I’m reviewing this workout after doing the cardio portion at least half a dozen times and the other portions once.
General workout breakdown: This video has a 35-min. cardio workout, two 12-min. lower body sculpting workouts, and a bonus 12-min. total body weights workout (led by Tracy York; it also appears on Shape Your Abs).
The cardio routine alternates between dance aerobic-inspired moves and 30 seconds of more athletic moves done as intervals. The warm-up (4.5 min.) contains a short dance routine, many of whose moves recur later, and dynamic stretches. The main routine consists of 4 combos (about 5-7 min. each) which are never added together for a TIFT (take it from the top). Lisa teaches the first part of the combo, adding and layering, and then adds the second part, again adding and layering until the whole routine is built up. You never slow down to learn a move, which will be aggravating when you’re learning the routine, but this means you’ll still get a workout once you know the steps. The sides are built up evenly. You run through the final combo several times, with Lisa adding in a final little burst of intensity on one move. The workout ends with another short combo and some dynamic and static stretches (5.5 min.).
Each lower body segment contains its own warm-up (1 min.) and ending stretch (1 min.) You generally repeat the exercise about 6-8 times before moving onto the next exercise (or about 4 before moving onto the next progression). Lisa will sometimes add a couple of progressions or variations as you move through the exercise. The ballet-inspired standing portion will also challenge your balance. You’ll do side lunge, rond-du-jambe, rear arabesque, chair (i.e. demi-squat), curtsy lunge, side sweep, rear lunge into standing with knee rotation, demi-plie into demi-plie with heel lifts, and demi-plie with tondu. The floor portion is yoga- & Pilates-inspired; participants are barefoot. You’ll do a low lunge, thigh stretch, ronde du jambe and tap-tap-in while on all fours, child’s pose, mermaid pose into side kick, plank with knee pull in, supine leg lower & lift, frog, walk the ceiling, and single-legged bridge with leg lift.
The bonus weights routine, after a short warm-up (1 min.), includes squats with biceps curls, rear lunge with pulse, leg extension with biceps curls, alternating rear lunges, row at shoulder level – row to rib cage w/ arms narrow – overhead press, one-armed bent over row, shoulder series (variations on side and front raises), shoulder rolls, push-ups into plank with alternating single leg lifts, child’s pose, chest flyes, triceps press, curl w/ reaching weight forward, and oblique twist w/ weight. You’ll end with a few stretches (supine abdominal stretch, knees to chest, reclined hamstring stretch, wide-angled butterfly / diamond, and seated twist). This workout alone may not help you build significant strength or endurance, but it should be a great maintenance workout, especially on days when you’re pressed for time.
Level: I’d recommend this to an experienced beginner through intermediate exerciser who has some experience w/ dance / aerobics choreography (The choreography is only moderately complicated, but the manner in which it is taught and filmed will make it hard to pick up, especially to those not used to complex choreography) and w/ ballet / Pilates / yoga-type toning. It would probably frustrate someone brand new to exercising, but it’s a solid workout for those who have an idea of what they’re doing. This is definitely a workout where you get out of it what you put into it!
There are a few pivots, but you sometimes have the option of skipping them. Because the focus of this workout is the lower body, there are number of slight squats, lunges, etc. People with very sensitive knees should approach this one with caution.
Class: 4 fit young women join Lisa. It’s as if someone has purposefully selected a blond, a brunette, a redhead, and an African-American, but they look more like “normal” fit women than fitness models. (Oh, and one’s not the best dancer, so you won’t feel as bad if you’re not a born dance maven!) One shows less complicated / difficult or slightly less impact versions.
Music: upbeat instrumental. I’ve heard selections before on Karen Voight videos, for example.
Set: neutral-colored brightly lit interior space meant to look like a (very large) living room leading onto an outdoor patio.
Production: excellent picture, great sound. Lisa’s voice is a little louder than the music but not too much so. The major problem with the production is the fancy camera angles. There are just too many upper body or moving shots when new moves are introduced or tricky moves revisited. (I couldn’t figure out why I keep flubbing one move in the last combo, despite my familiarity with the routine. I finally figured out it was the odd camera shot from the side and away of upper bodies.)
Equipment: sneakers for the cardio; mat (or equivalent) for sculpting and bonus weights workout; (at least) 2 sets of dumbbells for the bonus weights workout.
Space Requirements: You should be able to take two good-sized steps to each side as well as front and back.
DVD Notes: I have the original edition of this DVD, with the model in orange short shorts; I haven’t heard if anything is different in the re-release (green shorts). Each segment – and the intro - is its own chapter, and at the end you are taken back to the main menu. It would have been nice to have had chapters within the cardio workout especially, and it would also have been nice to have the option to program your own workout, like cardio followed by leg segment #2, rather than having to return to the main menu every time.
Conclusion: I’ve seen this nominated for “worst video,” but it is far from the most awful video out there. Yes, I agree that Lisa’s cueing and the filming could have been better and somehow the choreography made more accessible. But this is a pleasant video that, while not for everyone, could find its place in some collections. The lower body sections are well-suited for those who like to do unweighted toning for their lower body. I personally enjoy the cardio portion, which I find great for days when I don’t want to kill myself with cardio or after a weights workout. My previous experience with Lisa Wheeler’s choreography (I had her Method videos, Dance to Fitness and Dynamic Cardio) and love of complex choreo made my learning curve for this video much less than normal.
If you like the general concept of the video but find the choreography a little too frustrating, you may still like Tracy York’s Shape Your Abs, which most people find easier to pick up. The Shape Bikini Body All Year Round Cardio is similar to this, although structured slightly differently (5 10-minute segments with separate warm-up and cool-down). You might also enjoy Jennifer Kries’ Pilates Method videos if you like the toning portions here.
Lisa is upbeat and encouraging, but not over the top perky. While she mirror cues ahead of the moves, she belongs to the “less is more” cueing school. If you need moves counted out, footstrikes meticulously explained, consistent notation of every step, etc., then Lisa isn’t your woman. There is some mention of burning fat and calories, but it’s more in the context of helping you reveal your hard work on your lower body, and there are promises of looking great and looking like a dancer.
October 4, 2006