Video Fitness

Yoga Booty Ballet Live: Hip Hop Abs

Teigh McDonough & Gillian Marloth

I have the orginal YBB ballet workout, but this was my first exposure to one of the newer ones, including the Live series. In this video, Gillian and Teigh teach live in front of a large studio class; Ravi the drummer returns, and the music during the warm-up and cool-down is the same as in the original YBB.

The workout begins in a seated position. Gillian and Teigh instruct you to begin ujayyi breathing, and they then go into a Breath of Fire exercise (they don't explain either type of breathing). They also use mudras, hand gestures, to help set an intention for the class. After this initial 2 1/2 minute section, you get to your feet for some warm-ups which Gillian says are dervived from jazz isolations; these simple moves last another 3 minutes.

Next comes the cardio portion of the workout. Gillian and Teigh teach a dance routine, gradually adding in steps and frequently taking it from the top (TIFTing). Some people have said that this video has more complicated choreography than some of the other YBB Lives, but I'm somewhat of a choreo klutz, and I was able to pick up all of the moves either the first or the second time through (although I have been doing more dancey videos lately, so that probably was a help). Most of the moves were fun--slide steps, hip shakes, etc.--but some felt a bit silly to me--what was up with that cowboy move? Overall, however, I enjoyed the cardio section--I wished it had been a little longer than 17 1/2 minutes, but I still got a pretty strenuous workout in that time.

The last segment is about 11 minutes long. The first 5 minutes of this is abs work using the YBB squishy ball; I don't have a ball, but substituing my Pilates ring plus a light dumbbell in some places worked fine. This was a decent abs workout, but again, it could have been a little longer. The last 6 minutes of the workout is a combination of a few additional strength moves--eg, planks, push-ups--combined with yoga stretching and additional mudras, bringing the workout in at 34 minutes total.

Overall, I found this to be a fun, easy-to-follow workout--not necessarily the best dance video I have ever done, but one that I am likely to continue using.

Instructor comments: Gillian and Teigh instruct in a tag team fashion in this video; they flow together fairly seamlessly, and they both cue well. One minor issue is that they don't fully explain certain concepts/moves, so you're left to figure it out on your own. They looked a little silly to me at times (aren't they both a little old for ponytails?), but they're obviously both having fun with the workout.

Beth C (aka toaster)

August 12, 2005

I don’t care if I’m late to the party; I’m just glad that I’ve actually found the party and am enjoying it! Me, the cantankerously particular critic who finds something to nitpick in practically every workout. I’ve posted long explanations of what bugs me about beloved instructors like Cathe and Kimberly, why I can’t stand Tae Bo, and exactly how I think Greg ought to film his workouts, but now I feel like shouting out, “Mikey likes it!” (Apologies to anyone who doesn’t remember the old Life cereal commercials.)

These are the dance workouts I’d been wanting for so long. To anyone else out there wondering where all the jazz dance workouts are: Yoo-hoo, I’ve found them, over here! They make me feel like I’m back in those jazz classes I’ve been missing. I recognize a lot of the moves from jazz dance (although I’m pretty hard-pressed to describe them, as everybody else is). But YBB outdoes my classes on one very important parameter: they make me feel wonderful! I just couldn’t stop smiling when doing these workouts. It’s the mood that Gillian and Teigh set. Kimberly may tell me that I should dance “like nobody’s watching”, but Gillian and Teigh make me feel like dancing as if nobody’s watching! I don’t care if I look silly, if I mess up some of the moves (the choreography’s flexible enough that it’s easy to recover without ending up on the wrong foot or facing the wrong direction), or if I’m not shaking my hips “correctly”, I just give it my best shot and have a blast. Where Turbo Kick left me feeling like a wallflower watching someone else’s party, and where Kukuwa tried to coax me into the party but left me feeling like I was just pretending half-heartedly, YBB Live pulls me right in.

Hip Hop Abs started with setting an intention to let go of fear. How appropriate, I thought, for a dancer who’s actually performed some hip-hop in the past but who utterly failed to get the choreography in Juliane Arney’s Quick Fix Hip-Hop, who has developed a distaste for the overplayed hip-hop that shows up everywhere in pop culture, and who now feels thoroughly hip-hop-handicapped. I needn’t have worried. The pace was fast (~120bpm, with some double-time movements), but the moves were simple and the routine symmetrical. Instead of getting caught up in all the details of foot patterns and arm placement, I just kept following along and moving to the beat, adapting if I ended up doing something differently from Gillian and Teigh (I don’t even feel right describing it as making a ‘mistake’, because their attitude is so accepting!). With plenty of TIFTTing (perhaps more than necessary), I had lots of opportunities to try it again and to experiment with adding a different flavor each time. It was so liberating to dance this way, focusing on moving instead of posing. That’s been my lifelong problem with dance; I often get stuck trying to get the angle of some position “just right”, and then my feet and arms get all tangled up and I lose the feeling and the flow of the dance. Not so here—it was all about the feeling, and the feeling was fantastic.

The abs section involved some crunches with the squishy ball, roll-ups, and teasers. I had to stop because I was laughing at the background exercisers who were tossing their balls back and forth to each other between repetitions—exactly the kind of feel-good spontaneity that YBB inspires. I suppose it could have been planned, but Gillian didn’t seem to expect it, judging from her laughter.

