Just DancePetra Kolber
Year Released: 2009
Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance
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I’m reviewing this workout after doing it twice.
General workout breakdown: In this just under 51- min. dance-inspired workout Petra borrows moves from a variety of dance styles. You’ll mambo, cha cha, chasse, hip rock, rock step, box step (this is a Petra workout, after all!), and even hit the disco floor to throw it down, but you’ll also hamstring curl and walk with attitude. Oh, and there’s a little Elvis knee action, which Petra and/or Evolution fans will recognize. Still, this isn’t exactly something you’d take to the dance floor. 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). The arms are key parts here, but Petra’s arm movements make sense and add to the fun, attitude, and drama of the moves.
Overall the routine is low impact. Petra includes some pivots, but as she keeps telling you, they’re optional.
The warm-up (5.5 min.) starts off with a few simple moves to get you into the groove, then you’ll learn a short, basic combo (which never reappears) before doing some dynamic stretches to warm up the upper and lower body. Petra points out to her repeat customers that they’ll recognize some of the moves, including “Oh, no, she didn’t” from 3,2,1 Dance.
The main body of the workout (23.5 min.) teaches you six different dance blocks. These blocks are taught separately and are never combined together in this portion of the video. Each block begins with a few basic steps, many of them based off of marching or other simple moves, and Petra gradually layers and adds on more. The blocks all feel very different from each other, which makes the workout even more enjoyable with the variety of moves you’ll be doing. (So often instructors don’t realize that they’ve fallen in love with a few patterns that show up several times in the workout, so you find yourself tripping over your feet as you realize that the moves you’re trying to do actually come after the other time you do X, Y, and Z.) Six blocks felt about right to me; I really enjoyed them, but by the sixth I was about ready to be done learning choreography for the day.
You won’t do a full TIFT (take it from the top) until the “remix” portion, where you will run through all six blocks back to back two times (6.5 min.). Petra seems to have kept the TIFTing to a minimum based on feedback after her previous two dance videos, but as someone who likes TIFTing I wouldn’t have minded her stretching out this section to make the workout a full 60 min., especially since this is chaptered separately so people can skip it if they want. Six blocks can be a lot to remember, especially since you haven’t seen the first one for almost 20 minutes, so it might have been nice to see her review what you’ve done by combining 1 & 2, 3 & 4, and then 5 & 6 before running through the whole thing. And/or she could have woven the combos together for another two TIFTs. As things stand she just does combo 1 on both sides, then combo 2 on both sides, etc., both TIFTs. This isn’t a breaking point for me at all, just something I hope Petra does in the future if she sticks with this format.
There is no cool-down here. After your last repetition of the last combo or your last TIFT the screen fades to black and you move onto the stretch. This isn’t a big deal for me since the workout isn’t so challenging for me that my heartrate needs to come down, but if your heart is pounding out of your chest you’ll have to hit pause and walk around for a bit before playing the stretch.
The workout ends with a yoga-inspired stretch (just over 6 min.). You’ll do some half sun salutations, then come into some lunge variations before sitting down for some seated forward bends and a twist.
Level: I’d recommend this to beginner / intermediate to 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 likes to say if you can march you can do her dance workouts, but I think it might be a bit of a jump for pairs of left feet. Solidly intermediate exercisers should know they may need to put a little oomph into their moves to get a solidly moderate workout from this.
I consider myself an int./adv. exerciser. This workout is on the easy side for me; it’s just a bit 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 in front of an audience!). I find this workout very doable, thanks to Petra’s teaching style and cuing. I have to admit that Petra’s choreography always has a few moments where things don’t flow smoothly or intuitively to me, but overall this workout actually flows smoothly, with the exception of one or two things in combo 3 and some of the transitions from one combo to the other when done back to back in the remix section.
Class: 2 women join Petra, who instructs live as she does the workout. Petra is the modifier here, although she tends both to do and cue the full workout in the final remix. 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: upbeat pop-type songs with vocals. It’s definitely better than average and helps add to the overall fun factor.
Set: bright interior studio space with white walls; the “doorway” behind Petra, framed with gauzy white curtains, leads to a wall with a painting, while the bigger “doorway” off to the one side leads onto living room type furniture.
Production: clear picture and sound. The camera angles tend to show all of the exercisers, with minimal close-ups or funky angles and no distracting effects.
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. Depending upon your flooring you may want a mat for the final stretch. Oh, and if you’re like me you may also want some curtains for the windows…
Space Requirements: You’ll need to be able to take several steps forward (you should be able to walk sassily at least 4-5 good steps) and a couple steps to each side.
DVD Notes: Your menu options are Introduction, Play All, Warm-Up, Dance Blocks (each block is individually chaptered, as is the “remix”), Yoga Stretch, Credits, and Get the Music! (Petra is the spokesperson for YES Fitness Music).
Comments: This is the most recent of Petra’s dance-inspired workouts, which also include PK Grooves and 3, 2, 1 Dance; she also released one for 10 Minute Solutions, Blast off Belly Fat. I don’t have 3, 2, 1 Dance, to which Petra refers in JD, and I’m very curious about that one partly because of that, partly because 321 gets good reviews on VF’s forum, and partly because no one seems to be willing to trade it away. Petra’s Cardio for Beginners also includes two dance segments, but they’re pretty basic; in fact, they’d make a good stepping stone for someone new(ish) to dance workouts. I do have PK Grooves, which I’ve also reviewed. I liked PK Grooves, but I love Just Dance. For me JD is not only a little more intense and interesting, with more choreography, it’s also a lot more fun. The set is brighter, the music is better, and Petra has obviously worked hard to make the routine and her teaching of it go very smoothly. JD also feels dancier to me. This may start to push up against boundaries for some folks with the Bootylicious and one hip move, but Petra never mentions “sexy”; they’re just dance moves she wanted to throw in, and she even makes light of Bootylicious, saying if she can do it you can make your body move that way, too. I prefer to do things like this without anyone watching anyway (although my cat will sneak in to give me those feline “What ARE you doing?” looks), so I don’t really mind. Besides, I’m having too much fun. I even grin spontaneously while doing this one.
This is different than Petra’s other 2009 release, Bootcamp Boogie. That also has some dance segments, but there they’re short and alternated with athletic segments. Bootcamp Boogie is definitely a step up in intensity from Just Dance; I’d say JD is beg./int. to int. while BB is int. to int./adv. I like both and think Petra is really on to something with these. I’d love a JD2 and a BB2!
Petra is a solid, good, consistent cuer who cues just ahead of the move. She not only mirror cues but also provides helpful directional hints, both verbal and visual. She’ll usually begin each block with a verbal breakdown of the moves, but then she often teaches the next layer via the “watch me” method.
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 she wants see you happy and healthy, which is one of my main exercise goals, too. Petra is also good here about not overdoing it on the repeated comments. I was taken aback my first time through by her references to 3, 2, 1 Dance, but the second time through they weren’t a big deal because it’s just a mention or two in the warm-up and a passing reference in the remix. She also holds back on saying, “You look awesome,” and “You’re doing great,” which she tended to overuse in Cardio for Beginners. From what she says here it’s clear she listens to feedback and works to make each workout better than her last. I’m not sure how much better she can get from here, though!