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I tried Peloton's Dance Cardio workout and felt like Usher's backup dancer

Non-dancers beware: Mastering Usher's signature moves proved to be a challenging workout.
Peloton Dance
Even the beginner-level classes had me sweating in just 20 minutes.TODAY Illustration / Danielle Page

Usher's top hits were the soundtrack to nights out in my 20s. Nothing got me on the dance floor faster than hearing the first few beats of "Yeah!" or "DJ Got Me Fallin' in Love" — and I can still sing every word of Confessions Part 1 and 2.

So, when I found out that Usher would be making a cameo in Peloton’s latest season of Dance Cardio workouts, I was intrigued. Dance cardio has always been one of my workouts of choice, and I'd heard so many rave reviews about all that the Peloton app has to offer. Seeing the all-star lineup of choreographers (including Cody Rigsby from Dancing with The Stars) finally convinced me to pull the trigger and see what else this new season had to offer.

How much does the Peloton App cost?

Access to the Peloton app costs just $12.99 per month — and right now, new members can snag a two-month free trial. Not only does this membership offer access to Season 2 of Dance Cardio, but it unlocks the entire Peloton library of classes, including live workouts. Having tried plenty of online workout platforms during the pandemic, this value blows all others out of the water.

If you want to experience the full scope of workouts offered on the platform you may want to consider investing in certain workout equipment (especially if you're a biker or runner). But the beauty of Dance Cardio is that the workout doesn't require any equipment, just ample space to move around.

Navigating Dance Cardio on the Peloton app

It may be that I'm finally getting to the age where technology is evolving faster than I'm able to keep up, but finding Dance Cardio among all the options offered on Peloton’s app took me a while.

After some searching, I found Season 2 of Dance Cardio under the "collections" tab in the navigation bar. Classes are labeled and can be filtered by level of experience (beginner, intermediate and advanced), as well as instructor. When you select a class, the app gives you the option to add it to your stack so that you can easily come back to it when you want to take it again. Each workout has a description and displays the songs that will be played during the workout (so that you can pick and choose your class based on what you want to hear). Each class is also rated by other Peloton users in terms of favorability and difficulty, so you know what you're getting yourself into.

What to expect in Peloton’s Dance Cardio Season 2 classes

Each Season 2 Cardio Dance class is 20 minutes long with a few 10-minute warmups sprinkled in throughout the season. In each class, Peloton's choreographers step out onto a stage in extremely cute workout attire and hype you up about the dance routine ahead. Cardio Dance workouts start with a brief warmup that consists of deep breathing, stretching and moving your body to the beat. If you're looking for an extended warm-up, you'll want to pair the 20-minute classes with the 10-minute options available. If not, the five-minute version offered at the top of the full classes still does the trick.

Each class then moves into the teaching portion, where you learn a series of dance moves that are slowly strung together into sequences (these will eventually be turned into a full dance routine). The intermediate and advanced classes move more quickly through teaching these movements, so if you're out of practice or want to ease your way in, the beginner classes are the right move (see what I did there?).

Once you've learned all the moves and ran through the sequence many times during the workout, you'll put everything together "from the top," around 2-3 times through. The workout concludes with a short cool down of leg and arm stretches, as well as deep breathing.

In the last few minutes of class, Usher himself joins the instructors on the dance floor. Josh Filauri

My experience trying Peloton’s Dance Cardio workout

As someone with a dance background who takes cardio dance classes fairly regularly (and as an OG Usher fan), nothing was going to deter me from starting with the class where Usher makes a cameo — not even the intermediate experience label.

Once the workout started, I was thrilled to learn that the choreography we'd be learning included signature moves from Usher's iconic music videos, as well as from his Las Vegas residency. The two-minute warmup to Usher's “You Make Me Wanna” got my whole body loose, featuring isolations (head turns, shoulder and hip rolls, etc.) to make sure every part of my body was ready to embody Usher's smooth moves.

Next, we moved on to Usher's "Good Kisser," where we learned a signature Usher move (a shoulder and body dip), paired with body roll movements and my personal favorite move, "bye haters," which was a low walk back and forth, with correlating hand movements that signaled, "bye."

Even though the moves were repeated, they were hard to master at first. I found myself pausing and rewinding certain sequences to make sure I was doing Usher proud.

Mastering the Usher swag was fun and challenging.

We moved on to "U Don't Have to Call," then "Caught Up," and by that time I did feel pretty caught up on the movements. The more class went on, the more dynamic the movements became — dance moves that involved jump squats and getting low were challenging for my lower body and left my quads burning. The next song up was "Yeah!" followed by "OMG" (feat. Will.i.am), which meant the moves we learned during the last two songs were now being done at a faster tempo. At this point in the workout, I was dripping sweat. Then, with two minutes left of class, Usher walked in and I got a second wind.

For the final portion of the workout, I got to perform the dance virtually alongside Usher — which made every moment of learning to nail this routine worth it. Sure, he couldn't actually see me perform his signature moves. But feeling like I'd done Usher proud in that moment gave me a sense of accomplishment I have yet to experience from any other virtual workout.

As tempted as I was to just keep the Usher workout on repeat during my trial, I did branch out and complete all seven of Season 2's Dance Cardio offerings. Even the beginner-level classes had me sweating in just 20 minutes. But the advanced level classes are really where I found myself being pushed past my comfort zone — the pace is faster, but the moves are also more intricate. Even after taking them several times through, I still felt challenged.

What I liked about Peloton's Dance Cardio classes

I'm not exaggerating when I say that dancing with Usher was one of the most exciting virtual moments I've experienced during this pandemic. I especially enjoyed when he suddenly dropped it low and thrusted the air while giving the camera a little smirk (middle school me screamed).

If you're someone who doesn't have a lot of time or equipment, these 20-minute cardio dance workouts are enough to get your heart rate up and deliver a sweat without costing you much time or money.

Dancing with Usher was one of the most exciting virtual moments I've experienced during this pandemic.

If you love dancing, there's no way you won't enjoy this workout. Even if you're not an Usher fan, music runs the gamut from Mary J. Blige to Tiesto to Lorde, so there's something for everyone.

What I didn't like about Peloton's Dance Cardio classes

This is a great workout to do if you're looking to add more movement into your routine, to maintain your current weight or as a cardio supplement to a more robust workout routine. If you're looking to significantly change your body, you'll need to find additional workouts to challenge your body, which is easy to do on Peloton’s app.

If you've never taken a dance class in your life, even the beginner level of this workout is going to prove challenging. But if you're willing to stick with it and move pass the initial awkwardness of trying to master body rolls and hip drops, you'll end up having a lot of fun.

I'd recommend this workout to:

  • Usher fans
  • Anyone who loves to dance
  • People who are looking for a fun workout
  • Those who want to add a dance break into their WFH routine
  • Current Peloton app users who haven't navigated over to this side of the platform yet