Breakthru Cardio Dance

Tracy York, Michelle Dozois
Year Released: 2000

Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance

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Please note that I wrote this review about 4 years ago; I've copied and pasted the review as originally written. At the time of the review I had done the workout several times.
Although I kept this for a bit after writing about it, it hasn't been a part of my collection for a while. I just found other cardio videos I enjoyed doing more, so I passed it on.


General workout breakdown: This workout has two parts.
1. The cardio segment lasts about 40 minutes. It consists of very dancy hi/lo (along the lines of Patrick Goudeau rather than Christi Taylor, Marcus Irwin, etc.). You begin with a warm up (5-6 minutes), mixed dynamic and static stretches (2 minutes), the routine broken into 3 large sections to be taught TIFT style and eventually added together (29 minutes), and cool down with stretching (3-4 minutes). There are many little hops, pivots, and twists. It’s not very high impact, though; I’d say it’s “mid impact.”
2. The Pilates segment lasts about 30 minutes. Michelle and Tracy lead you through breathing and other preparation (e.g. various crunches), “toe dips” that become scissors, knee drop series, bridge, single leg stretch, bridge again, heel beats combined with breaststroke, cat stretch, cat pose with opposite leg and arm extended (series with contractions and triceps push ups), downward dog, another series for the back, child’s pose with arms extended, side leg series (front & back, bicycle, passé, circles, side lifts), push ups to child’s pose, elbow planks with leg lifts, chest stretch, rolling like a ball, reverse plank with leg lifts, side plank series, modified spinal twist / spine stretch forward series, half rollback, one-legged teaser prep, and teaser #1. There’s not much of a final stretch afterwards. They include a decent number of repetitions (definitely never too many) and move at a decent pace (not too fast, not too slow).

Level: I’d recommend the cardio portion to an intermediate exerciser. It’d be too intense for a true beginner, and the steps are tricky, particularly for someone new to exercising. At the same time an advanced exerciser might find this the equivalent of a walk in the park. I consider myself mid-to-high intermediate, and I find this workout appropriate for my level. I don’t feel wiped out afterwards, but I do sweat. I had been working out to Christi Taylor for a few months before getting this, but it took me a couple of times to feel comfortable with the moves. Oh, you’ll definitely need some coordination, as there are some quick and tricky rhythms.
I’d recommend the Pilates portion to an experienced beginner through an intermediate. Michelle and Tracy have very little instruction here, so anyone new to Pilates might find this portion challenging for the wrong reasons. I consider myself a low intermediate. I have about two years of Pilates experience but still have limited strength and flexibility. When I first got this it was challenging; now it’s at a more appropriate level.

Class: Michelle and Tracy join another woman and two men for the cardio; the women alone perform the Pilates. For some Pilates moves a modification is shown; a few more are suggested.

Music / Set / Other Production Notes: The music for the cardio portion has a beat; sometimes it’s clubby, sometimes it’s jazzy. The Pilates section features softer music, including one song with vocals (“Ooh ooh ooh, ah ah ah” type stuff). In both sections the instrumental music is appropriate and pleasant but not memorable. The class is in a brightly lit studio with hardwood floors and a minty green background with an abstract design on one side and a close up of a gorgeous Ionic column on the other. The picture and sound quality are good considering this is a rather no frills VHS to DVD copy.

Equipment: sneakers for cardio; mat (or equivalent) and towel (or strap) for Pilates segment.

Comments: The cardio portion is a real space hog. Today I used all of my 6’ by 6’ space for my feet—not including the kicks and arms, which needed another foot to each side—while doing this diagonally. (I’m 5’8”, for comparison’s sake.)
In addition, the cardio has a lot of leg twists and pivots. I got it from a VFer whose knees did not like a number of the moves. I had some trouble with my knees, too, the first couple of times when I did it with regular crosstrainers on carpet. Once I started using dance sneakers the achy knees went away. So the moral of the story is to make sure you can pivot freely and unload your knees, especially if you’re on carpet. Avoid this one if you have major knees issues.

DVD Notes: The DVD is called “Work it Off! Cardio Dance.” As far as I can tell from reviews, it’s the exact same workout as the VHS Breakthru Cardio Dance.
The DVD has NO chapters. Zip. Nada. Zilch. Not even one for the Pilates routine.

Conclusion: I’m keeping this one for now. It’s not perfect (the last combo is a bit uninspired, for example), but this is the most intense cardio “dance” workout I’ve tried (including Quick Fix Cardio Hip Hop, The Method Dynamic Cardio, The Method Dance to Fitness, and the Bellydance twins’ Slim Down). It’s good for something different.
The Pilates portion is similar to the Breakthru Core Conditioning video. I personally prefer the sequence here because there’s less pausing for instruction and set up, so the workout is about 10-15 minutes faster.

