Ballet Bootcamp 2

Jessica Sherwood
Year Released: 2003

Categories: Ballet/Barre

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I’m reviewing this workout after having done it a few times a while ago.

General workout breakdown: 16 minutes of warm-up dance routines and stretches, 52 minutes of unweighted strength and balance work (37 minutes of floorwork and 15 minutes of standing ballet work), and 13 minutes of ballet routines intended to be cardio for a total of 81 minutes. You’ll need to add a cool down and/or closing stretch.
This is not a true “boot camp” workout; the name reflects the fact everything’s counted out in 8s. The class set-up and the standing ballet work are more or less reflective of a ballet class, while the floorwork is a combination of standard moves with those from Pilates and similar methods. The workout is intended primarily to work the lower body, with some abs and minimal upper body work.

Level: Although the cover states that this is for all fitness levels, I wouldn’t recommend this to true beginners because of the length and difficulty of many of the moves. The aerobics contain some high impact moves and fairly challenging choreography with little break down of the individual moves. I’d recommend this to a solidly intermediate exerciser because of the importance of form in getting the most out of the exercises. At the same time, I think an advanced exerciser might find this usable only for light days. Familiarity with ballet is extremely helpful; familiarity with Pilates and/or yoga is also helpful. You don’t have to be a dancer, though. (Heaven knows I’m not!) I took ballet lessons for 6-7 years 15-20 years ago, and I’ve been practicing yoga for about three years and Pilates for a little less. I’m not sure I’d be able to pick up the form quite as well without some of that experience, although more athletically gifted people could. When I did this last several months ago, it was challenging for me but not impossibly so; what made it particularly difficult was the length, particularly that of the abs section.

Class: There are some short instructional segments where Jessica uses a student to demonstrate a move. The class in other segments varies from 3-20 students of various ages, sizes, and races. Most students are women, but some men figure prominently.

Music / Set / Other Production Notes: The music is classical; you might recognizes some selections if you also have the NYC Ballet Workouts. The recorded music is played for the class, meaning the overall sound quality is decent but has a canned sound to it. The class is in a large gym-like space with gray walls and floor. Don’t expect lots of fancy camera angles; in this regard BBC2 is very different from BBC1.

Equipment Needed: optional mat for floorwork. You can do this with bare feet, ballet slippers, or split sole dance sneakers (available from Bloch or Capezio).

Comments: There is a strange infomercial-like segment at the end for the Standing Firm which takes the place of the cool down. My other major complaint is timing and flow. Jessica demonstrates most of the floorwork moves before doing them in full. This is helpful when you’re beginning or if you want some pointers but annoying if you’ve been doing the program for a while, although you could use this time to stretch or set up for the next move. The transitions between right and left sides, in contrast, are so quick that the class is halfway through the first 8-count before you’re ready to go. A couple of time Jessica waits for someone to push play for the music, which can be amusing or annoying, depending on your mood.
It’s hard to find time to complete the whole workout at once. Stopping before the “Paquita Waltz” routines makes for just over an hour of ballet work. That’s where I stopped because I’m too tall (5’8”) to comfortably fit all of the waltz movements into the space I had (approximately 8’ by 6’). The rest of the workout fit, though.
I alternated this with the New York City Ballet Workouts. For me the major differences between the two series boils down to these: Ballet Boot Camps are instructor-led ballet-type classes of “normal” people who perform a variety of standing ballet moves and non-ballet floorwork exercises while New York City Ballet Workouts are narrated videos featuring professional dancers performing basic ballet movements and combinations with some traditional stretches, crunches, and push ups thrown in to round out the workout. Both are of similar difficulty level; if you need instruction in basic ballet moves, your best bet is not the BBCs but NYC Ballet Workout #2, which also features a movement combination at the end.

DVD Notes: The chapters cover each segment, such as abs or standing floor work. You can’t skip instructional segments. The menu and chaptering is basic, so have your remote handy to fast forward, skip, etc.

Conclusion: I ended up trading this one. I know I could have worked around the long running time, no cool down, etc., but I’m not motivated to do that unless I love a workout or find a set of exercises particularly effective. I did enjoy the ballet portions; the floorwork, on the other hand, had a high dread factor for me. I know people love floorwork, but unless it’s Pilates or yoga, I haven’t found floorwork I even tolerate doing. Another factor in my decision to trade this was that I decided to base my lower body strength training around weights, Pilates, and yoga, which meant something else had to go. I personally like the NYC Ballets better for their superior production and shorter running time, so I kept them instead of the BBCs.

Instructor Comments:
Jessica’s cuing during movement changes is sufficient and her instruction is clearest in the few one-on-one tutorials previewing upcoming moves. She’s not as helpful during the standing sections because she uses ballet terms without explaining them. She works both sides evenly and intends for you to mirror her. She appears a little distracted by her students and camera, but she also seems to smile and laugh genuinely. As a former ballet dancer, her flexibility is incredible. I’m no expert, but her ballet technique looks good.