Cal Pozo, Exercise and Fitness pioneer
Cal Pozo is a fitness instructor, choreographer, director and producer of best selling exercise videos. He was born in 1946 in Cuba and moved to the US in 1960. Though he has been dancing since his early teens Cal made sure education was a priority, attending both Bowling Green University in Ohio and New York University in New York City. After college, while living in New York City, Cal became a dancer in Broadway musicals, including a revival of the original musical West Side Story, which also starred Patrick Swayze. It was during this show, in the late 1970s, when Cal suffered a serious hip injury. This ironic twist of fate was to be Cal’s springboard for launching into the fitness and exercise video industry.
Before suffering his debilitating hip injury, Pozo had been a serious dancer with no interest in the exercise and fitness instructional video industry. After suffering through the injury and subsequent rehabilitation, his doctors advised his dancing career was very likely finished. Refusing to accept such a diagnosis, Cal decided to take over on his own rehabilitation program and mixed various dancing and exercise disciplines into a system all his own. Successful completion of his own style of rehabilitation program, which included an approximately forty pound weight gain and loss, started Cal on his path to fitness stardom.
Cal Pozo started his career in the fitness industry with a book which was completed shortly after his hip injury rehabilitation and was called “Bunnetics – How to Reshape Your Buns” (Doubleday – 1982). This book began a tour of daytime talk shows including Oprah Winfrey’s first talk show and the Phil Donahue show. Such appearances on the daytime talk show circuit launched a number of contracts to write instructional fitness books. Along with the book contracts, Cal was also offered a contract to host instructional dance videos. “Cal Pozo’s Learn to Dance in Minutes” was published by Parade Video in 1989 and was wildly popular. His exercise videos and DVDs have been purchased by approximately 50 million people over the years.
Cal, as a certified fitness instructor, uses his dance and exercise training to teach others how to effectively get in shape and stay in shape. When Pozo made his first entrance into the fitness and dance video world, exercise instructional videos on VHS cost upwards of $80 dollars and were difficult to find. Today’s modern digital world has provided a method, through DVDs, to make exercise and fitness more affordable for everyone. The average exercise or dance instruction DVD costs $15 to $20 dollars and can be ordered from the comfort of your own home.
Cal Pozo has been producing and hosting dance instruction and exercise videos for the past 25 years, even beginning his own production company. Cal’s directing and production credits include more than 300 videos which often feature fitness celebrities such as Denise Austin and model Heidi Klum. Pozo’s fitness videos have also garnered awards such as the HBO Spirit Award and the Parent’s Choice Award.
In addition to videos featuring exercise and television stars, Cal also produces videos featuring the instructors from the hit television series “Dancing with the Stars” and “The Biggest Loser”. The “Dancing with the Stars” videos features the instructors from the show along with a cast of dancers performing workout sets based on a variety of dance styles, including the Samba, the Merengue and the Mambo. “The Biggest Loser” videos feature Bob Harper, the shows trainer, and are completely unrehearsed, being filmed at the same time the class is learning the workout routines.
Cal Pozo, along with being a video choreographer and producer, is an accomplished author. His instructional books include, “Bunnetics”, “The Back Book”, “Twenty Days to a Trimmer Torso” along with major contributions to the books “Dancing with the Stars – The Book” and “Let’s Dance – A Beginner’s Guide to Ballroom Dancing”.
Cal’s video offerings, through his production company, FitVid Productions, includes programs such as “Partner Dancing 101”, a three DVD series of basic dance steps for those with little to no knowledge of classical social dancing, and the DanceFit DVD series. The DanceFit DVD series feature two separate cardio workouts and one sculpting workout DVD for those who want to get in shape and stay in shape. This video series focuses Latin and Retro dances and Salsa dancing.
Additional instructional materials include the book, “Let’s Dance”, which features 260 pages of instructional directions and photos that include all of the traditional ballroom dances. To make learning the social dance steps easier, the book set includes an accompanying DVD with a tutorial for each chapter in the book.
