Dance Off the Inches: Sizzling Salsa

Stella Sandoval
Year Released: 2006

Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance

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Iím reviewing this workout after doing it twice.

General workout breakdown: Beth has already described this workout well. Iíll just add a few details.
This is dance as a workout rather than dance lessons for the club, performance, or competition. Despite the name, this isnít pure salsa; more accurately, itís a Latin dance mix. (Iím fine with that, but if youíre a real Latin dance purist the mixture might irk you.)
To give you an idea of the moves youíll see, the Step Guide covers the hip sway, salsa step, merengue step, cha cha, hip roll, Latin twist, box step, samba, mambo, and tango. Like the other DOTI instructors, Stellaís goal here isnít to teach you a basic salsa step you can use anywhere so much as the salsa step sheíll use in the workout, including its relevant arm pattern.
Speaking of arms, Stella includes quite a few arm movements to go with her foot patterns. This is one place where I feel Stella lacks some creativity, although Iím not sure how much could be that some Latin dances just donít have as interesting arm movements as others and how much is her just trying to find something to do to accompany the feet, either as an afterthought or as a conscious effort not to make things too complicated. Expect to circle your arms, elbows bent, a lot.
I do like having a short warm-up and cool-down here, but Iíll note that Stella doesnít do many stretches, and those she does arenít held very long.
This is primarily low impact, although you can add a little hop here and there. Do be careful if you have sensitive knees, especially if youíre on carpet: the merengue walks, hip roll turns, and the one pivot move might not agree with some.

Level: Iíd recommend this to experienced beginners through low intermediates comfortable with basic dance choreography. Someone whoís more intermediate could put some oomph into their moves, but even then this I agree with Beth that ďlow moderateĒ is probably the appropriate term. You donít have to be a dancer to do this, but if youíve only done walking workouts this could trip you up.
Iím usually an int./adv. exerciser, but Iíve backed down to a more intermediate level in my workouts this year between health issues and a long, hot, muggy summer that had me sweating while just standing still in my current exercise space. These DOTI workouts came in handy because theyíve helped me break up the monotony of Leslie after Leslie. Even in those circumstances these arenít particularly challenging or intense, but they do their job of getting me moving at a low to moderate level of intensity, and thatís all I wanted. Once I get back up to my normal level of intensity Iíll keep them for sick days, recovery days, lighter days, add-ons, etc.
In addition to not being too challenging to do, I found the choreography not too challenging to pick up. I did watch the Step Guide beforehand, but for me it wasnít really necessary; I would have been fine without it. I was comfortable with the routine after one run-through and very comfortable with it after my second. Now, I must disclose that a) I pick up choreography easily and b) Iím familiar with Stella Sandoval (I also have her 10 Minute Solution Latin dance DVD), so itís no surprise I found this one so doable. Others who arenít such choreo hounds and/or who are new to Stellaís stuff are likely to find itíll take some time to figure out her cuing and how some of the moves fit together.

Music: Latin-inspired instrumental exercise video mixes, although parts are more Latin jazz than salsa club. Itís fine, but like the other DOTI if it were just a little bit better the fun factor would jump way up.

Set: bright interior studio made up like a giant living room, with French doors onto a ďsunnyĒ patio.

Production: clear picture and sound, camera angles that are helpful rather than distracting.

Equipment: shoes that wonít catch on your workout space flooring.

Space Requirements: You should be able to take a few steps in each direction. I was able to fit this in my workout space of about 5-6í deep by 7-8í wide with no difficulty.

DVD Notes: Your main menu options are Calorie Blasting Party Ė Play and Chapters (Introduction, Warm Up, Spicy Salsa Mix, Latin Lime Twist, Mucho Mambo Combo, Cool Down, and End Credits) and Step Guide Ė Play. Unfortunately, the Step Guide is not chaptered (although I see later DOTI workouts fix this).

Comments: No one shows modifications or substitutions, although there are some personal variations. I like and respect Michelle Dozois a lot, so this isnít me making fun of her, but she has to work harder at the hip shaking compared to the other cast members, to whom those types of moves come more naturally. I actually appreciate that because Iím not a naturally gifted, graceful dancer; I give it a good try, but especially when Iím just learning a routine Iím just not going to be able to move like Stella. I like seeing a fit, athletically-talented instructor like Michelle have a great time even if she also doesnít move exactly like Stella.

