Reiew of Julianne Hough’s Just Dance!

If a workout video can make a person have extremely confused feelings, this one is it.

Julianne Hough is a two-time Dancing with the Stars champion. She is young, peppy, charming, and impossibly slim. She’s also a real dancer (as opposed to a fitness pro who adapts dance moves), so I was looking forward to working with her videos. I got a two DVD set of Just Dance! and Cardio Ballroom, and decided to try what looked like the easier video first.

Just Dance! turns out not to be easy. Yes, there is a short instructional segment in which Julianne explains some of the trickier moves. Yes, she layers the moves carefully into combos — every bit of a mini-choreography is introduced alone, arms and stylizations are added later, and all of it is repeated plenty of times. And, as is typical in many workout videos, one of her backup dancers demonstrates modifications for less of a challenge.

Just dance 4

At the same time, so many things are challenging. Moves are demonstrated at what would be full speed in another workout video, then sped all the way up. (Some of the steps were so fast I just couldn’t even move my body through space quickly enough to keep up.) A number of them take real control not to do in a way that would be hard on the back or knees. And there are head flipping moves that an unwise person might occasionally try to imitate — which is part of why I have some shoulder pain today. And because of the music video editing, it’s often impossible to see the woman doing the modified workout.

That said, the program is worth a try, at least for someone who is already somewhat fit and used to picking up dance moves. Because the choreos are on the harder side, there’s room to grow into it. The moves are also pretty fun, sort of a mix of sexy go-go and club dancing with a touch of African dance. And even though Julianne makes me want to put on a parka and never take it off, her personality is so fun and energizing that you want to keep going until the end of the program.

Just dance 5

All in all, I would recommend Just Dance! to people who already have some experience with dance, are aware of how to perform moves safely for their body, and who want a bit of a challenge. It really does help you work up a sweat, it offers a full body workout (I was feeling all my muscles the next day), and it’s good practice for learning fast choreography. Just Dance! feels, despite its slightly unusual moves, really more dancey than typical workouts. It also has a nice cooldown and stretch at the end, but leaves you with lots of energy for the rest of your day.

Just dance 1

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