Evolution: Twirl

Marcus Irwin
Year Released: 2003

Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance

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I’m reviewing this workout after doing it half a dozen to a dozen times.

General workout breakdown: Erin and Laura have already described this workout well. I’ll just add a few comments:
Like the other two 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.
Marcus teaches straight up hi/lo or floor aerobics. You’ll mambo and cha cha and chasse, but for the most part you’re looking at “old school” aerobics: step touches, grapevines, hamstring curls, repeater knees, v-steps, etc. While I don’t know that I’d call this all that “dancey,” you may feel like you’re flying and twirling like a ballerina once you get the routine down. And although this is often put under “complex choreography,” I don’t find Marcus’ choreography to be among the most complex because a) well, it just isn’t and b) he builds up his blocks and cues so well it feels less complex than it is.
Marcus may just have the smoothest choreography out there. Things flow together so naturally: there are no awkward weight shifts or quick taps to change foot or moments where you’re scratching your head trying to figure out how on earth you make the transition from one step to another or places where you feel the moves are forced because he really wants to do that move, darn it! Everything is based off of a right – left – right – left (or vice versa) footfall; as Petra Kolber likes to say, if you can march you can learn to do this. I think the fact that he clearly pays attention to where his classes (and back-up crew) goof up - not just for choreography ideas, as he says – speaks to his preparation and commitment to providing quality choreography along with quality instruction.
Although Marcus’ combos are all symmetrical (meaning they’re done on both sides), he doesn’t spend equal time on building up and/or running through both sides.
This workout is predominantly low impact, although there are some hops. More important, however, may be the fact that there are A LOT of half and full pivots, but then you knew that already from the title and other reviews. If you haven’t figured out how to turn on your workout room flooring and/or have knees that don’t respond well to torque and twists, I’m not sure I’d recommend this one to you. Marcus tells you that you can stick with the earlier layers without the pivots, but except for a slip-up or two from the back-up babes no one shows this option, and Marcus sure doesn’t cue it.

Level: I’d recommend this to intermediate on up exercisers who are comfortable with at least moderately complex hi/lo choreography. If you’re trying to get into more choreography but find yourself stumbling over your feet, give Marcus a try, because he has a special talent for making choreography doable. That said, I 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. The choreography here is interesting enough to keep me reaching for it, while the teaching is so good 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 workouts with “boosted walking”) rather than 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 have fun and twirl, like when it’s hot and I’m without a/c or I’m coming back from a break and need to bring the ol’ cardio endurance back up.

Production: The picture and sound are clear, although I find the sound very quiet (as is true with most Evolutions of this time period). Also, the music tends to swell during the TIFT portions, then lower back down in volume in relation to Marcus’ voice while he’s teaching. The camerawork has its moments of close-ups when you really don’t want them and doesn’t always show feet, but it’s not too bad, at least by Evolution standards. I don’t really mind the “black abyss” set, but it’s worth noting that the two back-up babes wear black pants and Marcus wears a black top, although I haven’t had a problem picking them out against the dark backdrop. And, as per usual with Evolutions, a black screen with the revolving “e” pops up between sections, although here these only appear in logical places and don’t really cut anyone off.
One DVD note to add to Erin’s observations: I wish the introduction was in a separate chapter from the warm-up; because they’re together, you have to fast forward (or use that time to put on your shoes, get a quick drink, etc.) before you hit the warm-up.

Equipment: sneakers that can pivot on your workout space’s flooring. With my carpet I pull out my dance sneakers for this one. (A cheap alternative is to put a piece of slick tape over the toebox of an older pair of workout shoes.)

Space Requirements: This one will take some space. Ideally you’d be able to grapevine to each side and at least grapevine with a step or two at either end to the front, although if you have more room you can certainly use it. At 5’8” I can manage to fit this into my space, where I have about 8’ side to side and 5-6’ front to back, but when I had a space that was a little smaller (closer to 6’ by 4’) it was quite challenging (thank goodness there was a futon to cushion my shins every time I overestimated how much space I had behind me, which was often).

