Background on me: I have been using exercise videos for 3 1/2 years. I considered myself to be an advanced exerciser until I got pregnant. Now, at 8 months postpartum, I would say I'm at an intermediate level because I haven't been able to exercise as much as I would like with a new baby around.
I bought this video because it has two short workouts on it. The first workout is 25 minutes of cardio. The second workout is 25 minutes of toning.
The cardio section has relatively easy, dancy choreography. Minna uses mambos and cha chas almost continuously. The music is latin ("salsa aerobics" as the box states) and easy to move to. Compared to other dancy tapes or instructors, this choreography is easy. If you don't like dancy or are intimidated by it, this tape should be fine for you. If you REALLY like dancy, you will be bored by this tape. I would not describe the choreography as complex at all. One thing Minna does that I haven't seen done before is to have you do a grapevine left and then do some athletic moves, then grapevine right and do some dancy moves. So it's like if you don't like one side, just wait until she goes to the other side. It felt like a good mix for someone who might not want all dancy choreography or all athletic moves either.
The toning section was harder than I thought it would be. Minna gives you a total body workout by having you combine upper body and lower body moves. For example, she'll have you do a bicep curl with your right arm as you are doing a lunge with your left leg. So instead of doing lunges and holding weights and then standing still and doing bicep curls, you are doing the two exercises at the same time. I don't know how effective this method will be, but it's sure a time saver.
As for the claim on the box that this workout is for fitness "emergencies", I don't plan on using the workout in that way. As I said above, I bought it because the workouts are short. Anyone who went from being nearly sedentary to doing this workout 4-5 times a week and following the enclosed eating plan would surely see some results in six weeks. However, any other good workout would give you results as well.
Overall, I would recommend this tape because it has good cardio music, dancy moves, shorter workouts, and a pleasant instructor.
This is my first tape by Minna Lessig, and I can say that I really enjoyed her. She cues great and smiles a lot. She doesn't do any whooping or unnecessary chatter. I would buy more of her tapes.
January 13, 2002
This review is my first, and is based on the cardio section only. I feel I should finally write a review as all of your reviews have helped me so much in the past - Thanks! About me - I'm an intermediate exerciser with a little one at home, so time is often an issue for me. I don't do step yet, and my favorite instructor would probably be Karen Voight if I had to pick just one.
The cardio section is only 25 minutes long. It's not bad, but I think it's more a beginner level rather than intermediate like Collage rated it. I think the intermediate rating must have come from the fact that Minna assumes you know v-steps,grapevines,etc, and maybe the toning is intermediate (I only previewed it, but it looks beginner/low intermediate at best).
To be honest, after I previewed the workout last night, I thought I would NOT enjoy it at all. Fortunately I did! It was not too silly for first thing in the morning, nor was it too complicated. I'm sure I will enjoy it again. If you're looking for a tough aerobic workout, this is not it, but for a beginner/low intermediate, you'll enjoy it. I will use it when I want some quick cardio without extreme sweat! Besides, I only paid $12 Canadian at Music World for it. I think I'll go back and get Minna's Strength & Grace for $12 too - she's someone who won't get on my nerves.
Almost forgot - I liked the fact that one of the background exercisers has hips and thighs! She has short blond hair, and has a shape and build similar to mine - some people call it rounded, or big, but I prefer voluptuous! Ha Ha! She's the first person I've ever seen in a video that reminds me of me. It would have been nice if there had been a little more interaction between Minna and her two students, because they all seem to be having fun. Overall, I'd give the tape a B.
She's very mild - no whopping which is a big plus for me. Cuing is OK - nothing extra special. She reminds me a bit of Tamilee web as far as personality goes.
02 14 2002
Minna does this workout in a wood-floored studio with two background exercisers, one of whom is not at all a typical hardbody though she looks quite fit. The music is unremarkable, but it does the job. The tape is divided into two intermediate level workouts, each complete with warmup and cooldown, a 25 minute aerobic dance workout and a 30 minute toning workout. You could easily choose to do them on separate days.
The dance workout starts slowly, but does get the heartrate up by the middle as the impact increases. Minna uses a mix of mambos and salsa moves with more traditional athletic moves like squats, grapevines and jumping jacks to produce a dancy workout that feels doable for this choreo-phobe, though after doing it twice I'm still struggling with a few of the moves. It would be a good learning video for someone who would like to try more dancy combinations. She builds four or five combinations and does each several times before moving on to the next one, so there's very little TIFTTing.
The toning workout is made up of mostly compound moves, using 3-10 lb weights. For the lower body, while holding the weights in her hands and sometimes doing upper body work at the same time, she does a pretty standard set of dips and lunges, squats with leg variations, side leg lifts, and glute raises. I was surprised that she didn't do anything for the inner thighs, and the workout seems a bit light on the hamstrings as well. For the upper body, she does some back work, tricep kickbacks and dips (on the floor with buttocks lifted), she's a little light on the bicep curls, but she has quite a selection of shoulder delt work, including two different back delt flyes that I don't have on most of my other toning tapes. Keep a mat handy if you work out on a hard floor, because you'll need it when you ground a knee on the floor for the lat rowes and also if you do pushups on your knees, even though she doesn't tell you so just then. She also does crunches (with weights resting on her chest) and reverse crunches -- but no obliques -- chest flyes, and back raises. While I did the workout with 5 lb weights, she goes slowly enough that you could probably do a fair bit more than that, though the compound moves mean that your heartrate will certainly be elevated long before you reach failure.
This is a good intermediate level workout, and gives you cardio and total body toning with a decent stretch, all in 55 minutes. A fun workout on an easy day for more advanced, a challenge for a beginner to add a different style into their choreography.
Encouraging without being too perky. She cues well and breaks down the moves quite well.
12 July 2002
This video is approximately one hour with two separate 25 minute workouts. Each workout has their own warm up and cool down so you can do them together or separately. The aerobic portion is latin inspired with basic aerobic moves as well. I'm latin impaired, but enjoyed this portion of the workout. There are some high impact moves so a beginner who hasn't worked out before and doesn't know how to modify down to low impact would want to get a bit more experience first. I for one liked the amount of impact, it was just enough impact to intensify without hurting my lower back. I wasn't as impressed with the strength portion of this tape and is why I decided to trade it to someone who would appreciate it. I don't know why, it just wasn't my thing. It was a solid 25 minute weight workout using compound moves and since I did the whole video at one time I was pretty sweaty during this section. I think I just prefer the Firm for my strength workouts. For a quick weight workout, this section would work.
On the whole, I'd say this video is best suited for a high beginner to low-intermediate level exerciser. I myself am an intermediate level.
Minna is a great instructor for beginners. She is very non-intimidating and encouraging. She also encourages you to add your own persnal flair to the workout, which is nice.