Cardio For Beginners

Petra Kolber
Year Released: 2008

Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance

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I am currently going through all of my workout DVDs to see which ones I will keep and which ones I will let go. I'm trying to keep a variety of options for when I need easier workouts and when I work up to harder workouts. I've been coming back since the begining of the year from a really bad fitness year last year and I would say that I'm up to a high beginner or into intermediate - depending on the day and the workout.

This DVD seems to be a great one for me to keep because of all of that. It seems like it would be a good beginners to intermediates. This is a beginner workout can be used by both newbies and experienced exercisers who are restarting, dialing things back, facing time crunches, or just wanting easier workouts. There is some minimal choreography, but Petra's cueing is so good and it's not very complicated, so it should be accessible to most people.

I was just so glad to see a DVD that takes advantage of DVD techlology. (Go figure.) The dvd includes four different segments, two labeled as athletic and two labeled as dancey, and you can program the DVD to play them in any order. Each segment starts with a quick warm up and then builds into one big combo after Petra teaches a few steps together at a time, and then youíll TIFT (take it from the top). She builds the combinations slowly, taking it from the top as she goes, and then she does the final combo serveral times.

There are two background exercisers who do the work out as is. Once in awhile, Petra does an easier version of a move while the background exercisers do the harder verion (as in a mambo vs. a pivot). The music is typical instrumental. A couple of times, Petra talks about working out to "some great music" and I kept waiting for it, but it never started.

The best part of this workout is Petra herself. Her cuing is excellent and constant; generally, she cues just ahead of the move. she also mirror cues except for a couple of times she apparently forgets about it. She's enthusiastic and is very supportive of you doing what is good for you. Throughout the workout, she encourages you to do what is good for you (whether or not to add arms to the leg movements, adding more intensity or not, etc.)

Overall, I like this workout, although the TIFTing does get to me sometimes. I use this workout when I'm in a tired place and don't have a lot of energy. Petra keeps me with her and motivated to finish the workout. When I have more brain power, I find the TIFTing can make the workout seem longer than it is.

Instructor Comments:
She is enthusiastic and supportive and a breath of fresh air.

Laura S.


Others have already posted very detailed and helpful descriptions of the content of this video, but I wanted to chime in and rave a little too. I consider myself to be a high beginner/low intermediate and am just getting back into regular fitness activities after a long period of sporadic, on-again/off-again workouts.

The two 10-minute and two 20-minute segments can be programmed to play in any order or combination. The 20-minute segments give a nice workout in a time crunch because I feel as though I've done SOMETHING but I don't feel beat afterward. The 20-minute dance cardio is pure fun, and the 20-minute athletic cardio is both well put together and the most intense of the segments on this video, relatively speaking. I'll echo another reviewer's comment and mention that it is very easy to modify the intensity of the cardio moves (up or down).

The shorter 10-minute segments are pleasant add-ons to the 20-minute segments but in and of themselves don't get my blood pumping that much. That said, the 10-minute segments are great warm-ups for other, longer workouts.

The only downside is that I really wish there were separate warm-up and cool-down segments. This would make it easier to put together a workout from multiple segments and keep the intensity more consistent. Most of the time I only play one of the 20-minute workouts for this reason, and when I want a longer workout I use a different video. Even so, I reach for this one often.

Instructor Comments:
I adore Petra Kolber. She is cheerful and motivational without seeming fake or forced. In this workout she is much more of the "do what you're ready to do today" persuasion than the "come on, push yourself" style of other instructors, but she gently pulls you along anyway. Her cueing is very clear and easy to follow. Finally, I recently learned that Petra is a long-term cancer survivor - what an inspiration!



Iím reviewing this workout after doing it twice.

General workout breakdown: Sundari, Denise, and Donna have already described this workout well. Iíll give some nitty gritty details for anyone who wants to know a little more.

