Video Fitness

Dance with Lisa: 5-Day Dance

Lisa Nunziella

About me: I'm an advanced exerciser who loves all kinds of exercise, including dance, strength training, pilates, yoga and fusion workouts. I particularly enjoy salsa dancing, and have been doing it on and off for several years. This dvd is a very good representation of 5 popular Latin dances: the cha-cha, salsa, merengue, samba and rhumba). Each segment last about 26-31 minutes and is taught in add-on style. Ultimately, the TIFTing drove me insane and I couldn’t see myself doing this again. However, because Lisa doesn’t break any of the movement down, it will be useful for some to have the repetition. Also, there is only one song for each dance style, which can get a bit annoying. (There is also live drummer in the background.)

Set and Background Exercisers: The set is a very attractive, wood-paneled room with pretty gray or white hanging drapes. I like the set because it’s very clean and uncluttered—allowing you to see exactly what Lisa is doing. Her background exercisers, Andrea and marina are very competent dancers, which makes a big change from a lot of workouts that I’ve seen. (Anyone remember Viva Latin Rhythms?) They are in good shape, but not stick thin, which is also very nice. Lisa herself is very tiny and has an absolutely amazing physique, including killer abs. This is unsurprising, given that she’s a dance champion!

Warmup (5 Minutes): The salsa-based warmup is the same for each song. I actually enjoyed this part the most since it moves so quickly, has lots of variety and the music was good. Most importantly, it’s only repeated ONCE. I also appreciate the fact that Lisa uses and appropriate, exercise-specific warmup. That said, I think a beginning dancer might have a bit of trouble, since some of the footwork is fairly quick!

Cha-cha (17 minutes): Lisa dances cha-cha the way it should be danced! In other words, Lisa dances cha-cha ‘on 2’, which makes more sense from a musical perspective (working with the music, rather than against it). She teaches moves that you will see in any cha-cha class, and you can definitely take some of these moves out on the dance floor. I liked the moves, but as with the other segments, the TIFTing became tiresome. It also drives this on2 dancer insane that she breaks forward on her left foot (having me break on my right foot). This may seem incredibly anal, but it’s because this is one of the few authentic Latin dance workouts, I don’t want to have to think about how to translate the moves to breaking forward on MY left foot.

Salsa (16 minutes): This is NY on2 style salsa and is very authentic. You can tell she’s been dancing street-style salsa for a long time. The same critique applies here about breaking on the ‘wrong’ foot. I have definitely used similar moves in my dance classes and on the dance floor. I enjoyed this section the most, and it got my heart rate up the most (it’s literally a salsa shines class). However, this section contains the trickiest footwork (relative to the other dances) and I suspect it will frustrate most non-salsa dancers.

Samba (21 minutes): I liked this section. It is definitely more ballroom-based than the other dances. I prefer Brazilian samba, but this was still fun. Lots of subtle hip action but will get your heart rate up. Those with knee issues may want to watch some of the moves here.

Merengue (21 minutes): This was definitely the easiest of all the dances. Merengue consists mostly of variations on a march. However, I had to stop towards the middle/end because the TIFTing drove me insane. This was the one section (of the ones I did in their entirety) that I simply could not finish because of the incessant repetition.

Rhumba: This section is probably the most flowing and graceful of all of the segments. It looks ‘slow’, but if you’re really using your abs and arms, this can certainly wake up your core. I did parts of this section and was able to do the entire routine without going practicing the moves very much. Those with knee issues may want to be careful here.

Cooldown (5 minutes): Like the warmup, the cooldown uses salsa music. Some of the moves in the beginning seem pretty vigorous for a cooldown! The stretches are very yoga- based (e.g. downward dog with leg raises) and some of them require a fair amount of flexibility (Cossack stretch).

Bonus (14 minutes): Uses the routines from all of the different dance styles covered in the dvd. I didn’t do this one.

Tutorial (15 minutes): I peeked at the tutorial. She doesn’t break the moves down at all. She simply does each of the moves more slowly. It would have been more helpful to actually teach the moves, IMO.

Overall assessment: I’m glad I rented this one first before buying. Although Lisa has some great moves, the TIFTing gets tedious and my mind starts to wander. I also don’t like the fact that this dvd isn’t chaptered very well. There’s no way to string each of the dance segments together so that you can do a continuous workout. Also, each section contains a warmup (the same one), which you can’t skip over. I’d recommend this for the intermediate dancer who likes good Latin music, enjoys a bit of complex footwork and who doesn’t mind repetition—a LOT of repetition.

Instructor comments: Lisa is sweet and encouraging but her teaching tends to be a bit one-note. As a dancer, I appreciate the counting, but she went a bit overboard, IMO. She is in fabulous shape and has great form.


March 26, 2009

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