Weighted rubberized balls that fit in the palm of your hand aren't new or different, but like with all accessories, it's the education and instruction the company provides with them that can make the difference.
In this case, the Stott Pilates DVD included with the balls and poster in the company "Power Pack" can get about anyone started well.
The instruction isn't fancy and that's the beauty of it. Developer and company co-founder Moira Stott Merrithew leads a 30-minute workout in a warm, friendly style that thankfully leaves out the chirpy cheerleader hype and overdone smiles. What we also liked was that she actually didn't DO the workout but walked among three assistants to point out what to do, what to correct and to actually instruct.
There are not hyped-up, overdone claims of results but basic talk of sculpting and toning, with a recommendation at the end to do this workout as part of a program that includes low-impact aerobic workouts like walking.
One thing is it is rated a 3 for difficulty on a scale of 1 to 5, which means it's a solid intermediate level. And it is. There are leg lifts and other moves that a true out-of-shape beginner should not attempt, and there is actually no talk of how to modify moves or positions if you need something less intensive. So beginners should beware.
The 1-pound weights included in the pack are just right, although we also tried part of the moves with 2-pound ones we had on-hand and found the ability to switch back and forth quite nice. But sometimes the ball is used by rolling it on the ground or gripping it between your ankles or inner thighs in such a way that its weight doesn't really matter that much.
Merrithew does point out that if you don't have the balls that you can use soft hand weights or a household item, although many of the movements would be quite difficult with anything but a round ball. What she does not note is that a user could in fact not use anything to make some movements easier, which could be necessary if you are just getting started with this kind of workout.
Of course, coming from Stott Pilates this is not just a series of calisthenics but a series of Pilates movements and exercises modified to be done with the weighted balls. That means that some familiarity with Pilates could be helpful, but not necessary.
There are pros and cons to the three instructors demonstrating the workout. They are all three (two women and one man) gorgeous and sleek with true dancer-style movements and flexibility. On the one hand, that is motivating and forces you to want to sit up tall and look just as proud and beautiful. On the other hand, it could be a bit intimidating.
Nevertheless, this is a good 30-minute workout that supplies not only 33 exercises but enough fodder to help someone do their own too.
SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $35 (two 1-pound balls, DVD and poster)
For more information:www.stottpilates.com