3-2-1 Dance

Petra Kolber
Year Released: 2007

Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance

Note: Itís a bit hard to transcribe the title, which on the DVD cover has dots in between the 3, 2, and 1 (but not quite 3.2.1), so to be consistent with Collage and TotalFitnessDVDs Iíll use 3-2-1. You may also see this written as 321 Dance or 3, 2, 1 Dance.

Iím reviewing this workout after doing it once.

General workout breakdown: This almost 52-min. dance aerobics workout is an approachable, fun routine for those who want to dance but arenít sure if they have those dancing genes.
The warm-up (6 min.) takes you through some basic cardio steps and some dynamic stretches for the lower and upper body.
The main workout (31.5 min.) consists of three sections (each of which is about 10.5 min.), during each of which you learn 2 separate combinations, for a total of 6 combinations. Petra builds up the combinations from basic moves, adding layers during subsequent run-throughs. All combos are symmetrical (meaning you do them on both the right and left leads), and Petra spends pretty much the same amount of time on each side as sheís building things up. Although Petra repeats the blocks and full combos multiple times before moving on, she never combines any of the combinations here.
The take it from the top segment (just over 7 min.) is in a separate chapter, so if you donít like TIFTing, you can skip this. Petra first runs through each combo on both sides individually, with marches in between, and then youíll do two full TIFTs without breaks between the combos. (Personally I wouldnít have minded seeing Petra weaving the combos for two more run-throughs to extend this out closer to a full hour, but thatís by no means a deal breaker for me.)
The cool-down (6.5 min.) leads you through a short cardio combo to bring your heartrate down and repeats many of the stretches from the warm-up, only this time holding some of them, and adding in a few more ones for the lower body and torso. Petra takes her time here, and itís really a nice little cool-down, IMHO.

On the cover and in the warm-up Petra says you only need to learn 3 easy moves to dance, but she doesnít really continue the theme in the workout. So this isnít like Leslie Sansoneís 4 basic steps that get repeated over and over. I can see why some would be very frustrated if they thought everything was built up off of just 3 steps, because the choreography is more complicated than that, and Petra moves rather quickly through it for those who arenít as comfortable with learning choreography. (Conversely, if you love the current ďadvancedĒ instructor trend of throwing out whole blocks at once this will be built up too slowly and have too much repetition for you.)
Petraís style is more dance aerobics than pure dance, as she incorporates all sorts of different elements from different styles of dance: mambos and cha chas from Latin, box steps and rock steps from jazz, grapevines and v-steps from hi/lo or floor aerobics, throw downs from disco, and ďOh no she diínítĒ from, well, Petraís take on street. (Petraís too sweet to pull that last move off convincingly!) Thereís quite a bit of hip shaking, including a sassy hips move, but I wouldnít consider this too provocative, especially since Petra never once mentions being sexy or anything like.
There is minimal impact here, and if the few little jumps arenít for you theyíre easy enough to leave out. There are some pivots, although the quicker full turns are optional.

Level: Iíd recommend this to beginner / intermediate to intermediate exercisers who preferably have a little bit of dance and/or aerobics experience under their belt, although you donít have to be a good dancer at all. Petra says if you can do three simple steps (march, step touch, tap out) you can do this workout, but I think it might be a bit of a jump for pairs of left feet, so Iíd recommend trying out something like Petraís Cardio for Beginners first before making the leap from pure walking workouts to this. The overall intensity isnít particularly high, so intermediate exercisers might need to put a little oomph into their moves to get this up to a moderate workout for them.
I consider myself an int./adv. exerciser. This workout is on the easy side for me; itís just a hair more intense than many of my walking workouts. But I donít mind that at all, because I like having workouts like this on my shelf for all of those times I want an interesting little routine that gets me moving without threatening to wipe me out. For me Petraís dance workouts are great for lighter cardio days, active recovery days, and sick or otherwise off days.
I happen to like and consider myself pretty good at picking up choreography. I found this workout doable this first time through, although I have to admit that Petraís choreography will have a few moments where things donít flow smoothly or intuitively to me, but fortunately in this one most of those moments were just during the optional extra turns.

