email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy10 Minute Solution: Butt Lift10 Minute Solution: High Intensity Interval Training101 Ways to Meditate3-In-1 Total Body Fitness with Desi Bartlett30 Minute Ab & Butt Blaster5 Day Fit Yoga5 Mega Miles with Toning Band7 Weeks to 100 Push-Ups8 Keys to Practicing MindfulnessA Student's Guide to the History And Philosophy of Yoga A.M. EnergyAgeless Mobility: Pain-Free Wellness For LongevityAlmost MeatlessAlready FreeAlternative Medicine?AltruismAnywhere, Anytime, Any Body YogaAthlete's Guide to YogaBack in Action: Yoga for a Healthy BackBalanced AssetsBedroom Body: Booty Burner, Core & Pelvic Floor WorkoutBeginners Meditation & Mindful StretchingBeginners Yoga DVDBeginning YogaBellyFit ElementsBethenny's Skinnygirl WorkoutBody By BethennyBorn to Balance - Balance BasicsBreath-Centered YogaCalm Body Clear MindCalm Focus JoyCardio for Beginners with Petra KolberChakra MeditationsComplementary and Alternative Therapies ResearchContemplative Psychotherapy EssentialsCore Fusion - Pilates PlusCore Fusion - Pure Abs & ArmsCore Fusion - Thighs & GlutesCore Fusion Body SculptCore Fusion Lean & TonedCore Fusion Power SculptCore Strength PilatesCore Strength Vinyasa Yoga Power Hour with Sadie NardiniCore YogaCultural Healing and Belief SystemsDance Off the Inches: Cardio Hip Hop PartyDeep Stretch / Yin YogaDetox YogaDr. Andrew Weil's Guide to Eating WellDr. Yoga House CallEasy YogaElement: Barre ConditioningElement: Targeted Toning Pilates for BeginnersElement: Yoga for Stress Relief & FlexibilityElements of Yoga, Earth FoundationsElements of Yoga, Fire DynamicElements of Yoga: Air & WaterEveryday Workout for the Everyday WomanEveryday Yoga for Stress Release Everything VeganExercise for Mood and AnxietyExhale Core Fusion 30 Day SculptFamily YogaFit Family Fun CircuitFit in 5 DVDFlat Abs PilatesFlow YogaFluid Power Vinyasa Flow YogaFully PresentGaiam Pilates Slide and Sculpt Kit with DVDGaiam Pilates Total Toning KitGaiam Yoga For Weight Loss KitGet Fit Through GardeningGet Ripped & ChiseledGet Stronger Bones: 3 Workouts For OsteoporosisHandbook of MindfulnessHappy Yoga DVDHealing the Heart and Mind with MindfulnessHealing through ExerciseHealing Through Movement: Pilates Head to ToeHealing, Hype, or Harm?Healthy Sexy Beautiful Kundalini YogaHemalayaa: Bollywood BootyHow to Cook Everything VegetarianHow Would Buddha Act?In Defense of FoodInsight Yoga Earth: Balancing Yin EnergyInsight Yoga Heaven: Balancing YangIntegrated YogaKids Teach Yoga - Flying EagleKidYogi - Yoga for ChildrenKripalu YogaKundalini Yoga : DVDKUNDALINI YOGA for Your Week - MONDAYKUNDALINI YOGA for Your Week - TUESDAY - CoreKundalini Yoga MeditationKundalini Yoga Meditation for Beginners & BeyondKundalini Yoga Meditation for Complex Psychiatric DisordersKundalini Yoga on the BallKundalini Yoga Solar Power All-In-One WorkoutKundalini Yoga to Detox and Destress DVDKundalini Yoga Transformer All-In-One WorkoutKundalini Yoga: Green Energy of the HeartLetting Go!LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues--Level 1LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues: Level 2Living BeautifullyLiving Room Yoga DVDLiving Room Yoga: Twist and BendLunar Flow YogaMake It Fast, Cook It SlowManage Your Depression Through ExerciseMaui PilatesMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for Back PainMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for IBSMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for InsomniaMeditations for BeginnersMindful AmericaMindful ColoringMindfulness for BeginnersMindfulness for CarersMindfulness for TwoMindfulness in Plain EnglishMindfulness-Based Treatment Approaches: Clinician's Guide to Evidence Base and ApplicationsMisadventures of a Garden State YogiNamaste Yoga: Season 3 Part 1Natural FlexibilityNew Good FoodNew VegetarianNew York