires lighter (two- to five-pound) weights. I usually use 10- or 12-pound dumbbells for weighted arm work, but I used 2-pound weights for this, and my arms were shaking the entire time. For the weighted portion, she includes many unique moves that really seem to work all areas of not only your arms, but also your back and chest. There is a definite emphasis on the shoulders and triceps, but I feel like my entire upper body was thoroughly worked. Before doing this workout, my favorite upper body barre workout was the arms portion of Tracey Mallett's The Booty Barre Plus Abs & Arms, but I really like this one better and love the rhythmic, graceful movements that Leah uses.
Of the three DVDs, this one was definitely the hardest for me since I struggle with planks and don't have the upper body strength to really hold myself up. I had to modify a lot of the moves by doing them on my knees or taking breaks. I'm hoping that by doing this DVD twice a week, I can build up more of my upper body strength.
Since I struggle with tendonitis in my right shoulder and have bad posture, I'm always a bit hesitant to try a new workout program for fear that it will aggravate those problem areas. I can tell, though, that Leah's emphasis on posture and form will make my shoulders stronger and my posture better.
If your wrists bother you with plank work, you might find them to be a bit sore or tight afterwards, but Leah changes things up enough to keep the wrists limber and she also did a nice wrist stretch, so my wrists aren't too sore. (If you've ever done Tracy Anderson's Hipcentric workout, this is nowhere near as hard on your wrists; I had to stop doing Hipcentric after 47 days since my wrists and low back were bothering me so much.)
On her website, Leah also has posted various rotations for using the DVDs. (I would include the link here, but usually Amazon won't allow you to include links in reviews; if you look at the product description above, though, you'll see it.) She suggests you follow each rotation for four weeks, before moving on to the next level.
Here is a basic rundown of some of the rotations:
Day 1 Lower Body
Day 2 Cardio for 30-40 mins.
Day 3 Core
Day 4 Cardio for 30-40 mins.
Day 5 Upper Body
Day 6 Cardio for 30-40 mins.
Day 7 Rest day
Day 1 Lower Body
Day 2 Core + Cardio for 30-45 mins.
Day 3 Upper Body + Cardio for 30-45 mins.
Day 4 Rest day
Day 5 Lower Body
Day 6 Core + Cardio for 30-45 mins.
Day 7 Upper Body
Day 1 Lower Body + Cardio for 30 mins.
Day 2 Core + Upper Body
Day 3 Lower Body + Cardio for 30 mins.
Day 4 Rest day
Day 5 Core + Upper Body
Day 6 Lower Body + Cardio for 30 mins.
Day 7 Core + Upper Body
For cardio, Leah suggests that you do things like dance workouts, cycling, or swimming -- activities that won't "bulk" you up.
I'm just starting a six- or eight-week rotation using these, so I'll be sure to update my reviews of each DVD as I continue with this program.
Overall, though, each workout is very unique, and I'll post back on changes I notice.
UPDATE AFTER THREE WEEKS: I did the Intermediate rotation using all three DVDs for three weeks (after which time I had to stop working out for a few weeks due to some stitches), and loved the results I was getting! My abs and arms were noticeably tighter, and I could see more muscle definition. My legs seemed to lag behind a bit, and I felt like my saddlebags were a little more prominent, but perhaps that is because I needed to add in a bit more cardio. These are great workouts, and I look forward to starting back up with them! The next time, I will take measurements to track my results better.
UPDATE ON 5/27/12: I still love this workout, but had thought it was odd that there were no exercises in it for the biceps. I just came across a post on Leah's blog from 4/9/12 where she explains why. According to Leah, "if your goal is sleek and feminine arms (which is my assumption if you are purchasing something called 'Ballet Body'), then repetitive concentric bicep curls is exactly what you should NOT be doing - my workouts are designed to strengthen the biceps through isometrics and stability. If, however, your goal is bicep-specific strength and/or increased muscle girth (size) of the upper arm, then bicep curls should be included in your training regimen (but again, this is 'Ballet Body', not 'Leah's Hour of He-Man Arms')."
She goes on to say that everyday tasks, such as carrying bags of groceries, doing laundry, picking up children, etc., should be all you need to shape the biceps, and that all the planks and triceps dips in this DVD will thoroughly work the arms.
Anyway, her blog post helped me understand why there are no biceps exercises on this DVD, and I thought it might help others, too. :-)
These are the workouts that challenge me in a way my body hasn't been challenged before. I can't wait to see what I'll be looking like this summer.
Leah's strength and grace is an inspiration, and incredibly motivating...I want to have that range of motion, that elegance in motion and strength.
I did not know of Leah prior to the purchase of these DVDs and bought them based on the excellent reviews.
I can see (and feel) why they've been so highly rated...you will work muscles you didn't know you had,with some unique techniques.
My hope is she adds a 4th DVD to this collection focusing on range of motion and flexibility.
