Brazilian WorkoutDonna Richardson
Year Released: 2003
Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance
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Since Santa brought me an unwanted Christmas gift - a flu virus - I went through my collection for an all-in-one workout that's not too long, too strenuous, or too complicated, and will lift my spirits. Back to Basics fit that bill perfectly. Even though it's not associated with CIA, it's very CIA-styled complete with endearingly tacky set, familiar Dynamix tunes and no-nonsense approach. Donna starts with about 20 minutes of hi-lo aerobics using simple, basic steps spiced up with her trademark funky mannerisms. Her cueing is much better than on DonnaMite - I can see why some people are frustrated by that tape - and the moves are very easy to modify from beginner to intermediate/advanced. Two of the exercisers show high-impact alternatives, including a neat kicky grapevine variation. Following a funky cooldown, Donna leads us through combined upper/lower body toning, such as curls while squatting; it won't turn you into a Tracie Long, but in my condition it was good enough for government work. Next are squats and leg extensions, floor legwork, abs plus a few back exercises and a nice towel stretch. I felt great (relatively speaking) and invigorated after this workout, and Donna's attitude made me feel like a caring friend had come to visit. Back to Basics has been somewhat ignored in favor of Donna's more recent videos, but it's an excellent basic, no-gimmicks workout for beginners, intermediates or the illness-stricken in need of a lift. Grade: A+
Donna is her usual exploding-with-excitement self; her blinding grins between sentences put most Miss Americas to shame. But she is truly a Fitness Pro, and her cueing and form instructing are at their very best in this video. Whenever I'm down or under the weather, I feel like I have a friend in Donna!
I wasn't expecting this workout to be as good as Old School... and it wasn't. The moves are very basic. Sometimes this is good... I like complex choreo but get burnt out on it from time to time, so then I'll reach for cardio that I can do without thinking too hard. But this was extremely repetitive to the point where more than once, I got so bored I felt like stopping the tape mid-workout. Also, it's very low in intensity; my AHR was one beat below 60% (for reference, I consider myself a high-intermediate).
There are some good points, though. Donna Richardson is the instructor... for those of you who are familiar with Donna, 'nuff said. She just has a wonderful, friendly and fun personality and always seems like she's having a good time. The music is live drumming, which I adore... it reminds me of the drum circles at Venice Beach. Also, about 30 minutes into the workout, Donna switches from latin dance moves to african and caribbean. I loved this section; it was so much fun, and there's a lot more arm movement so the intensity gets kicked up a notch (was in my target HR during this section). But it didn't last long enough... the african/caribbean section was only about 10-15 minutes long.
The entire workout is about 50 mintues long, with the actual cardio being about 40 (don't hold me to this, I wasn't exactly timing it). It's low impact; there are some sections where you can hop a little if you want to up the intensity, but you certainly don't have to. Oh, and before I forget, there's a LOT of whooping in this video (doesn't bother me, but I know some of you don't like whooping, so I made a mental note to mention it).
All in all, B-. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't anything special, either.
My biggest reaction: I really, really, REALLY hope she considers making an african/caribbean only workout. In fact, I think I'll dig up her email address and go beg her for one right now.
After years and years of Kari Anderson and then Cathe Freidrich step tapes, I found myself getting so bored that my mind would drift as I was exercising and it was no longer becoming the stress release that it once was. I had done allot of dance in my younger years (I'm now thirty-seven) and I was looking for a dancey kind of exercise routine(still love Kari, except for her music). I have finally found what I was searching for with Donna Richardson's dance series. I have the three (Brazillian, Old School, Sweating in the Spirit) and I have to say I just adore all of them. This is not about reps, abs, heart rates and the like. This is about the enjoyment of movement and the beauty of dance. ANYONE can do these and these are truly indicative of the saying "What you put into it is what you get out of it". I close my eyes in the Brazillian work-out and just go with the rythmical flavour and beat of the drummers. The music in all of them is live and wonderful and the moves and funky and flowing. Take off your heart-monitor, forget about how HARD you are working....with Donna, that is not the point. The point is to enjoy and feel your body, mind and spirit being set free.
Love and Peace,
P.S What is it about Cathe that everyone loves? I think she's got an exercise problem rather than a love of it and her workouts always left me feeling like I had just been punished by a woman with a body image complex and compulsion rather than a love of movement.
Bright, bubbly, super enthusiastic.Cues beautifully and makes you feel like enjoying yourself.