Class: 2 women join Petra, who instructs live. (I like that the background exercisers look more like happy, healthy, normal women who are fitness enthusiasts rather than professional size 0 fitness models.) Petra is actually the one who leaves out the turns.

Music: upbeat mix of instrumentals and vocals. The back cover claims this has ďa chart topping sound track [sic],Ē but curiously little sounded familiar, either from pop culture (although Iím the first to admit Iím not on top of pop music) or from other videos. I found the music better than average, but itís not exactly something Iíd want a copy of to play whenever I felt inspired to dance.

Set: bright, neutral-colored interior space with a doorway framed by gauzy curtains and potted plants along the back.

Production: clear picture and sound, with Petraís voice audible over the music, which is still audible without having to crank the volume up too high. There are quite a few close-ups, and although the editor tried to get back to the full shots or feet-only shots during the introduction of new moves or the start of another run-through, there were more than a few times when I wish they had cut back two seconds sooner.

Equipment: shoes that can pivot on your workout roomís flooring, although if you have thick carpet and donít have dance sneakers / donít want to put tape over the toebox of your sneakers you can leave out the turns.

Space Requirements: You should be able to take 2-3 good-sized steps to each side and take at least 4 steps from the back to the front of your space. I had little trouble in my workout space (8í wide by 6í deep), but because Iím taller (and not always the most coordinated) I wouldnít want to try to squeeze it in a significantly smaller space.

DVD Notes: Your chapter options are Intro, Play All, Warm Up, Dance Party 1, Dance Party 2, Dance Party 3, From the Top, and Cool Down.

Comments: I can NOT believe there are no reviews of this one. This doesnít have a rabid, vocal following, but it sure has its fans. Once one person recommends Petraís dance workouts on a thread quite a few more jump in to second and third that recommendation, almost always citing this one as the one to get. I had this on my wish list for several years, during which time I managed to trade for many of Petraís other workouts, but I never could get anyone even to think about parting with their copy of this one. I finally had to buy it for myself, and Iím so glad I did.

How does this compare to Petraís other dance workouts, PK Grooves: Doable Dance (or is it PK Doable Dance Grooves?) and Just Dance? Just Dance is actually quite a bit like 3-2-1; they are very close in terms of intensity, complexity, length, and fun level. (They even seem to use the same set, although the accessories are different, and at least one of the same background exercisers.) If you love one, like me, youíre probably going to love the other, again like me. Personally I prefer the cool-down and stretch in 3-2-1, as Just Dance launches into a yoga-inspired stretch immediately after the last TIFT (still, not a dealbreaker for me). While Iím learning the routine I appreciate that Petra goes through each block separately in the final TIFT in 3-2-1, but I suspect once I know the routine well Iíll prefer Just Danceís launching right into all of them together. I found PK Grooves slightly less intense but slightly more complex than either 3-2-1 or Just Dance, and for some reason Ė the set? the soundtrack? the choreography? something else? - it just lacks the sparkle that the other two have.
Itís worth noting that Petra has another dance workout of about the same length, 10 Minute Solution Blast off Belly Fat, which has 5 10-min. segments. If you are struggling with the choreography in 3-2-1 Dance, it might be worth picking up that, because I think itís a good bridge to what Petra does here. If youíre really struggling with the choreography, pick up Petraís Cardio for Beginners, where she breaks down many of the same basic moves she includes here more carefully and with less stuff in each combo.

Instructor Comments:
Petra cues consistently and well here. As usual, she cues just ahead of the move. She not only mirror cues but also provides helpful directional hints, saying things like ďthe leg closest to the televisionĒ and ďto the outside.Ē She often teaches the next layer via the ďwatch meĒ method.
Petra is upbeat, encouraging, and very natural on camera. Iím usually not the biggest fan of peppy personalities, but I like Petra; in fact, I find her endearing and charming and even funny. Sheís about making exercise fun, and she wants see you happy and healthy, which are among my main exercise goals, too.