Yoav Avidar, Jessica Exposito, Marcus Irwin, Marc-Oliver Kluike, Steve Schiemer, Robert Steinbacher, Bianca Swartout, & David Van De Velde
I’m reviewing this workout after previewing it and doing each segment at least three times each while borrowing this from a very kind VFer.
General workout breakdown: This workout contains nine segments from eight different instructors from six different countries for just over 1 hour and 45 minutes worth of hi/lo (floor) aerobics and dance. (But don’t worry; all instructors cue in English!) All segments are from videos available separately (although not all are available in the U.S. and/or on DVD). Each segment contains one to two combinations which are built up from basic moves. There is lots of repeating the combos but no real TIFTing (taking it from the top). The instructors usually demonstrate the moves first (the “watch me” method), although not all consistently do this. The moves are generally low impact, but pivots are included in almost every combo. There is no warm up or cool down included on this DVD, but each segment generally builds in intensity - and complexity.
*Hot! Latin Dance & Step with Robert Steinbacher from Switzerland (8 min.) has a Latin flair. Robert leads you through one combo consisting of a couple of short blocks. He demonstrates the next layer as you perform the just-taught one, so there is minimal down time while you’re learning the next variation or step. Robert is a little stiff in front of the camera, but he has some great ideas for choreography and a pleasant personality that bode well for future projects from him.
*Dance Aerobic 3 with Marc-Oliver Kluike from Germany (12-13 min.) is hi/lo aerobics meets dance (moves drawn from modern dance, jazz, Broadway, etc. in addition to Latin dance elements like mambo and cha cha). Three little blocks combine into one combo, and at the end you see it with the first combo (not taught in this segment, and it’s a tricky one to pick up with no breakdown and minimal cueing). Marc is very comfortable in front of the camera. Like Marcus he has a habit of moving to step touch or other base move while setting up the next move or layer. So he doesn’t always cue every move (he cues blocks more than steps), and you need to pick some things up by watching, but what Marc lacks in cueing he sure makes up for in a goofy but fun personality.
*Cardiography with Yoav Avidar from Isreal (17-18 min.) morphs traditional hi/lo moves (hamstring curls, v-steps, etc.) into dance moves (mambo, strut, etc.). Yoav teaches you two combinations and combines them together at the end. Like Marc-Oliver and Marcus, Yoav tends to add in step touches, etc., in between. I’m having trouble clicking with Yoav’s voice and mannerisms and the second combo, but his cueing is excellent - simple, clear, concise, and timely.
*Shake Your Latin Thing! with David Van De Velde from Belgium (10-11 min.) builds Latin moves on top of traditional hi/lo. The combo is compact, unlike some of the other space-hogs included on this DVD. David cues well; I like how he mentions always which foot you should be on to start and says “turn outside right,” which is much clearer than “pivot.” He doesn’t specifically cue arms, telling you to do your own thing with attitude, but he has some extraneous arm movements when gearing up for a movement change or another run through. David is serious and moves very cleanly and crisply. (I tend to flail about, so it’s amazing to watch someone so clearly in control of their movements.)
*Aerodynamics with Marcus Irwin from Australia (9 min.) is traditional hi/lo aerobics, with a little Elvis in there. Marcus builds the combination up from very basic moves, and the two blocks that form this one combination aren’t particularly complicated in the end, which is good because he and the back-up babes have on dark pants (fortunately with colored stripes down the side) against the “black abyss” set. There is a pause between when you learn the two blocks and when you slice and dice them (i.e. do #1 on the right, #2 on the left, #1 on the left, and #2 on the right) and then change the order of elements, so don’t walk away when you see the first black screen with red E. I already had this video, so of course I had no trouble picking it up, and my perception of it is colored by my knowledge of the whole routine. (This also is why I compare a lot of the instructors to Marcus.)
*People in Motion with Bianca Swartout from Germany (9-10 min.) is jazz-dance inspired. Bianca has a pleasant personality with just the right amount of enthusiasm for me. My feet, however, told me her cueing was not as strong as other instructors’, especially since she doesn’t really break down moves much (well, not verbally and not really with directions) and adds a lot of step touches in between moves. But she does an admirable job staying focused on the workout while husband and wife Marc and Petra Kluike give each other silly looks and make funny gestures behind her!
