Video Fitness

CIA 2802 All Cardio Latin Xplosion

Carlos Arias

Note: For some reason the CIA website also has this listed as All Cardio Hi/Lo Xplosion.

Iím reviewing this workout after doing it 3 times (although Iíve only done the core portion once).

General workout breakdown: This 63-min. video contains a dance-based cardio workout followed by a short core strengthening segment. Carlos combines moves from popular Latin dance styles (salsa, merengue, mambo, rumba, soca), a few moves drawn from African and African-American styles (including a little hip hop), a few moves from more standard North American dance floors, and more athletic style hi/lo or floor aerobics (squats, lunges, boxing, grapevine). Iím no dance expert, but it seems to me that rather than focusing exlusively on one style of dance per song, he might use one style as a base but bring in other elements. Along with lots of mambos, cha chas, hip snaps, shoulder shakes, chasses, and (imaginary) skirt flips youíll be playing the drums, doing the wave, going to Carnival, raising the roof, walking like a diva, and being the bouncer. Carlos tends to keep things moving; there are few moments of filler steps while he sets up a new move or whatever. Although many of the segments build up into combos to which steps are added after run thoughs, they are never added together for one big TIFT (take it from the top, or as Carlos says, ďCome from the topĒ). Note that there are some steps which leave you with your back to the TV. For the most part these are repeating steps just done to the front, so itís not as confusing as it could be.
This is designed as a cardio routine; you might learn some dance moves for your next dance party, but you wonít be ready to tackle a ballroom competition with a partner afterwards. Iím not sure how this video would work for someone whoís more interested in the specific dance styles, but this is one time Iíll happily be blissfully ignorant. :)

Warm-up (9 min.) leads you through a fairly basic combo, with Carlos layering and adding on each time through.
Althetic Salsa (4.5 min.) alternates between different salsa steps, to which Carlos adds ďflavor,Ē and athletic moves (e.g. a side step because a side step with hip movement, then squat). This combo is done on both sides.
Spanish Rumba (5.5 min.) is similar to the salsa segment, except that the predominat style here is rumba (related to flamenco). With the jumps, this segment has the highest amount of impact.
Latin Xplosion dance (15.5 min.) teaches one big asymmetrical (that is, not taught on both sides) combo that mixes a little bit of everything together. Here Carlos tends to throw larger chunks of choreography at you, doing them first half time before at tempo. A few leaps and hops appear here, too. This is probably my least favorite segment, as it goes on for just a few minutes too long for me.
Merengue (7 min.) is another combo similar to the preceding two. This segment is slightly slower in tempo and a little less intense but is one of my favorite because itís primarily dance, without the aerobics influence and impact. This is also an assymetrical combo, although more steps are repeated on both sides.
Soca / Follow the Leader (4.5 min.) is the segment I find most fun because Carlos no longer worries about a routine but rather just has fun playing with various steps. In between a basic set of soca moves Carlos throws in a bunch of different stuff, doing something new each time through. In some ways this is the most intense segment for me because I find it easier to get into it plus thereís a fair amount of jumping around.
Cool-down / Latin Hip-Hop (5 min.) has one final combo combining various dance elements. I appreciate an instructor taking the time to provide a real cool-down.
Abs & Core (7.5 min.) has roll-downs (w/ knees bent), basic crunches (done at different tempos), cross-body crunches w/ opposite knee lift, reverse crunches (including a slightly twisting variation), the Pilates single leg stretch, bicycle (or criss cross, as itís known in Pilates), rocking prep into v-sit (boat in yoga or half teaser in Pilates), half roll-back w/ twist, side-lying double leg lifts, with some quick hip and back releases before repeating on the other side, elbow plank w/ leg lifts,
Stretch (3 min.) has a number of yoga-inspired moves, like childís pose, downward-facing dog, standing forward bend, chair, standing side bend, lunge w/ twist, warrior (1), and triangle, followed by quick releases for the upper back, chest, and torso. These arenít held very long.