PilatesNext-Level PilatesNutrition Essentials for Mental HealthPain Free at WorkPeace Is Every BreathPerfect in Ten AbsPerfect in Ten: PilatesPerfect in Ten: StretchPerfect in Ten: YogaPilates AnatomyPilates for BeginnersPositivityPower to the Peaceful YogaPower YogaPower YogaPower Yoga: Core PowerPower Yoga: Fat BurnerPower Yoga: Strength and FlexibilityPrenatal FlowPrescriptive StretchingPresence Through Movement: Yin YogaPsychology Moment by MomentPure and Simple YogaPure SculptQi Gong Fire & Water With Matthew CohenQi Gong Flow for BeginnersQi Gong for Low Back PainQi Gong for Upper Back and Neck PainQi Gong for Weight LossQi Workout AM/PMQiGong for Healthy Joints & BonesQiGong IllustratedQuick Blast MethodRadiant Heart Yoga DVDReach - Upbeat Toning & Flexibility for a Dancer's BodyRelax Into Yoga for SeniorsResistance Stretching With Dara TorresRestorative Yoga PracticeRestorative Yoga PracticeSara Ivanhoe's Taste DVDSelfless InsightSoupsSparkSpontaneous HappinessStep By Step Strength TrainingStep by Step Tai ChiStrength & SpiritStress Relief to GoStretchStrong & SculptedStrong Body, Ageless BodySuper Seniors: Box, Balance, & Lift Surf Yoga SoulSybel's Yoga For Sports & FitnessSybel's Yoga For Sports & Fitness Vol 2Tai Chi for Beginners with Grandmaster William C. C. ChenTeen YogaTeenYogi DVDTen Zen Tummy TonersThe 6 Qualities of ConsciousnessThe Accidental VeganThe Art and Science of MindfulnessThe Athlete's Guide to YogaThe Best Things You Can EatThe Booty Barre -Total New BodyThe Complete Book of Raw FoodThe Get Healthy, Go Vegan CookbookThe Healing Remedies SourcebookThe Healing Remedies SourcebookThe Kettlebell BoomerThe Light of DiscoveryThe Mandala of BeingThe Meat Lover's Meatless CookbookThe Mindful Way through DepressionThe Perfect ExerciseThe Psychology of LifestyleThe Qi Healing KitThe Road to Calm WorkbookThe Science of YogaThe Spirit of Buddhist MeditationThe Spirit of Tibetan BuddhismThe Ultimate BALLET YOGAThe Ultra MindsetThe Well-Tuned BrainThe Yin Yoga KitTotal Health the Chinese WayTotal-Body ToningTransform Yourself with Jivamukti YogaTransformative YogaTrudie Styler's Cardio Dance FlowTrudie Styler's Warrior YogaV-Core WorkoutVegan ExpressVegan for LifeVegetarian Visitor 2008Viniyoga Therapy for the Low Back, Sacrum and HipsViniyoga Therapy for the Upper Back, Neck and ShouldersViva Vegan!Walk It Off in 30 DaysWalk to the HITS Radio RemixesWatch Me Do YogaWeight Loss Cardio KickWeight Watchers: Ultimate Belly SeriesYin and Yang YogaYin Yoga DVDYogaYogaYoga - Philosophy for EveryoneYoga : Beginners Flow for EveryoneYoga AnatomyYoga as MedicineYoga Bliss HipsYoga BodyYoga Body : Lean & Defined Total Body WorkoutYoga By Teens DVDYoga Emergency DVD: Arms & ShouldersYoga Emergency DVD: BackYoga Emergency DVD: Full Leg StretchYoga Emergency DVD: HipsYoga Emergency DVD: PregnancyYoga Flow DVDYoga for AnxietyYoga for Back CareYoga for BeginnersYoga for Energy & Stress ReliefYoga for FitnessYoga for MeditatorsYoga for OsteoporosisYoga for Pain ReliefYoga for Strength & EnergyYoga for Strength & FlexibilityYoga for Your WeekYoga in BedYoga Inside Out: Go DeeperYoga Inside Out: The Healing WayYoga Journal's Yoga for StressYoga Journal: Yoga for Strength and Toning DVDYoga Link: Core IntegrationYoga Link: Hip HelpersYoga Link: Shoulder Shape-UpYoga Nidra for Complete Relaxation and Stress ReliefYoga Quick FixesYoga Skills for Therapists:Yoga TherapyYoga Therapy for Back PainYoga Therapy Prescriptions - 60 Health Restorative SequencesYoga to the Rescue - Feel Good from Head to ToeYoga to the Rescue for Back PainYoga to the Rescue for Neck & ShouldersYoga to the Rescue for Pain-Free Back, Neck & ShouldersYoga, Karma, and RebirthYoga: Freedom from Back PainYoga: Relief from Neck and Shoulder PainYoga: Spirit of Vinyasa FlowYogabodyYogawomanYou Can Think Yourself ThinYour Body Breakthru - Your Best Body Circuit DVDYour Brain on Food: How Chemicals Control Your Thoughts and Feelings,Your Brain on YogaZen Encounters with Loneliness