*Furious HiLo Jam with David Van De Velde from Belgium (12 min.) is hi/lo that comes at you fast and furious. It starts out all right, but then David suddenly decides to stop building up slowly and throws in the bulk of one combo all at once and keeps going from there. I like that David omits the infamous filler steps of Evolution instructors, but I almost needed some breaks in between to figure out what was happening. I felt his cueing and breakdown was consistently better in his other segment. This was the hardest segment for me to pick up; it has the most spins (4 total) and jumps (2 small hops).
*Combo Mania with Steve Schiemer from Australia (8 min.) is a mix of hi/lo and dance-inspired moves. Steve builds up one combo via two short blocks which are sliced and diced together into a relatively compact but enjoyable routine. (It starts out a little odd, but everything makes sense in the end.) Steve’s cueing is clear and good, but he tends to call out blocks rather than individual moves and doesn’t make a lot of reference to direction.
*Dance Sensations with Jessica Exposito from Spain (20 min.) is all about Latin dance with a few hi/lo moves thrown in for good measure. This segment has by far the most choreography: four separate blocks are built into one big routine. The “E” screen cuts in twice, and the moves require a good deal of space forwards and to the sides, but it is a fun routine. Jessica is more of a minimalist when it comes to cueing (although her hand gestures and various noises, like “cha cha cha,” “uh uh uh,” and “hup,” help fill in some of the gaps) and wears dark pants against the black background, so it’s good that her steps are fairly simple. She throws things right in and then has you practice the new move, rather than the reverse (which is what I’m used to). Her repeated invocations of “sexy” and suggested hand and arm movements aren’t for the modest…
Level: I’d recommend this to someone who’s at least at an intermediate level in cardio and comfortable with complex choreography. I consider myself at least at a high intermediate level in terms of floor aerobics; most segments got my heartrate up decently with effort on my part but certainly won’t challenge the advanced exerciser. I can pick up any Christi Taylor, Marcus Irwin, etc. hi/lo choreography within a couple of run throughs; I would say that by the second time through I had each routine down, more or less, although not all were very polished.
Class: most segments have two fellow instructors working out with the main one, but a couple of segments only have one back-up exerciser.
Music: typical Evolution stuff – not bad, but nothing special. The music varies slightly from segment to segment but usually is just upbeat music without vocals. (Quite frankly you get an Evolution video for the choreography, not the music…)
Set: black interior set with several video screens at the back showing a revolving “E” and “flames.” (The color of the E and flames varies from workout to workout.)
Production: decent picture, quiet sound. Most camera angles are more helpful than not, although the major front-and-center camera angle is from far away. There are a few upper body shots while a new foot pattern is being introduced.
Equipment: sneakers (make sure you can pivot!).
Space Requirements: enough room to take at least two to three good-sized steps to each side, front, and back. Some instructors change the direction of moves or add movement, but since you’re only doing one or two combos it’s pretty easy to just stay facing front or in place.
DVD Notes: The DVD allows you to select the segment. It also contains previews for Evolution videos, some not featured here.
Conclusion: If you get bored easily, this is the video for you! Each instructor has a distinct personality and a slightly different approach to choreography, even if certain moves are repeated a good deal (step touch, mambo, V-step, etc.). This is a good way to get a feel for Evolution productions and non-mainstream (at least in North America) instructors. If you want to branch out into some new teachers or to see what the rest of the world is doing, give this one a whirl. (Just don’t fall in love with the instructors whose videos are not sold over here!)
This isn’t a video to be done in one go, especially since there is no cool-down, but I like being able to select one or more depending upon my interests and time. These short selections make good warm-ups for weights sessions or great post-weights cardio sessions.
I borrowed this one, and I’m still on the fence about buying my own copy. If I see a deal on it, I’ll pick it up. But I already have the Marcus Irwin included here, and I actually ended up buying Marc-Oliver’s Dance Aerobic 3 and Dance Step 3 DVDs after doing his segment on this tape plus the new Rob Glicks (which have 4-5 bonus blocks like this on them), so I’ve got my Evolution fix for a bit.
The step companion to this, Step It!, looks like it’d be worth it, too. And there’s another slightly older Evolution collection, Aerobic & Dance Showdown, which includes some workouts not in English, if you want to brush up your language skills as well.
see description of each instructor’s segment above. All mirror cue and focus almost exclusively on cueing moves (with no mention of fat, calories, carbs, body parts, burning, toning, bulk, etc.).
June 10, 2006