Instructor Comments:
Michelle and Tracy obviously have a good rapport and are serious about exercising. The two alternate leading segments. They work both sides of the body evenly. Both intend for you to mirror their movements and give decent form pointers. Tracy is a little better about explaining the moves and cueing them each time through, but her lack of dance experience helps her understand the need for those things. Michelle isn’t bad, but she’d rather encourage or praise you then cue the move once she’s taught it. Both exhibit enthusiasm, but it’s low key rather than over the top. Michelle appears to be almost shouting during the cardio; she’s calmer in the Pilates portion, though.



This is a 40-minute dancy cardio routine followed by a 30-minute bonus Pilates section (times taken from the DVD cover). Tracy and Michelle take turns leading. While one leads, the other is part of the class, which also includes one other female and two male dancers.

Tracy leads both the warm-up and the first combination. I found the warm-up to progress to jumping a bit too fast for my taste, and a little hard on the knees. The combinations are all taught add-on style, so there’s a fair amount of TIFTing.

It turns out I just don’t care for Tracy York all that much. I found her combination to be difficult to catch on to, in part because she doesn’t cue well (if at all—at one point she actually says “what was that?” as if she really didn’t know), in part because a good chunk of the combination faces the side. Maybe it was the choreography, but I doubt I’ll be spending enough time with this workout to figure that out. The second combination was led by Michelle, and I like her much better. The combination was a lot more fun, and I was able to follow along with no problems.

The third section puts Tracy’s and Michelle’s combinations together—it’s led by Tracy, and I fast-forwarded because she bugs me so. (I almost turned off the workout before Michelle took over, and I was glad I didn’t, but I wasn’t going to deal with Tracy a second time around.) Michelle leads the cool down, which is just long enough and still a little dancy. There’s not much stretching.

The bonus Pilates section is titled “Hardcore Conditioning” and is led, at least at first, by Tracy (or the fact that she was tapping her feet during her Pilates warm-up). I didn’t care for Tracy or for the music (80’s-type sythesizer music), so I turned the DVD off and did my own Pilates routine. I can’t comment on the rest of it, but there are about four variations on the roll-up.

As half of a 2-pack that retailed for under $6 at Wal-Mart, this was a bargain. An intermediate who likes Tracy York, doesn’t mind moderate choreography, doesn’t have knee problems, and doesn’t care that the DVD has absolutely NO chaptering (no, not even to get you to the beginning of the Pilates section) might like this. As for myself, I prefer Crunch’s Fat Burning Dance Party and Tamilee’s Motown Moves for dancy cardio.

Instructor Comments:
I disliked Tracy York, mostly because of her poor cueing. Michelle Dozois does a much better job. If the DVD were led by just her, my review would most likely be much more positive.



On cardio work, I am an intermediate exerciser who is playing with advanced choreography. I have fallen in love with all the Breakthru workouts; this one seemed to be the exception for me. However, it seemed to be less the workout itself than the fact that this is the workout which convinced me once and for all that although I love _dancey_ choreography, I just don’t like DANCE workouts.

Michelle and Tracy seemed to be their usual selves in this workout and they led a group of several exercises, other dancers. The moves weren’t very hard to follow, although there was a few times that I stood and watched them a few seconds in order to be able to translate what they had cued into what they were doing.

The workout does take some room forward and backward and side to side. The music didn’t even register with me.

Instructor Comments:
They seemed to be encouraging and peppy.

Laura S.


This is a good video that got off on the wrong foot, so to speak. CIA touted it as very complex and advanced, and Collage also continues to list it as such - up there with Christi Taylor and Kari Anderson - which only reinforces my opinion that they no longer actually do every video they sell, or test them with experienced exercisers. The main routine consists of mambos, cha-chas, twirls and other Latin/hip-hop inspired moves done to a lively Crunch soundtrack. It is taught very slowly, though, and with lots of in-between marching. This is a big drawback for advanced exercisers trying to keep their heartrates up, but for intermediates who have trouble catching on to dancy moves, this type of instruction could be very helpful. I'm not into "core conditioning" so I can't comment on that part. But I'd like to see more intermediate "klutzes" give BCD a try, and give their thoughts. It doesn't deserve to be forgotten just because of a marketing misfire.

Instructor Comments:
Tracy and Michelle are fun, laid-back "Crunch types". Their cueing isn't the greatest, but they should get better as they continue to work together.

Sue B


I'm happy because this video is one of the few truly purely "dancy" hi-lo videos that have come out in a few years. And let me take a minute to define my terms. When I say dancy, I mean, whirly twirly, modern dance moves or hip-hop moves like you see on music videos. Kari Anderson and Christi Taylor (who are both complex and "dancy") would be on the dancy spectrum (in my mind), but towards the middle of the range, since they weave in "dancy" moves like box steps, ponies, and a few funk and hip-hop moves, while still filling out the majority of their routines with traditional aerobics moves like hamstring curls, knee-ups, grapevines, and hoppy moves, which, thankfully, keep the intensity high.

