rebecca_r | Madison, WI United States | 04/18/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After experiencing a serious exercise burnout in the last year, I began looking for workouts to supplement my usual step aerobics/weight training regimen. I added yoga several months ago, and then a friend mentioned the NYC Ballet Workout book. Since I'm not one for exercising out of a book, discovering that a video would soon be released was very exciting. I have not been disappointed.I have never studied ballet formally, but was familiar with the five basic positions and many of the other common ballet exercises. As a result, I fell in step quite easily and was able to concern myself more with proper form than might otherwise have been the case. The three warm-up segments had me laughing at my own clumsiness the first time around, but were much easier the second time I did the tape.This workout won't be especially difficult for anyone who's either studied ballet or is in fairly good shape. I found certain things challenging (like holding the arms in second position for the whole of the tendu segment), but overall, I think this tape is aimed more at helping the viewer develop flexibility and strength without taxing the cardiovascular system to any great degree. I have found that I can do this tape at 9:00 in the evening and fall easily asleep at 10:45. You will be perspiring but have an overall feeling of tranquility at the end.Even though I love this tape, I gave it only four stars because of what I perceive to be some minor problems. There is one bad edit in the stretching segment that threw me off at first. Peter Martins's cueing leaves a bit to be desired, and his instructions of "right" and "left" are from the dancers' point of view -- not from the perspective of the person following along. (I'm used to simply mirroring the people in workout videos and disregarding the narrator, so this is not a problem for me -- but could be confusing for others not experienced in doing that.) And finally, the dancers aren't always shown full-length, which makes it harder to know what the parts of their bodies that aren't being shown are doing at that particular moment.But, as I say, these are minor matters in an otherwise terrific video. They certainly do not keep me from recommending the New York City Ballet Workout!"
Grace and poise -- but some experience helps
M. Smith | Virginia, USA | 10/01/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD is excellent for toning and lengthening your muscles, and will definitely work up a sweat. The workout is divided into 17 segments, which can be viewed all at once, one at a time, or as part of four sections. Exercises 1-4 are warm ups, includes some dance steps that get your blood pumping and some nice stretching. 5 & 6 work your abdominals. 7-9 are "floor barre," which means you lie on your back and keep everything stable except the moving leg -- very effective. 10-16 are leg work, such as degagees, tendus, and grand battements. Finally, 17 is a cooldown with some stretching. Note that there is no instructor-led dance segment after all that barre/center work, as there is in a dance class.There is one main thing I don't like about this DVD -- the verbal cuing is terrible. At the very end, the narrator says, "Rather than follow my instructions, follow the dancers, the music, and listen to your body." Yeah, well, tell me how to follow the dancers with my face in my knees. A few viewings should make this much less of a problem, but the first times through may be frustrating, especially during the (almost silent) cooldown, when your neck is craned around to see what's going on.I don't know if someone with no ballet experience would find this DVD very rewarding. Although no special equipment is required, there is no explanation of technique, and the narrator makes frequent use of ballet terminology. Perhaps in conjunction with one of the ballet instruction videos or books, this would be better for beginners, but I think a semester of ballet classes would be more reward for the money in that case.Given those caveats, this is a great workout to intersperse with your other strength and aerobics workouts."
Beautiful to watch, Challenging to do
Tracey L. O'Neill | the peoples republic, Massachusetts | 04/05/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The New York City Ballet workout is the best ballet tape I have seen. Elegantly narrated by Ballet Master Peter Martins, this video takes you through a challenging, and thorough warm up and stretching routine. Seeing the elgant line of a dancers body, and their truly amazing flexibility and muscle tone is inspiring. The workout is shot on feature quality film, with feature quality sound, not the grainy video and off sync sound we normally find in workout videos.The soundtrack is classical, although with the DVD version, you can listen to something more upbeat and contemporary, and you can see every move from several different angles, demonstrated by male and femal dancers. The ab exercises are really challenging, I could barely get through them, but you keep going. Maybe it's because there is no overly perky barbie doll making veiled attemps at encouraging you. I did not find the moves to be hard to follow, but as with any artform, practice makes perfect, and if you want to perfect your technique, then you should do the video regularly. Just take your time, and listen to the music, and enjoy yourself.All in all, this video makes you work hard, and looks like an actual ballet production. I highly recommend it."
