|Basic InformationLatest NewsBlog EntriesVideosLinksBook Reviews|10 Minute Solution: Butt Lift10 Minute Solution: High Intensity Interval Training101 Ways to Meditate29 Gifts3-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 Body Brain Balance8 Keys to Practicing MindfulnessA Journey Into Yin YogaA Philosophy for the Science of Well-BeingA.M. EnergyAccessible Yoga for Every Body DVDAfter the Ecstasy, the LaundryAge-Proof Your MindAgeless Mobility: Pain-Free Wellness For LongevityAlmost MeatlessAM/PM YogaAnd BreatheAnswers for AristotleAnywhere, Anytime, Any Body YogaAthlete's Guide to YogaAuthentic HappinessAwakening Self-EsteemBack in Action: Yoga for a Healthy BackBack To Basics: Fitness with Charlotte OrdBalanced AssetsBedroom Body: Booty Burner, Core & Pelvic Floor WorkoutBeginners Meditation & Mindful StretchingBeginners Yoga DVDBeginning YogaBellyFit ElementsBetter Sex Through YogaBeyond the SelfBody By BethennyBody Mindful YogaBorn to Balance - Balance BasicsBOSH!Breath-Centered YogaBreathingBrightening Our Inner SkiesBuddhist Boot CampCalm Body Clear MindCalm EnergyCalm Focus JoyChakra MeditationsChoosing CivilityClassical Pilates Technique DVDComplementary and Alternative Therapies ResearchCore 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 YogaCreative Core AbsCreative Writing In Health And Social CareDance Off the Inches: Cardio Hip Hop PartyDance the Chakras Yoga WorkoutDeep ListeningDeep Stretch / Yin YogaDetox YogaDr. Andrew Weil's Guide to Eating WellDr. Andrew Weil's Guide to Optimum HealthDr. Andrew Weil's Mindbody ToolkitEastern Body, Western MindEasy YogaElement: Barre ConditioningElement: Targeted Toning Pilates for BeginnersElement: Yoga for Stress Relief & FlexibilityElements of Yoga, Earth FoundationsElements of Yoga, Fire DynamicElements of Yoga: Air & WaterEmotional Chaos to ClarityEmotions, Stress, and HealthEvamarie Pilipuf's Yoga Express DVDEvery Day Yoga for Every Body DVDEveryday GreensEveryday Workout for the Everyday WomanEveryday Yoga for Stress Release Everything VeganExercise-Based Interventions for Mental IllnessExhale Core Fusion 30 Day SculptFamily ForagingFamily YogaFast Food for the SoulFat and FuriousFear and Other Uninvited GuestsFit Family Fun CircuitFit in 5 DVDFlat Abs PilatesFlow and YinFlow YogaFluid Power Vinyasa Flow YogaFood You Can ForageForgiveness is Really StrangeFully PresentGaiam Pilates Slide and Sculpt Kit with DVDGaiam Pilates Total Toning KitGaiam Yoga For Weight Loss KitGet Ripped & ChiseledGet RIPPED! 1000 #3Get RIPPED! and Jacked - The Boomer WorkoutGood MedicineGoodbye, ThingsHandbook of MindfulnessHealing the Heart and Mind with MindfulnessHealing Through Movement: Pilates Head to ToeHealthy AgingHealthy Sexy Beautiful Kundalini YogaHemalayaa's Yoga for Young Bodies DVDHemalayaa: Bollywood BootyHot Body Cool Mind - Level 1Hot Body Cool Mind: Waking Energy How to Be a PatientHow to Be a StoicHow to Cook Everything VegetarianHow Would Buddha Act?I Contain MultitudesI'd Rather LaughIn Defense of FoodInsight Yoga Earth: Balancing Yin EnergyInsight Yoga Heaven: Balancing YangInsight Yoga with Sarah PowersIntegrated YogaIntegrative MedicineInternational Perspectives on Reminiscence, Life Review and Life Story WorkIntroduction to Ashtanga Yoga DVDIntroduction to Qi YogaIntroduction to Yoga DVDIt's Up to YouJanis Saffell Beverly Hills YogaKids Teach Yoga - Flying EagleKidYogi - Yoga for ChildrenKnowing the Nature of FearKripalu YogaKripalu Yoga Dynamic DVDKripalu Yoga Gentle DVDKundalini Yoga : DVDKundalini Yoga for Beginners & BeyondKUNDALINI YOGA for Your Week - MONDAYKUNDALINI YOGA for Your Week - TUESDAY - CoreKundalini 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 HeartLife MakeoversLifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues--Level 1LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues: Level 2Living BeautifullyLiving Room Yoga DVDLiving Room Yoga: Twist and BendLiving Your Best LifeLiving Your DreamLunar Flow YogaMadhur Jaffrey's World VegetarianMake 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 InsomniaMean GenesMeditation in a New York MinuteMeditations for BeginnersMeditations on Self-Discipline and FailureMind GamesMindful AmericaMindful AngerMindfulnessMindfulness for BeginnersMindfulness-Based Treatment Approaches: Clinician's Guide to Evidence Base and ApplicationsMisadventures of a Garden State YogiMozart's Brain and the Fighter PilotNamaste Yoga: Season 3 Part 1NeuroLogicNever Home AloneNew York PilatesNext-Level PilatesNutrition Essentials for Mental HealthOn Being an Introvert or Highly Sensitive PersonPassionate