I agree with the others that I would have preferred a short warm-up in a separate chapter, especially since the warm-ups are so similar. Still, even the longest warm-ups (2-3 min. in the 20 min. segments) arenít that long, so itís not a big deal to me.

As mentioned, each segment builds up into one big combo. Petra will usually teach a few steps together at a time, and then youíll TIFT (take it from the top, or run through what you know from the beginning). Sheíll often do a few reps of a step (for example, youíll march up for steps, do a wide march for a four-count, then shake your hips four times), so youíre not rushing from one move right into another right into yet another. Most everything is done symmetrically, or the same amount on the right or left, but not all parts are; itís not that confusing, however, the way she puts it all together.

- Athletic Cardio (10 min.), which runs almost 10.5 min., begins with a short warm-up of very simple moves like a step tap, alternating between just the feet and adding in the arms. The moves for the combo include walk up with a knee, step tap with lateral raise, hamstring curl, v-step, grapevine, little squat, diagonal side lunge, heel dig, knee lift, and a double tap. This ends with a wide march with a few deep breaths.
Petra seems to intend this one to be the first you do, because she introduces her background exercisers, explains that you can always come back to marching, and demonstrates how adding arms boosts the intensity. But then it is the first one listed on the menu.

- Dance Cardio (10 min.), which runs about 11 min., begins with marches and hips, deep breaths and shoulder rolls. The moves for the combo include walk it up, march with feet wide, hip shakes, grapevine, reach & throw down, walk it back, mambo, slow box step, v-step, and stroll w/ attitude. This also ends with a few seconds of marching and some deep breaths.

- Athletic Cardio (20 min.), which runs just over 20.5 min., has a little more of a warm-up, with a Tai Chi-inspired drawing in of energy / breaths, elbow strike, shoulder roll, static calf stretch, dynamic hip flexor stretch (lunge), static hamstring stretch, and low back roll. The moves for the combo include step tap (this reappears several times w/ different arm variations), hamstring curl, v-step, jab & cross, bob & weave, pump / push-up on heels (this is often shown as a substitute for jumping jacks), side tap, diagonal side lunge, lunge back, little / power squat, repeater knee, grapevine, double side step, and power push. As you might guess by now, this ends with a few seconds of marching and deep breaths.
I find that this is the most intense of the four segments. I canít say itís a lot more intense, however, and it may be that for whatever reason I find it easier to put more oomph into these moves and thus get a little more out of them.

- Dance Cardio (20 min.), which runs almost 21 min., begins with some reaches, hip shakes, lower back rolls, and shoulder rolls; Petra then introduces a step tap combo with reach, ďwash your hair,Ē punch up, and shoulder rolls, which will reappear later in this segment. She does a mambo into a static calf stretch, dynamic hip flexor stretch (lunge with shoulder shimmy), and a static hamstring stretch to round out the warm-up. The moves for the combo include v-step, put it in your pocket (an out out in in), Fred Astaire / Ginger Rogers (a slide with a step back front or step ball change), hip shakes, tap with a hip shake, walk it back, push it (a step touch with a hip shake), mambo, step tap with various arms (reach, wash your hair, pump), grapevine, and an optional pivot turn. This ends with a few marches, then some slow reaches, before a few deep breaths.
This may be my favorite of the four segments; although thereís a lot of TIFTing here, I found it a little easier to get into the flow of things, or maybe itís the invitation to pretend to be Ginger. ;-)

- Bonus: Stretch (5 min.), which runs just over 5.5 min., is vaguely yoga-inspired. After some more deep breaths, Petra does several rounds of a standing side bend, then folds halfway down for a lower back stretch by tucking and releasing the lower back. She moves to the floor for a seated twist, seated forward bend with legs straight in front of you, and a seated forward bend with legs crossed. On the plus side, Petra moves through each exercise deliberately, never rushed. On the con side, this isnít particularly through. Has Petra left out so many muscles because she touched on them in the warm-ups for the 20 min. segments?

