Evolution: AerodynamicsMarcus Irwin
Year Released: 2004
Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance
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I’m reviewing this workout after doing it at least half a dozen times.
General workout breakdown: Erin and Laura have already described this well, so I’ll just note a few things.
I’m a home exerciser who loves choreography. I’m not an aerobics instructor, so I use the Evolutions for access to fun, interesting choreography that I can do to work out both mind and body rather than to pick up combos or techniques to teach to others. This works well enough for that, and I don’t mind the occasional “When you teach this to your class…” statement.
The first part (32.5 min.) will have you mambo and cha chaing to your heart’s content (and I hope your heart is content with doing lots of both).
The second part (just over 29.5 min.) I actually found a little less intense when all was said and done. This one is also the trickiest because of the direction changes: The direction in which you learn a block is not always the direction in which it will appear in the full routine. Marcus has you doing a number of the blocks side to side, and he teaches the second side of one block while you’re facing the back wall – and yet in the full routine it’s done facing a different direction.
The third part (just over 29.5 min.) begins with an almost identical block as the second’s beginning block; at no point does Marcus combines parts 2 and 3, but it feels like it since so many steps reappear here. This is kind of a great sampler of Marcus’ hi/lo choreography, actually, with bits and pieces you’ll find in his other workouts.
I just have to add that Marcus’ choreography overall flows together so smoothly, without awkward weight shifts or stutter step taps to switch leads. You’ll be amazed in parts because it’ll feel as natural as walking, and yet you’re doing what’s supposed to be complex choreography. Also, although Marcus’ combos are all symmetrical (meaning they’re done on both sides), he doesn’t spend equal time on building up both sides.
Level: I’d recommend this to intermediate on up exercisers who are comfortable with at least moderately complex hi/lo choreography. I completely agree with the others that if you’re looking for intensity, for non-stop action, this isn’t going to be for you.
I consider myself an int./adv. exerciser who loves choreography. I can pick things up quickly, provided they’re taught at least somewhat decently, which is not a problem when Marcus is your instructor. The choreography here is interesting enough to keep me reaching for it, while the cuing is such that I’m not frustrated with learning and executing the moves. In terms of intensity this is on the low side for me. It’s probably comparable to some of the dance or walking workouts I have (Petra Kolber, Leslie Sansone’s walking workouts) rather than with some of the hi/lo I reach for when I want to work up a real sweat (Christi Taylor, Amy Bento). But I’m totally fine with that. Sometimes I just wanna do some good ol’ fashioned floor aerobics and walk away after without being drenched in sweat, completely out of breath, and totally zapped of energy.
Class: 2 “back-up babes” join Marcus, who instructs live. Yes, they all mess up, but Marcus is said to have filmed videos in pretty much one take, plus the background exercisers are fellow instructors, many of whom learn the routine for the first time when they show up to film their own videos. It’s also worth noting that many of them are also from European countries where English is a second language at most. That said, I couldn’t help but notice that the one woman never did figure out the pattern for the hip hop bit.
Music: I just have to add that although I like this particular soundtrack, I have heard it on A LOT of Evolutions. (I think you can even buy it as a separate soundtrack. And, no, that’s not an invitation to buy me a copy as a present.) It makes for an interesting experience because a particular song will start up and I’ll think, “Oh, time for Fame with Marc Oliver Kluike” or “Rebecca Small’s going to have me weave over the step now.”
Production: clear picture, quiet sound (I have to turn this up a few more notches than normal – and remember to turn it back down before I pop in the next DVD).
It’s worth noting that all three wear black pants (and one of the back-up babes also wears a black top) against the black abyss, although I really only have trouble with that when I’m working out in a dark room.
Equipment: sneakers that can pivot on your workout room’s flooring. I break out my dance sneakers for this, but a cheap alternative is to put a piece of slick tape over the toebox of an older pair of sneakers.