I really marvel at how successfully Gillian and Teigh have managed to create such delightful classes and to share their infectious enthusiasm even across a prerecorded format. They’re definitely a different genre from the typical workout video. While this won’t replace your standard cardio workout, your regular yoga session, or your most-reliable abs routine, the YBB Live series fills a niche all of its own. They make wonderful “sparks” during the day when you need a pick-me-up, an excuse to get moving, or just some “me” time. I’d originally toyed with the idea of creating a compilation of all the YBB dance segments, as someone else had suggested, but I’ve since realized that I particularly love the introductory segments. The intention-setting and the jazz-dance-based warm-ups are perfect for coaxing me into a workout or movement session when I’m feeling a little unmotivated. And because Gillian and Teigh are so friendly and accepting in their teaching style, all of my usual worries about getting the choreography right or working out “hard enough” fly away. That mantra of theirs about “spreading love?” I think it might actually work.

Instructor comments: Gillian and Teigh have a natural and charming screen presence that persuasively conveys their love for what they do. They’re friendly, funny, sincere, and spontaneous, and they teach their class in a way that celebrates differences yet keeps everyone in sync. I love it when they switch from having everyone say, “Hey,” to saying “Yeah,” or when they change from saying it three times to only once. I always expect someone to miss the cue and shout something out all alone, but the whole class follows right along even though I don’t believe it was all preplanned. Watching everyone’s different dance style both reassures and inspires me that I can do whatever I want.

KickDancer

8/23/05

I am not a talented dancer, but I was able to pick up on the moves in this video. I liked the music and the dancing. The abs section was challenging.

Instructor comments: Funny, good team teachers, good cuing, encouraging

Sarah

10/3/05

I’m reviewing this workout after previewing once and doing twice.

General workout breakdown: I can’t possibly add anything to Beth or Kickdancer’s great breakdowns except note that this runs about 35 min., with just over 20 min. of that for cardio.

Level: I’d recommend this to experienced beginners (e.g. someone who has been working out for a bit or who has previous exercise experience but isn’t up for an advanced workout yet) through mid-intermediates. This series is great for someone who doesn’t have a lot of time and wants to get it all in, for someone who’s stuck or bored and wants something different to refind their spark, for someone returning to exercise after a break (baby, illness, etc.), etc. I enjoyed using this after an illness, when I wanted something fun to get me back into exercising. I usually work out at the intermediate / advanced level, but after illnesses I appreciate workouts that are more at the beginner / intermediate level, and this one left me sweating! It’s definitely one of those “you get out of it what you put into it” workouts.

Class: 7 women and 2 men, introduced as real students from their studio, join Teigh and Gillian, who instruct live.

Music: Ravi drums live, with some instrumental accompaniment playing in the background.

Set: bright interior studio with a wood floor, brick wall, and various exercise equipment (mats, barre, Swiss balls, etc.) scattered around.

Production: clear picture and sound. The camera angles are usually helpful, with nothing too funny or distracting.

Equipment: yoga mat (or equivalent, if needed) and YBB squishy ball (any smallish playground-style ball will do; I was able to use my Pilates ring / magic circle for a good number of the exercises). I did this once with shoes and once barefoot on my puzzle mats.

Space Requirements: You should be able to take a couple of steps to each side as well as forwards and backwards. Make sure you have room for flailing arms!

DVD Notes: Fortunately you can skip through the couple of intro chapters. The workout is divided into chapters, with the opening in two chapters and the ending abs segment in its own chapter, leaving a couple for the cardio. Several Beachbody commercials run immediately after the program.
My copy came with YBB Live: Cardio Carbaret on a separate DVD within the same case; this is also available by itself.

Comments: Warning: you may find your fear of dancing and inhibitions about looking silly while working out fly out the window (even if the blinds are down and curtains drawn lest anyone see you)! This workout is definitely about having fun and just happening to get a good workout in at the same time. That said, I noted above that this was good for someone who wanted to do a little bit of everything. If, like me, you prefer to focus on one thing at a time, you may not find yourself reaching for this often.
This is primarily a low impact workout (i.e. your feet aren’t usually both leaving the floor at the same time), although there are a few little jumps and twisty moves. If you have sensitive knees, make sure you unload your knee before turning or twisting it, and feel free to take out the pivots to stay front while the others turn to the side or around in a circle.

Instructor comments: The two instructors switch off. Both are about equally strong with cueing, so this works well. Teigh and Gillian are definitely having a good time. Yeah, they’re kind of goofy, perhaps even a little over the top in some spots, but for someone like me who’s not exactly prime material for So You Think You Can Dance that helps me feel more comfortable about making a fool of myself. I agree that Gillian and Teigh could spend more time explaining what moves are, but if you’re primarily a visual learner (i.e. you learn best by watching someone else) you’ll be just fine. Also, because they don’t stop to break down moves down the pace – and thus your heartrate – never slows down. A couple of times they trip up on mirror cueing, but otherwise they’re fairly easy to follow.

KathAL79

February 25, 2008 (written fall 2007 & Jan. 2008)



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