Step SalsationHugo Diez
Year Released: 1999
Categories: Step Aerobics
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I enjoy latin dance and music (my husband is from South America and we met salsa dancing) but unfortunately that wasn't enough to save this video. The routine is decent and pretty fun when you TIFT at the end, but the teaching is very slow -- you'll do a lot of marching in place and half-time moves. This might be a good workout for a fun, easy day, but if you get easily annoyed this tape might drive you crazy. Also, the cooldown stretch consists of hip shaking, shoulder stretches and neck stretches. No leg stretches at all. What's up with that? I like the idea of a latin-style step tape, but this just didn't cut it. I give it a B-.
Collage describes Hugo as sexy and charming. He certainly is enthusiastic and attractive and shakes his hips well, but I was annoyed by his verbal style ("March, march, march, march, march, march, march, march" - AACK!) and he messed up on the the same combo a few times. I prefer straightforward, sincere instruction to over-the-top showiness.
First off, the music is amazing. I may even buy the soundtrack from Musicflex. Wonderful, wonderful music that will make you want to move! The tape is very laidback and Latin. The tape is 48 minutes total, so the workout is 45 minutes or so. It has a brief warm-up, which is part of the first combo, and a brief cooldown. The music is Latin Club music. It definitely has the bass beat of club music, and there are a bunch of different songs, but it all is Latin (not calypso or "caribbean-flavored"). Not that this will be familiar to most people, but it sounds like the type of music that is the club remixes of DLG, Shakira, Chayanne, Robi Rosa, Ricky Martin, or Grupo Niche. I did not recognize any particular songs, though. I was definitely inspired to get in touch with my inner salsa queen!
I pride myself on being able to dance, including salsa, but at one point I thought I had dislocated my groove thing from all the shimmying and shaking. But I really didn't care, since I was having a blast. The tape is high intermediate. Because of one move, it would be difficult to do it on an 8" step, so it would be difficult to make it any higher in intensity. The move includes a half jump to the rear, a full reverse turn, and a pivot turn back to the step. I am very coordinated, and it was a tricky (and fast) move on a 6" step. I had a decent sweat going, though, especially the second time I did it.
Hugo cues fairly well, but because of the way the tape is put together, you never, ever feel lost. Each 16th count or so ends with a shake or two-count march or mambo, so you are always more or less with him. "More or less" may bother some people, but I was fine with it, and it seems to match the mood of the tape. Sometimes Hugo includes a pivot turn when you go around to step, sometimes he doesn't. I decided not to do a quick pony jump on and off the step, and I could easily end up where Hugo was. The music is so inspiring that it is easy to modify and keep moving.
There are two things about the tape that are annoying. One is his tendency (three or four places in the tape) to teach a move at half-tempo. This is something that drives me crazy in any tape. First of all, Hugo has already run through the move at tempo, so it seems unnecessary to run through it at half-tempo, and I didn't think any of the moves were that difficult. And Hugo keeps saying, "this will be easier at tempo," which made me reply, "then what are we doing here?" Because he teaches at half-tempo, he gets to a weird place in the 32 count phrasing (I don't exactly know what the problem is since I do not teach aerobics, but I know something's off). The second time I did the tape, I just stayed at tempo while he taught at half-tempo, but we were still a little off the count (maybe four beats) at the end of the combo.
The other problem is when he spends three minutes teaching a move (again, that we have already run almost all the way through) moving to your side of the step. That is, he is moving around so that you can follow exactly what he is doing instead of mirroring him. I do not like this at all in a tape, but that is personal preference. What is really nutty about doing it with this combo, though, is that most of it is with your back to the step, which makes this teaching technique moot. These three minutes of instruction feel both inverted and blind (and at half-tempo). And, again, it is not that difficult a move, and it screws with the 32-count phrasing of the music. I think it would have been better just to run through it a few times, but hey, I've never made an exercise video. My heart rate would have gone way down during these three minutes if frustration hadn't kept it up within range. The second time I did the tape, I just went through the combo, which is really fun and sexy. I just had to ignore Hugo for a few minutes.
Even with these flaws, this is a fun tape with a charming instructor and great music. It is so completely different than anything I have. I think Hugo's Ritmos Latinos tape is a better tape, so I use that much more often than Step Salsation, but both are really unique tapes (and I mean unique in the best way. Even with the flaws and modifications, this tape is definitely worth $17. It is fun and different, and Hugo has donated fees from the video to City of Hope Research Center and to "God's Love We Deliver," a NY AIDS support group.
Hugo Diez is charming, with a very thick Argentinean accent. He is a former national aerobic champion from Argentina. And can we girl-talk? Hugo can work it. He is way too much fun to watch! It is more than just the music that I like about this tape :).
I must warn you, I'm reviewing this video without having actually done it. After previewing it, I knew I would not have fun with this at all. It's extremely dancy, and not all that intense. While I knew ahead of time that it was bound to be a little on the dancy side, I figured I might like it anyway, because there have been other dancy step workouts I've tried that I did like (e.g., Method Step Up to Dance). But this was too much for me! For those of you who like to REALLY dance -- I just like to pretend :) -- you might want to go ahead and give this a shot.