Space Requirements: I agree that this is a space hog. Ideally you’d be able to grapevine to each side and grapevine to the front and to the back from the center of your space (i.e. do two generous grapevines across your space lengthwise and then perpendicular to that). I don’t have that much forward & back space, so I had to shorten up the traveling sequences, and I don’t do the diagonal series diagonally but have to do some of the side to side sequences diagonally, if that makes sense. I feel a little cramped in my current workout space, where I have about 8’ long by 5-6’ deep of room to roam freely, and I wonder how I fit this in when I had a smaller space (6’ long by about 4-5’ deep).
DVD Notes: The DVD is chaptered by block, with chapter points to dive right into each section (although know that as per usual you’ll have to fast forward through some previews to get to the introduction and first few steps in part 1). There are also previews of the 2003 and 2004 Evolution videos that play after the ending credits.
Twirl vs. Aerodynamics vs. Airborne
Aerodynamics is certainly the longest of the three Marcus Irwin hi/lo or floor aerobics currently available on DVD (four if you count the hi/lo portion off of Topless Blocks), and it’s the only one without TIFTing of all combos (same goes for the Topless Blocks hi/lo). For that reason, this one feels much more like the instructor training video with choreography ideas for live classes it is. According to my heart rate monitor, it’s also the least intense, and for once I believe the thing, because there are a lot of marches and step touches and hamstring curls in between runthroughs of even the same 8-counts. In comparison to Airborne and especially Twirl, Marcus runs through each side more evenly here, and he generally spends some time building up the second side, too, although he won’t go back all the way to the beginning. So it feels a little more balanced, even if he thinks the second section’s combo spends way too much time on the right leg lead. Because of the fact that Marcus will build up to an entire block or even combo on one side before having you do the finished product on the other, Twirl can be tricky to pick up, but I think there’s more choreography and potentially trickier choreography in Aerodynamics. (Airborne is the trickiest of all, not only because Marcus dials up the complexity with a few more rhythm changes but also because there are so many blocks that you add all together.) Aerodynamics also probably uses the most room out of the three, with Twirl using the least.
Marcus is one of the better cuers out there; I can dust this video off after too long of a break from it and have no trouble following it. There’s no need for a tutorial for the trickier moves here, as Marcus breaks down everything and cues descriptively. He mirror cues, but he tends to provide directional cues somewhat sparingly, waiting until just when you need them, and he also provides some additional directional guidance like telling you to turn to the inside or to pick up the outside knee. Sometimes he relies on gestures (pointing, grabbing his pants on the leg you’re starting on) rather than verbal cues, not just for direction but also for the name of combos, but since he frequently uses the “watch me” method to show the next layer you’ll want to watch him closely anyway.
I love Marcus’ personality, with his giggle, his concern for and joking with his back-up babes, and his self-deprecating humor. He’s so natural on camera you feel like you’re right there with him, and yet he never loses sight of the fact that he’s filming a video. Like Erin and Laura I find him motivating and fun to be with and have no trouble staying with him for a long workout or a tricky piece of choreography or even through the filler moves.
On cardio work, I am an intermediate to advanced exerciser who enjoys with complex choreography at some level. I also enjoy my “easier” workouts on those mornings I don’t feel like thinking that much. After trying many different cardio workouts with varying complexity, I have found that I enjoy many different workouts, but my absolute favorites are those that many complexity lovers on VF would classify as intermediate because the instructor takes awhile to build combinations and/or explains more than the most complex instructors (like Christi, Patrick, or Andre). I love Christi and Andre, but it takes me longer to “get” their workouts.
Someone loaned me Aerodynamics so I could see if I would like this workout. It immediately went on my “buy” list. I have so much fun while I’m doing it and find myself grinning most of the time. The DVD makes it easy to choose a section to start with. Marcus is his normal engaging, explanatory, slow-to-build-combinations self. There are a lot of explanations and marching between moves and then all of the sudden I would be twirling around the basement, stringing together all the moves we had gone over in the past few minutes.