Twirl vs. Aerodynamics vs. Airborne: These are the three hi/lo or floor aerobics workouts Marcus Irwin has available on DVD, and given his retirement from presenting on camera (NOOOOO!!!!) they are likely to remain the only three available on DVD. Well, there is the hi/lo portion on Topless Blocks (in VF speak that would be TIFT-less Blocks, just as an FYI), too.
Of the three, Twirl is the shortest, clocking in just over an hour. It’s the only one with an official warm-up, but like Airborne it has a cool-down and includes a big TIFT of all combos taught. Like Aerodynamics it’s done in three parts, although Twirl’s are obviously shorter. Airborne just narrowly edges out Twirl for my favorite Marcus Irwin hi/lo, but it’s a very slim margin. Both involve lots of, well, twirling, but Airborne is slightly more intense and a hair more complex, with a few more rhythm changes, plus Airborne’s set is a little brighter and the sound at a more reasonable level. But I’d recommend Twirl over Airborne if you want slightly more straightforward or classic Marcus choreography, if you are looking for a complete workout you can do in about an hour, and if you’re worried about space, as I find it easier to fit into what someone might have in the house, especially if in making sure you have enough side to side space you realize you don’t have tons of back to front room also.

Instructor Comments:
How good of a cuer is Marcus? Well, you build up the entire first combo on one side, and then Marcus has you launch immediately into the full finished product on the other foot. Thanks to his cuing I was able to do the whole thing perfectly the first time. Let me repeat that: *The Very First Time I did the video.* Granted, I pick up choreography more easily than some, but this was still back in my early days of vidiocy when I only had some Kathy Smith, a few Christi Taylors (where I was still following the modifiers), and several other moderately complex hi/lo videos under my belt. And Marcus’ cuing is so descriptive that I can pull this out after not doing it for a year or two and still nail the routine (which I really appreciate, because I have too large of a collection of cardio videos that I rotate through rather than doing a small collection over and over and over.)
Marcus mirror cues. He provides directional cues just when you need them, and he also provides some guidance on which way to turn. 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 considering he frequently uses the “watch me” method to show the next layer you’ll want to watch him closely anyway. (Of course, given how easy he is on the eyes I need no encouragement to keep my eyes on him. Oops, did I just type that? Well, while I’m at it I might as well admit I have no trouble listening to his voice with that Aussie accent, either.)
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, reminding you that you have the power with your remote.



On cardio work, I am an intermediate exerciser who enjoys with intermediate to advanced choreography. Recently, I’ve been on a Marcus Irwin kick – and what fun it has been! This workout was loaned to me by a fellow VFer and I plan on adding it to my collection soon.

This is one of the few workouts Marcus does in which he TIFTs (Takes It From the Top) and I enjoyed that. I enjoyed having multiple shots at the choreography in the same workout and really getting into it by the end. However, if you don’t enjoy TIFTing, you might want to look at some of his other workouts.

Here are the approximate times of the workout: Warm up and cool down, five minutes each; floor aerobics section, 52 minutes. It is a nice length, long enough to a good cardio workout and short enough to fit in most days except the most time crunched. Some general information about the workout includes:

> It is a dark set with a small space for the exercisers. Marcus leads the workout with two background exercisers.

> I enjoyed the music in the workout; it helped drive it for me. Some of the music did repeat. At that point, I didn’t really care because I was so into the workout. However, I usually do not care about the music overly much.

There is a warm up, three cardio sections, and then a cool down. In the first section of cardio, he teaches three combos and TIFTs after each combination. In the second section, there are four combos. He does the first two combos, puts them together, and then TIFTs, including the combinations from the first section. The third section is purely putting all the combinations together from the beginning of the workout. He then moves into the cool down and stretch.

The best thing about this workout is that it is just FUN. He builds combinations in a way that you start simply and then end up doing complex combinations with lots of turns and spins (hence the name of the workout – Twirl). He has such a great sense of humor and I laugh with him through the entire workout. He also talks to the exerciser as well as his “back up babes”. This is a great workout.

Instructor Comments:
Marcus is a master a layering moves so that you start simply and end up doing complex moves. He is also sooooo much fun!

Laura S.


To give 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. :) If you are NOT a choreography lover, let me say right up front that Twirl is NOT the workout for you. But if you love everything the name of this workout implies: turns galore, along with lots of mambo, cha chas, and chasses, read on. Twirl is a 60 minute hi/lo workout that is part of the Evolution series. The set is very dark, as usual, with 4 monitors in the back with blue, swirling patterns on them throughout the workout. The music was stuff I had heard before on other workouts, but nothing I disliked. Unlike many of Marcus Irwin's workouts, this one includes a warmup and cooldown. There are 2 main sections within the body of the workout. There is a fair amount of taking it from the top, especially in the 1st half. There is less of it as we move on, but every time you finish a major block, you do go back to the very beginning. I happen to love that. If you have a low tolerance for it, you might find this frustrating. The really cool part ( to me ) is that at the very end we get to go through ALL of the choreography from the very beginning, twice on each side.

