Monday 7 September 2015

Kukuwa African Dance Workout DVD Review

Price: £17/ $25
Length: 2x 30 minute workouts
Workouts: Full body
Suitable for: Beginners - Advanced
Rating:   ★★★★★
Based on 4 weeks of use.

   It's rare for me to review a dance DVD. I've mostly just covered 10 Minute Solution DVDs in the past because I believe they should be a staple part of most home workouts. They consist of 5 different 10-minute dance routines which are effective fat-burners for beginners, but even when you've outlevelled the routines and are used to far more difficult things like I am, they are still fantastic to use for 10-20 minutes before your main workout as a fun warm-up. They really help to focus your mind and build up some enthusiasm. I can't count the number of times I've been too tired to want to jump into push ups and jumping jacks right away, but after one dance routine I have a big grin on my face and I'm more than ready to get on with the real work. Plus, by using them as warm-ups before using the warm-up on my main workout DVD for the month, I get the absolute most out of my main workout.

   So, for me to review a dance DVD as a full workout DVD, and then use it as such, means that the DVD is a pretty big deal.
   Kukuwa is an innovative dance workout DVD by Kukuwa Nuamah, who was born and raised in Ghana West Africa, and she has some of the best enthusiasm I've ever seen. The two workouts are made up of a number of different routines to different tracks and they're so incredibly fun! I enjoy dance workouts, but Kukuwa presented something on a whole new level to what I was used to, and quite a bit more fun. There are no sexy moves, they're just big, fun and bouncy, and they're far, far more effective because of it. Your whole body is constantly moving, from your head to your feet, quite literally, and with it you'll build up an incredible sweat as well as a giant grin!

   The DVD consists of two workouts, both 30 minutes long - intermediate and advanced - and they each are broken into six 5-minute dances that change with each track. Each new track is a new 'chapter' on the DVD, however, which makes it really easy to repeat or skip certain routines. They have a really strong African vibe, just as you would both expect and want from a DVD like this, and the music is really wonderfully high-energy, just like the dances.
   My other dance workouts are hip hop so the movements are full-body but they're paced out and don't really get your heart pumping that much. They're more for show than for effective fat-melting. But Kukuwa is seriously high-energy with a lot of jumping steps and really big arms which keeps your heartrate up and really burns fat. It's also non-stop. Seriously. If you need to stop for a breather it's easy to jump back into whenever you're ready, but you won't find Kukuwa or any of her enthusiastic back-up dancers taking a break. And in truth, you wouldn't want to stop anyway.

Difficulty of Moves
   I don't use dance DVDs like I use other workout DVDs. This DVD has two 30-minute workouts, but if I set out to use the DVD for 30 minutes, I may well only cover two or three routines, especially when I first started using the DVD. This is usually because it takes a while for me to learn the dance routines so I go over one routine a few times until I get the moves. It's difficult to get the most out of a dance workout if you're struggling to understand the moves, and while the main purpose is to simply keep moving, it can get frustrating. So I learned early on when using dance workout DVDs not to try to learn them all at once. Take it one at a time, and only once I've got the first routine down will I try out another.
   But Kukuwa's dances are not as showy as my other dance workout DVDs, and so the moves are much simpler and easier to grasp, and because of that, it doesn't take long to learn them at all. There is an 'instruction' section for both the intermediate and advanced workouts which is a brief breakdown of each routine, but I didn't use it. Instead I jumped right into the workout, though I fully expected to have to check out the instruction, but I actually didn't need it. The moves are that simple - I got them within two run-throughs of each routine.
   But just because they're not showy doesn't mean they're not effective. Because they're simple, you can really throw yourself into it without having to worry about getting it right or wrong, and, as I said, the moves have big arms, big legs, and your head even moves around and gets involved to make it seriously full-body and high-impact. It really is the perfect dance workout in this regard.
   But the DVD doesn't get stale - at least, not for me. Like I said above, I don't use dance DVDs like other workout DVDs, instead I will use one or two dance routines from the selection, learn them, enjoy them, grow tired of them and then move on to a third routine. But when it came to using Kukuwa even for a full month, I hadn't actually completed the 30-minute intermediate workout simply because I was enjoying the first few routines so much that I didn't wear them out very quickly! I spent the first week using the DVD for 30 minutes, but in that time I ran through routine 1 and 2 three times each, and in the second week I learned the third and did routines 1, 2 and 3 twice each. The dances are so much fun that 5 minutes isn't long enough for each routine, so rather than groaning in boredom of the idea of doing the routine over again and going back to the beginning just to make the DVD last longer, I groan that it's over too soon and eagerly rewind it to do it again. And even just working through two routines three times each is a lot of fun.
   Out of the Intermediate workout, my favourite routine is the fifth, and of the advanced, it's the second.