I have 6 DOTI titles Ė in addition to this one, I have Fat Burning Cardio Jam, Dance it Off Ballroom, Hip Hop Party, Hip Hop Cardio, and (Fat Burning) Belly Dance Ė and of those I feel this one is among the least intense (itís a small step up in intensity from the Ballroom one and a small step down from Cardio Jam) and among the easiest to learn. Iíll admit my ease in learning this routine most likely is due to two main factors other than my usual comfort with choreography: 1) Iíve done a number of Latin-themed cardio workouts and 2) I have another Latin dance workout by Stella (see the next paragraph).

DOTI Sizzling Salsa vs. 10 Minute Solution (Fat Blasting) Latin Dance Mix: Stella teaches the same types of routines in both videos in similar styles Ė and with lots of TIFTing. The major difference between the two is really the structure of the workout itself: DOTI obviously has a warm-up, 3 distinct sections, and a cool-down, clocking in well under 40 min., whereas the 10MS has 5 10-minute segments, clocking in at a hair over 50 min. Oh, and in DOTI Stella is with background exercisers whereas in 10MS she dances alone. Right now I canít pick a favorite between the two, but I like having both because the 10MS is easier to use as add-ons whereas this is easier to use when I want a short workout because Iím finding it hard to reach for something longer and stronger.

Instructor Comments:
I like Stella. She has just enough personality but not too much, and she cues well enough. I agree with Beth, however, that she should have had a wider repertoire of interjected comments so she didnít repeat herself, but I appreciate her efforts to make her viewer and background exercisers feel included in the class, er, dance party. Note: Stella does say ďsexy,Ē ďsultry,Ē or ďsassyĒ a few times, and she has a ďcome hitherĒ arm movement, but sheís not particularly flirty or coquettish or cutesy.



Sizzling Salsa is one of the latest offerings from the Dance Off the Inches series, which has produced fun, generally easy-to-follow dance workouts. This one is led by Stella Sandoval, and as in the other DVDs, she teaches a class of four in what almost looks to be someone's living room. This time, two of the background exercisers are other instructors, Michelle Dozios and Marie Forleo.

This DVD has a particularly nice feature called the Step Guide. This is a 17-minute segment in which Stella breaks down some of the dance steps from the workout, first showing the move, then performing it slowly, and finally, bringing it up to tempo. Even though I've done some Latin dance workouts before, I found it very helpful to review this section before attempting the main program. However, keep in mind that Stella does not teach every step from the workout here and also that some of the steps are performed a bit differently once they appear in the workout.

The workout itself consists of a 5 minute warm-up, 3 dance routines (Spicy Salsa, Latin Lime Twist, and Mucho Mambo Combo), and a 2.5 minute cool-down. Each dance routine is approximately 9 minutes long. Stella teaches in an add-on style, showing you a couple of moves at time, having you practice these, and then gradually adding more moves to the mix until you have worked your way up to the full routine. One you have learned all of the moves in the routine, Stella "takes you to the dance floor" (her way of saying that you complete the entire dance) four times total. Each of the three dance segments is stand-alone (ie, the Mucho Mambo Combo doesn't repeat any of the moves from Spicy Salsa), and the DVD is nicely chaptered so that you could mix-and-match if you chose to do so.

I would rate the choreography of this video as moderate: those who enjoy complex choreo might find this a bit on the easy side, whereas those who prefer very simple cardio might get lost a few times here. I tend to be on the latter side, and while I was generally able to follow along my first time through, I did have to really concentrate. I'd say the intensity level is about low moderate as well: the workout did get my heart rate up into my target zone, although it dipped below during some of the teaching/other inbetween moments. I clocked the workout in at just under 37 minutes.

Overall, I found this to be a nice dance routine that was enjoyable, moderately complex, and seemed to have a real Latin dance feel to it. It would probably be suited to advanced beginners to intermediate exercisers who enjoy fun dance steps and easily able to pick up moderately choreographed combinations.

Instructor Comments:
I thought Stella generally did a good job; she mirror cued well throughout each dance sequence. She did have a habit of repeating some of the same comments over and over again (eg, the thing about "I'm taking you out to the dance floor" as well as saying "I like how Michelle does this dance"), but overall, I have no complaints about her teaching style.

Beth C (aka toaster)