Hip Hop Abs Level 2

Shaun T.
Year Released: 2007

Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance

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This is the second "Hip Hop Abs" set released by Beachbody instructor Shaun T; it is known as both Hip Hop Abs Level 2 and Hip Hop Abs Ultimate. (I believe that the "Ultimate" version may have been sold with extras, including the weighted gloves worn by Shaun T for several of the workouts and a workout rotation calendar.) Although I never tried the original Hip Hop Abs, I decided to jump right in with Level 2 since I exercise daily and consider myself to be at least an intermediate level. Plus, I was also already familiar with Shaun T's style from another one of his workout series, Rockin' Body.

For these workouts, Shaun T instructs live in front of a group of six background exercisers (both men and women). The woman to his left, Tania, always shows modifications, mainly keeping the moves low-impact. Minimal equipment is needed for these routines: Shaun T uses optional weighted gloves during two of the workouts, but the rest of the group uses light dumbbells instead. Also, two of the workouts have short floorwork sequences, so a mat is helpful.

This is a 2-DVD set. I have broken down each in further detail below.

The Main Menu for DVD 1 lists FAT BURNING CARDIO 2, AB SCULPT 2, and SPECIAL FEATURES (Meet the Cast 1, Meet the Cast 2, Slim in 6, Beachbody Supplements, Turbo Jam). The two workouts are described below.

FAT BURNING CARDIO 2 (44.5 minutes)
This is an all-standing routine, and it is the only one in which the weighted gloves are not used. Shaun T begins with a 3.5-minute warm-up that mainly alternates marches, slides, and ab pumps; he ends the warm-up with a brief static stretch. The moves in this routine incorporate Shaun's "tilt, tuck, tighten" principle, with many of the moves starting from a basic bounce (sort of a mini standing crunch) and building from there. Furthermore, quite a few of the exercises here also appear in the other workouts, including Ghetto Stomp, Double Dutch, Kick-It, and Booty Pop. Shaun concludes with a short (1.5-minute) cool-down that includes standing side stretches.

AB SCULPT 2 (32 minutes)
For this routine, Shaun T wears his optional weighted gloves. There is more focus on abs toning here, yet this is still a cardio workout. Again, the 3.5-minute warm-up includes marches, slides, and ab pumps. Shaun has his background exercisers pick up their weights for abs-focused moves such as row the boat, core twist, and washing machine. With 10 minutes left, Shaun moves to the floor for 3 minutes of plank work (Tania modifies on all 4s) and then 3 minutes of c-curve abdominals. The 3.5-minute final stretch includes both lying and prone work before coming to standing to finish.

The Main Menu for DVD 2 offers the third workout, TOTAL BODY BURN 2, plus a bonus segment, GET ABS OR DIE TRYING. The latter is a choreographed dance sequence that Shaun and crew break down for those who wish to learn.

TOTAL BODY BURN 2 (45 minutes)
This workout alternates between more cardio-focused segments and more toning-type sequences. Shaun T wears his weighted gloves for the entire routine, but the background exercisers pick up weights for the toning portions only. The 4-minute warm-up is similar to the others in this set, with marches, tucks, and slides; Shaun again adds a short static stretch to the end. Each sequence lasts about 3-4 minutes. Again, many of the moves have appeared in the other routines, including washing machine, twist with knee, and pass-the-dutch. With 10 minutes left, Shaun T suggests getting a mat, but he continues for an additional 5-minutes of standing work, moving into a step out lunge lunge sequence which become progressively more difficult. The 5-minute floor work includes brief push-ups and some c-curve abs work before concluding with a final stretch.

Overall, I am really enjoying these workouts. I'm generally not a big cardio person, so I like that these routines are fun and dancey without being complicated or overly repetitive. I also really like the focus on the abs--in fact, I have found that keeping the cardio lower impact (mostly following Tania) helps me keep the work in my abs even more. The only thing I did NOT like about these workouts was how LOUD the music is. When you choose your workout, there is an option for "Music even louder?" I always selected "NO" for this, but even so, the music is loud enough to make Shaun T hard to hear at times.

In the end, however, if you want to have fun while exercising, I would definitely recommend this DVD set.

Instructor Comments:
Although Shaun T is incredibly goofy (he is constantly making up silly rhymes) and self-centered (one of the songs is actually sung by him and ABOUT him, with the words "Shaun T...that's me"), you can't help but to like him! Plus, he's actually a great instructor: he provides mirrored cuing, he always counts reps evenly, and he is constantly offering helpful form pointers. Finally, he makes it all appear easy, coming off as completely laid-back yet having boundless energy.

Beth C (aka toaster)