I, unlike 19 million other Americans, am not a regular viewer of Dancing with the Stars. Sure, I've caught a few episodes with my grandparents (who typically only like G-rated TV shows with no violence or sexuality, but are A-OK with near-naked people doing the tango), and I've flipped through prime time and been sucked into Cloris Leachman doing hip-hop, but I am by no means a DWTS expert. In fact, it took me darn near three months to figure out what DWTS stood for on PopSugar.
That's why I made sure to sit down and watch a full episode before reviewing Dancing with the Stars: Latin Cardio Dance. If you haven't seen it, it is pretty entertaining. With some RANDOM stars (Lance Bass and Maurice Green for starters) paired with professional dancers, it's fun to see how non-dancers dance (with the exception of Lance Bass. He seems way over qualified in my mind). During the episode I watched, the entire group did a hip-hop routine. It was simultaneously embarrassing and hilarious.
I feel like this episode gave me a good frame of reference for the workout DVD as I knew both of the DVD's instructors: Cheryl and Maksim. Cheryl is pleasant, although awkward at cuing at times, and Maksim is one hot Russian. Both are good at shaking their hips, thereby making me curse my own, which perform their best moves only in my head.
The DVD is composed of six sections that you can customize for your own workout. The quick, 5- minute "dancer style" warm-up starts you off with hip rolls and fold-overs. Next, you get to choose from four dance styles: merengue, cha-cha, samba or mambo. Cheryl teaches the merengue and samba, while Maksim leads the cha-cha and the mambo. Each of the dance sections slowly teaches you the move and then gives a variation of the step which is supposed to get your heart rate up. Each section only lasts 10 minutes, and with 5 minutes of that for pure instruction of the base step, there's little time for real cardio. I never broke a sweat unless it was from laughing at my inability to do the moves in athletic shoes, let alone the heels that Cheryl was rockin'. How dancers can dance in those, I have no idea.
While there was nothing outwardly wrong with the instruction in the DVD—you will learn the basics—it just wasn't, well, fun for me. Maksim was the most entertaining, with such quotables as "Turn out your hips, whatever that means to you," in a cute Russian accent, but the whole DVD just lacked energy. It was very apparent that Cheryl and Maksim are most suited to performing dance than instructing an exercise DVD, and even the backup dancers seemed to be forcing a smile the entire time. That's never a good sign if the people in the video look bored.
The bonus section Extra! Dancer's Toning Workout was by far the high point of the DVD with an excellent mix of dance-based strength moves including plies, standing side leg raises, standing bicycle crunches and lunges in all directions. Do be warned though. Toward the end of the toning section, Cheryl hands the instruction off to Maksim for a cool down. This harmless-sounding "cool down" is actually the most intense section of the entire DVD. Maksim leads you through planks plus leg lifts, dolphin to plank and then push-ups followed by planks. The eye candy was the only thing that got me through it.
FBG Rating (Out of 5): Instruction: ★★★ Long-Term Likeability: ★★ Music: ★★★ Fun Factor: ★ Meets Expectations: ★ Overall: ★★
Fit Bottom line: This DVD is by no means a cardio workout, even for beginners. But, if you're a fan of the show or like hot Russian men, it's probably worth the $11.99 on Amazon.
If you'd like to try the DVD yourself, leave a comment below or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're giving the DVD to one lucky reader! If you're a winner, all we ask is that you let us know if your experience with the DVD matches ours. — Jenn