The Bellyfit system is a holistic fitness approach designed for women (their tagline is "moving women"). The Elements DVD set features instructor and choreographer Alice Bracegirdle. Each DVD in this set—Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Spirit—offers a combination of cardio dance (drawing on many different traditions, from bellydance to Bollywood), core work, and yoga-based stretching. Bracegirdle incorporates many Eastern elements into the routines, including meditations and mudras (hand gestures). As noted on the Bellyfit web site, the workouts are designed to be accessible to all levels and abilities: Bracegirdle has one of her two background exercisers performing modifications, and she encourages viewers to go at their own pace. However, in her "Safety Tips" (found on each disc), Bracegirdle states that these workouts are not intended for anyone with "serious" neck, back, hip, or knee problems. (She also suggests that the workouts not be done on carpet, but I had little issues with the Berber carpet in my own workout room.)
Each of the five DVDs follows the same basic format. Bracegirdle starts with about four minutes of centering, meditation, belly breathing, and lotus lifts (a.k.a. Kegels) and then moves into an extended warm-up (8 minutes). Following this, she teaches two separate cardio sequences of approximately six minutes each. Bracegirdle instructs the moves in an add-on style, starting with simple, familiar leg movements such as heel digs, grapevines, chasse, high knee lifts, and hamstring curls; she then adds some complexity with arm movements and mudras. In each cardio segment, the exercises are practiced in sequence, and after practicing the first and second cardio routines separately, Bracegirdle combines them together, running through the entire routine several times ("take it from the top"). This is followed by a "cardio recovery," which is the warm-up exercises performed in reverse order—what a great idea to use moves that the viewer has already learned! The standing work concludes with a brief isolation segment and an "earth shower" meditation.
For the last 20 minutes or so of each workout, Bracegirdle tells viewers to remove their shoes: she and her crew come to their mats (the only prop used) for core work and final stretch. With the exception of the Earth DVD (which was re-released with this set), Bracegirdle instructs all of these routines live, using voiceover for the opening meditations only. She does mirror cue, but she has her own names for the moves (e.g., "Honor the Sun," "Shoot the Buzzard," etc.), which I found a little confusing to follow at times. Finally, these DVDs are not chaptered on the Main Menu, although they do have rough chapter breaks at each section (i.e., the start of the cardio, the start of the core work, and the start of the stretch).
I have provided some more specific information on each of the individual DVDs below.
EARTH (62 minutes)
This routine starts with a focus on earth energy. The warm-up includes step-touch, torso twists, heel digs, and shimmies, while the cardio segments incorporate grapevine, hip pumps, bhangra bounce, plié hops, jungle walk (high knees), v-circles, squats with lotus mudra, hip shimmy, and step back. The isolation segment focuses on the root chakra and includes pelvic tilts, evolving into hip circles. The core work on the floor begins with cat/cow and features some Pilates-like movements such as half-rollbacks, a variation on the Pilates hundreds, and single leg stretches. The extended final stretch includes yoga postures such as reclined twist, bridge, double pigeon, seated twist, seated forward bend, and butterfly. Bracegirdle concludes this session with a final meditation and mudra.