Within the workout itself, Marcus does his usual method of adding on counts by adding marches as place holders. He then adds the next move while you and the “background babes” are marching. While this can reduce the intensity of the workout, simply substituting jogging helps bring it up a notch. It's mixed impact, but unlike some of his other hi/lo, it would relatively easy to stick with a lower impact move he uses when building the block, without interrupting the flow of the choreography when everything starts getting put together. Noone demonstrates the lower impact version, so it would be up to the user to remember what to do when Marcus cues the final version of the move. Twirl is my number one favorite of Marcus's hi/lo, and perhaps my favorite of all of his workouts, which is odd, considering my favorite cardio is usually step. This workout is so much fun, though, that I may have to humbly admit that hi/lo can actually surpass step on a few ( rare ) occasions. :) The choreography really flows beautifully, especially when the turns get thrown in. Marcus is, as usual, a blast to workout with. He has a great energy with his background babes. He messes up at one point. They mess up occasionally. He laughes it off or calls it “doing their own version” of the move. He even said that some of his best choreography ideas come from people's “own versions” in his classes. His cuing is excellent! Even when brain freeze starts to set in, I can still keep up because his cues are right on. This is not a killer workout. It's an incredibly fun, moderate intensity workout that makes you WANT to give it your all because you're having such a good time!

The DVD version is beautifully chaptered, which makes it easy to do only what you want on any given day. I will warn you, however, that some of the chapter names don't really match up with what he calls the moves during the workout. For example: Chapter 7 is called “Boing!” on the chapter menu. In the workout, that move in its final version is called “Cheerleader.” So if you're looking for something in particular, you may have to think back to what was around it to figure out which chapter you want.

Instructor Comments:
Excellent cuing and a wonderful, friendly personality make Marcus one of the best instructors out there for lovers of complex choreography!



This is my favorite Marcus Irwin workout, and in my top 3 favorite hi-lo workouts (along with Christi Taylor’s CIA 9801 and Kari Anderson’s Danceworks). Needless to say, if you don’t like to twirl you will not like this workout – there are twirls in every combo. There are also a lot of pivot turns and 6-point mambos. The final choreography is fairly complex, but Marcus starts with simple steps and builds slowly and logically, making his workouts much easier to learn than others of similar complexity.

The workout is broken down into a 5-minute warmup, 53 minutes main workout in two sections, and 4-minute cooldown, for a total of 62 minutes. The main workout is 7 combos and uses TIFTTing (i.e. “take it from the top”). The first combo is 32 counts of chroeography on each side. Combos 2 through 7 are 16 counts of choreography each, so by the time you are done you end up with 4 32-count blocks of moderately complex choreography.

Section 1: The warmup is a 32-count combo; you never see it again after the warmup.

Section 2: After learning combo 1 right and left, you learn combo 2, then practice both right and left. Then you learn combo 3, practice 1-3 right and left, then split them (i.e. 1R, 2L, 3R, 1L, 2R, 3L).

Section 3: You learn combo 4 and 5 separately, then put them together. Then you TIFTT 1-5 by splitting them. You learn combo 6 and 7 separately, then put them together, then TIFTT 4-7. Finally you TIFTT 1-7 all together, once on each side. (I would have preferred less TIFTTing in the early part of the workout, and going through the final product a couple more times.)

Section 4: The cooldown consists of gentle movements and stretches; there is no more choreo.

The intensity of the workout can get fairly high if you have enough room to move, but is lowered by Marcus’ breaks to catch his breath. The workout is best done with lots of space (I use 15X10) but you can probably get by with much less. Marcus appears to be using about 8X6 himself, but makes comments about keeping his movements small due to not having enough space.

The production quality in Marcus’ Evolution series is much improved over his early Choreography 2 Go workouts, and is now comparable to CIA. The music is mostly instrumental, nothing I recognized but I found it enjoyable. There are two female background exercisers, Nicole and Johanna. The color scheme is blue and black. The set has a black background with several TV monitors, sitting on top of cabinets, playing what appear to be Window Media Player backgrounds in blue. Marcus wears a black sleeveless top and long blue pants. The women wear blue tops and long black pants.

Instructor Comments:
Marcus is charming as usual. His self-deprecating sense of humor comes through as he makes fun of his manliness on the Cheerleader move, his “wobbly bits”, and his occasional mistakes.

Pam Larson