I've been intrigued by the `marmite nature' of the reviews for this product - it's either loved or hated. And I think I may have worked out why... I'm a real fan of exercise DVDs. I have a wide range and use them four to six times a week. I'd heard about the Tracy Anderson Method and it seemed to be appealing - I love dancing and was keen to try something a little more challenging.
The workout consists of a short warm up, eight dances of approximately five minutes each, but no specific cool down. Furthermore there are two versions of the workout on the DVD, one where Tracy faces you and one where she has her back to you. There is also a section where Tracy breaks down the dances as during the actual workout the dances are done without Tracy talking and you are required to simply repeat the sequence of moves as the song plays (eight songs, eight routines).
I had my eye on the DVD for a while, but was put off from getting it sooner by the negative reviews complaining that it is just too hard. Eventually I caved...
Day 1... My first endeavour... I start with the breakdown section for dance number 1. All seems fine until I try it at full tempo. It wasn't easy to say the least... Still, I am determined. So on Day 2 I try Dance 1 again and have a go at Dance 2. I can't get that one at all. I give up in disgust, vowing never to be sucked in again. However... about a week later it's still bugging me that the DVD got the better of me, so I decide to give it another go. But I change my approach. I decide to just throw myself in and do the breakdown, followed by the uptempo version in the workout itself (The version where Tracy has her back to you). Within two weeks I've mastered the first four dances, which in themselves offer quite a workout.
Two months on, I'm now doing the whole workout about four or five times a week and I love it. It's the most physically challenging workout I own. So I return to the reviews and I just don't understand them. They talk about the dances taught not resembling the ones on the workout, loads of mistakes, unhelpful camera angles. And then it occurs to ... I have been doing the workout version where Tracy has her back to you. So I decide to try the version where she faces you... and it is terrible! I can't believe the number of mistakes in the dances. Plus it's very hard to have learnt the steps one way and then have to reverse them to do the mirror of what she is doing. So perhaps this is the answer to the conflicting opinions.
The workout is great, BUT there are some downsides (in addition to the poor production of the front facing version). I don't think it's a workout for beginners or inexperienced exercisers. I think the warm up is rather short and I make additions to it to ensure I am adequately warmed up for the rigorous requirements of the workout. Furthermore with no cool down on the DVD I repeat the warm up at the end of the workout, again adapting / adding to it to avoid injury. I can only do this because of the many exercise DVDs I have seen over the years, which have allowed me to find suitable stretches to supplement what the DVD offers. I agree with other reviewers that it is quite dangerous to release an exercise DVD with insufficient guidance in these areas.
I would also say it is important to ensure adequate footwear is worn and attention paid to the moves and placement of the feet - I would imagine the high impact nature of the dances could easily lead to injury if care isn't taken.
Of the eight dances, I think numbers 2, 3, 7 and 8 are the most challenging to learn, number 4 really raises the heart rate, and number 7 seems to be the one most likely to cause injury if done sloppily.
I love the workout and can really feel (and see) the benefits. In fact I've been so impressed I've now ordered the mat workout from Amazon.com. I think this is a great choice for someone who already has a moderate level of fitness, who loves dancing and is good at dancing. And I would advise always doing the version with Tracy's back to you - it's much clearer to follow. Only watch the other version if you need to check the way the dance looks from the front. If you do decide to 'take the plunge', take your time, persevere and work up to all eight dances in a row gradually. Even half of the workout is better than no workout at all.
A great DVD for me, which would have got 5 stars, were it not for the downsides.