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HIP HOP ABS ( aka. Nerds Can’t Dance )



My initial reaction to Hip Hop Abs was expected…what the Hell is this??  So for some time it sat collecting dust as I ventured on to other more traditional workout videos like P90X or Insanity.

Yet in all that time it glowed in the back of my shelf.  Calling me.  Whispering to me in my sleep.  So after years of denial, self-hatred, wetting the bed and discount therapy,  I finally obeyed…


  • Hip Hop Abs starring a bright eyed Shaun T from the bygone era of 2003.
  • Sealed underground bunker from where I shall secretly get gigity wit it.
  • BRO-METER© to track my progress.


Like a seasoned actor training for Hamlet, I too had to get in character.  I had to forget I was a 40 year old white, suburbanite systems analyst.   This required some additional equipment to make an accurate measurement of my progress from two-left-feet-goof to cool.  With the use of my patented BRO-METER©, I took regular measurements to monitor my progress.  For accurate calibration I set the meter to the coolest man in the known universe, Samuel L. Jackson.

cool meter

Now, I’m ready.   If funky dance was a drug, I’m prepared to sell it by the gram…even if I have no idea what I’m saying.

WORKOUT 1: AB SCULPT ( 23 minutes )

The intro starts with a mini rap montage by Shaun T.  Suddenly I feel like I’ll need to add a couple shots of tequila to my recovery drink to get through this.  Yet it begins…

Oh boy...

The formula for HHA is Tilt, Tuck, Tighten.  What this does is make the entire workout one long isometric crunch.  The last 6 minutes are on the floor doing more conventional ab exercises. Regardless of what you think of the whole package, at the end you indeed burn your gut but darn good.

The routine itself and Shaun T were not that awkward.  In fact, I like Shaun.  It’s his interesting co-stars that made me feel like I stumbled into the Blue Oyster Bar.   Therefore my first day was going to be spent getting conditioned to these small irritants.   For example…can someone put some duct tape over Tonya’s mouth so she can STOP BLINDING ME WITH HER TEETH!!!   If you have time to smile non-stop during your workout, you need to work harder.

After my workout it was time to check in with the Bro-Meter©.  Wait…what the…???

This might take some more effort.


After my dismal first day, I vowed to give it my all.   So when the time came for Fat Burning Cardio, I had to get in touch with my inner-Homie.  This workout is a series of dance-like sequences that always remind you to tilt, tuck and tighten.  The workout has you jumping all over the place by doing series of movements that get the sweat going.  At about the 15 min mark, I was beginning to loosen up and not feel so weird.   Afterwards it was time to read the meter once more…

Interesting.  I would have thought Donny was whiter than mayonnaise.

WORKOUT 3:  TOTAL BODY BURN ( 41 Minutes )

Second verse same as the first.  The main thing that separates this from the others is the addition of a lot of squats and knee lifts.  Awkwardness aside, this was actually really tough!  Almost as tough as watching the co-stars.   The little self-congratulatory twirls at the end of each sequence by some of the more flamboyant members really made me have to work for this!

Really…just who are those guys in the back and why do I feel like they’re stalking me?   One of them looks like rock-hard-abs were grafted onto Justin Beiber and he’s always smiling at me.  I feel dirty.  But at the end, I strapped the meter to my nipples once more for a reading…

Son of a bitch.

BONUS : LEARN TO DANCE  ( 20 Minutes )

This is a special feature done on a dance floor, not in the standard gym studio of the other workouts.  Everyone is in their proper attire and ready to bring their A-Game.  For me it was immediately clear…I’m in way over my head.

Therefore the time had come to invoke the nuclear option:  tap into the only white man to ever completely understand true hip dance culture.  Yes, it was time to draw upon the white hot, intangible power of Vanilla Ice.

I'm ready to cook MC's like a pound of bacon.

Learn to Dance is less about fitness and more about teaching you how to get a series of dance moves to take with you to the dance club that you have no intention of going to.  So get your baggy pants on and be prepared to slide, hop and get giggity wit it YEAAAAHHH!!!!!

Learn to Dance took at least five attempts to get somewhat skilled at it.  What gave me the edge was ten years of Karate which spent much effort memorizing complex sequences of moves.  If HHA was karate, this would indeed be the kata.

All joking aside, if you can nail this sequence then I have to admit you’ll look pretty impressive.  Just don’t expect fast results if you’re anything like me, as when it was over I still had the dance-floor skills of a drunken bear.