Level: Iíd also recommend this to beginners to intermediates. This is one ďfor beginnersĒ video thatís great for both newbies and experienced exercisers who are restarting, dialing things back, facing time crunches, etc. Youíll have to be willing to deal with some choreography, but itís nothing too complicated, and the impact is minimal, making this accessible to most everyone.

I consider myself an intermediate / advanced exerciser. This doesnít get my heart rate up all that much; itís comparable to my walking videos and some of my easier dance ones. That said, I see the value in this DVD for three reasons:
- First, when I was first starting out with home exercise videos after a break from fitness activities (and admittedly I wasnít exactly coming off of a high level of athleticism before that break) 10-20 min. was all I could do at one time. A video like this makes it easy to build oneís endurance and stamina. Petra also introduces many of the basic moves that youíll find in just about any floor aerobics workout as well as leads you through TIFTing (taking it from the top). I would have loved to have had this before I stumbled through Kathy Smithís TimeSaver Cardio Fat Burner, which was my main cardio video for a while as a newbie to exercise videos. (Another one I wish had been available when I was still a newbie is Michelle Dozoisí Walk Your Way Slim, which is billed as a walking video but is really about basic floor aerobics and would make a nice one to try once someone is starting to feel comfortable with this one.)
- Second, I recognize the benefits of having a decent collection of solid ďfor beginnersĒ DVDs that arenít just for those new to exercise because although Iím at a relatively high level of fitness now not that long ago I had to work my way back up to even an intermediate level several times due to extenuating circumstances. Iím fortunate to have the space to keep a variety of levels of DVDs in my collection for that very reason.
- Third, there are times during a hardcore rotation when I need a lighter day, like yesterday when I pulled this one out again. During those lighter days I sometimes want to do something a little more involved than walking in place or I need a little break from Leslie Sansoneís chattiness. This video fits the bill on both accounts for me.
Actually, I have to confess that a major reason I pulled this out yesterday is that I was set to weed it, but once I got going starting thinking about these three points, about how much I was enjoying doing simple cardio with Petra, and within minutes of starting I knew this was going right back on my shelves, not on the to go pile.

Class: 2 women join Petra, who instructs live and does the whole thing; as she reminds you, she and her crew ďare with you every step of the way.Ē The two women donít break a sweat, but they do appear to be more normal types rather than professional dancers or fitness models.

Music: upbeat mostly instrumental music, some of which I think Iíve heard before on others (maybe a Michelle Dozois?). I thought it nice but not noteworthy. Itís a little quiet in relation to Petraís voice.

Set: interior set made to look up like a living room, with furniture, lamps, a potted plant, etc., in the background while Petra and crew are working out on the wood floor in front.
For some reason this past time I couldnít get over the unframed canvases lining the baseboard: Did they run out of time and/or money to frame and hang them? Was there no place else to put the paintings that contributed to the desired pop of color? Is this a sign the workout really has nothing seriously objectionable to it if Iím nitpicking a minor aspect of set design?

Production: clear picture and sound, with helpful camera angles.

Equipment: sneakers. You may want a mat for the bonus stretch.

Space Requirements: Ideally you should be able to take a few steps in each direction. If you donít have a lot of space forward and back, as I didnít yesterday (at 5í8Ē I squeezed this into a space about 6í wide by just over 4í deep), just stay in place rather than traveling up and back.

DVD Notes: Your main menu options, which come up within seconds of popping in the DVD (hooray!), are Introduction, Workout Options (This lists the five segments and allows you to program these into whichever order you like, then plays them straight through; note that you can only play each segment once each via this option), Bonus Features (Bonus from Weight Loss Cardio Sculpt, 5 min.; Bonus from Yoga for Beginners, 7 min; and Petra Kolber biography), Also from Acacia (trailers for Strong Body, Ageless Body; Core Fusion Body Sculpt; 3-in-1 Total Body Fitness; and Weight Loss Pilates), and Credits.
The DVD cover notes that this comes with a booklet with tips and cards with bonus moves. I picked up my copy used, so I donít have these and canít comment on them.

