DG's Spanish Hilo

Daniel Gonzalez
Year Released: 2006

Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance

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I’m reviewing this workout after doing it twice.

General workout breakdown: This DVD contains one 54.5 min. high/low or floor aerobics workout.
- The warm-up (12 min.) runs through several short blocks, about half of which are taught symmetrically and the other half asymmetrical. If you can make it through the warm-up you’ll be just fine with the rest of the workout, because Daniel includes much less breakdown and repetition here, the main workout portion is only slightly more difficult (mainly because there are more spins), and this is as intense as the workout gets. In fact, my heart rate was higher at the end of the warm-up than at any point during the main workout.
- The workout (38 min.) is split roughly into halves in which Daniel builds up several blocks of choreography, then inserts one of the blocks in the middle of another. After the first block all blocks are symmetrical. There is a lot of repetition here. Daniel doesn’t stop to teach a new step; rather, he throws it in as you’re running through the block (“Surprise!” he often says as you watch the new variation being thrown in, although at least he usually gives you a head up that a change is coming). You’ll then run through the modified (or, as he would say, “growing”) block several more times. You’ll often do three run throughs of the blocks together (although the second half gets an extra three run throughs before yet another run through), then another three once you’ve inserted what was the final block into its actual place. The workout ends with three TIFTs of the two segments back to back. I don’t mind repetition, especially if I like the routine, but this was starting to push the limit for me. The back cover says Daniel teaches ten blocks of choreography, but I count four small ones in the warm-up, three in the first half, and two in the second. That’s quite a bit of choreography tucked into the warm-up and not a lot of choreography drawn out over the workout.
- The stretch (almost 5 min.) includes a lot of breathing (the usual inhale and raise arms, exhale and lower them). In between Daniel stretches the torso, low back, upper back / shoulders, hamstrings, and quadriceps.

Daniel mixes standard hi/lo aerobics moves, like knee lift, grapevine, and chasse, with dancier moves like mambo, pivot, and hip shake. I didn’t think anyone could love box steps more than Petra Kolber, but Daniel just might. And there aren’t many folks, at least outside of the Evolution crew, who love turns as much as Daniel. As you might expect with an Evolution production, filler steps like marches, leg curls, and step touches mark places in routines that will be fleshed out later or serve as breaks in between run throughs.

There are a few quick hops, but the workout otherwise stays low impact. There are, however, a fair number of twists and twisty moves, and there are A LOT of pivots. Those with cranky knees, especially if they’re aggravated by torque, or prone to dizziness may want to approach this with caution.

Level: I’d recommend this to intermediate or so exercisers comfortable with decently complex choreography.
I consider myself an intermediate / advanced exerciser who likes and is pretty good at picking up complex choreography. I can usually pick up most routines within the first time or two, provided the routine is well taught and not unnecessarily complex. I just did this one again after first trying it several months ago, and I have to say I struggled a little bit this time, too. It’s not that complex, especially since there aren’t any accompanying arm movements, but Daniel’s cuing isn’t the most descriptive at times, and I always find the learning curve is a little greater with a new to me instructor.
When I wore my heart rate monitor during my last run through, it said my average didn’t quite reach 60% of my max heart rate. So this is more similar in intensity to the walking and dance videos I have (Leslie Sansone, Petra Kolber) rather than some of my other hi/los (Christi Taylor, Amy Bento).

Class: two women join Daniel, who instructs live. As often in Evolution productions they wear microphones but don’t contribute anything substantial, although Daniel interacts a little with them. One of them struggles a little with the choreography, especially the turning chasse – chasse into a twist, then turn around for a step behind facing the back, which made me feel better because I struggled with that portion, too. Evolution usually asks other instructors at the filming (who don’t always speak the same language) to learn choreography in a day or two and then perform it during filming as back-up babes; they also work through mess ups rather than redoing sections.

Music: upbeat mix of instrumentals and vocals, pop-type tunes that sound completely unfamiliar to my ear.

Set: the kind of bare bones warehouse setting of the past few Evolution filmings, with screens and TV monitors with the spinning E along the back wall onto which deep blue lights shine (so Daniel and crew probably should have chosen lighter colored pants, but with the white screen this isn’t a big deal).

Production: clear picture and sound, with Daniel’s voice audible over the music, which is also audible without having to crank up the volume. The camera angles are mostly helpful, although as with any Evolution production expect some oblique angles and some close-ups, including at times when full on shots would be more helpful. You can see parts of fans and other equipment in a few shots, but given the sort of gritty, unpolished set it kind of fits in.
Evolution has gotten better about not putting as many pauses in between sections, but not here. I think it’s five or six times that you’ll be taken to a holding step while Daniel tells you he’ll be back with the next segment, the black screen with rotating E appears, and then Daniel will pick back up with a holding step and a little explanation of what’s to come. The workout would probably be 5 minutes shorter without these.

Equipment: shoes that can pivot on your workout space flooring.

Space Requirements: You’ll need more horizontal or lateral space, enough to do a grapevine with room to do a few more steps on each end; if you can walk forward and back a few steps you’ll be fine in that regard. Some Evolutions can be real space hogs, and this isn’t quite one of them, but it’s not well suited to tiny spaces.

DVD Notes: This DVD is dual-sided, with PAL format on one side and NTSC on the other.
The main menu options are Play All (which means you’ll need a remote handy to skip the Evolution promo yet again as well as the montage of Evolution productions plus Daniel’s intro, which doesn’t move along all that snappily), Select Chapter, and Bonus Features (Behind the Scenes; Daniel Interview; Bloopers & More; Bonus Blocks, which surprisingly don’t include the step workout Daniel did at the same time; evolution Aerobic, Dance & Step previews; and How to make an evolution video?).

Comments: While Evolution videos are usually aimed at instructors, this one seems to be targeted more at the home exerciser, with the inclusion of the warm-up and more breakdown and repetition of the choreography. There is no cool-down, but with an Evolution that’s kind of par for the course; having a warm-up and/or a stretch is not something many of them do.

As is the case with pretty much any Evolution production, the main attraction is the choreography. If you want a nonstop workout that’ll have you sweating bullets and burning tons of calories and feeling like you’ve just run a marathon, this isn’t for you. If you want to go for a spin with a new instructor and don’t mind a not so flashy presentation, then this is worth a look.

Instructor Comments:
Daniel, from Spain, teaches primarily in English, although Spanish definitely slips in (even those of you whose high school-level Spanish is rusty will probably figure out much of what he is saying: “uno, dos, tres, cuatro” = one, two, three, four, “desde el principio” = from the beginning, “uno más” = one more, “eso es” = that’s it, “oye” = listen up, “muy bien” = very good, “saltando” = jumping, and so on), plus there’s a tiny bit of German (one background exerciser is from Germany) and a surprising amount of Italian (the background exerciser from Belgium humors Daniel when he turns to her while speaking this language).
Overall Daniel had a pleasant, engaging, encouraging personality; he has a good time but never forgets that he’s leading a workout.
Daniel’s not a bad cuer, but I found myself needing to watch him closely to make sure I understood the steps, as he tends to cue in broader strokes rather than break down footfalls, for example. He doesn’t use directional cues, except for saying “to the right” at one point when, if you’re mirroring him, you’re moving to the left - so perhaps it’s best that he doesn’t say “left” and “right” - and one or two “turn outside.”