WATER (64.5 minutes)
The opening meditation here focuses on the color orange. After gathering chi, the warm-up incorporates exercises such as hips moving in a Figure 8, chest circles, and heels to the front. For the cardio, Bracegirdle performs pliés with shakti rising, hip circles, hamstring curls, reverse lunge with twist, snake arms, squat with balance, chasse with twist, oblique crunch, and shimmy with shoulder roll. The isolation segment centers on the rib cage and concludes with an earth shower meditation. The core work begins with several plank moves and again incorporates some Pilates-type work (e.g., can-can, hip lifts, scissors). The stretch begins seated for butterfly, hamstring and quad stretches, mermaid, gentle seated twist, and cow seat, all performed on one side before being repeated on the other. Bracegirdle concludes with a short (2.5 minute) relaxation and a shakti mantra with final mudra.
FIRE (61.5 minutes)
Fire starts with a visualization of the color yellow and a focus on the solar plexus. The warm-up and the segments which follow are the most cardio-intensive of all the Elements. The opening contains hips with elbow thrusts, side lunge, chest thrust, and side-to-side step with push. For the cardio, Bracegirdle begins with "own your fire" lunges and moves into high knees, chasse, hip sways, walk the fire, triple step with knee, plié with archer, step forward, bob and weave with push and punch, and jenga with block and twisting prayer. Following the cardio recovery, the isolations center on the chest. For the core work, Bracegirdle starts with cat/cow and elbow plank work. Additional core moves include a partial roll back, chest rotations performed on the knees, and a variation on the Pilates hundred. The stretch also incorporates yoga postures: Bracegirdle starts with some easy backbends on the floor (sphinx, updog, and bow), moves through downward dog to warrior two, and concludes with a supine twist and reclined butterfly. Bracegirdle finishes with relaxation (about 2 minutes) and final neck stretches and mudras in a seated position.
AIR (63 minutes)
For this opening sequence, Bracegirdle suggests a meditation on the color green and a focus on the heart chakra. The warm-up moves start with a triple hip followed by a hip sit, side lunge with alternating shoulder raise, plié with snake arms, and step tap with arm swings. The cardio segments include push the sky, high knees, heel touch with Figure 8 arms, fast/slow hip shimmy, heart to sky, bhangra, clear the air (grapevine), pull up roots plié, celebrate plié, and kickbacks (hamstring curls). For the isolations, Bracegirdle focuses on the shoulders, performing shoulder shimmies and shoulder rolls. The core section was more yoga-focused: Bracegirdle starts with triceps "dips" (actually push-ups) and then performs several yoga postures (downward dog, standing forward bend, dancers pose, standing side stretch) before doing just a few core moves (c-sit with shoulder shimmies/shoulder roll and balance in butterfly). The yoga stretch continues with seated forward bend, eagle arms, reclined Figure 4 stretch, reclined twist, reclined butterfly, and a short (1.5 minute) relaxation. To finish, Bracegirdle comes to seated and performs two different mudras, one for negative emotions and one for love.
SPIRIT (60 minutes)
The opening meditation centers on the colors blue, violet, and pure white as well as the upper chakras, including the throat, third eye, and crown. The warm-up sequence includes hip sways, hip circles, single-single-double side step with chest pop, temple dancer, and undulations. The first cardio series begins with a squat and then moves into a step tap with a reach to the sky. Additional moves include goddess pliés, plié twists (releasing anger), Shiva inner thigh lifts, temple dancer chasse, and hip shimmy. The second cardio series features knee raise honoring earth and sky plus a heel dig with a push from the heart, dancing goddess, bhangra heel drop, three hips and a bow, seven hips and a turn, and Kundalini rising. The isolation segment is a practice of heart undulations. The core section starts with several standing balance moves, including warrior 3 pose, Shiva, and standing glute stretch; this is followed by temple dancer stretch for the IT band. Floor postures include full prostration, seated sage twist, side lying quad stretch, and a brief (1.5 minute) relaxation. Bracegirdle concludes with three different mudras, one for higher consciousness, one for trust, and the Bellyfit mudra for embodiment.
Overall, Bellyfit Elements provides a fun cardio experience that is likely to be accessible to most women who are already relatively healthy. The meditations and mudras add a calming, soothing aspect to the practice, providing additional stress-relieving benefits.
© 2013 Beth Cholette
Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students.