The set is one of the standard Evolution sets, dark and stark, with TV screens with the Evolution “E” on them. Marcus is backed up by two background exercisers who mess up once in awhile, making me feel better about my effort! The music is similar (or the same?) as other previous Marcus workouts.
Marcus puts together the first combination and the TIFTs it. He then puts together Sections 2 & 3 and TIFTs them. This workout is a MAJOR space hog, especially front to back. It is also a lot of fun with turns and pivots and mambos, etc. There are a couple of times that Marcus says something like “This is like being in a washing machine” – and it IS exactly like that.
Marcus is his usual fun, engaging self. He so motivates me to stay with him and put in a good workout.
To give you a bit of background, I am an advanced exerciser who adores complex choreography. Christi Taylor, Patrick Goudeau, Seasun Z., and Rob Glick are all close, personal, workout buddies ( on my TV screen only, of course . . .SIGH ). I was recently introduced to Marcus, and it was love at 1st sight. :) Aerodynamics is part of the Evolution series, and is 90 minutes of hi/lo, broken up into 3 sections. Each section is a distinct “style” of aerobics. He calls them “traditional,” “athletic,” and “dance style.” Within each section you do a complete “take it from the top,” ( TIFTT ) but there is no TIFTT for the entire DVD. The DVD version is extremely well chaptered, so it would be easy to make this a 30, 60, or 90 minute workout, depending on how much time you have, or to combine with another workout. There is no warmup or cooldown, but in the 1st section, you work up in intensity gradually enough to get warm. Cooldowns I don't mind doing on my own. Marcus being Marcus, even in the sections he calls “traditional” and “athletic,” there are lots of twists, turns, mambos, and cha chas. Fun, fun, fun! He's having a great time, and you can't help but smile back at him as he laughs at himself and his 2 “backup babes,” when someone messes up or is just plain winded. He comes across as genuinely someone you would enjoy spending an hour or 2 working out with. Don't expect to get knocked on your behind in this workout, like with some instructors. Marcus is my guy for a moderate intensity workout that, even on the days when I don't have time to do all of one of his 90 or 100 minute workouts, I still WANT to. In fact, once I get started, clock ticking or not, I usually go much farther in the workout that I “had time” for.
While this workout isn't MIC high impact, there are higher impact moves, especially in the 2nd section, which Marcus dubs "the athletic section." He does lead into those moves with low impact moves. For example he does double hamstrings before doing the higher impact version where you do the double up-and-back move. Since Marcus uses a layering technique though, I was having trouble envisioning how to keep some moves low impact without losing the flow of the combination. Nothing was nearly as high impact as jacks, but my touchy knees were feeling it a tiny bit by the end. I suspect it's because most of the higher impact moves also involved some torque ( i.e. Hopping in a half-turn ). Since my workout area is carpeted, I have to be sure to really JUMP on turning moves.
The set is very dark, with monitors in the back with the rotating red “e” that you see on other Evolution workouts. Aerodynamics is a bit of a space hog, so there were some combos where I really couldn't give it my all. I have about 2 grapevines' width plus a tiny bit for my workout space side to side, and about the same front to back. This workout needs about twice that space as presented. I could shorten my steps and change my angles a bit to be able to get through it, but it wasn't easy on a couple of the combos.
All in all, I would dub this workout a great time, but not my favorite Marcus hi/lo. That honor belongs to Twirl, which has a higher fun factor for me. Part of it is the “space hog” aspect of Aerodynamics, and part of it is just how the choreography came together. I would still highly recommend it for choreography lovers. While it is a bit pricey, clocking in at 90 minutes means it's actually very reasonably priced compared to some other DVDs on the market, especially from newideafitness.com, which is where I purchased my copy.
Marcus comes across as the guy next door. He has a great personality and genuinely appears to be having fun. He keeps you from wanting to "clock watch," because you get drawn into his good time.