Monday, January 23, 2012

Minnie Mouse goes to Rio

VIDEO: "Dance and Be Fit: Carnaval," (Acacia, 2010)
STYLE: Dance aerobics
INTENSITY: Overall, moderate to somewhat heavy, but can be scaled up or down by the viewer
STRUCTURE: Warm-up, 5 minutes; three cardio segments, 12 minutes each; cool-down, 5 minutes
GIST: Very nearly derailed by awful cuing, but too much fun and too good a cardio workout to not try

So, as promised, I'm gearing up for Mardi Gras by checking out Carnival-themed workouts, and because it's available streaming on Hulu (score!), I started with this offering from the "Dance and Be Fit" series:

If it looks kinda corny, well, it is! Corny-cool. Presenter Kimberly Miguel Mullen is -- sorry, Kimberlys of the world -- very much a Kimberly. She's got an ever-present cheerleader smile and a high-pitched peppy voice that prompted my dad, who was within earshot as I did this video at my parents' house, to ask, "Are you working out with Minnie Mouse?"

But Kimberly brought the goods. I got loose. I laughed frequently. I got sweaty and pumped up, which inspired me to keep pushing and do everything full-out for maximum effect. And, with 36 minutes of continuous cardio (minus the short commercial breaks on the Hulu version), it was good enough for a Saturday's work. Silly + sweaty works for me, especially with moves like these:

Isolated hip circles and pelvic pops with arms outstretched. Great, effective warm-up.  

Running and blasting into a side-kick. "EXPLOOOODE!" Kimberly says. 
I felt these explosions in my butt the next morning.

One of my favorite discoveries from this video: the "windmill" kick, 
(or, as Kimberly says, "windmeal"). So goofy, but so fun.

Kimberly calls this one the "Sailor," because you lunge side to side, chugging your arms with you.
 It makes you feel like you're in the top-hatted chorus of a 1930s Broadway revue.

Kimberly's Girl Scout voice matches her approach to Carnival, which is staunchly PG. The ghetto blasters and tropical plants comprising the set get an E for effort, but for a workout inspired by the most debaucherous major holiday in the world, Kimberly really needed a flashier outfit. Yes, it's an exercise video, not a bacchanalian orgy in Rio, but a modest azure tank top with one little fringed hip sash just ain't gonna cut it. Give the lady some body glitter and a sequined bra, at least! Let her show some skin! Let her hair get WILD! 

I talk like a Disney princess!

The moves are all semi-interpretive, which is both good and bad -- good because pretty much any approximation of the choreography will suffice, and bad because Kimberly doesn't do a lot to explain each move. 

This is compounded by the single biggest problem with this otherwise enjoyable video: the cuing. Kimberly's instructions are dubbed over the video footage, but what she does on screen is actually 4 to 6 beats ahead of what she says in the voice track. Hence, you have situations where she says to do a certain move or combination, but on screen she's doing something completely different. I suspect someone thought this would be a good idea, like On-Screen Kimberly would be cuing Voice Kimberly. But it doesn't work that way. It just confuses everyone at home trying to figure out what the hell she's doing. 

"What's that? You can't follow me because of shitty overdubbing? Well get over it and just dance!"

That's my only real complaint with this video, but it's not a deal-breaker. Once you figure out the moves, you can just follow Voice Kimberly, which does correspond with the beat, and leave On-Screen Kimberly by her out-of-sync lonesome. 

The music is muzak, but it isn't horrible. It's not samba, (the traditional soundtrack of Brazilian Carnaval), but rather soca and calypso, the two biggest genres from another Carnival-friendly land, Trinidad and Tobago.

Here's my favorite move from the video. It's basically spinning around and around, starting with your arms spread low and then raising them up as you spin. I may be a tough customer in the cuing department, but when it comes to twirling I am really easy to please.

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