Turbo Jam: Cardio Party

Chalene Johnson
Year Released: 2005

Categories: Boxing/Kickboxing/Martial Arts

I’m reviewing Cardio Party #1 after previewing it twice and doing it twice.

General workout breakdown: The workout runs about 43 minutes, with a short warm up and cool down / stretch framing the cardio. Chalene generally builds up short routines, which are repeated several times before being rebuilt on the other side and repeated approximately the same number of times. She generally starts with two or three moves, then cuts the number down and then throws in two, three, or even four more moves as the routine is repeated—although she generally only adds one move at a time. These combinations are never put together for a TIFT (take it from the top), though. A little over halfway through the workout is a “Turbo,” or an interval during which Chalene kicks up the intensity. The warm up starts things off rather quickly (I need just a little bit more before I start throwing punches), but Chalene actually includes both a cool down (which I actually liked once I picked it up) and a brief Tai Chi / stretch segment (which includes a few quick lower body stretches and that’s it).
Chalene includes the jab, cross, hook, and upper cut; speed bags; knee strikes and knee raises to the front and back; front, side, and back kicks; and side crunches and the “wheel” (a side crunch with a pelvic tuck and bigger arms). There are also “jumping rope,” jumping jacks, and other such moves. In between some sections she asks you to dance in your own style for about thirty seconds; some moves acquire some hip shaking or “old school” arms in the later part of the repetitions. This is the extent of the dance party, though. (In other words, if you were expecting a dance video with a few kicks and punches, look elsewhere; at the same time, if you were afraid this would be a video with lots of dance moves, you can relax.) She does have some different combinations from other kickboxing videos, such as the jab-hook-upper cut combination (all done with the same arm), the speed bag which becomes an upper cut, and the alternating side crunches leading into a knee strike. I felt the moves were performed at an appropriate pace: not too fast (a la Tae Bo double time) and definitely not slow. (This pace would be too fast for beginners, though.)

Level: I’d recommend this to an experienced beginner (i.e. someone who’s been working out for a bit and who has some TaeBo, kickboxing, or martial arts experience) through someone at the intermediate/advanced cross-over level. Someone at the high intermediate to low advanced level could add light hand weights for more intensity.
I consider myself a high intermediate with respect to cardio but only have kickboxing experience through kickboxing videos, which I’ve been doing on and off for the past 1 ˝ years or so. I’d probably consider myself a solid intermediate when it comes to kickboxing. I found this workout appropriate for me without hand weights, although I’ll add the hand weights once I get the moves down. I worked up a good sweat but didn’t feel wiped out afterwards. I did this yesterday after my Pilates and really focused on my core; I feel some light DOMS today. I hope to have the moves done pat next time; there are a couple of quick movement changes that aren’t well cued, so I had a little trouble with them the first and for a few segments even the second time around.

Class: Six women and two men join Chalene in a fairly diverse cast, with two slightly older participants (late 40s to early 50s) and several different ethnicities represented. Two participants show lower impact moves while two show higher impact (although only one seems to ramp things up).

Music / Set / Other Production Notes: The pulsing music is motivating and suits the workout well. I can’t say I recognize many of the tunes, which include “Blame it on the Boogie,” “Busta Move,” “Mamma Said Knock You Out,” “Goodies,” and “Bass Keep Pumping.” The brightly lit interior set has some frosted windows in the back; the middle section is bright pink. One exerciser is on a raised platform to each side at the back. The picture and sound are good, with the music mix definitely loud.

Equipment: You’ll need sneakers.

Comments: You’ll need some space. You should be able to step and kick to each side (front, back, right, and left).

DVD Notes: The DVD is chaptered by segment. Extras include “Jam’d” (a Chalene practical joke caught on tape), “Behind the Sweat” (a little intro to Chalene inside and outside of class), “Get to Know the Cast,” “Beachbody Supplements,” and “Yoga Booty Ballet” (short version of the infomercial).
My disc freezes in my Toshiba DVD player but works fine on my computer’s DVD-ROM. I was able to burn a copy onto DVD-R that plays fine on my regular DVD player, though. I’ve heard Lemon Pledge might have solved that problem without all of the trouble (but then I wouldn’t have gotten to try out all of the accessories with my new computer).

Conclusion: I’m keeping this. I like it, but there’s no way I love this enough to deal with Beach Body to order others from this series. Turbo Jam doesn’t reinvent the wheel of kickboxing workouts, but it does have some different combos and music. I can’t see doing Turbo Jam all the time, though, as I think that might be too much Chalene for me, but this is a good one to rotate in with my other kickboxing videos (Cathe’s Kick Max and KPC, Guillermo’s Kickbox Underground, Janis’ Hardcore Kickbox Circuit, Strike Zone, and QF Total Cardio Kick, and Kimberly’s Box-N-Flow) to give me some variety in intensity and length. (Of the videos I mentioned, I think this is most similar in intensity to the Hardcore Kickbox Circuit.)

Instructor Comments:
Chalene does mirror cue, but her overall cueing is inconsistent. Sometimes she cues the moves right before they happen, sometimes right as they’re happening, but sometimes she’s not cueing at all, which is particularly noticeable during the Turbo. When she’s not cueing she’s talking to or about her background exercisers, motivating the viewer, or getting into the music. I have to admit that at first I thought the DVD was skipping because she repeats the exact same set of cues for one side as for another. (Somebody, change the cue cards!) She includes few form pointers. I know there’s an instructional segment with the Turbo Jam set, but I feel all of the workouts should include form tips, even if there isn’t a need for form instruction proper.
Chalene admits that she is not a martial artist. If you like kickboxing instructors to have great form and a serious, focused attitude, Chalene is not the person for you. On the other hand, she might seem more approachable to someone without much kickboxing experience.
I think the comparisons to Christi Taylor in terms of the music are apt. Both select music that they know they can work with and choreograph the moves to the beat in such a way that you hardly notice how well the two go together until you play a workout where they don’t mix well at all.
As mentioned, Chalene is very energetic and wants to be super encouraging. She’s just at the border of my tolerance for enthusiasm. (Billy Blanks was just over, for comparison’s sake.) “Baby” doesn’t come up a lot in this workout, and the “you’re going to love this!” statements thankfully die off towards the middle of the workout. She does have a tendency to get into the spirit of the old hip-hop type stuff, both physically (with some head shakes and arm movements) and verbally (calling people “bro”).
I’m not sure what I think about Chalene’s “Jam’d” segment in which she plays a practical joke on a potential cast member, a la Ashton Kuchter in “Punk’d.” I mean, it’s great to see her personality, and I like the “Behind the Sweat” segment with her kids and all, but I’m not wild about an instructor who admits to playing jokes. (I’m quick to mistrust jokesters, and I don’t like instructors who joke “one more” and then having you do twenty more. Fortunately Charlene’s not like that during the workout.)