My overall impression of Dance and Be Fit: Cardio Mix is that these three workout videos are a lot of fun! This may not be an earth-shattering revelation, but in workout videos, isn’t this what we are all looking for? The Dance and Be Fit series not only provides a great workout, but, more importantly, it provides enough entertainment value that it will lure you into continuing the workout week after week.
Dance and Be Fit: Cardio Mix, which was released by Acacia on January 5, 2010, is a collection of three previously released workout videos: Brazilian Body, Latin Groove, and Hip Hop Cardio. The three videos have enough similarities that they seem like parts of a whole, but offer enough differences that the collection will provide an appealing variety to your workout.
Latin Groove is the easiest of the three DVDs and, while it is still a strong workout on its own, compared with the others it was my least favorite in the set. Desi Bartlett’s movement quality can be graceful, but can at other times verge on mechanical, and I almost had the impression that I was watching a Dance Dance Revolution avatar (the camera angles may also have something to do with this).
I think this DVD is best suited for those who already know basic salsa moves and want to incorporate them into a lower-key, yet still sufficiently aerobic, workout, rather than individuals hoping to learn how to salsa. On a side note, I was disappointed to find that selecting the “Spanglish” audio track simply meant that Desi would say some sentences in English and others in Spanish. I was hoping for something more amusing.
Hip Hop Cardio provides a moderate and highly enjoyable workout. Sarita Lou is just plain fun, and this workout is super fun, too! The two segments (Old School and Sexy Sculpt) have a different feel to them, which made it more interesting when doing one after the other.
Brazilian Body is the most challenging, and also the most diverse of the bunch, and the one I am most likely to come back to again and again. It is no wonder to me that Brazilian Body was named Health magazine’s “Best Dance” DVD. I found Kimberly Miguel Mulllen to be the most joyful instructor, and she incorporated elements of nature and meditation into the moves (like the concept of “divine energy”), which left me feeling both invigorated and refreshed.
I thought the capoeira section of Brazilian Body was especially cool, and it made me feel like a powerful warrior, who was not only preparing for combat, but also toning my abs and arms. (I had no idea what capoeira was, but Wikipedia tell me it is “an Afro-Brazilian art form that combines elements of martial arts, music, and dance.”)
One aspect I especially like about all three videos is that the instructors just throw new steps at you without spending time telling you how to do them. You may wonder, “How is this a positive feature, won’t I be completely lost if there is no pre-instruction?” Not at all! Since the moves are repeated multiple times, it is easy to pick up on them (at least it was for me, although I should admit I have a dance background). More importantly, this makes the DVDs much more appealing for repeated viewing, as I have always been annoyed by workout videos that make me relearn how to do the steps every time I try to work out.
At times I found the repetitiveness of the moves slightly annoying, but my body begged to differ, arguing that repeating the series was what provided the great workout for my muscles. All three videos had fantastic backgrounds, and I think it adds to the fun of the workout when you can imagine yourself in a tropical paradise. I am not crazy about the fact that all three warm-ups featured stretching, which studies suggest can cause injury, but the cool downs for all three videos were above average and had a yoga influence that I appreciated.
In general, the moves were well-suited for a small apartment space, the one exception being the cartwheel in Brazilian Body, which led me to hurl myself against my couch. The publicity for these DVDs promotes the “fun, original music,” which I did find to offer a nice beat that really lets you focus on the rhythm of the moves, although I am not sure it is really worth hyping.
One caveat: I think that if you tried to actually pull out any of the moves from the three DVDs on the dance floor, you would be heckled. I do not recommend this set as a means to learning the type of salsa or hip hop moves that will attract positive attention at the club. But, in the context of a high-intensity workout video, the dance moves work quite well.
Overall, I strongly recommend this collection as a great way to stay healthy while putting you in a good mood that will last all day.
As a general encouragement to consider workout videos, I found that when I neglect physical activity, my anxiety level rises and life is simply less enjoyable. Often, I will just do one of the shorter workout segments to put my mind in a positive state, and these DVDs make quick workouts easy.
Today, however, I opted for a 60 minute dance workout, and after, my muscles told me that the longer workout had been effective. What is interesting is that, as I was driving to work, my body felt great and I was incredibly relaxed, not fatigued. Perhaps this is the paradox of exercise: that these high-energy and exciting routines that make you feel exuberant in the moment leave you feeling so calm in the long run.