So at the end of my introduction into the world of Hip Hop dance, how did I finally fare on the Bro-Meter©?

Well, uh…that’s kind of good I guess…?

My overall opinion is that this special feature is best intended for those who have at least some desire to dance.  For most of us it will be like a drunken trip to Vegas.  Interesting, but best left forgotten and certainly something you can never tell your children.


If your first introduction to Shaun T was his Insanity and Asylum workouts then my friends, you are in for a treat straight out of the corners of the Twilight Zone.  Hip Hop Abs was Shaun’s first foray into the fitness video scene and as such he is much less trainer and much more a metrosexual dance instructor.  That having been said, you’ll like him anyway for his fun “Will Smith” style.   He’s like a really cool guy who just happens to have a lot of creepy-as-all-Hell people surrounding him.  Much like William Shatner at a Star Trek Convention.

I’m not going to come down hard on Hip Hop Abs for production values as this came out in 2003.  For its time, this was a pretty bad-ass production compared to what was generally available.  The video quality is superb and the sets are actually really good.  Nothing complex: No blasting primary colors, no over the top color-coordinated participants and no nerve grating music ( unlike contemporary hip hop music ).   That means these videos had a bit more staying power compared to their flashy counterparts that can be so hard on the eyes you need snow goggles to get through them.   Plus the apparent success of Hip Hop Abs was the springboard Shaun used to create the Insanity training program as well as a host of others.  One of them even being a rebooted dance-workout known as CIZE.

But does Hip Hop Abs work?

I committed myself to 3 weeks of Hip Hop Abs for the sake of this review.  During that time my abs did indeed feel like someone was dropping coconuts on them from two stories up.  And like it or not, the active cardio movements did indeed make me sweat awfully darn good.   The fat burning cardio is the key to the success of HHA because the less fat you have, then obviously the more defined your midsection will be.  Plus I have to admit that after my initial awkward feelings during the first week, I actually was having some fun with the whole thing!

Rating Hip Hop Abs is a difficult task.  For me it was an interesting journey into the realm of getting down like a deadly sweet da-bomb…yo.  Ya know what I’m sayin’?  ( No really.  Do you?  I sure as hell don’t. )  But as a long-term fitness plan it just was NOT going to work out!  HOWEVER...for those who love to dance, groove, get down…or whatever you dang kids call it these days…this will absolutely be your thing.  I would give it 4 out of 5 based on production values, originality, and fun.  But I would also drop it to 3 Feathers for not being a program you could keep with long term and probably a 2 for the way-too-happy co-stars.   Therefore, I’ll split it down the middle and rate it as 3 Feathers.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to spend some time getting out of character and return to my regular self.  A few days of doing the Chicken Dance and the Makarana should suffice.


The Dysfunctional Parrot would advise all husbands to NOT let your wives catch you doing Hip Hop Abs unless the idea of spending thousands of dollars on marriage counseling appeals to you.

John Paul Parrot ( aka. The Dysfunctional Parrot ) is a disgruntled Systems Analyst who wanders the Canadian wastelands saving small villages with the power of Kung Fu.  His chair is also a little too close to the twenty year old microwave.  As you can well imagine, this has had certain side effects.



  1. ibrar ahmad

    September 30, 2017 at

    I got Hip Hop Abs a couple of years ago and I love it!!! It is a great way to work out! Really fun and efficient!!! Chronologically I am in my 60s however I feel like I’m 37 and doing the full body workout from Hip Hop Abs daily is helping me look like the age I feel!! I truly recommend it!!!!

  2. sam

    February 22, 2016 at

    I can’t believe I read this review. It’s like my first concert tickets I bought in 8th grade ( actually they were given to me free) to see Donny. Who in their right mind? But hey, by actually going to the concert the big surprise is how many girls I got to meet in two hours. Now not such a bad idea for an 8th grader (still couldn’t tell my friends about the concert). So I’m thinking I need to actually cash in this dvd ticket. Pretty much got it for nothing a few years back, but after your review I guess I’ll actually push play…. maybe.

  3. carolina giannini

    December 17, 2015 at

    I didn’t knew Shaun T was gay and that he was married! And hip hop abs was really fun for me but i feel like is not going to do nothing for me, because i’m already used to the Insanity Workout.

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      December 17, 2015 at

      I’d be more surprised if any of the guys in Hib Hop Abs were straight. :)

  4. Aythree Lorenzo

    November 29, 2015 at

    That’s Macarena for you lol.

