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Workout 1

Ballet improves your posture and gives you a sense of grace even when you are not working out. The New York City Ballet workout presents exercises in a formal ballet style setting. Your body becomes a paintbrush, sweeping along walls and floors in beautiful choreography like an artist painting on black art paper.

For minutes at a time you forget you are not a ballerina as you work through the warm-up with first and second position. Fluid movements follow as you move from side to side and then put a spring in your step. A floor routine follows with leg stretches and then you work your abs in every possible way, although each movement is so precise you are getting double the workout in half the time.

The unique and challenging postures and dance steps are explained as you are doing them, although at times the choreography takes center stage as the narration lessens and you focus more on the dancers instead of following the cueing.

This is a well structured, intermediate to advanced workout that requires a sense of determination, some experience with Pilates and possibly Yoga. The jumps are the most challenging and the entire workout fine tunes your balance. There are 17 exercise sessions and bonus programs including video diaries, behind the scenes footage and interviews.

Back exercises appear during the floor workout, but you are using your entire body at all times because most of the workout requires you to be super focused and keep your balance so you may feel this the most in your back after the workout. Throughout the exercises classical music guides you into a peaceful space where you feel relaxed even though you are working out at a fairly high level that requires patience and endurance.

Workout 2

With frequent pacing changes, you are working out slow one minute and fast the next. The rapid movements get your heart beating faster, but the graceful flowing movements make you feel more relaxed.

The narration made me feel very relaxed, so the entire first two-thirds of the second workout seemed more relaxing and centering than invigorating. The exercises begin with a warm-up and progress to dance steps, floor exercises for the abs, legs and arms. During the exercises you do have to count for yourself and there are bonus exercises later in the program that you can add in to your own routine.

While I found it much easier to follow the first DVD, the second DVD has much more complex moves and you need a much higher degree of intense concentration and precise balance to enjoy the exercises. Having some split-sole sneakers might help with the jumping, but you can do most of the workout in bare feet or with ballet slippers.

The booklet in the second DVD shows more of the exercises and has a glossary for Turnout, Demi Plié, Grand Plié, Releve, Tendu, Dégagé, Passé, Fondu, Grand Battement, Changement de pieds, Pas de Basque and Piqué Arabesque. On the DVD, all of these are shown in detail in a section in the special features.

After trying the workout a few times, you may also want to personalize it and there is a way to select specific exercises and then play them all at once for your own personalized routine. The sections you can choose from include:

Upper Body
Lower Body
Comgined Movement
Abdominal Strengthening
Floor Barre Supine
Floor Barre Side Lying
Floor Barre Prone
Plié & Tendu
Passé & Fondu
Grand Battement & Little Jumps

An inspirational "Born to Dance" segment features all the dancers in their daily life and there is also a behind-the-scenes bonus feature as well as a number of promos for fitness studios in New York. What do dancers do after exercising? The first DVD gives a more detailed look into the dancers' lives, but this DVD has a combined section that briefly explores the dancers' interests when not dancing. Overall, the second workout is more complex and progresses into real dance steps so you can feel like a real dancer.

~ The Rebecca Review
55 comments| 379 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 25, 2009
First, you need to know this DVD was released in 1998 or so and isn't a super-fancy disc. There aren't any subtitles and it's difficult to skip around. There are 17 sections in the workout, and I've read where some people complain that you have to watch everything and can't skip.

You can't skip chapters, but you can fast-forward through a chapter by hitting >> a few times (2x - 30x) and it will skip to the end of each section and stop at the next section's title. So you really don't have to watch Sarah Jessica Parker's intro every time. You can also do individual exercises by going to the Exercises section.

Second, I've found after 6 weeks of consistent use that it's better to do as much of the workout every day as you can. I've made the mistake of skipping the ab work, and it is harder to balance if you do that. The ab conditioning reminds you where your muscles are and helps you pull up correctly.

For anyone who has never had ballet (or like me, last had it around 4th grade), try Classical Stretch on PBS for a couple weeks before you do this. You'll get a good foundation in some ballet concepts without having to know much, the stretches will be familiar, and you'll have an easier time standing on one leg. I had trouble following the warmups too, so I did them every day regardless of whatever workout I did till I got better. I still mess them up but the point is warming up. You aren't being judged.

If you're just jumping in for the first time ever in ballet, just try to follow along and remember that your entire body needs to be engaged for the center and leg work (chapters 9-16). If you slouch or let your abs go or don't hold your bum just right, you won't be able to balance as well. Part of the work of doing the workout is learning this stuff and it doesn't all happen at once or even after a few months. If you need pointers on this try checking out this page: [...]- it won't all make sense, but just try to keep your body pulled up while you're working. This will also help you to avoid getting injured. You want to use your muscles rather than momentum. You'll be able to think less about what you're doing and relax into the workout more.

I am completely in love with this workout. My balance, coordination, strength and posture have improved dramatically. I've lost inches and my clothes are looser and I sit and stand straighter with less effort. I love that it's divided into sections so you get a small break in between the work. The work is efficient and thorough and you feel relaxed and strong after.

You don't have to be interested in dancing to do this workout - I'm not, particularly. But if you do it regularly and work on the details of doing each move correctly, you'll be stronger, leaner, and feel great. Just don't push too hard and be careful to do the moves as correctly as you can. It's better to be correct and not turned out than to force a turnout and put torsion on your knees.

