Video Fitness

Urban Tai Chi An Explosion of Mythology in Motion

By Genette Deslauriers

Production: CIA set, same as the one used for her Kamikaze workout, gray background with pastel color blocks of blue and yellow. Still cant believe they didn't use the red Asian set that they had for the batch of CIA videos filmed during this time?! That set would have been a perfect backdrop for this video.

Genette is in a crushed red velvet outfit of bell bottom jazz pants and matching bra top. Her four background people represent elements of energy. Tom in a dark velour top was mental, Isabella in blue velour was water, Tracy in orange was earth, and Fred in green was wood.

Sound: The music had some vocals, a good beat but didn't jump out at me and make me scream…Great sound track!

Equipment: None needed and not a ton of space. There's some forward and lateral moves but not as much as some CIA tapes.

Intensity: Intermediate workout. Almost all low impact with focus on strong movements. Some occasional high impact but not enough to scare off people who do not like high impact. For advanced people, you might like this as a good lighter day workout but nothing more. Also good for opening the body with long sweeping movements, which I tend to forget and realize I don't do enough of until I see a workout like this one.

Workout: Different from Kamikaze because it is more true to tai chi movements and not nearly as aerobic even though you are moving to a pretty good tempo. This focuses on longer movements and control. If you were to compare to Scott Coles Tai Chi, this has more energy, is much more upbeat overall and is a little more cardio oriented. This tape also has 5 combos like Kamikaze, but she forgets to say where one ends and one starts, so I lumped a couple together. I liked this one, but enjoyed Kamikaze more. I like the quicker aerobic moves and tempo in the other. This one isn't bad for a slow day.

Warm up: Made up of Elements of Nature. Throughout this video, Genette names and explains the tie in of each move to tai chi. Starts off with marches in a wide stance. Moving into Rivers and Mountains (big inhale with arms). Woohsi(sp?) position, which is a wide stance, moving into toe taps, cross your heart move with swinging arms out across chest side to side. Awaken the chi, slapping sides of legs. Settle the chi, shake your body around. Continuing with more open swinging body movements with names like, sunrise, sunset, and pushing the waves.

Combo 1: (more active arm movements)Wide marches and adding an arm move called Yin & Yang. Hands cupped over each other in front of your belly and then you go into a moving flow with them. Your also working your legs a little in low impact moves, even sneaking in alternating leg lifts. Move clouds away which is a side to side squat movement. Dancing rainbows make you look like a tipping scale with the lateral trunk movement and how your arms follow. March….

Combo 2: ( a little more leg work) Moving to “look back at the moon.” You look as if you are holding a big barrel in front of you and you move your arms side to side as if you are trying to look behind you, this moves into a low impact lunge, might even pick up the pace a little to with small hops. Dancing tiger, arms are in a praying position and then you move them in a figure eight while lifting alternating knee..comes out looking like an oriental dance. Raising the sun, alternating arm swings with alternating leg lifts to the front. March and move on…

Combo 3/4?, they blended together in here some where: March wide(yes, she does a ton of marching with this one as well) Start by rotating the golden sphere. You look like you are molding a ball in your hands. Mambo combo that turns into a step forward with those arm movements, balance on one leg extend the other back and come down to hop hop to get to other side and repeat a few times(more fun than how it appears in print). Tiger stance-an alternating deep plie movement with long sweeping arms. Support the heavens, a challenging deep squat held for some time with hands raised and palms facing up. March, march, march and TIFTT for the first time, but only this combo…I think.

Combo 5: I'm guessing this is combo 5, she didn't say but she just TIFTTed the last one. So…(leg work, leg work) Warrior lunge move. Face right and lunge with a mambo when you come up, that turns into a run later but with both you go right back into a lunge. Squat move next. Come down into a plie squat to the side, pop up and lift right leg. Next sweep kick combo with some arm moves and the end of this combo has flying plyo jacks..here’s your little taste of high impact and a teeny tiny bit of anaerobic energy. She ends up repeating this twice, She calls it TIFTT..but it's more like, do the otherside;O).

Cool down: Very quiet soothing vocals for the music. Start with a big inhale (river and mountains) maintain wooshi position(wide stance) a little more yin and yang movements with the arms and body moves. Move the clouds away..sweeping arm/body movements. Waterfall hands, waving hands up and down in front of you. Release chi, pushing off side to side. Torso twists and finishing with more long flowing stretches and movements.

Quirks: I think both her tapes might catch some flack for all the marching. It's not as bad in this one since the intensity is meant to be a notch lower anyway, but there is even a section that her background people try to start before her and she still goes into 2 more eight counts. Genette is very talkative and with this one, most of what she says is educational but there are still times when she sings with the beat and if you aren't into that, watchout. The routine is chopped up and separated with marches; you might not get a real flowing feel from it. On the other side of that, if you find yourself on the wrong foot a lot, Genette’s style would help by giving you the chance to adjust during the marches and find the right foot.

Instructor: I like Genette, she's very refreshing and motivating and I enjoyed all her sound effects and little nuances. She is also fun to watch, her moves have character. She was very good at giving form pointers. I hope she does more…preferably with less marching and more consistent intensity;O).

Nancy C
naconfer@aol.com
3/6/01

Urban Tai Chi

Genette Deslauriers This review will just give my first impressions of this videos, since there is only one review of it so far. I really didn't know what to expect with this one, since I know next to nothing about Tai Chi. It's a decent video, especially for those looking for a mostly low impact workout or something a little different, but I guess it is just not my thing.