Why Dancing works for Fitness
Obesity is one of the most often cited causes for heart disease, diabetes and early death in adults. Today there is also an ever growing problem with childhood and teenage obesity. While ballroom dancing may not be the coolest or most interesting form of exercise available for a teenager, more modern, club style, dances can attract younger generations to get their bodies moving. Sedentary and a stressed out lifestyle can often be cited for the cause of many cases of obesity. Working any type of motion into a daily routine can greatly improve health and provide weight loss and fitness benefits to all ages.
With the prevalence of video games in today’s society, it is easy for children and teenagers, even adults, to sit in front of the television and ignore the need to exercise. While some products, such as the Wii Fit, can get people up and moving, traditional and modern dancing can provide even more benefits. Most forms of dancing use the whole body in motion, toning the muscles and providing excellent cardio exercise to improve heart and lung function.
There is a very good reason dancing works as part of a complete fitness routine. Many people have a hard time maintaining an exercise program simply because they become disinterested with the gym cardio routines. Boredom is often the most cited reason for dropping or relaxing an exercise routine. Keeping the interest of the person trying to lose weight or get in shape is difficult for any aerobics program. Many gym programs add music to their routines, but few are dedicated specifically to teaching dance.
Cardio fitness has long been known as essential to any workout routine. Cardio based exercise raises the heart rate, increases oxygen consumption and greatly increases caloric burning energy. Increased lung function provides better muscle tone, allows deeper oxygen saturation of the blood stream and can improve sleep habits, eating habits and even existing medical conditions. Most people looking to lose weight may not think of dancing as a first option for keeping interest in their exercise program.
There have been studies conducted that found that Salsa dancing could greatly improve someone’s cardiovascular fitness levels. One study found even less energetic ballroom dances increase the number of active steps a person takes during a day. Modern medical recommendations advise 10,000 steps per day is the minimum required to maintain healthy fitness levels in an average adult. To be realistic, there are just not that many adults, especially senior citizens, who are going to be in motion enough during any given day to total 10,000 steps per day.
Although 10,000 steps per day may seem like an impossible number to obtain, a minimum of 2,000 steps can greatly improve one’s aerobic exercise and cardiovascular health. Even senior citizens can benefit from ballroom dancing, which is less strenuous than some of the more modern dances such as the Tango or Merengue. Salsa dancing, the focus of many of the studies was found, one specifically included 11 pairs of dancing partners, found the maximum heart rate increased between 58 and 75 percent. The same study found oxygen consumption, both measured during typical Salsa dancing lessons, was increased between 41 and 56 percent. The author of this particular study, Gian Pietro Emerenziani of the University of Studies in Rome, Italy, stated, “With this form of dance, you are clearly getting a workout. All three types of Salsa in our study, practiced frequently, will have a positive impact on health and fitness.”
One other benefit to using dance instructional videos as part of a more comprehensive exercise program, is they can be used in the privacy of the home. No trips to the gym with many others in the same club, which can often be embarrassing for someone who is overweight or struggling with their diet. Even the partners dancing programs can be used by an individual to gain that extra measure of fitness to assist in losing weight.
Cal Pozo is not one to rest of his past accomplishments. He keeps up with current dance and fitness trends, recently choreographing and producing the video, “Dirty Dancing – The Official Dance Workout”. The video featured dance moves inspired by the original movie which are performed to the original sound track. Within the past year, Cal has hosted a new series of instructional videos to teach ballroom dancing called, “Partner Dancing 101”.
Cal Pozo still lives in New York City, where he heads his production company, FitVid Productions. He is still hands on with his company, choreographing, directing and producing exercise videos. Not only does he spend his time in New York, he can also be found at sound stages in Los Angeles and in South Miami Beach, where he can frequently be found practicing Yoga with his 92 year old mother. If there is any need for proof that exercise and dancing are a good part of a healthy lifestyle, Cal Pozo, and his mother, are good examples.