Anyway. This workout gets my vote.
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on January 16, 2007
I enjoy the challenge of learning ballet moves while strengthening my muscles. I can feel a big improvement after just one week of completion. The proof is in the visible results of my legs and arms, and the way my pants are looser than the week before I began. I strongly recommend this series for anyone interested in toning, burning excess fat, and improving your posture.
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on December 21, 2008
I was really excited about this DVD because I heard really good things about and I was looking for a way to supplement my weekly ballet classes. Unfortunately, I found this DVD to be really annoying and I never use it. The set up is this: there are several different stretches, exercises, et cetra that are shot individually and you can either do all of them or just pick a few from each section. The thing is, if you only want to do some of them, you have to go back to the menu and select each exercises you want to do, YOU CAN'T JUST SKIP AHEAD BECAUSE THERE ARE NO TRACKS. So I felt like I was wasting so much time just navigating the menu when it would be way easier to just hit the button to skip to the next track. If you decide to do all of the exercises, they waste so much time fading out of the last exercise and into the new one. I am a really busy person and I don't have time for pretty fade outs while I'm working out. The fade outs practically increase the length of the exercise by 150%!!!! Also, what the dancers are doing in the video is not necessarily exactly what you are supposed to be doing. For example: for one of the exercises, they show the different dancers switching legs at different times then you really are supposed to. To top it off, I find both the dancers and the narrator annoying, I don't care who he is. It's too bad though because several of the exercises and moves would make a good ballet workout, but this DVD is executed really poorly.
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on April 17, 2009
I'm 30, female, and have never had any ballet experience before.
I've been using other dancing DVD workouts for a few years, but they are faster pace workout with pop music. Now I'm maintaining my target weight, and I was looking for DVD that would help me to build some muscle, better posture, and flexibility.
Overall, I like it. But I don't think it's necessary to have Vol. 1. When I read other people's reviews before purchase, I thought Vol. 2 would be more advanced different movements. However, they are almost same. In Vol. 2, they improved some areas where I got frustrated in Vol. 1. For example, the pause between exercises is much shorter in Vol. 2. Vol. 2 gives you more detail instruction ahead. It also has audio glossary at the end, which help a person who doesn't have ballet background like me. I like its voice, music, and artistic scenes in both volumes. It's really relaxing.
I was a little bit disappointed that both DVDs have old style sit-up and push-up. My other DVDs try to avoid them and introduce different exercises for abs and arms.
Although I don't have that much fun compared to other DVDs, I think I get the result I wanted. It strengthens my muscle around my legs, abs, hip, and arms. I believe it's good to be one of my routine DVDs. If it's Vol. 2 alone, I would give 4 stars.
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on March 8, 2007
I wanted a workout to compliment and further my exercise routine and I've definitely found it here! The workouts are effective and thorough. The music is classical and the movements are slower than your average workout, but you feel more of a well-rounded workout. It's very completing in the fact that all of the muscle groups are stretched FIRST, then exercised. That's very safe, I feel, and pleasing to your body AND you even break a slow sweat before you know it. I'd recommend this workout to anyone who's looking to supplement their workout routine with something soothing and refreshing to the body. I LOVE IT! And you don't have to know a thing about dance to do it.
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on May 1, 2007
I have no dancing background at all, but have done many exercise videos over the years. I am not bored yet with disc1, so haven't tried 2 yet. After doing this dvd about 10 times I can get thru segment 10 or 11 pretty well (of 17) and my flexibility has improved, even over my previous yoga experience.

There are 2 flaws that kept it from getting 5 stars:

(1) the prompting is inconsistent as far as whether you're doing left or right in several places, and the camera angle will sometimes shift to another view which is the opposite leg when you shouldn't have shifted yet.

(2) they force you to watch the 5 min intro every time, or to pick individual pieces one at a time.
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on January 12, 2008
I am a person who really, truly HATES to excercise! However, when I do these workouts it doesn't seem like working out. It seems more like art. I spend so much time and effort in trying to sweep my arms around properly and follow the beautiful movements of the dancers that an hour goes by and I've hardly noticed. I've already seen a big improvement in my body as well. I've lost a couple of pounds and everything is just more tone and sleak looking. I'd recommend this workout to anyone. Especially excercise haters such as myself.
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on January 15, 2008
Though I have taken many dance classes, including ballet, I still found this challenging the first few times I did it. I felt and saw results (mostly in my legs/glutes) after completing volume 1 for the first time! I did Vol. 1 a total of 3 times, one week before I went snowboarding and my balance has never been better on the slopes and because my legs were stronger, I wasn't nearly as sore after my first day boarding as I normally am. This workout is relaxing and strengthening at the same time; I have incorporated both volumes into my regular routine of pilates, yoga and running and I would highly recommend this to anyone!
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on September 1, 2007
I've never been one for traditional workouts. I can't go to a gym and most aerobic workouts bore me so I only do them once. I picked up the NYC Ballet worour because I love to dance (though I haven't properly danced in years) and because I wanted a workout that would give me the results like a dancer. (nice lean muscles, better posture, etc.) I wasn't disappointed.

I finally have a workout that I LOOK FOWARD to doing! I usually do Disk 1 3-4 times a week. The results have been amazing. My clothes are fitting better/looser and I've noticed a dramatic improvement in my posture.
I've also noticed that I am more flexible and that I can do more of the stretches to a greater degree with more ease.

I've tried doing Disk 2 but as of right now it's too advaned for me. However, when you do go to Disk 2 there's a very helpful video glossary so you can get the movements down exactly like the dancers to maximize your workout.

All in all, for anyone looking for a great challenging ballet workout with room for improvement, I cannot recommend the NYC Ballet Workout set enough!

5 Stars!!
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