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DVD Review: Dance and Be Fit – Hip Hop Cardio and Hemalayaa – Bollywood Dance Blast

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There is one thing I know for sure: variety is the key to my personal success when it comes to maintaining a regular exercise routine. There is something about doing the same movements every day that just puts too much pressure on the same spots in my body – and also starts boring me to death.

But I don’t want to spend money on DVDs that are going to be boring and terrible from the get-go. I mean, come on — I want to look like a million dollars, not spend a million dollars!

In any case, I already reviewed an exercise DVD here on BC and after sticking to it for a couple of weeks, decided to give my exercise routine a little spice – quite literally. After all, it’s winter, and although it’s beautiful, all the whiteness becomes a little bland. Also, the amount of walking I can get done in the winter is quite minimal, and I am using any excuse to get off my backside and on my feet.

And so I stumbled (literally again, as they were on the floor) on two DVDs that I was certain were going to help me add some spice and get moving, even with the lethargy that seems to define every waking moment of winter life: Hemalayaa’s Bollywood Dance Blast DVD and Dance and Be Fit’s Hip Hop Cardio.

I started with Hip Hop Cardio, which promises a super fun workout set to fun, original dance music. I hope so; there is nothing like good music to get me going! And apparently, this ‘high-energy dance program’ isn’t just going to help you burn calories; it will also help tone abs, legs, and arms. Another positive outcome is you learn new dance moves; broken into small, simple steps, each routine will "give you the new confidence – both on the dance floor and in your everyday life."

The entire workout is divided, typically, in three major parts: a warm-up, the body of the workout, and a period to cool down. The body of the workout is comprised of two parts: "Old School" and "Sexy Sculpt." The entire thing is timed to take a total of 50 minutes.

Sarita Lou is a great choice of an exercise leader; she exudes charm and confidence, and most importantly, makes the entire thing seem doable and fun. Not only that, but she seems to be having so much fun that it’s a little difficult not to enjoy the entire 50 minutes (despite the sweating, wheezing, and panting).

The DVD includes a little introduction to the origins of hip hop and why a hip hop routine is so good for getting in shape — just enough to make me want to read more about the topic. Then again, I am a nerd!

Even the warm-up includes a hip hop vibe, as it's upbeat and includes some basic hip hop moves interspersed with other more typical aerobic moves.

The "Old School" section includes many moves that seem at first really easy, until Sarita makes you do them in double time. One thing that really helped me master the moves (somewhat!) was that I first focused on the movement of the legs; after doing the workout three times, the movement of the legs and feet came very easily to me and adding the arm movements felt a lot more natural. The "Sexy Sculpt" is more of the same (in a good way): easy moves that become harder when you do them in double time but are easy to learn after doing the routine a couple of times.

Each of the two sections of the main workout are divided in two parts, in which Sarita teaches us four to five dance steps. At the end of each part, she puts them all together in a mini-routine. So if you do this exercise routine long enough, you are going to learn next to 20 new moves and four routines that are generic enough to hit the dance floor with. The bonus feature includes a freestyle section in which Sarita lets herself lose; it becomes obvious how good a dancer she is in this section.

I have the impression that doing this routine at least once a week, combined with core strengthening and some muscle building, is going to be not only extremely fun, but extremely efficient to get myself in shape.

And in case I get tired of hip hop (as if), there is also Hemalayaa’s Bollywood Dance Blast, which gave Dance and Be Fit’s Hip Hop Cardio quite the run for its money. I stayed on the latter for a couple more days than planned until a looming deadline forced me to switch to the former. But once I made the switch, it was hard to go back.

Perhaps it has to do with the sheer happiness that comes with the Bollywood dancing style. This happiness is all the more acute if you are a Bollywood fan and can’t help but grin at the singing and dancing routines in the movies. You score an extra point if your foot taps to the music, by the way.

I loved the routine, but there is one thing that I really didn’t like. Hemalayaa does the workout without talking, and explains what she is doing as a voice-over. I can understand why; many of the movements are, well, giggly, and take a lot of energy; she probably couldn’t talk at the same time for the entire duration of the workout. But still… it got on my nerves a bit. The good thing though is that there is an option available to only have the music; I did the workout the first couple of times with the instructions and the music, and as I got more comfortable with the routine, I opted for the music only.

Apart from that, this is a great exercise DVD to have; just like Sarita Lou’s Hip Hop Cardio, you don’t feel the time passing. Almost every time I do these routines, I’m surprised when they announce that “We are now going to cool down.” My usually reaction: “What? Already?” And sometimes, when I have another 20 minutes, I would just redo one of the parts of the body of the workout.

Hermalyaa’s Bollywood Dance Blast also includes a freestyle performance, although this one is semi-guided, making it easier to learn. There is also an eight-minute segment from the DVD Hemalayaa’s Bollywood Burn (which I am seriously considering purchasing next) and a seven-minute segment from the DVD Shiva Rea: Yoga Dance Trance.

If like so many others, your New Year’s resolutions included losing weight and/or getting in shape, then these two DVDs are a great way to do so. I recommend pumping yourself up a little beforehand by putting loud music on while you are getting ready, and not to focus too much on the details of the movements. Just have fun and I’m sure you’ll feel as good as I do after doing these workouts every other day for the last two weeks!

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