The warm up seemed to go for too long (11 min), and didn't hold my attention. The set included some of the "city" set from the last group of CIA videos for an urban feel, but some of the colors used for the "buildings" (e.g. mustard yellow) were somewhat distracting to me. I didn't care for at least some of the music, either--it sounded like air raid sirens at some points, though to be fair, with only one run-through I didn't notice all of the music.

On the plus side, parts of this video prove you can have very high intensity without impact, particularly the moves where you go from some sort of squatting position up into a balance on one leg. You can see a couple such moves in the Collage Video clip. It made me wish that someone, perhaps Genette, would put a bunch of these moves together into a really intense low impact tape. There were too few of them here, I thought.

My biggest problem with the workout was the inconsistent intensity throughout. Though there were some tough sections, there were a lot of places where you were pretty much either marching or standing there doing arm movements.

Though most of this workout is completely low impact, there were a couple very short plyometric sections near the very end of the cardio, but it would be very easy for someone to modify them or to skip those sections, because they are self-contained rather than peppered throughout the workout. I liked Genette. She has a friendly personality, and I didn't have any trouble following her cueing. In sum, this wasn't my cup of tea, but this would be a video to consider for someone looking for a low impact workout that's a little different from the norm, unless you think the variations in intensity would be a problem for you.

Wendy Niemi Kremer
wendy@videofitness.com 1/10/01

Urban Tai Chi and Kamikaze

I'm reviewing both of these together, because my comments pretty much apply to both. They are both high/low workouts (mostly low) with Tai Chi and Eastern-type movements. They are definitely unique -- and they won't be for everyone. I think these are the kind you'll either love and do all the time, or else you won't do them at all; there's not much in between. They are excellent workouts, with good intensity for the most part, although Ginette does do a fair amount of marching in place getting ready for the next move. Some of the power moves might even be considered killer intensity. I think of the two, Kamikaze is probably a little more intense. Despite their uniqueness (the good kind) and the overall good workout, I can't bring myself to do them. This style just doesn't interest me. They do look fun, but when I start doing them, I get bored. Ginette herself is great, and I'd buy something else of hers if it were a different style. Despite the fact they're not for me, these are A+ tapes, both for originality and for the workouts themselves.

Annie S.
5-27-01

I enjoy BREATHE quite a bit, but as an intermediate exerciser I need something more intense. Urban Tai Chi fits the bill pretty well. It's a similar concept (though I believe UTC came first): tai chi movements at a cardio pace. If you have some familiarity with tai chi it will help, though it's not essential. Ginette frequently names the upcoming move or partially describes but doesn't thoroughly explain it and then will cue on the move. However, the moves are pretty simple and are repeated several times before moving on so it's not a problem to keep up. Complex choreo junkies will be bored, but if you're a klutz like me, the repetition is welcome. The workout is also easy to keep low impact while getting the heart rate up to a reasonable range, though Ginette often adds explosive little hops and jumps. The sections are broken up with brisk marching in place. There are many lunges, squats, and big circular arm movements, so if you experience knee and/or shoulder problems with BREATHE, you will find them here too. If I'm worried about my joints I keep my movements smaller. The workout doesn't take much space: just a big step forward and back and two steps side to side. The set looks a bit like a high school drama club stage and the music is Dynamix--reminded me of club-style world beat. If you liked BREATHE and are looking for a greater challenge, this one is worth consideration.

Instructor comments: Very enthusiastic and peppy. She is obviously having a lot of fun. Not the greatest cueing in the world--even some of the background exercisers get confused (poor Tommy!)--but that's not terribly important in this workout because the movements are repeated several times.

Kate

5-19-04

I usually like complex choreography and don't mind some high-impact. But I've kept this video ever since it came out because I just love it.

This video takes Tai Chi moves and works them into an aerobic workout. I don't know enough about Tai Chi to say if that's an impressive achievement, but it definitely makes for a different kind of aerobic workout.

I want to heartily recommend this video for all those people who think that it's impossible to get an aerobic workout without going high-impact. I don't think that this workout would get an intensity junkie's heartrate into the anaerobic zone, but it will definitely do for aerobic base-building or just a good cardio workout. There are a few high-impact moves, but they're very easily modified down. The bulk of the moves in this video are with the arms, which I find unusual. Using your arms will get your heart rate up, and you don't have to worry about learning difficult choreography, either.

Ginette has four background exercisers who are supposed to represent different kinds of energy: metal, water, fire, and earth (I think). I'm not convinced that they were well-cast in these roles, but their tops for the most part exemplify these energies. All the exercisers are wearing velour pants and tops that I couldn't wear without looking like a stuffed animal with cellulite. Ginette's outfit is bright red, and exposes her well-defined abs. She doesn't seem to sweat in the same places that I do, either.

The workout is 57 minutes long, and 11 minutes are dedicated to warming up, and 10 minutes are deveoted to the cooldown. Traditional stretching isn't included in either; all the stretches are ballistic. It works.

I tend to pull this video out when I'm recovering from illness or injury--this time it's a wonky knee. Every time I do it, I wonder why I don't do it more often. It's loads of fun, and it really gives your whole body a workout.

Instructor comments: I'm a sucker for an instructor with an accent, so I should warn you that my view may be skewed by the fact that Ginette has one. She's very animated and can give Cathe Friedrich a run for her money on plyo jumps (and I think she's closer to my age than Cathe's). But she's also very encouraging, and her descriptions of the moves are very helpful.

Mollie F.

30 January 2005



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