I'm pleased that here is a "ballet workout" that devotes as much time and effort to upper body strength as to the core and the lower body. (yes I know exhale did arms and abs..I have it)
When I finish the core workout I'm sure I'm taller and longer in the spine.
When I complete the lower body workout my butt feels higher and tighter.
And when the upper body workout spits me out on the other side I feel my chest, arms and shoulders "singing" and getting stronger.
To give you a sense of who is writing this review I'll include the following about myself...52 yr old female, have been doing some combination of cardio and strength for 30+ years, yoga about 15.
(in my mid twenties weighing 127 @5'7", I was a 'gym rat...5-6 days/wk " with a personal best of 135# bench press, and 2-3 days/week of 35-55 mile bicycle rides.)
I'm still in shape, though not as strong as I once was, the scale now reads 132, and I workout 4-6 days/week and have a job that can be physically demanding.
Life has changed a bit and I haven't worked out in a gym in many years, ...I've been using DVDs, books etc as the basis of my workouts. I have a large collection of workout DVDs that are in "rotation" including Jillian Michaels, Jackie Warner, Jari Love, Bob Harper, XTrain and others, as well as ballet and pilates inspired DVDs, Brooke Stiller, Kari Anderson,Kathy Smith, exhale, Tracy Effinger... they are all good, and I benefit from all of them, and enjoy them all.
When I had completed Leah's workouts and the workouts were done with me,I knew these would give my body the shape and the edge I've been striving for.
With these DVDs there is no need to search for another workout....I'll keep using the rest,but for me,Leah's are the best.
April 24, 2012
It's been well over a month that I've been using these videos. And I wanted to add these results and realizations to my orginal review. First, on the physical and "vain". My butt is higher, rounder and tighter. My abs are tighter, stronger and YES!!!! getting ripped!!!!! My upper body hasn't looked this good in MANY years...maybe I'll be looking as good as I did at my "peak" 25 years ago...my shoulders and biceps are lean and muscular, my triceps and inner arms are firmer, longer and more defined than they've been in more years than I care to admit.
BUT(T) there is a whole aspect to all of these workouts that had alluded me and my fitness efforts for quite some time...I am stronger. And I don't mean how many pounds of weight I can curl or lift. These workouts have made me more functionally fit and strong. As I stated above my job can be physically demanding, not just for a woman, but for a man as well. These workouts have given me functional strength and length and presence to do things on the job I've not done previously. I am now a bodyweight workout/BalletBody workout convert.
A few other oberservations to add. My posture is better, yesterday while twisting, I put my hand on my waist and was amazed to feel the core muscles moving and working for me (And YES!!!! I could FEEL those MUSCLES under my hand!!!!)
As for the workouts body weight movements as Leah "teaches" in these workouts are terrfic because you progress with your body and your ability... for the most part it's not the size of the weights you own that make a difference, it's your fortitude, awareness and "courage" to go beyond your expectations and your range of motion.
I'd also like to add these are "intelligent" workouts in that though there is no "typical" warmup ...Leah starts you right out in the "workout" you do warmup and your heart right does increase. She does incorporate flexibility, and mine has improved considerably in this short period of time. And finally there is a sense of grounding and serenity that I find when I've completed the workout that is similar to the serenity of a yoga session.
I've checked out her website and will be subscribing to her downloads...and waiting, for, what I hope will be a 4th DVD on flexibility and range of motion.
Can you tell I'm hooked?
As I closed my first review I commented on how eager I was to see how I'd look this summer. Well, I'm here to tell you. I have lost a "whopping" 4 pounds, down to 128. It's not the weight lost that tells anyone anything...it's the following realities. People are suddenly noticing I've lost weight (funny they didn't notice the 17 pounds that came off prior). My legs look amazing, my torso loooks amazing, I have rips and cuts I didn't think I'd ever see.Men in their 30s (I am 52) are going on about how fantastic I look (and wondering if I'd like to have dinner). My legs in heels have seriously never looked better, men have pointed them out to their friends as they walk or drive by.
These workouts out...if you do them.
AS for the upper body, my shoulders, triceps and biceps are leaner and meaner looking than ever. And stronger. Don't doubt your biceps are being worked...push yourself with good form and you'll feel it, and see it. Don't be fooled into thinking "full body" or body weight workouts don't work biceps...they do.
How good are these workouts? Good enough that Im stronger than I have ever been (in a very functional way). How good are they? I haven't gotten so many compliments since my mid 20's. How good are they? I'm stronger than ever....These workouts will give you the body you want...The body you want to commit to, and work for with intention. Never in my life did I dream I would look as good(or better) and be stronger in my 50s than in my 20s. It is possible. Can't wait to see what is waiting for me as I get stronger and more flexible.
The production quality is simple but lovely. Leah is in a lovely ballet studio with violet lighting creating a unique look. Leah also carefully chose special music, which is a relief next to the mass producers who usually use generic, elevator sounding music. There are no background exercisers and Leah does voiceover rather than live cueing.