Video review: Dancing with the Stars: Cardio Dance (2006)

When the weather is cold, I confess that I don’t enjoy running outside. I have done so in the past when much more serious about running, but I do not like it much. So I end up doing exercise indoors that is something of a substitute for running. I should really take up swimming (Abby wants to get me to do that), but traditionally, I have enjoyed doing dance workouts to videos.

One of my favorite dance workout DVDs, which I have used for almost half a decade now since it came out, is Dancing with the Stars: Cardio Dance (2006). I have never tired of it (as long as I don’t use it all the time, of course; I have a number of other exercise videos I will review later).

Dancing with the Stars: Cardio Dance (2006) DVD

The TV show

The DVD came out, of course, as a result of the popularity of the TV series Dancing with the Stars. I had watched several episodes in 2006, out of curiosity, since in 2000-2002 I had been pretty serious about doing competitive ballroom dancing, so I wanted to see just how good the celebrities could get, with training. I was actually impressed by how good some of them got, although there were many who were not very good at all and really had no business trying to perform complicated routines rather than mastering basic technique (my instructors were always adamant about our not trying to do what we weren’t yet ready for, lest we develop poor habits difficult to unlearn).

The content of the workout

The dancers

One reason I enjoy the workout is that the dancers on video are actually decent. The pro instructors on the video, Kym, Maksim, Ashly, are good, and the other dancers hold up too. I find it important to see good technique at work, because we learn by imitation.

Also, I like that there are a number of different male and female dancers, with different ethnicities and body types. All are in great shape, of course. For me, it was important to see not only Maksim, but two other male dancers. I enjoy exercise videos more when I see men doing stuff, and have role models to emulate. Also, to be frank, the women are always more flexible, and I feel odd whenever I can’t quite do something that I see on a video. So I feel comforted seeing men who are more limited and remind me that I’m doing OK.

There is a guy on this video who looks kind of Asian. I always like to see someone whose body type seems close to mine.

The moves

The moves are basic and real ballroom dance moves put together to form routines. There are very few gimmicky, tricky moves. Things get repetitious, so I can’t use this video more than maybe twice a week, but that’s fine. I happen to enjoy continuing to refine my technique on the same steps again and again. And I feel that over the years as I’ve used this video, I have indeed improved considerably in my technique, speed, stamina, and expressiveness.

For example, I quite like the paso doble workout, because it is all about showing off in macho fashion, by using the arms, twisting, pretending to wield a cape, standing tall. It’s a very masculine dance.

The second dance, the cha cha, is repetitious, and unfortunately is danced on 1 rather than on 2 (obviously for the sake of not confusing beginners), but is a nice workout for the core, if one pays attention to technique and doing crisp cha-cha-cha and proper Latin hip motion.

The third dance, the samba, is a lot of fun and faster and more strenuous.

The final dance, the jive, definitely generates a lot of sweat. It’s almost like running. My calves get a real workout from the jive. Amusingly, you can see how the non-pros get more and more tired and struggle. I did initially also, but eventually I became more efficient.

In each of these dances, the instructors are very enthusiastic, and the other dancers seem to be enjoying themselves also. I really like that vibe.

The warmup and cooldown

The warmup and cooldown framing the workout are very brief, as typical of these videos, unfortunately. I simply warm up by myself before even popping in the DVD, and I skip the video’s cooldown in favor of my own stretching, etc.


Unfortunately, there is a reason ratings for the DVD on Amazon are all over the map. Dance exercise videos can never please everyone, because of differences in people’s levels of fitness and technique.

For someone like me, who has had a bit of serious ballroom dance training and is looking for a reasonable workout based on Latin dance, the video is perfect.

I would not at all recommend this video for a total newcomer to ballroom dance. There is no instruction on technique. Without proper technique, it’s not really possible to get through the workout efficiently and enjoyably. You could get injured, in fact. The samba and jive, in particular, could result in a lot of pounding on joints, etc.


I enjoy this dance workout video very much, but I hesitate to recommend it to anyone other than people who have already at least received rudimentary instruction on each of the dances covered: paso doble, cha cha, samba, jive.

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