Fat Burning Hip Hop Mix with Billy Blanks Jr. ($8.99, Lionsgate)
As in many dance DVDs, there’s a lot of stopping and starting as you learn the routines for this hip hop workout, which makes it hard to keep your heart rate up for more than a few minutes at a time. There is an option to “customize” your workout and run several segments consecutively. But the “without instruction” option simply mutes Billy’s narration — you still have to go through the process of “learning” the steps gradually. Still, the inclusion of Bollywood and samba styles makes this a fun, if low-impact, dance workout.
Dance Off the Inches Hip Hop Body Blast ($11.99, Anchor Bay)
Hollywood dance instructor Jennifer Galardi’s strength is teaching: She wisely includes a separate instructional section that breaks each dance move down very slowly and even offers some pointers on technique. That means the three dance segments move fairly quickly and you can gain some momentum through the 44-minute workout. You won’t forget you’re dancing in your living room (to some fairly cheesy beats) instead of in a hot club, but you will break a sweat. And on the plus side, this routine would be great if you’re limited to a small space.
Burlesque By Jazzercise ($14.99, Jazzercise Inc.)
It’s not quite the same as being in a Jazzercise studio, but this DVD comes close, including many of the aerobic workout’s advantages. It features routines set to popular music (like Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls)”) and repeats several moves throughout each song so that you learn while consistently moving. You can choose from a 48-minute workout, which naturally builds up the aerobic curve to high-intensity and back down, or two shorter options, one of which focuses more on toning moves. For a similar cardio dance workout, also try Latin Live by Jazzercise, and for an all strength-training routine, check out Ballet Body by Jazzercise.
Dance With Julianne: Just Dance! ($7.49, Anchor Bay)
Former Dancing With the Stars star Julianne Hough is young, gorgeous and a talented dancer and choreographer. Whether you find this irritating or inspiring as you follow along with her moves may depend on your mood! From the warm-up, these routines are clearly influenced by traditional jazz dance techniques. If you’ve never taken a class, you may find yourself a little lost, though there are modifications and a separate instruction reel available. But dance enthusiasts are sure to enjoy this creative, upbeat cardio workout led by a rising star.
Exhilarate: The Ultimate Zumba Fitness DVD Experience ($81.99, Zumba Fitness)
Unfortunately, there’s no inexpensive way to replicate the experience of Zumba at home. This 7-disc set and a 4-disc version for $50 are the only licensed home video versions of the popular Latin dance aerobic workout. But if you’re a fan, Exhilarate is a comprehensive set: One entire DVD is devoted to teaching basic steps, another is a strength-training workout (using a set of light weights included in the kit) and there are several different full-length routines. During the sessions, the instructors ably demonstrate the sometimes-complex steps but keep the chatter to a minimum and let the terrific world music soundtrack take center stage. The result? An unusually exciting living-room workout.