Inspiring and challenging
Tracey L. O'Neill | 04/19/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I've wanted to buy a workout video for some time now, but I was put off by the blonde, perky, caffinated aerobics instructors that seem to saturate the market. I bought this DVD with the hopes that it would be sophisticated, relaxing, challenging, and inspiring. It did NOT disappoint. The dancers are beautiful, the music soothing--not that you're listening when you're trying to hold an arabesque or do the dreaded abdominal segment.Like other reviewers, I have to agree that this workout doesn't live up to its claim that everyone can do it. Not only are the movements not explained, I don't feel that the video reminded you enough to straighten your back, tuck your tummy in, not stick out your rear, keep your arms held up, head straight etc. etc...all fundamental elements in ballet form (and really important for building strength, balance, etc.) I'd recommend that anyone using this video have had some basic ballet training in the reasonably recent past. (I took four years of ballet while in college...I stopped about four years ago, when I graduated.) Also, I consider myself as having above-average coordination, and the second warm-up movement taxed it a bit. (On the other hand, it's nice to know that I'll have something to grow into.) That aside, the DVD was wonderful. The options to turn off the audio commentary and change the music are terrific, and the interviews with the dancers are fun. I hope that any other workout video that I buy is as entertaining as this one!"
Work Out Like a Dancer, Whether You're Actually One or Not
blueyed puella | CT, USA | 08/09/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Workout Description: 38 minutes of toning (starting with floor work, then standing; focuses primarily on lower body with some ab and minimal upper body work) with 6 minute warm-up and 7 minute cool-down / stretch for a total of 51 minutes Workout Level: mid- to high-intermediate Instructor: Peter Martins (NYC Ballet Master in Chief) in a voice-over. His detached tone of voice and British accent might come across as almost snobby. You'll have to rely on watching the dancers to pick up the exact number of repetitions, the exact moment they begin a new movement, etc., as Peter Martins simply names the exercise and offers a few pointers. You'll need to be familiar with or else quickly pick up ballet terms, as there is little explanation. You will have to choose whether to follow the direction cues (their "right" is your "left") or mirror the dancers. Class: 1-4 dancers from the NYC Ballet (2 women, 2 men) Music / Set: You can choose between a gorgeous classical music soundtrack or a more modern jazz-inspired soundtrack, both with or without narration. The interior set is minimal, as the focus is on the dancers. Equipment Needed: optional mat for floor segment. The workout can be done barefoot, with ballet slippers, or you can use the special split sneakers (from Bloch or Capezio) the dancers use in some segments. Caveats: Familiarity with ballet is extremely helpful; familiarity with Pilates and/or yoga is also helpful. You don't have to be a dancer, though. Additional Comments: You need some space for this workout. You should be able to take two big steps to each side and be able to kick front and back. I have to do the Passe series perpendicular to my TV since I don't have enough space to do it front to back, but other than that I haven't had any trouble fitting the movements in. This, along with NYC Ballet Workout 2, is one of the few workout videos in letterbox. The choreography and production are beautiful. There is an introduction by Sarah Jessica Parker that seems a bit out of place; you can't skip it, but you can fast forward through it. The workout consists of 17 sections, with a slight pause between each. This means that you can't rush through the program. Some people may like the little sections; others may find this aggravating. Exercises 1-3 are the standing moving warm-up, Exercise 4 is stretching, Exercises 5-6 work the abs, Exercises 7-9 are the "floor barre" (leg exercises traditionally done standing at the barre, but here done on the floor so you don't have to worry about falling over as you concentrate on your legs, butt, and abs), Exercises 10-15 are the standing leg work, Exercise 16 consists of little jumps, and Exercise 17 is the Reverence (cool-down / stretch). If you have difficulty with balance, consider doing Exercises 10-15 next to a wall or chair. I generally do the workout barefoot, but I often pause for shoes before attempting the jumps because of past knee and ankle problems. In comparison to the New York City Ballet Workout 2 or even Jessica Sherwood's Ballet Boot Camp (1 or 2), this has less explanation and more basic moves. There is no "movement combination," so it feels more like a class at the barre than practicing a routine for a recital. Personally, I have both NYC Ballet Workouts and use them equally. I'm so excited to live out my childhood dream of being a ballerina (although just in private-there's a reason why this is just a dream) that I can't help but enjoy these workouts. Are they perfect? No. Are they as fun as a real class? No. Do they make you sweat buckets? No. Do they help you increase your flexibility, strengthen your muscles, improve your balance and posture, and make you feel like you're a graceful dancer when you're done? Absolutely. The DVD comes with a booklet offering workout tips and a summary of the program. (Don't let the photos of the super-flexible dancers intimidate you; you won't have to do any of those stretches in the workout.) You have the option to select chapters, so if you only want to do part of the exercises, you can. (For example, you can do the warm up, floorwork, and stretch one day and the warm up, standing work, and reverence another day.) In addition, there are pre-programmed routines for racquet sports, football, and skiing. The DVD extras include biographies of each of the dancers, a behind the scenes look at making the workout, and a brief "Dance and the City" documentary. If you have access to a DVD-ROM, you will also get to see a video glossary, a photo gallery, a trailer, music listings, and weblinks. You may find the book version of the exercise program helpful, particularly if you have little ballet experience, but it is not necessary."