VegetarianPerfect in Ten AbsPerfect in Ten: PilatesPerfect in Ten: StretchPerfect in Ten: YogaPilates AnatomyPilates for BeginnersPilates for MenPortraits of ResiliencePositivityPower to the Peaceful YogaPower YogaPower YogaPower YogaPower Yoga for HappinessPower Yoga: Core PowerPower Yoga: Fat BurnerPrenatal FlowPrescriptive StretchingPresence Through Movement: Yin YogaPsychology Moment by MomentPure and Simple YogaPure SculptPure Yoga Pilates with Kerry BestwickQi 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 MethodReach - Upbeat Toning & Flexibility for a Dancer's BodyRed Lotus YogaResistance Stretching With Dara TorresRestorative Yoga PracticeSara Ivanhoe's Taste DVDSaving NormalSelf-CompassionSeven Challenges To Change Your Life DVDSleep BetterSolar Flow Yoga DVDSoupsSparkSpontaneous HappinessSports Hypnosis in PracticeStep By Step Strength TrainingStep by Step Tai ChiStrength & SpiritStrength, Grace, HealingStress ReliefStrong & SculptedStrong Body, Ageless BodySun SalutationsSuper Natural CookingSuper Seniors: Box, Balance, & Lift SuperhumanSupersurvivorsSurf Yoga SoulSybel's Yoga For Sports & FitnessSybel's Yoga For Sports & Fitness Vol 2Tai Chi for Beginners with Grandmaster William C. C. ChenTaming Your Inner BratTeach Yourself MeditationTeen YogaTeenYogi DVDTen Minutes to RelaxThe Accidental VeganThe Angelica Home KitchenThe Art and Science of MindfulnessThe Athlete's Guide to YogaThe Beginner's Guide to Healthy EatingThe Best Things You Can EatThe Booty Barre -Total New BodyThe Breathing FieldThe Cafe Brenda CookbookThe Complete Book of Raw FoodThe Complete Vegetarian HandbookThe Easy Yoga WorkbookThe Feeling Good HandbookThe Five Things We Cannot Change ...The Good LifeThe Happiness of PursuitThe Harvard Medical School Guide to YogaThe Healing Remedies SourcebookThe Healing Remedies SourcebookThe Health Psychology HandbookThe Healthy KitchenThe Heart of YogaThe Indian VegetarianThe Jewel Tree of TibetThe Joy of MeditatingThe Kettlebell BoomerThe Little Book of Healthy TeasThe Little Soy BookThe Little Yoga BookThe Mood CureThe Mozart EffectThe Myth of Freedom and the Way of MeditationThe Nature FixThe Origins of HappinessThe Perfect ExerciseThe Pilates Workout JournalThe Playful BrainThe Quest for Peace, Love, and a 24'' WaistThe Road to Calm WorkbookThe Self-Compassion Skills WorkbookThe Spa DeckThe Spirit of Buddhist MeditationThe Stoic Art of LivingThe Ultimate BALLET YOGAThe Ultra MindsetThe Way of StretchingThe Weight of the NationThe Well-Tuned BrainThe Will to Live and Other MysteriesThe Wisdom of FrugalityThe Yin Yoga KitThink SmartTotal AstangaTotal Health the Chinese WayTotal PilatesTotal-Body ToningTransform Yourself with Jivamukti YogaTransformative YogaTrudie Styler's Warrior YogaV-Core WorkoutVegan ExpressVegan for LifeVegan Recipes from the Middle EastVegetarian Turkish CookingVegetarianoViva Vegan!Walk It Off in 30 DaysWalk to the HITS Radio RemixesWalkingWalking a Literary LabyrinthWatch Me Do YogaWeight Loss Cardio KickWellbeingWhat We Say MattersWhen Things Fall ApartWriting in FlowYin and Yang YogaYin Yoga DVDYogaYogaYogaYoga & Pilates Workouts for DummiesYoga 4 TeensYoga : Beginners Flow for EveryoneYoga AnatomyYoga and PsychologyYoga as MedicineYoga Beauty BodyYoga Bliss HipsYoga Body : Lean & Defined Total Body WorkoutYoga By Teens DVDYoga Emergency DVD: Arms & ShouldersYoga Emergency DVD: BackYoga Emergency DVD: Full Leg StretchYoga Emergency DVD: HipsYoga Flow DVDYoga for AnxietyYoga for AthletesYoga for Back CareYoga for BeginnersYoga for Energy & Stress ReliefYoga for EveryoneYoga for MeditatorsYoga for OsteoporosisYoga for Pain ReliefYoga for Regular GuysYoga for Strength & EnergyYoga for Strength & FlexibilityYoga for the Young at HeartYoga for Your WeekYoga In BedYoga 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 on DemandYoga Quick FixesYoga SanctuaryYoga SculptYoga ShaktiYoga TherapyYoga TherapyYoga Therapy for Back PainYoga Therapy Prescriptions - 60 Health Restorative SequencesYoga To Go's Yoga Quick Fixes DVDYoga 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 Weight Loss for DummiesYoga: Freedom from Back PainYoga: Relief from Neck and Shoulder PainYoga: Spirit of Vinyasa FlowYogabodyYogawomanYou Can Think Yourself ThinYou'll See It When You Believe ItYour Body Breakthru - Your Best Body Circuit DVDYour Brain on FoodYour Brain on Food: How Chemicals Control Your Thoughts and Feelings,Your Miracle BrainZen Encounters with Loneliness
by Alice Bracegirdle
Review by Beth T. Cholette, Ph.D. on Mar 12th 2013
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.