Monday, April 16, 2012


STYLE: Hula dance for beginners
INTENSITY: Mild to moderate
STRUCTURE: 35 min. total; 5-min. warm-up and cool-down; 25 minutes cardio/toning through short combinations that introduce and build on basic steps.
GIST: Nice mommy-n-me workout; relaxing; cardio value is mild, but it's great for working on core strength. Major caveat: there's no real explanation of proper technique, which is crucial to getting any good out of this video.

Here's a nice little workout that probably won't change your life, but is perfect for doing with your mom on a weekend visit home, just after pedicure time and right before cocktail hour. 

My mom loves Hawaii -- who doesn't? -- but does not love exercise videos. She prefers clear and present motivation, like a dog to walk or a flesh-and-blood instructor to follow. So on my trip home for Easter, I was interested to see if this "Island Girl" hula workout would float her boat. 

At a compact 35 minutes and devoid of any music that encourages fist-pumping, it got mom on board, but it was grounded heavily enough in the lower abdominals to give me a clear focus and challenge. Nearly every movement is done in a half-squat, with knees bent and center of gravity lowered. Instructor Kili adds deeper pliés and lunges to get the thighs working, but even the simplest movements, such as a side-to-side step, remain in that half-chair pose.

And that's where my main criticism of the video resides: Kili is a nicely laidback instructor, but she does not communicate the importance of posture and technique in keeping that basic pose, which is the foundation for practically every movement in the video. She should have explained how to brace the pelvic floor and lower abs while keeping the chest lifted, rather than simply bending one's knees. My mom, who's not as familiar with core training, said she had mild shin splints by the end of the video, because she was transferring her weight toward the front onto her knees, rather than back and down, into her heels and pelvic floor. A thorough explanation of the proper technique at the beginning of the workout could have helped prevent that from happening.

With that said, though, this video is enjoyable and incredibly relaxing. It has a serene, gorgeous setting and gentle music that's neither intrusive nor boring. Add to that a refrain of core-powered hip swaying, which instructor Kili describes quite literally as "the motion of the ocean," and it's the closest you can come to napping in a hammock while working out.

The movements are all fairly simple, such as mildly stylized torso twists and tendus, but a couple were tricky enough to send me and my mom giggling at our efforts -- namely, lele 'uwehe, a combination of a tendu and a twerk that Kili seemed to relish cuing with a gleeful "Lele 'uweheeee!" (That's definitely not as fun to read or write than it is to say out loud, so you'll have to try it on your own.)

By the end of the video, I felt warm and glowy and firmed-up in the tummy. My mom felt worked-out and ready for a shower and a margarita. Did Island Girl change her opinion of workout videos? Not much, she said, but that's ok -- I'm interested enough for the both of us. 


  1. bounce music, 80s workout vids, and sass. this is amazing. i am so happy i stumbled across this blog. i'm living in n.o. too currently and this is just too much. i can't tell you how many times i've self-consciously lowered the volume on my ipod, lest someone at the gym hear me doing cardio to big freedia. keep up the good writing! love it.

    1. Thank you so much! You should check out Work It Out NOLA, a hip-hop class in the Bywater. Laura, the teacher, spends part of class p-popping to Freedia. It's fantastic.