Video Fitness

BELLYDANCE SLIMDOWN

Veena and Neena Bidasha

First, I consider myself an intermediate exerciser, and a moderately capable dancer. My background includes ballet, tap, modern, flamenco and middle eastern. What I expected from these videos was a workout that used bellydance in a cardio workout. I didn't expect to learn a routine, to learn dance moves or how to bellydance. having said that, I was still disappointed in the tapes, especially fat burning. i wanted to like them, the production quality is high, with a nice set, and although the music is repetitive, it had a good beat and didn't bother me. Plus, the twins are really stunning, with attractive bodies that, though toned, and fairly thin, are not unattainable. However, i found the fairly disengaged voice over uninspiring and the routines boring and monotonous. In fat Burning, the workout is essentially all jumping from foot to foot. While these steps are used in bellydance and in middle eastern folk dances, they are also fairly generic cardio steps. The arm motions consist of holding arms out to the side or sticking your finger on your head. Its not creative, its not interesting. Its weird because the intensity, with its non-stop jumping is quite high, but the basic choreography is more suited for beginners. Its hard to imagine a beginner having the capacity for this tape and an advanced wanting to do the same step for almost half an hour. Slim Down is somewhat better. It has lower impact, more steps, some bellydance moves and more arm movements (though those movements are repeated over and over...) Though there are more moves in Slim Down, it is still repetitive since those moves are repeated and you go back to the genie bounce (a side to side step)after each. It is more accessible to beginners, but advanced exercisers will still probably find it too repetitive to hold their attention after a few run throughs.
In both of these videos, there are some questionable camera angles. Another reviewer said porno-ish, and while I think that is probably to strong, I would agree that they are inappropriate. In isn't that chest, torso or tight hip shots wouldn't be helpful in learning bellydance- they would be- if we were learning bellydance. But as other reviewers have pointed out (and I would agree), we aren't learning bellydance in these tapes, so the focus on these body parts when the workout focus is on footwork seems a bit questionable. Neither of the workouts are porno-ish, to use the reviewer's word, or even sexual. these are workouts you could feel comfortable doing in front of kids. Bellydance parties are usually family events, or great get togethers for women. So while the workouts are not at all sexy, sleazy, the camera angles are somewhat T&A oriented at times, and in this type of workout, those angles don't make sense.
As I said, i didn't expect to learn bellydance, but I did think these workouts would use bellydance to create a cardio workout. fat Burning is a cardio workout but the folkdance steps are generic and repetitive. It hardly feels like bellydance (or even folkdance for that matter). Slim Down uses a few bellydance steps, and it is cardio. It too is repetitive, and the bulk of the steps are pretty generic too, despite the few bellydance moves that are used.
Most bothersome is the total lack of instruction in either. There is no attention to form or safety, and with the jumping, bouncing and twisting moves, there should be some instruction on form and safety. these moves could be dangerous if done incorrectly.
While bellydance is a great dance and workout for women, uplifting, empowering, inspiring, there is none of those qualities in these workouts. they have repetitive, dull choreography, and a fairly detached voice over narration that seems fairly disengaged with the workout and the audience. Slim Down is somewhat more enjoyable, but for the money, most exercisers would be better off looking up their states on www.shira.net and checking out an instructor for a live bellydance class in their areas. Classes almost always provide some exercise value and you can really up the ante in your home practice to get a decent workout as you prepare your moves for class.

Instructor comments: It's hard, I think, to comment on voice over instruction. I really don't care for voice over at all. having said that, I think the tone and demeanor of the voice is fine, and the cueing is okay- not stellar, but not bad either. The larger problem is that there is no attention to form or instruction whatsoever in either of these workouts. The twins smile their way through these workouts, and seem pleasant enough.

linda

After trying a few other of Neena and Veena's Bellydance for Fitness videos, I was hoping that this one would provide a more intense cardio workout. During the first half of the video, I was disappointed, as the cardio work consisted solely of the "genie bounce" (basically, a side step-type move with a bit of a hop). Isolation moves were performed inbetween each genie bounce series, which meant that my heart rate did not stay elevated.

