Video Fitness

DANCE WITH ME: JAZZ WORKOUT

Stephanie Herman

Stephanie Herman Dance With Me series: Jazz Workout

I just got the DVD yesterday and previewed it – here are my first impressions. I haven’t done it yet, so my impressions might change once I’ve tried it a few times. I took a jazz class as a kid over 25 years ago, so I don’t remember much at all except that I liked it, so I have no clue if it truly resembles a real jazz class.

There are actually two separate workouts on the DVD: Alignment & Jazz (36 minutes) and BodyFlow Stretch (49 minutes). There is also a 6 minute interview with Stephanie which was interesting but seemed contrived – ie-I noticed the male dr they interviewed seemed to be reading a teleprompter! But I did like the fact she seemed very down to earth and personable. She is amazingly flexible (of course!) and seems to really know her stuff (ie- muscles). She is graceful beyond belief. Overall, I liked the music, which is shocking since I’m picky. It was pretty non-descript, but different types - mostly new agey (which I love).

Both of the workouts are Stephanie alone: the Alignment & Jazz was a red and pink background and she was wearing a sparkly leotard. For the BodyFlow Stretch, the background was calming blue as was her outfit. It’s obvious she’s a dancer because she certainly doesn’t have aerobic cueing skills, but she is very descriptive. For the A&J workout, she uses metaphors like “wait for the bus” and technical terms I didn’t know. I did recognize ‘jazz square’ from Jennifer Mills CIA 9908 (?) workout I love, but that was about it!

For the Alignment & Jazz workout, it seemed to be light aerobic with a lot of balancing. It was really slow in the beginning, but then picks up the pace. There is a lot of emphasis on breathing technique (I was a bit bothered by her making her pelvis area ‘smile’…). There are almost *too* many pointers at first and there are almost none later on. I thought it was a great intro, but I think I’d be bored of that intro every time I do the workout. This section seemed strange to me (probably since I’m not familiar with a real jazz class), but she actually says “you’ve got to feel comfortable with the awkwardness of this at first” so I hope once I do it a few times, I’ll feel better. She seemed out of breath a lot in this section, and it really didn’t look all that aerobic to me, BUT, I have a feeling it’s one of those workouts that looks deceivingly easy while previewing, but my heartrate will soar while doing it. At the end of the section, it looked like a true performance. I really think that after doing it a few times, I’ll love it.

For the BodyFlow Stretch, I thought it was more Pilates-esque with stretch and strengthening exercises. I noticed she said “kinda like yoga” a lot, but called child’s pose a cat stretch?! There was a lot of ab work, bridge work, a Pilates-esque side series. There was a lot of focus on alignment. It looks as if your abs will be worked quite hard in this entire section. This workout seemed like a fusion workout to me rather than just stretching. I know I’ll love this workout once I try it.

The funny thing is that I’m more excited about the BodyFlow Stretch section than the Alignment & Jazz workout! Of course once I actually try both, my mind might change. I am a bit intimidated by the A&J workout as the cueing was lacking, but I’ll have to see once I’ve tried it a few times.

A few things I didn’t like: I hated the fact that neither workout was chaptered at all, when I FF to skip while previewing, it went back to the main menu (I’m a newbie DVD convert, so I hope I got the terminology here ok!). She said “GOOD” or good job way too many times, but again, that might not be as noticeable while I’m actually doing the workout (I hope!). There are also a lot of comments about breathing that bugged me during the preview, but I actually think they’ll be helpful reminders while doing the workouts. An interesting thing I caught her saying was “keep breathing OUT, then breathing in will be natural” I thought that was interesting, although not quite sure what she meant LOL

From a marketing viewpoint, I definitely think they should advertise there are 2 workouts and emphasize the BodyFlow Stretch as a Pilates-inspired workout (why not jump on that bandwagon!). Overall, from previewing, I think I will like it ok at first (since I’ll feel awkward), but as I do it more, I think I will grow to love it. For the cheap price I paid at Deep Discount DVD, it was definitely worth it and I’m considering getting the other two from the “Dance with Me” series, one on dance and the other ballet.

Instructor comments:

Queenie

2/26/04

I just got the 'jazz' dvd today, but the jazz part isn't what has me 'jazzed'...

After the 36min dance workout, there is a 49min bonus "Body Flow Stretch" workout that is ABSOLUTELY wonderful.

It's everything I was hoping for in the Classical Stretch DVD's and in Janis' Dynamic Stretch DVD, but didn't quite find...

The music 'sort' of reminded me of Cirque de Soliel (sp), but not as fully orchestrated...it was perfect for this workout. Light a couple of candles, and you're ready to go...

The set was plain with soft blue light, and Stephanie is on a mat (the whole workout takes place down on the mat, and the exercises are in 'time' with the music...

Here's the breakdown'

00:00-10:00
Full Body 'dynamic' stretch (by dynamic, I mean that the moves 'flow' sort of like Classical Stretch, but she does hold them long enough to get good thorough stretching.)

10:00-25:00
Pilates-inspired abs work and stretching...again, in time with the music. Very graceful, and with lots of form pointers (but not stopping to 'set the exercise up' - I hate that). There is also some core stretching (spine, hip flexors, lower back...)

25:00-38:00
Unique Pilates-inspired leg work and stretches...(rather tough, IMO)

38:00-49:00
Chest and Back strengthening and stretching...

NOTE: the above times aren't chapter points, but the sections 'happen' right at those times, and each section can 'stand alone' if you wanted to only work one area of the body.

Again, if the 'style' of Dynamic Stretch or Classical Stretch appeals to you...try this video. BTW, Stephanie's "Body Flow Stretch" is also on her Dance With Me: Ballet DVD.

As for the 'dance' section? I'll probably never do it. The music was nice (but a bit low), and the 'dance' reminded me of a cross between NIA and Petra Kolber's Breathe - sort of. (what ever it was, it didn't match up with my limited dance concept of 'jazz'.) Someone else can probably do a better review of the jazz section.

I don't mind that I'll never use the jazz part, however, because the Stretch workout makes this video a true FIND in my book - in fact, if Stephanie re-relased a chaptered version of Body Flow on a separate DVD, I'd buy it again!

Pros:
- GREAT, relaxing full body stretch
- Nice pilates-fusion work broken down by body part

Cons:
- Should have been chaptered
- Instructor's audio could have been a 'bit' better. I couldn't tell where the mike was, but it doesn't sound like it was 'mixed' well. That said, it's not a distracting issue, AT ALL. Just a nit pick from an audio freak.

BOTTOM LINE:
If you like Janis' Dynamic Stretch or wanted to like Classical Stretch...you'll LOVE the "Body Flow Stretch" workout on this video.

Instructor comments: She has a pleasant style about her, and 'kind' of reminds me of a 'calm' version of Janet from Three's Company - kind of. She is very graceful, and her movements inspired me to be more graceful, too.

GymRatt

07/25/04



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