Hip Hop WalkAmy Bento
Year Released: 2012
Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance , Walking Aerobics
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Full disclosure: I received a free review copy of this workout.
OK. I'll start with a little about me that might explain my reactions to this workout. I am a 49-year-old woman with basically no rhythm. I am a regular exerciser and don't have the best hands or knees. At this point, I consider myself an intermediate exerciser. Hip hop is NOT my style of music; I do not listen to it in real life.
When I first heard about this workout, I was intrigued. Amy Bento Ross is one of those instructors whose workouts I avoid because I just do not click with her. I've tried several of her workouts, thought they were pretty well done, but didn't keep them because I just couldn't get into them. But, the premise of this workout sounded promising and I liked what I saw in the clip at Collage. So, I decided to try it.
Amy is by herself in this workout. At the beginning of the cardio section, she says, "Try to have some fun. Throw your inhibitions out the door. It's just you and I and we are here to sweat and let go. Look, no one's watching. So, I don't care if you're an 'A dancer' or an 'F dancer'. Hip hop is just about exaggeration and that's all we're going to do." Throughout the rest of the workout she reminds you of this premise and encourages you to really get into the moves. For me, it worked. When I do this workout, I feel like one of those "A dancers" and there is no one and no mirror in the room to tell me differently! For those that simply don't like workouts with just the instructor, this premise might not work as well.
The set is the standard CIA set that has shown up in recent workouts. It is the one with the windows in the background. The set is light and airy and I have no had no problem seeing Amy. She is dressed in a black top, black pants, and black shoes. I've seen comments about loving or hating her outfit and just don't get it. It's a black outfit. (Can you tell I don't have a lot of fashion interest? It must be in the same place as my rhythm... LOL) There is one place in the workout where she does a move when the black pants and black shoes works against her because I couldn't see exactly what she was doing. It was sort of a kick move into a tap back move and is pretty quick. The music seems like standard standard techno exercise musis with a hip hop flair. To me, it seemed repetetive. I didn't really care because I don't like hip hop music anyway and focused on the moves. It did seem to fit the workout very well.
Throughout the workout, Amy compares standard walking moves (vanilla) to more intense options (spiced up). She encourages you to:
> vary the level of your body as you walk and move
> engage and move your core as you move
> include and move your arms once you have gotten the lower body down
Throughout the workout, she points out how doing these things increases your heart rate - and it did for me. She varies the pace and intensity of the moves throughout the workout. She starts with a move and the introduces a more intense move and then backs off of it and then does it again. She also includes intensity segments where she does a drill-type move for 30 seconds. Amy tracks the time on her watch in those segments. She does a combination of moves for awhile on one side and then repeats those same moves on the other side. For some, this will make the workout repetetive and/or boring. There were several places where I was ready for her to move on before she did, but it didn't mar my enjoyment of the workout overall. Many of the moves are basic (very basic) dance moves, but this is not a dance workout. They are included in the walking type workout and they help to increase the intensity and variety of the moves.
The workout is almost entirely low impact. There were a couple of places I didn't do a hop she added and she pointed out those options when it occurred. She adds intensity in other ways.
Overall, I really like this workout. Instead of doing her version of a Leslie Sansone workout, she created her own walking workout and I think it's fresh and different.
I've seen comments about Amy trying to act cool in this workout. Personally, it seemed to me that she is having fun remembering her earlier years and the fun she had doing various moves. She is encouraging and engaging throughout the workout.
I really like this workout. I like the idea of walking workouts, because they are good for days when you don't want to think about what you're doing. They don't have choreography to learn. They're lower impact. But, I don't like a lot of walking workouts on the market because they are usually just a lot of marching in place. I wanted something with more movement variety, but without more choreography. And that's exactly what Hip Hop Walk is. It's perfect if you find Leslie Sansone too repetitive. The clips I've seen look a little cheesey, but actually *doing* the workout is a lot more fun than watching the clips.
I think the workout is more intermediate than beginner, because of the intensity bursts.
Amy is just "having fun" in this one. I like her cueing, instruction, and personality.
I’m reviewing this workout after doing it twice.
General workout breakdown: This almost 55-min. workout involves just what it claims to: walking-style moves with hip hop flavor.
After a 6.5-min. warm-up with some basic cardio moves and a few static stretches (something I’m not too fond of in a warm-up, so I change them to dynamic moves), the main portion of the workout lasts about 40.5 min. You’ll then enjoy a cool-down of basic moves lasting just over 3 min. and an 4.5-min. stretch focusing on the hamstrings, hips, upper back, chest, and low back (what is it with walking instructors forgetting to stretch the front of the leg?) and releasing stress.