In the second half of the workout, however, the intensity picks up, as there are a greater variety of moves, including some different types of hops (although you always return to the genie bounce between exercises, which can get a bit repetitive). There was a also a greater fun factor to this section, especially with the various hip exercises; the workout ends with a brief cool-down stretch. Overall, I would say that this 29-minute workout probably provided about 15 minutes of solid, medium intensity cardio work.

The DVD includes several bonus features, including the option to perform the workout with music only (no narrative), a picture gallery and trailers from Veena and Neena's other videos, a bonus performance by Marina (another dancer), and finally, a bonus flexibility workout, also by Marina. Marina packs quite a bit into this short, 10-minute segment: she starts with plies and standing stretches, moves on to dynamic yoga moves such as cobra to down dog and cat to cow, and performs a variety of floor stretches as well. Although this section was quick and none of the stretches was held for a particularly long time, I enjoyed this added little flexibility boost. Overall, I would rate this video at about 3 1/2 starts and recommend it mainly for advanced beginning exercisers.

Instructor comments: Neena and Veena teach via voiceover instruction; I found that their cues and their movements on screen were a bit more out of sync here than in their other videos. Overall, however, their instruction is adequate, and they both seem (to my untrained eye) to be good dancers. Marina leads the flexibility segment through voiceover instruction as well; she has a bit of a silly look on her face during this segment, but she seemed to be competent.

Beth C (aka toaster)

June 14, 2005

Iím reviewing this after having done it a few times a while ago.
General workout breakdown: 5 minute warm-up, about 20 minutes of cardio with a little ďtoning,Ē 3 minute cool-down, and 3 minute stretch for a total of 30 minutes
Level: Iíd recommend this to mid-beginner to low-intermediate exercisers. You can modify the moves for low or mid impact by adding or taking away jumps and bounces. The choreography is fairly basic, although youíll need to be able to shake your hips. Some cardio parts of his workout may be too rigorous for true beginners if they donít know to modify, but more intermediate exercisers might find the repetitive movements too dull. This workout is best for those who want more variety among their dance videos (bellydance, hula, Latin, or whatever) or who want to kick their beginning cardio up a notch.
Class: Veena & Neena only with voiceover
Music / Set / Other Production Notes: The non-vocal music is Middle Eastern-inspired. The set is brightly lit, with carpet, rich-colored curtains, and pillows scattered around the back. Youíll recognize the basic set from other Natural Journeys videos. Because this is a Natural Journeys production, the picture and sound quality are very high.
Equipment: none. Neena and Veena do this barefoot.
Comments: There are few pointers for form and little instruction. I donít have the introductory volume of this series, so I donít know if thatís where technique is discussed. I would have liked to see form tips included in either case.
You donít need a lot of space for this workout. You should be able to take one good sized step forward and back and two steps to each size.
This isnít a true belly dance routine. You will learn a few bellydance-type moves, but most are derived or just inspired by various Egyptian or Middle Eastern dances, or so Iíve read.
DVD Notes: The DVD allows you to select your chapter and choose to work out without the narration. There are photos of Neena and Veena from their other bellydance videos, trailers for Natural Journeyís other bellydance videos, a performance clip by a bellydancer named Marina, and a segment called ďFlexibility TrainingĒ by Rania (I believe), whose form bothers me for some reason.
Conclusion: This was the first video I ever traded away. I got it part as a joke (bf had once mentioned belly dancing), part out of curiosity, so perhaps itís no surprise I couldnít warm up to it. While others might enjoy this non-intimidating approach to fitness, it just isnít for me. I like dancing, but I much prefer ballet or even jazz to more hip-shaking forms of dance. This workout was a little too slow for me when I felt comfortable doing intermediate cardio, much less the high intermediate / low advanced cardio exerciser I am now. The lack of focus on form means I felt sore and achy after doing it.

Instructor comments: Veena and Neena Badisha (known as the ďBellydance TwinsĒ) are fairly non-intimidating in appearance; they appear to be normal woman who get most of their working out through their dancing. They smile through the entire workout, with the disembodied voiceover chirping away, as others have mentioned. The voiceover (Iíve always wondered which one it is, if itís even one of them) is encouraging and cues move changes.

KL

July 25, 2005



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