Video Fitness

The Method: Afro-Brazilian Cardio

Beth Lane

I'd say that I'm in the beginner/intermediate range, and I definitely get a workout when I do this tape. I could see it being too easy for a mid/high-intermediate or someone who isn't comfortable doing some of the more dancy, full-body "wave" movements that can really get your heart-rate up. I also can see myself adding more full-range motions to the movements in future when I need more of a challenge. I think it'll give me enough room to grow as I become more fit.

This tape is broken into three workouts, or routines. If you do all three routines, it's about 45 minutes. In each routine, the instructor leads some warm-ups (head-rolls, stretches, etc.) then teaches you a "home-base" step. She teaches you a dance step, then another, then leads you through the routine so far. A new step, then add it on to the routine. Etc. After each new step learned, or section of routine you go through, you return to the home-base step to catch your breath and prepare for the next move.

The dance movements are earthy, very hip- and shoulder-intensive, and quite joyous. You do a number of them while in a semi-crouch (second position, or "horse stance"), which gives the legs a great workout. I particularly like them because there's a lot of graceful reaching and stretching with your arms and torso while your legs bend and dance. (It reminds me of when I was little and danced around the living room pretending to be a ballerina. (grin)) The movements are easy to learn and mostly low-impact. There are a few jumps (like a hopscotch-type move in the third workout), but the instructor doesn't give a low-impact option for them. I made up my own.

The cast is primarily young, lithe, and graceful, with a mixture of women and men (although the men are in the back so you hardly ever notice them). The live music is all percussion, with three drummers giving a good, solid beat to follow. The routines are energetic and earthy, and the instructor gives a few comments on how a particular move might be used in a community celebration dance. They all seem to be having a lot of fun without being sacharin. There's also some free-form interpretation of the movements going on, from one of the guys using very little hip-swing to one of the women doing an almost belly-dancing hip-swing. I was always able to find someone I could imitate (and, at 270 pounds, I'm not all that graceful!).

All in all, I enjoy this tape, and use it primarily when I'm in the mood for something fun, graceful and whole-body. I use other tapes for target toning or pushing my aerobic envelope.

Pet peeves:

There's no real cool-down or stretch at the end of any of the workouts. After doing all three, my heart rate was still rather high. I walked around to bring it down and then did some stretching to round it out. Having a warm-up at the beginning of each routine will be nice for those who plan to do only one routine, but when doing them one right after the other you may find that it takes you out of your heart rate target zone when you don't want to be. The instructor was difficult to follow sometimes. I found it confusing to have her demonstrating the next movement while the cast did the previous one, but after the first couple of these, I was able to follow. Her cuing was off a number of times, especially in the second routine. It wasn't just me, either. The cast even had trouble following her once or twice. After a couple of times through the tape, though, I could follow easily enough. About me: I began using videos in February 1999 when, at almost 300 pounds, I decided I HAD to make some changes in my life. (grin) I'm down to 270, and still plugging away 2-3 times a week with aerobics tapes. With my weight so high, my primary concerns in choosing videos have been that they are low impact and gentle on the knees and ankles. I've been very grateful to have the reviews at Video Fitness to help me choose a variety of good tapes as I went from rank beginner (couldn't get through a whole Richard Simmons tape), to beginner/intermediate (I even do some weight training now!). This is the first Method tape I've done, and the first review of a tape. Hope you find it useful.

Synger
synger@ivillage.com
4/29/00

I have no idea what to think of this workout. Or, rather, I'm not sure if I can consider it a "workout" per se. It consists of three segments from the Method TV show, and hence feels much more like three warm-ups strung together. Three rather high-impact warmups, performed sans shoes.

The good:

  • I personally like the music, though anyone that doesn't like what is basically a drum beat should steer clear of this one.
  • I lifted weights the day before, and actually feel like I worked out a lot of the kinks by doing this tape.
  • It was "different". I have a very short attention span when it comes to workouts, and sometimes I just need something that is not quite the usual step or hi-lo routine. But there are better things out there in this category of "different", IMO (the Aerobics with Soul tapes with Maria Bergh come to mind).
  • The instructor was pleasant. And she was wearing a rather cool sarong over her leotard.
  • There were several individual moves that I liked a lot. Some very "wavy" stuff, as another reviewer has noted.

The not-so-good:

  • The impact was a little much for a no-shoe workout, yet having bare feet somehow felt right. There were some foot-stretching types of things in workout two that would have been pointless if wearing shoes. Most of the impact moves could be left out, but the routine becomes incredibly low-key at that point.
  • Some of the moves seemed a little ballistic given that the rest of the tape probably wasn't a sufficient warm-up for them (one in particular: a "sowing the seeds" hamstring stretch, done in a very bouncy fashion, followed by a leap to the other side to repeat).
  • Probably not much in the way of a cardio workout for anyone below low-intermediate. I'm personally somewhere in the mid- to high-intermediate range and I didn't break a sweat. Part of that might be due to this being a first attempt, but I can't see this being a cardio staple for much of anyone (most beginners would get frustrated by the impact and the next point I'm going to make).

The frightening:
The cueing. Occasionally, she takes the time, but even then things don't necessarily flow well. Mostly, though, well, it was just not there. The background exercisers were going the opposite direction of her for an entire section. I'm guessing that this was partially due to the fact that it was TV segments, and they hadn't practiced as much as for a video, but it made things way too hard to follow.

Conclusion (for me): I borrowed this tape from someone who wasn't totally sure she was going to want it back. I think I see her point. It just didn't flow for me. This is a tape that I was sort of hoping would work for those sick and/or PMS-type days, but the cueing would just get on my last nerve at those times.

Karen Nagel
6/17/01

I was attracted to this dvd because I thought Afro-Brazilian dance would be a nice alternative workout. The video has 3 15-minute segments - each of which add onto the dance moves that you learn in the previous segment. It really is a great cardio workout - by the end of the first 15-minute segment my heartbeat was up there and I broke a sweat. However, I was not able to master a lot of the moves because I am just not that coordinated - I found it choreographically challenging - but, then again, I have no experience with dance. There are some moves, like "heel digs" that are a bit too high-impact for me (I have a problem w/ my joints and try not to do too much jumping). All in all, though, I definitely recommend this video for anyone who is more coordinated than me - it really is a fun one!

Instructor comments: I liked the instructor - she is upbeat and draws you in - I like her personality.

Lenore

10/07/03



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