  5. Ahmed Alaa El-shamy

    September 24, 2015 at

    I just tried doing fat burning cardio that was my first experince with hip hop abs and i totally felt like uncoordinated and i can’t get the moves at all !!! Is that normal?!

  6. CognitiveDissonaceHurts

    February 14, 2015 at

    Have you seen Shaun’s Rockin’ Body Workouts? I have those too. :)

  7. CognitiveDissonaceHurts

    February 14, 2015 at

    SOOOOO funny! And you gave a shout out to my old heart-throb Donny!!! I actually really like HH Abs – it was my first intro to standing ab work. I have a chronic injury in my neck/shoulder area from my last time giving birth, and I have been unable to do floor ab routines, and had given up on every getting my abs toned again. This program has made a big difference and if I can ever get rid of the fat, I will have a very ripped midsection. I do love dance cardio workouts, and I find Shaun T to be hilarious, so I really enjoy this program.

  8. Michelle

    July 21, 2014 at

    love it what a funny and refreshing review

  9. Carina

    July 9, 2014 at

    My god man you are absolutely hilarious, I laughed my entire way through this article! Bravo sir!

  10. Noel

    June 1, 2014 at

    I love you, you are so funny..Thank you

  11. Max Delmas

    April 16, 2014 at

    Thanks for your reviews DP. It’s nice to read BB-product reviews from someone who is both into fitness and not a BB coach.
    True story: in a past life, I was a male dance instructor (apparently I never received my metrosexual card: must have been lost in transit). Anyhow, I did HHA with a female instructor friend, and I vividly remember telling her that Shaun T had to be gay, as his mannerisms in HHA are très swish. Needless to say, I congratulated myself when Shaun T announced his marriage to Scott, and then I found myself needing an oxygen tank after Asylum.
    DP, your comments about the characters in the video crack me up. As one who has taught dance classes, such people are as irritating to instruct as they are to watch. Again, many thanks for your reviews.

    • Sherry Shrinkingchefpants Fran

      December 22, 2015 at

      “tres swish” I love it

  12. Kerin Kaitlin

    April 16, 2014 at

    I shared this review with my husband, and we really enjoyed the jokes. I think it helped convince him to join me in trying this program!

  13. Al

    January 24, 2014 at

    Awesome review. Very accurate.

  14. Smurf

    August 1, 2013 at

    Hilarious review.
    I did the workout for a month after completing insanity. I love Shaun t! The right mix- motivational but not overbeaing, fun and not annoying.
    I’m going to do it again this month, before I do something more difficult.

  15. Rita Mild

    June 6, 2013 at

    This was hysterical and informative.I just ordered hha and completed the first day. I don’t remember Tonya, but I am now more motivated to contunue so I can keep an eye on her.

  16. Me

    May 1, 2013 at

    Well done review. While I’m sure Tanya’s a very nice person, she’s the Stepford wife of workouts..

    • Max Delmas

      April 16, 2014 at

      Lol, I’m guessing that you’ve done the Shakeology workouts?

    • carolina giannini

      December 17, 2015 at

      she is the toughest one in the Insanity workout!

  17. Wilson Kendra

    April 28, 2013 at

    Got my hip hop abs workout from Amazon a couple weeks ago and already seeing great results. If you stick to the workout, it will work. I’m so excited that I want to share the same discount that I received: – You will not be disappointed.

  18. Harry Lefferts

    December 11, 2012 at

    I agree with what you said about pretty much everything except that Tonya wasn’t working hard enough. She can smile though the hardest parts of insanity even as the demonstration model! But I’m also in love with her, so I might be biased…

  19. Ari

    June 20, 2012 at

    My frined and I are on our last week of insanity and want to try hip-hop abs for more core results. We have seen alot of improvement everywhere on our bodies but not so mcuh in the ab area. I was wondering if hip-hop abs would be worth a try to tighten up our core, or should we just do insanity again (not really an ideal choice but would totally do it again for more results).

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      June 20, 2012 at

      That really depends on who you are as a person! Are you comfortable “skakin yer booty”? Then you’ll certainly have some fun! But in all fairness, if you’ve done Insanity and want to burn the core more, give Asylum a try. Hip Hop abs is really just a lot of tensing your gut while strutting your stuff and might be a step back if you’re looking to blast your core. It’s fun, but not what I consider a serious fitness program.

      Another option…P90X2. It has lots, and I mean LOTS of core. Reviews for both can be found on this site under the HEALTH tab.

  20. Fun

    May 3, 2012 at

    Very funny & helpful x

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