Difference in Difficulty
   After completing the intermediate workout and finding it inducing a more than amazing sweat, I decided I'd try the advanced version anyway. "How hard can it be?" I thought. Intermediate was already quite high-impact, how can the dancing get tougher?
   Well, it did. The moves became even bigger, the songs last a little longer, and, in truth, the enjoyment grew so you don't notice any of that until you've finished. It's insane.
   So while the dances are all high impact, there is a difference in difficulty and you will notice it as soon as you use the advanced workout.
   My only issue with the DVD is that, during the advanced workout, there are points where the camera doesn't actually show you the legs for the whole first run-through of a move, which, obviously, makes it hard to do it. However, stick with it, because you run through each circuit several times and you will see the move. In the mean time, remind yourself that, as it's exercise, you need to keep moving, so, when in doubt, just jump from foot to foot with the music instead. You'll keep your heartrate up and the frustration will also decrease if just because you're still moving. Once you've used the DVD once - just once - you will have learned the moves. And workout DVDs were never designed to be used just once.

   This isn't something I usually concern myself with on these reviews because they're usually high-end DVDs, but Kukuwa is an independant production and after having read one review on the US Amazon that complains about quality, I felt the need to mention it.
   Camera quality is perfect, aside from the occasional shot that conceals the moves, as mentioned above. The backdrop is not distracting at all, and is very bright with natural light, lots of plants and the dancers are in colour. It looks fabulous and does nothing but encourage you without distracting you. The instructor is also perfect, she's energetic and enthusiastic and she does a good job guiding you through it. The music is also loud enough - not too high, not too low, and sounds amazing.
   The DVD is region 0 only, I believe, but in the UK, it plays perfectly on my Xbox 360, and I think it may do the same on newer DVD players (mine is about 13 years old).

   Kukuwa Dance Workout is a seriously enjoyable, high-energy cardio workout with a really unique African element. It's so much fun to do and you can use all the space you have available. If you don't have as much room as the dancers do, it's no trouble because the movements tend to move forwards and backwards then side to side, but unlike some other DVDs, the moves flow from one another but the direction you finish one in doesn't affect your starting position from the next.
   The big arms, hopping legs and strong, core-based hip movements really make sure your whole body is constantly in motion to the maximum, and that really helps to melt the fat away and work up a satisfying sweat. But the movements are also incredibly fun, quick to learn, and there are only a few of them for each routine so they don't require much thinking once you've grasped them, so it's easy to just keep with the flow, which makes it even easier to keep your heartrate up. The only reason you'd have to stop is if you're exhausted.
   The DVD delivered exactly what I hoped it would: a unique, African-styled dance routine that was high-energy and enjoyable. I'm not sure that I believe the claims of burning up to 1000 calories, but I have no way of proving it personally, and I will say that this dance workout DVD certainly is more effective than most, including Zumba, and the enjoyment factor keeps it from feeling like work and keeps you coming back for more. I absolutely love this DVD, it's a valid workout all on its own, but it's also great to do after resistance training - following up a resistance or strength workout with cardio is proven to be one of the best ways of losing weight.

   Buy this DVD and shake your boomsey. Or, better still, find a class!


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