During the workout Amy takes basic moves and gradually amps things up, then backs off to marching in place or another simple walking-based move before ramping that up, and so on - or, as Amy says, she takes something that’s “vanilla” and “spices it up.” To make the moves more intense you might go a little lower (“variate” [sic] the level), change up the arms, engage your core a little more, add some hops, that sort of thing. For example, instead of just walking up and tapping, then walking back and tapping, you’ll hunker down a little and groove, then add in some pumping arms. Or instead of just stepping side to side you’ll pick up your knee, add a little brush off move and turn in your shoulder, and then change the arm movement to pump them above your head. Amy also includes intensity moves, some of which she times (was no one on the sidelines able to do the timing for Amy so she didn’t have to spend half the interval watching her watch?), some of which she does for a while until she switches. She asks her “DJ” to slow down the music so you can get into the power moves a little more. The intensity moves include a running man, a throwdown move (kick into a step behind move while one arm crosses the body), a side to side move with a dip in the middle, and a series where you move one leg back and forth while standing on the other. Amy has some good ideas for low impact intense moves, and I like that she shows you don’t have to jump around frantically to get the heart rate up.
Amy does one move for a while, then moves onto the next or switches sides, so there’s no really complicated choreography to learn, although the throwdown move can be kind of tricky to pick up. She does moves on both sides, although she may not do them exactly evenly on both sides, but she’s pretty close. For what it’s worth, Amy does a tap switch to change sides.
Amy bills this as low impact, but she does include some hops, although she tries not to get airborne. I would caution those working out on carpet, especially those with cranky knees, to be careful; you may want to swap out your normal sneakers for your dance sneakers or your shoes that you’ve put a piece of tape over the toebox or put down your puzzle mats or whatever you need to do to make sure your feet don’t catch during the quick partial pivots and other moves. Also, those with cranky joints will want to be careful and smooth out some of the movements so this doesn’t feel so herky jerky, as it’s liable to do if you’re more of the “F” dancer rather than a dancer.
Level: I see Collage has this listed as beginner/intermediate, and compared to some other beginner/intermediate workouts I have, like the PowerFit sets, I feel this one is a wee bit more challenging because of the length and the power bursts. Personally I think this is more of a low intermediate workout, and with some effort you can nudge this up closer to solidly intermediate by really getting into the moves – in other words, doing this as Amy does it – and maybe also adding in some more to the hops, that sort of thing.
Normally I’m happily at the intermediate/advanced crossover point, but currently I’m closer to the beginner/intermediate point, working my way back up to my usual level after a year and a half of, well, life happening. I usually pick up choreography pretty quickly, assuming it makes sense and is taught decently. My first time through I was able to keep up with Amy, although I wasn’t able to do the full power bursts; my second time through I was able to get more out of all the moves. This will continue to be a decently challenging workout for me for a little while longer, especially as I become more familiar with the moves and am able to get more into the moves. Once I’m at my usual fitness level I can just see myself pulling it out on “easy” days and finding myself getting a more moderately challenging workout than I anticipated.
Class: Amy is alone, doing the whole routine as she instructs live. The idea is that it’s just you and Amy having fun, and she often reminds you, “No one’s looking,” “I can’t see you,” and to worry about getting sweaty rather than being perfect. (This will test your dedication to the maxim, “Dance like no one’s watching!” This won’t be much fun if you can’t tune out any peanut gallery, real or imagined.) Personally I think Amy pulls it off, and she convinced me to let loose and not care what I looked like, so long as I was moving and having fun. Heck, I even clapped with gusto, and I don’t usually clap.
I get those who say Amy should have pulled at least one other friend onto the set with her for this. However, I will say that sometimes with workouts where you’re encouraged to “do your own thang” having too many people on screen can be distracting if they are each marching to their own beat or can be intimidating if they are all in perfect synch and you suspect you are not.
Music: hip hop covers with a decent beat, more old school type stuff (I guess you’d call it – I’m no hip hop expert, but I can tell you this soundtrack doesn’t sound like the latest Beyonce or Jay-Z hit); there are a few vocals, but they’re not overwhelming, and there’s nothing offensive (I remember hearing “Get Down,” for example). Amy occasionally sings a lyric or sings a cue in place of the lyric.
Set: the open, bright, airy studio space with wooden floors the CIA has been using lately, with three frosted windows along the back wall (through which you can see bushes and passing cars) and some exercise equipment and plants and that sort of thing neatly arranged around.
