Prior to this, I tried various bellydance videos, but I failed to find one I liked--some were way beyond my level as a beginner, whereas others, while fun, didn't provide much of a workout. Happily, Rania's My Personal Trainer seems to be the perfect fit for me.
The idea behind this DVD is that you have a wide variety of bellydance segments to choose from; this allows you to create a customized plan OR to follow one of the seven plans already programmed into the DVD. The pre-programmed plans are Sleek in a Week, and intense 7-day shape-up plan; Intense Legs and Buns; Intense Abs; Time Saver, with each workout being 40 minutes or less; Fit It In, where workouts are split throughout the day; Take It Easy, a series of light 10-20 minute workouts; and Maintainence, mostly shorter workouts for those who have already reached their fitness goals.
As far as the workouts themselves went, I found them to be enjoyable, intense, and very doable despite my limited prior bellydance experience. The cardio segment is about 30 minutes long, and it appears to be compiled from Rania's previous videos, as there are different section featuring Rania and class in different outfits. Also, the varying sections don't really blend together all that well--rather, each one jumps right in--making it a little difficult to follow along at first, but I was able to manage. After a 5-minute warm-up, the first 6-minute cardio section is not very intense. Section #2 is more fun and well as more work (5 minutes), and then third section is even more intense, with lots of shimmies and circles plus some mini hops and jumps (6 minutes). In the final segment, you do some combination moves (6 minutes), and there is a nice 3-minute stretch to end the cardio work.
The eight toning segments are all taught by Rania alone in the studio, and each are 10 minutes in length. Legs & Butt 1 had plenty of shimmies, tucks, and simple leg moves (kicks, hip drops, etc.), and it felt like further cardio workout. Legs & Butt 2 was more toning-oriented, beginning with plies and squats, going on to a brief leg lift section using a chair, and ending with work from an all-fours position. The Arms segment would have more appropriately been called "shoulders," as my shoulders were definitely burning during this one! Here you will do shoulder rolls and isolations plus various arms and hands movements, including snake arms, lotus hands, and veronica hands; shoulder shimmies finish the segment. The Hips & Waist segment was another that felt like additional cardio work to me, as you do a lot of movement with hip circles, figure 8s, and front and back movements. Chest & Back features chest isolations, circles, and figure 8s with leg movement added in. In the first Abs segment, you begin with standing contractions and abdominal rolls, then move on to a series of seated crunches and additional rolls in a balance position. Abs 2 has some brief standing contractions to start, but then you move to the floor for a straight-leg crunch series which was particularly tough on the lower abs (actually, both abs segments were quite challenging!). Finally, Rania includes a great Flexibility Training program: she starts with plies and standing stretches, moves on to dynamic yoga moves such as cobra to down dog and cat to cow, and performs a variety of floor stretches as well; although quick, I found this to be very effective.
If all of the above wasn't enough, the DVD includes plenty of bonus features as well. First of all, there is a video library of bellydance moves; you can use this clips from other workouts to fine-tune your execution of individual bellydance movements. Secondly, there is a feature performance by Rania, a workout without narration option (this is available for each individual segment as well), plus a photo gallery and trailers from other videos. Finally, there are brief on-screen explanations of the benefits of bellydance, instructions on monitoring your heart rate, and eating and exercise tips.
This is my first video by Rania, and I really liked her easygoing instructional style combined with her excellent dancing. Those who have tried her other videos may find some of the segments here to be familiar, but it was all new to me. I love that this DVD provides me with so many different options, and I know that I will use it often. Highly recommended for getting a great workout while having fun, too!
I liked Rania; she had a nice style, and her voiceover cues were usuallly right on. She was a little harder to follow in the cardio segment, mostly because the routines seemed to be lifted from other videos, but I know I'll get it with a little more practice.
Beth C (aka toaster)
August 6, 2005