Level: Iíd recommend this to at intermediate / intermediate plus exercisers or so comfortable with moderate level of complexity. Prior dance experience is helpful, but you donít need to be a dance maven. In fact, as someone whoís lacking in a funk gene I find this easier to lose myself in and thus itís more intense than some other dance videos Iíve tried because Carlos makes things seem more approachable for an at home exerciser used to doing aerobics.
I consider myself an intermediate + to intermediate / advanced in cardio, and I have little trouble with all but the most complex (or poorly cued) choreography. I picked this up without too much trouble, and I find it gets my heartrate up decently. I keep pulling it out on a ďlight day,Ē only to be reminded itís really not a walk in the park.

Class: 4 women join Carlos, who instructs live. (This is completely off topic, but one of the women looks a lot like Marcia Cross.) They seem to be people Carlos knows rather than professional dancers.

Music: upbeat dance-style music, some with vocals (more a few repeated refrains than actual songs, however). Iíve heard some of it before, like the ďItís Party TimeĒ song, but overall I think the music suits the workout well. Like the dance styles, it doesnít claim to be authentic for each segment, more about capturing the flavor.

Set: the 2008 CIA set (purply walls with a built out over the blue barn doors, furniture and a few pieces of exercise equipment along the back and side).

Production: crisp picture and sound, good balance between the instructorís voice and the music (both clearly audible without having to crank up the volume), nothing too crazy in terms of camera angles or quick shifts or close-ups. Itís what youíd expect from CIA (well, except for the 3 quick glimpses of parts of camera equipment Ė usually the CIAís not that sloppy).

Equipment: sneakers that can pivot (if youíre on carpet, puzzle or other mats on top might help; other options are to find yourself a pair of dance sneakers / dansneakers / split sole sneakers from someone like Bloch or Capezio or put a piece of slick tape over the toe box of an old pair of crosstrainers).

Space Requirements: you should be able to take a few big steps to the front, back, and each side (although nothing really goes diagonally). This isnít a real space hog, but I wouldnít want to try it in a tight space.

DVD Notes: The main menu choices are Intro to Workout, Warm-up to Workout, Workout Sections (see breakdown above), Pre-mixes (Quick Xplosion Mix, 47:10 min.; and Latin Xplosion Dance Mix, 41:13 min. Ė these are just shortened versions of the main workout, leaving out a segment or two), Bio & Description, and Contact & Credits. Note: itís not immediately obvious what the cursor is here, as it just makes the dot in front of the highlighted choice just a bit bigger than the other dots.

Comments: There are a number of pivots (most of them half or quarter turns) plus some jumps as well as some squats and lunges. Be careful with this one if lots of quick twists and such bother your knees.

Unlike other dance videos, especially Latin ones, Carlos keeps this family-friendly. In fact, one of the background exercisers is a teenager. There are no ďsexyĒ moves, no revealing tops, etc. (This is squeaky clean compared to Dancing with the Stars Ė the difference between G and PG, I guess.) The hip shaking is presented as a chance to work your abs, the shoulder shake simply as a shoulder shake, and so on. Carlos implores you to give some sassy attitude, but itís all in the name of fun and raising the heartrate.

This is too hard to find (other than the CIA site, try specialty fitness e-tailers like Advanced Workouts and Fitness Organica), although with it going mass market r/etail soon that will be somewhat resolved. I still canít figure out why Collage decided not to carry it (I thought they said they were going to, but I donít see it on their site), except that maybe theyíve just been inundated by dance videos from other more popular series, like 10 Minute Solution and Dance Off the Inches. Itís too bad because this certainly fills a niche in my video collection: a dance-inspired workout thatís more intense than the usual dance video offering while being less intimidating to someone not as dance-inclined.

I have a feeling Carlosí next set of offerings, if not the ones after that, will be just that much better. Hereís hoping thereís another video or two in his future.

Instructor comments: Carlos isnít the most descriptive cuer, but he does well enough and mostly mirror cues when he mentions directions. Those who need more breakdown, specific instructions, consistent teaching (especially since Carlos seems to approach each segment a little differently in terms of how he introduces new moves), etc., may find this video frustrating, but if youíre willing to watch the screen and just follow the leader the learning curve isnít as bad. Carlos comes off as a solid, professional instructor, although I enjoy him more in the last few dance segments (merengue through the Latin hip hop) where he lets us see him having fun himself. Carlos is encouraging without being at all patronizing or cheesy. A native of the Dominican Republic, Carlos speaks English well, although if youíre not used to working with Spanish accents you may have some trouble figuring out what heís saying.


March 30, 2009

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