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I love to dance, though I rarely get to do it. This is likely why, even though I have rhythm, it can take me a while to catch on to the steps. So when the newest Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) DVD, Cardio Dance for Weight Loss, came across my desk proclaiming “Perfect for beginners! No partner needed!” I couldn’t wait to get home, pull the rug back in the den, and bust a move.

The DVD offers samba, salsa, and swing routines, led by two long-time DWTS instructors: Kym Johnson (she partnered with singer Donny Osmond and football player Hines Ward to take first-place finishes in seasons 9 and 12, respectively) and Mark Ballas (who helped Olympians Kristi Yamaguchi and Shawn Johnson bring home the coveted mirror ball in seasons 6 and 8).


First, the good part: These routines will make you sweat, even if you don’t get the steps quite right. You’re constantly in motion, so your heart rate gets up and stays there. And it’s fun...some of the time.

Why just “some of the time” you might ask? For each style, Kym and/or Mark teach three multi-step combinations in just 15 minutes, and I found myself wishing again and again that they hadn’t tried to cram so much into just a short period. You’re given very little time to learn a step before moving on to the next one—not a good set-up for beginners, and something that caused me to mutter “slow down!” to the TV in frustration every couple of minutes. Seriously, cutting the number of steps in half would’ve been a game changer for me.

What's more, there’s limited specific instruction, and both coaches assume you know terms like “kick ball change,” “locking,” and “pas de bourree.” I don’t. Granted, the warm-up cleverly doubles as an intro to a few of the basic steps for each dance style, but those basics only get you so far.

Don’t get me wrong: The routines are fun and lively, and I can totally see how a more experienced dancer would enjoy the heck out of this DVD. As for me, I’ll be on the lookout for a more beginner-friendly dance forum. Maybe a return to Zumba is in order....

Product: Dancing with the Stars: Cardio Dance for Weight Loss
Category: DVD
Pros: The lively routines will get you sweating in no time—they make for an excellent cardio workout.
Cons: The routines are too complicated and fast-moving for beginners to master easily.
Cost: $13.49 at Amazon.com
Extra tip: Wear shoes with smooth bottoms so you don’t wrench your knees.