Michelle Dozois & Lisa Wheeler
I’m reviewing this workout after previewing and doing it once since this new release showed up at my door.
General workout breakdown: This contains a 5 minute warm up, five 10 minute segments of dancey hi/lo floor aerobics, a 5 minute cool down, and a bonus 18 minute yoga and/or Pilates (and even ballet)-inspired routine.
Michelle and Lisa team teach the warm up and cool down. The warm up includes a few movements and ends with a combination of dynamic and static stretches. The cool down actually includes another short routine and ends with a few quick stretches, primarily for the lower body.
The five segments include Dance Jazz (led by Lisa), Dance Party (led by Michelle), Dance Latin (Lisa), Dance Funky (Michelle), and Dance Tribal (Lisa). Each segment included two distinct routines lasting about five minutes; the instructor teaches you one, which you repeat and to which you add moves until it’s complete, and then you move onto the second without returning to the first. Lisa tends to teach one side, add the other, and then slice and dice. In other words, you learn a few steps on the right and repeat them on the left; you then add a few more steps on the right and a few more on the left. Finally, you do the first combination on the right and the second on the left, then repeat it with the first combination on the left and the second on the right. Michelle tends to build the routines more organically, just adding and adding until you have the final routine. To be honest, there aren’t many differences between the segments. I’d call them “lightly flavored with elements from x discipline” than true jazz or Latin or whatever routines. For example, the Dance Latin starts as a saucy hip-shaking number, but the second half is bland in comparison. Overall the moves are familiar to me from Lisa’s Shape Your Butt, Hips & Thighs cardio segment and Michelle’s Breakthru Cardio Dance (aka Work it Off).
The bonus segment is called Long and Lean and is led by Lisa. It has moves like the chair pose, sun breaths, sun salutations (or rather Lisa’s variations on this theme), lunges, warrior poses, modified planks, back extensions, goddess squat, downward dog split, pigeon, and a half roll down with rotation. This is not a yoga segment for flexibility; it is meant to build strength.
Level: I’d recommend this to someone at the beginner level with some dance (and--for the bonus segment--yoga) experience to an intermediate exerciser. A true beginner to exercise, particularly someone with no dance experience, would find the choreography too challenging, and the yoga workout includes some rather challenging moves, such as pigeon, that would be too much for a true beginner. A more advanced exerciser might find this best for warm ups, add-ons, or lighter days. I consider myself at the crossover point between high intermediate and low advanced with respect to floor aerobics. I took dance lessons (ballet, tap, and jazz / modern) when little, and I feel comfortable with complex hi/lo choreography, including Lisa Wheeler’s other releases, Christi Taylor, Rob Glick, Marcus Irwin, and even Patrick Goudeau (sort of). I felt my heartrate rise decently during this workout (though I wasn’t exactly out of breath). I picked up most of the choreography the first time through, although I realize I might be the exception rather than the rule there. I would rate this choreography “moderately complex,” but because of the manner in which it is taught it feels much more complex than it actually is.
This workout doesn’t have a lot of high impact, and there is the option of following the modifications. There are some pivots, especially in Lisa’s segments, and there is a knee twist that might bother some people’s knees.
Class: Three fit young women join Lisa and Michelle for the cardio; two join Lisa for the bonus routine. One background exerciser always shows lower impact modifications.
Music / Set / Other Production Notes: The beat-driven instrumental music was upbeat but not anything special. I recognized a song from Karen Voight’s Burn & Firm, for comparison. The set is a brightly lit large room, made up in the corner to look like part of a living room with a patio overlooking the ocean and windows framing mountain views. The picture and sound are good, but nothing spectacular.
Equipment: sneakers (although if you’re doing the low impact version I don’t see why you couldn’t do it barefoot, especially if you workout on a padded surface). The bonus segment uses a yoga mat (or equivalent).
Space Requirements: at least enough room to take two large steps to each side and two medium size steps forwards and backwards. A few segments take more room than others, as I found some movements didn’t have to travel.
DVD Notes: The menu lets you choose “Overview,” “Play Program,” “Choose Your Cardio,” and “Bonus Features.” If you choose to play all, you can skip through the intro and blurbs between segments with your DVD remote. If you choose individual segments, you must first read the screen suggesting you add the warm up and cool down before you select which routine (but I think you can choose to skip those if you’re adding this on to something else, for example). You can also choose to have the DVD player shuffle the five routines into a random order. The bonus features include “Meet the Instructors” (written bios of Lisa and Michelle), the “Long and Lean” segment, “About Shape,” and credits.
The most annoying thing about this DVD—something I hope NO company does ever again—is not only the long introduction that can’t be skipped but also the little 30 second blurbs that appear between segments. If I wanted your magazine’s tips on drinking enough water or making sure to burn more calories than I consume, I’d have bought your magazine, not your video. I’m working out, darn it, so let me sweat!
