PK Grooves: Doable Dance

Petra Kolber
Year Released: 2005

Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance

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I’m reviewing this workout after doing it twice.

General workout breakdown: In this approximately 51.5- min. dance aerobics (or, as the cover says, “dance-inspired”) workout Petra borrows moves from a variety of dance styles – you’ll mambo, chasse, hip rock, rock step, box step (this is a Petra workout, after all!), kick ball change, and do disco arms – and from basic floor aerobics, with grapevine and hamstring curls in there, too. Petra’s style feels comfortable to someone like me who normally does hi/lo aerobics but who lacks the gene that enables booty shakin’, hip shimmying, chest pops, body rolls, etc., to come easily. I feel like I’m dancing without feeling like I’m flailing, in contrast to the actual dance workout I did the other day, where I knew what I was supposed to do but just couldn’t get my body to move that way. In other words, I agree with the subtitle of “doable dance.”
Overall the routine is low impact, although there are a few hops (which you could easily take out). Petra includes some pivots, but as she keeps telling you, they’re optional.
The warm-up (12.5 min.) teaches you what will become the first combo and establishes the learning pattern for the rest of the workout. You’ll learn two blocks, then add them together into a combo. This portion ends with some dynamic stretches for both the upper and lower body.
The main body of the workout (30 min.) teaches you the rest of the combos (3, maybe 4, more). Petra will begin with pretty basic steps, usually involving marches, then layer once or twice until she has the full block. The combos are all symmetrical (meaning you’ll always do them on the right and the left) and taught equally on both sides. She’ll run through everything a few times (3-4) before moving on, and then you’ll do a big TIFT (take it from the top) of all of the combos learned so far 1-2 times before moving onto the next. Note that Petra weaves the combos from the beginning, meaning you’ll do combo #1 on one side, combo #2 on one side, combo #3 on one side, and so on, then start over again with combo #1 on the other side, combo #2 on the other side, etc.
The finale (4 min.) TIFTs through the whole routine twice. Petra tells you this is your performance and to think of her and the background exercisers as your back-up dancers, although she keeps cuing you (if a bit more sparsely).
The cool-down and stretch (4.75 min.) leads you through some dynamic upper arm movements into a Tai Chi-like gathering of energy; from there you’ll segue into some static stretches for the calves, hip flexors, and hamstrings.

Level: I’d recommend this to beginner / intermediate exercisers who preferably have a little bit of dance experience under their belt, although you don’t have to be a good dancer at all. Petra says if you can march you can do this workout, but I think it might be a bit of a jump for pairs of left feet, so I’d recommend trying out something like Petra’s Cardio for Beginners first before making the leap from pure walking workouts to this. Solidly intermediate exercisers who put a little oomph into their moves will probably find this gives them a decently moderate workout.
I consider myself an int./adv. exerciser. This workout is on the easy side for me; it’s just a hair more intense than many of my walking workouts. But I don’t mind that at all, because I happen to like having workouts like this on my shelf for all of those times I want an interesting little routine that gets me moving without threatening to wipe me out. For me Petra’s dance workouts are great for lighter cardio days, active recovery days, and sick or otherwise off days.
I happen to like and consider myself pretty good at picking up choreography (although I wouldn’t feel comfortable performing it in front of an audience!). I find this workout doable, although I have to admit that Petra’s choreography always has a few moments where things don’t flow smoothly or intuitively to me, and this one definitely has a few of those. It’s nothing that a little concentration can’t solve, but it just means that even after the second time around I still had a few flubs.

Class: 2 women, one of whom shows some modifications, join Petra, who instructs live as she does the workout. While all three do the routine well, they’re more average people doing a dance workout than professional dancers, which goes along well with Petra’s non-intimidating approach.

Music: For most of the workout you’ll get bland instrumentals (some of which I’ve heard on other exercise videos), but for the Finale a vocal song with a bit of pep in its step. The cool-down song has a little bit of vocals in it, too, and is taken from the Evolution soundtracks.

Set: interior space with blue walls, “windows,” and a few potted plants in the corner.

Production: clear picture and sound. The camera angles try to be helpful, so you almost always see legs and feet; in fact, they seem to eschew close-ups of the face in favor of close-ups of the lower body (but thankfully not just showing the feet – I don’t know about you, but I kind of need to see the whole leg).

Equipment: a pair of sneakers (although I’ve done this barefoot). If you work out on carpet make sure you can pivot or follow the modifier to leave out the pivots.

Space Requirements: You should be able to grapevine to each side, take a big step back, and take a few steps forward. This one can be condensed a little if you’re in tighter quarters, although if you have the room you’ll find ways to use it.

DVD Notes: Your main menu options are Play Program, Introduction, Workout, Finale, Cooldown, and Credits. Note that there are no chapters within the “Workout” segment, so if you wanted to skip the warm-up or something you’ll be hitting fast forward on your remote.

Comments: This is the oldest of Petra’s three dance workouts that she’s released on her own, the others being 3, 2, 1 Dance and Just Dance. (She also has a dance DVD for the 10 Minute Solution series, Dance Off Belly Fat). Of the three 321 Dance definitely gets the most buzz on the boards, and most of it is positive. Just Dance seems to have found its fans, too. So I don’t know if I missed the interest in PK Grooves because I came to Petra’s dance DVDs so late – I only started getting into them last year – or if it really isn’t that widely used, known, or liked.
I don’t have 321 Dance, but in comparison to Just Dance I found this one slightly less intense, slightly more challenging to learn and do in terms of the choreography, and slightly more aerobics than dance. The music is better and the set is brighter on Just Dance, too. I like this one all right, but I don’t love it like I do Just Dance.
A few other notes: Petra definitely draws from the same choreography well across her repertoire; many of the same steps appear again and again in her workouts, although she adds them together differently so she’s not repeating blocks of choreo. And this is definitely not as intense as Petra’s Bootcamp Boogie, another all floor workout, but that one has athletic segments alternating with the dance sections.

Instructor Comments:
Petra is a solid and good cuer; in fact, she cues well enough you’ll actually notice when she holds back on a cue or doesn’t explain something as fully. She pretty consistently cues all of the moves throughout the routine, although for the last few TIFTs she cuts down on that some. She not only mirror cues but also provides helpful directional hints like “inside leg” or “television foot” to ensure you’re on the correct foot. Petra teaches the next layer via the “watch me” method, although sometimes she doesn’t mention the last step that she’ll change or throw in.
Petra is upbeat, encouraging, and very natural on camera. I’m usually not the biggest fan of peppy personalities, but I like Petra; in fact, I find her endearing and charming. She’s about making exercise fun, and her goal is to see you happy and healthy, which is one of my main exercise goals.