Production: clear picture and sound, with Amy’s voice just louder than the music so you can still hear her and the music. The vaguely MTV-style camera work (there are a number of close-ups of Amy that move in or out, for example) is somewhat unusual for CIA, who usually keeps the camera pretty steady, and is one of the few nitpicky things I don’t really care for in this video. It’s not so distracting that I can’t figure out what’s going on, although there were a few times I didn’t see feet when I wanted to see feet, for example, and over time I’ll probably be able to tune it out, especially since it’s not constant. Still, the vote of the person who decided the hip hop vibe should inspire the music video-style camera work should be overruled in Hip Hop Walk 2 (if Amy decides to do one, which I hope she does – although I hope she first does more of her usual step, hi/lo, kickboxing, kettlebells, etc., workouts).
Equipment: You’ll just need supportive sneakers and a jogbra, if applicable. (See my advice under “General Workout Description” if you’re workout out on carpet.)
Space Requirements: At 5’8” I was able to fit this within 9 2’ by 2’ puzzle mats, or an area 6’ by 6’, and I used up most of that area, especially the side to side space. You could squeeze it into a slightly smaller space if needed, but if you have room use it.
DVD Notes: After the intro plays, your main menu options are Play Program, Chapters (Warm-Up, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Cool Down, and Stretch), and Credits. There are no premixes. I don’t normally use a lot of premixes, so I don’t really miss them here, although I wouldn’t have minded a premix that took out the intensity moves, for example, for those days when I didn’t feel up to them. For those that want to shorten the workout, I agree that a good place to bow out is at the perceived exertion chart, which pops up about 30 min. into the workout (including the warm-up), skipping forward to the cool-down and stretch.
Comments: I’m so happy to see someone reinvent the walking workout. OK, so I’m not the biggest walking workout connoisseur, and I’m sure someone will dispute that statement, but for the casual walking workout user this feels different compared to most of what’s out there. Leslie Sansone doesn’t need to quiver in her sneakers, though, because there will always be a place for her “walk, walk, walk.” But for those of us who’d like some real variety that’s more than Leslie doing some “new” moves (Ooh, Leslie is doing half jacks!) or someone trying to put their stamp on a Leslie-style workout (Debbie Rocker, Chris Freytag, Ellen Barrett, even Petra Kolber with George Foreman), this feels like something fresh. HHW sort of reminds me of Michelle Dozois’ Prevention Walk Your Way Slim, which was basically a basic hi/lo or floor aerobics workout in the guise of a walking workout, but Michelle built up little combos, something Amy doesn’t really do, at least not to the same degree.
This workout became quite controversial on the board, notably when the first clips came out. Honestly, there’s not much controversy for me. No, it’s not my most favoritest workout ever, but it fills a niche for me, and I’m happy to have it, especially since I got it at the preorder discount price. No, it’s not Amy’s bestest workout ever, but Amy not at her best is still better than some other stuff I’ve seen, so I’m fine with that.
OK, let me reword that in a positive way, since I have a positive take on this: I think this is a perfectly good little workout that is different enough from so much out there, and I’m glad Amy was the one who had the vision to create and lead it.
This is NOT a dance workout. I’ve read some criticism of the choreography, etc., mostly based on what can be seen in preview clips, from those who are dance instructors, and they have a point – up to a point, ‘cause this is not meant as a dance workout, hence the word “walk” in the title. Personally I’m totally fine with the fact that this is not a proper dance workout. I’ve been trying so hard to get into Jennifer Galardi’s Dance Off the Inches hip hop workouts, and I’ve tried a few other hip hop dance workouts (one QuickFix one, some by Evolution instructors), and I just end up feeling frustration rather than fun. I have a background in ballet, tap, and jazz from my early youth, but a hip hop dancer I am not; as I like to say, there’s little hip in my hop. That said, hip hop has some great moves and a style all its own that I’d like to pretend to be able to do in the privacy of my own home. For me, this is the right amount of funky without the frustration of trying to be too authentic or learning how to dance for the club or doing it properly.
Amy is a true natural on camera; she’s completely at ease and able to hold her own on a large set all by herself. She’s encouraging and has a good sense of humor, cracking some jokes, but never getting too goofy.
In the past I’ve found Amy hasn’t been the most precise cuer during her floor cardio workouts, but I found her to be good here, cuing just ahead of move changes, giving notice of which side we were now on, mirror cuing, and giving a decent description of the new move (she might forget to mention the tap in a move, for example).
Amy mentions calorie burn a few times, but there is no sexy talk whatsoever. She’s more interested in plain old sweat and straightforward fun.