Conclusion: I’m keeping this one. I like both Lisa and Michelle a lot, and I like having full ten minute segments that I can add on or add together without having to warm up and cool down each time. Yes, it’ll be annoying reaching for the remote to skip through those little blurbs, but it’ll beat having to figure out what to do during the minute cool down stretch thrown at the end of the routine. I’m not a huge fan of dance, but these segments aren’t bad, even if they’re not exactly the most fun dance routines I’ve ever done. I’m not sure I’ll use the bonus yoga-inspired segment much, as I have other routines I’d prefer to use.
I’d recommend this to dance as well as Lisa Wheeler and/or Michelle Dozois fans. I found this a notch up in intensity from Quick Fix Cardio Hip Hop, although both are probably equally as difficult to learn (but in their own ways). If you like Michelle but want something a little less complex, try her 10 Minute Solution Carb (& Calorie) Burner or her Prevention Walk Your Way Slim. As for Lisa, her Shape Your Butt, Hips & Thighs is similar in terms of the steps used, and I also like her routine on Method Dance to Fitness. (She also made Method Dynamic Cardio, but I find the intensity of that workout significantly less than any of these other workouts.)
FYI, the exercisers are rather moderately dressed, with only one bearing a midriff (although Lisa also has a bare tummy in the intro). In contrast, the cover and blurbs show young women with bikinis, most of which are fortunately more substantial than your average string bikini. There is a frontal shot of a bikini-clad girl jogging on the beach and a close up of a backside in a hipster short, but these are brief.
Michelle and Lisa have similar personalities: encouraging and upbeat without being annoyingly perky. I happen to enjoy working out with both a lot, as I find their on screen personae pleasant. Each segment does seem to include a mention of “burning fat” or a “bikini body,” although it’s usually just a mention or two.
Both instructors mirror cue. What they do not do is cue every move, although once you know the routine you can figure out what’s going on. What’s more, they don’t break down moves, and this is where people will have trouble. What I find strange is they explain what a grapevine is but expect you to know what a chasse is, for example. Michelle does demonstrate a few moves before having you do them, but she doesn’t do this often. This is going to be one workout where you have to learn by watching and just giving it a go. Since I have experience with both instructors’ choreography, I know the drill, but if you’re not familiar with either be prepared for a learning curve. The good news is that once you learn the workout you won’t have to deal with the workout slowing down to introduce moves, so this workout will wear well with repeat viewings.
January 9, 2006
I have done all but the last segment of this workout. I am probably a low- to mid-advanced exerciser with no dance experience.
I had Shape...Your Butt, Hips, & Thighs which is also led by Lisa Wheeler. I ultimately sold it because I found parts of the choreography too tricky. I am finding this one slightly easier to pick up, but it is pretty similar.
For me, the choreo in this workout is a challenge, and if I really put my all into the workout, it gets my heart rate up (not "Step Blast" up, but into the low end of my training zone) and I feel like I got a good workout. I am going to mostly use it as an add-on for now so that I can take each segment and do it by itself. I have used segments of it as a warmup for weight training, which is enjoyable and lets me learn the choreography without giving myself a headache. I did four segments in a row the night I got it and my brain was melted by the end. I am planning on keeping this one because I have almost no hi-lo in my collection (my only other hi-lo DVD is Shape...Your Abs) and it's nice to have a break from step once in awhile.
I wasn't bothered by two of the background exercisers, but the one on the right (Lisa's left) in the orange shorts kind of made me wish I had a tranquilizer gun. She over-exaggerated her moves and generally looked like a rabid bunny throughout the workout. It's not enough to put me off of the workout but sometimes I look over at her and think "Oh would you just SHUT UP."
The instructors are upbeat and encouraging. They stress loosening up and having fun, which is key for someone like me who is nervous about her dance skills.
Others have already broken down this video very well. My take on it is that I definitely get a better workout than I've had with say "Dance Off the Inches" or the new Crunch or Prevention workouts, if only because you get almost a full hour if you do all the segments.
I range from high-intermediate to mid-advanced both complexity- and cardio-wise, depending on which way the wind blows. This was a perfect video for days when I want a solid intermediate workout say, first thing in the morning. Anyone who is used to say, Gay Gasper-style hi-lo or the Nancy Popp-era Crunch videos should pick up the moves fairly wel. It's basically a lot of grapevines, chasse shuffles, box steps, mambos, and other traditional hi-lo moves. Michelle does that move where you tap side to side, then do it double-time--that's one of the more heartrate-raising and fun moves. Nancy's last "tribal" segment includes some fairly intense sweeping leg moves and mini-squat side-to-sides.
All the music will sound familiar to CIA video veterans. Lively instrumental Dynamix stuff that I prefer to some of the workout Muzak I've been hearing on other new dance-workout videos.
For the price at DDD with free shipping, this is a bargain.
I tend to prefer Michelle. She's just so perky and competent. Good cuing, good enthusiasm without being over-the-top. She chuckles at times, and seems to be enjoying herself without taking herself too seriously. But Lisa is fine too. Both do make the obligatory comments about "...for that bikini body," which I figure is probably required of them.