Monday, December 29, 2008

Cardio for Beginners

THE WORKOUT: Cardio for Beginners ($13.49 at Amazon, release date March 10, 2009.)

WHO CAN DO THIS: Anyone—it’s fun and easy.

THE BREAKDOWN: Way back when Reebok was a fitness fashion statement, the company released a step video workout called Reebok Versa: Dance Step that remains one of my all-time favorite 30-minute workouts. I haven’t seen fitness pro Petra Kolber since—until now, in this equally fun (but not nearly as challenging) collection of four mix-and-match cardio workouts.

The DVD contains two 10-minute segments—one “athletic” and one dance—two 20-minute segments, also athletic and dance, and a five-minute stretch. The athletic segments are somewhat less dancey than the dance segments, although both use similar, very basic choreography—step-touch, grapevine, hamstring curls and the like. Not only that, but in deference to rank beginners, Kolber actually breaks these steps down so nobody gets lost. Well, you might get lost now and then, but not often and not for long and once you learn the choreography, the workouts are lots of fun—particularly the dance segments.

And except for her tendency to say “last time” when it’s not actually the last time, Kolber’s cuing is particularly good. She tells you what comes next just as you need to know and she cues through the entire workout, which means you can relax and just dance without worrying about whether you will remember the steps.

THE SWEAT FACTOR: Doing all 60 minutes, I managed to work up a glow. Beginners should sweat.

BUT IS IT FUN? It’s so much fun that I’m kind of sorry I’m too fit for it. Even the music is very slightly better than much generic workout DVD music.

WHEN IT'S OVER: You’ll look forward to next time.

GEAR AND APPAREL: I had to adapt some steps due to lack of space—the choreography uses a lot of floor. You’ll need good shoes and a mat or carpeted floor for the final stretch, although that’s the least interesting part of the workout and I usually skip it.

FINAL WORD: Love it. I might let myself get out of shape so I can justify doing it.

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