Instructor Comments:
Iíll echo the comments on Petraís excellent cuing here. She really does make an effort to cue consistently and precisely throughout all segments, although there are a small handful of oopsies (she forgets to do the full variation of one move in one spot, for example, and in the last few run-throughs she might not cue every move as thoroughly as she did earlier on). She cues just ahead of the move, giving you enough warning of whatís coming next without cuing so far in advance youíre confused as to whether you should be doing what sheís saying or doing. With one or two exceptions, she mirror cues, meaning when she says ďright,Ē she means the viewerís right even though sheís moving her left.
Petra is on the perky side, but even though I prefer more laid back instructors she doesnít annoy me. I find her quite enjoyable, really (although I donít use her every single day Ė that would be too much of a good thing, for sure). She talks about burning calories but more about building strength and stamina, about getting healthy and happy, and about just having some fun while getting fit. Perhaps itís because I know about Petraís own health struggles, but I feel like she has a real appreciation and respect for people at the beginner level; sheís not churning out dumbed down videos because she wants to make a quick buck but rather because she is inspired to help others reach their fitness goals.



This workout consists of 2 10 minute and 2 20 minute workouts. I did all of them together for a 60 minute workout. The choreography is easy to follow and Petra cues well. It is all low impact and would be good for someone just starting out with cardio. I think for intermediate exercisers it would be good for a lighter day. It was not intense enough to get me to break a sweat, but I wanted a workout to just get me moving today. The set is Petra with 2 other exercisers. The music is musac and doesn't always go with the moves. She cues well and I didn't find her annoying or really love her, she's in the middle. It would have been better if they had a seperate warmup section, because you don't need to warmup multiple times, but I just did fast marching during those sections.



If you are looking for straightforward, easy to follow choreography that is seriously for all fitness levels, then Cardio for Beginners with Petra Kolber is for you. Petra provides easy to understand cuing and her positive "you can do it" attitude will keep you motivated.

The dvd has 4 different sections and you can play them in any order. Two contain athletic based cardio moves and the other two are more dancy (but nothing is too intricate).

The dance moves include such moves as step touches, grapevines and mambos. The athletic moves are more basic. They include marches, repeaters and v-steps.

Petra keeps it simple for beginners by taking it from the top (TIFTing) which encourages the viewer to pick up the moves more quickly. (she'll demonstrate a combo, then adds another, then you'll repeat the sequence adding combo 1 now with combo 2...) Everything is low impact (both feet always stay in contact with the floor), however it is quite easy to "bump up the intensity" in any of the 4 workouts. You can make a squat a powerful plyometric squat or use arms all the time--advanced exercisers should be able to increase intensity/impact where they see fit.

Each of the 4 sections contains its own brief warmup. I found that when doing all 4 segments together, I'd do one of the warmups and then march in place during the brief warmups of the other 3 so my heart rate would stay up.

This has quickly become a favorite, 'go-to' cardio workout for me. Petra is delightful and encouraging.

Instructor Comments:



I thought this workout was fun and had creative choreography. Petra's cues were excellent. For those stuck in a rut with Leslie and Debbie this workout bumps it up a few notches. Both in choreography and intensity. I did not like that each segment had a warm up and cool down. The longest warm up is in the Athletic Cardio 20 minute segment. I think Petra or Acacia intended this to be the first segment to be played since Petra also greets everyone to a wonderful morning. This workout also includes a Bonus Stretch of 5 min., a Bonus from "Weightloss Cardio Sculpt" 5 min., and a Bonus from "Yoga For Beginners" 7 minutes. I feel this workout should not have included a Warm Up and Cool Down in every segment. It should have been like Denise's "Burn Fat Fast Cardio Blast" which includes a separate Warm Up and Cool Down and it also has the option of Play All.

Instructor Comments:
Petra is very motivating and friendly. Petra cues very well.