Even though I'm happy to get my hands on a new dance video, I'm of two minds about this tape. It's a fairly creative, well put together little routine. You move around your space alot, do big, sweeping arm movements, sayshay, and move your hips. That's the good part. It feels good to do something totally different every now and then.

On the other hand, this video's strength --the dance element -- is it's own undoing. Michelle and Tracy place too much emphasis on the "dance" element and not enough on the fitness part of the equation. I posted one thread here at VF asking, "Where's the cardio in Breakthru Cardio.?"

I sometimes don't mind a lot of marches (ala Patrick Goudeau), but I do want to have some sweat to show for my troubles. Didn't get that here. I think I can get more of a workout with Donnamite. I'm really disappointed in the intensity.

But you know, even if I said, "Forget the intensity, let's just dance," I still have other dancer-videos I prefer more, such as Calvin Wiley's and Barry Joyce's, even Paula Abdul. I feel like this routine is cute, but it doesn't have that "umph" of flowing together seamlessly and perfectly, and having the polish and finesse of the very best dance tapes.

Finally, I think Tracy York cues slightly better than Michelle, but they're about even. The tape is not terribly complex. If you listen carefully, and have done the likes of Christi Taylor, you should have no

problem doing it. I didn't do the Pilates section at the end, so I can't comment on that. Looks interesting enough, though, but I'm sort of a "exercise and move on" type of person. Rolling around on the floor and doing up and down dog and cobra has never captivated me, but this one doesn't look as boring as some of the other "yoga/pilates" routines I've seen before.

The music, I can't recall, so it's fairly forgettable, I suppose.

Sorry about this disjointed review. I still can't make up my mind about this video. Given my limited time to workout and my current fitness and vanity goals (fitting into my pre-preg jeans), I don't have time to waste on just prancing around my house for fun. Every minute has to count. I think this tape my find a happier home, and I'm considering putting it on the exchange soon.

Eulonda Skyles


I did not like the aerobics portion of this workout at all. It is very dancy, which I have no talent for. Dance-lovers will have a blast with this. The intensity, if you manage to learn the routines, looks to be intermediate. I did, however, like the 30-minute ending segment, "Hard-Core Conditioning." It's core strengthening using Pilates/Method-type exercises. I liked the flow of it, the personality of the instructors, and the "laid-backness" as compared to the Method tapes and the Stott tapes. I recently bought Breakthru Core Conditioning as well, and I thought that tape would replace this one. However, I've decided to keep both. While the two tapes are very similar in the exercises taught, this one is a little easier and a little shorter also. I'll use this one when I don't want to get too "hard-core" but still want a great core workout. I'm also a big fan of the Method tapes, but I really don't feel I'm wasting my money/time by having these as well, because the whole atmosphere and the flow of the exercises are different. Anyway, I've said a lot more about the toning part than the main part of this video, but that's the part that I think stands out here. Grade A-

Instructor Commments: Both instructors are very personable and work well together in this video. They come across as being "fun" people.

Annie S.


I was very excited about this being an advanced tape, and was so disappointed when I previewed it. When I hear "march in place" or "hold it," I know I will not get my heartrate up. I have to compare this tape to Calvin Wiley and Patrick Goudeau on other CIAs. This totally is not my style (being a Franny and Greg fan), and even on a day when I want a lower intensity, there are many other tapes I can use like Kari Anderson, Candace Copeland, Tim Culwell, and numerous other CIA segments. I actually tried it this morning, and after ten minutes, said "no way." The Pilates conditioning is also not for me, so this tape goes into the "dud" bin. Tracy was great on Fitness Pros where she did some nice high intensity stuff, and Michelle was much better on NAC working with intervals. There is only one plus on this tape: Jeff Vandiver from Fitness Pros is a background exerciser, but he is not enough to let me pull this out of the bin.

Instructor Comments:

maryann parker


I am new to cardio dance dvd's, and this was my first purchase. I found it very fun, 40 minutes where they break down four halves of a continuous dance routine. It was a little hard to follow my first pass at it, but I know with a few runs I will improve. I personally rather that then it being so easy I master it on my first attempt. It kept my heart rate up in the lower threshold, not intense cardio but a great pick me up workout. the dvd has a bonus 16 minute pilates workout that was a great way to end the workout. It does abs, back, arms, and legs, all mild easy moves but it felt nice after all that dancing. All in all I would definitely keep this tape and do it again.

Instructor Comments:
The instructors are easy to watch with nice instruction and are not annoying. They switch between who leads a certain excerise which is a fun element