Video Fitness

CIA 2104: The Greatest Step Workout Ever Plus Body Conditioning

Instructor: Gay Gasper

The more I do this, the more I like it. The workout is an hour of step and 30 minutes of strength work. The step is a lot of fun -- good music, fun moves, and good intensity. The intensity ranges from intermediate (at the beginning), to higher-intermediate to advanced. The great music keeps you energized and makes you want to keep going. There is a little more taking-it-from-the-top than some will like, but I don't find it nearly as bad as her last CIA high/low workout. However, at the end, she has you run through the whole routine 4 times, which I thought was 2 times too many. Another combo to fill up the time would have been better. The choreography ranges from intermediate to advanced, but it doesn't get as advanced as, say, Franny's or Christi's. It's well-taught, and it's fun, too. This is one I did not find myself watching the clock on -- the hour flew by. The music probably has a good deal to do with that. (Good job, Greg T.!)

The strength workout is also good. You use tubing, dumbbells, a step, and a ball. (The ball isn't really necessary -- I get along fine without one -- and the tubing can be replaced with dumbbells.) She has you alternate between upper and lower body exercises. There's some great triceps work.

Grade A+.

Annie S.
4-22-01

Getting two complete workouts on one tape makes many CIA videos a bargain. That's the case once again with this new tape led by Gay Gasper, with a crew of four "real people" in the background. I am new to this tape. So, without going into details about specific moves, I'll give you an opinion from the perspective of an experienced stepper and Gay Gasper fan.

The Step Segment (approx. 50 minutes)

First of all, it probably isn't "the greatest" step workout ever. It has the potential to become one of my favorites, however, because it allows for really energetic movement around and over the step without being too tricky. Note: it isn't a cinch to learn, but for some of us, that's part of the fun. I "got it" pretty well in three tries.

In complexity, I'd say it's between Christi's Step Heaven (hard for me to learn) and Anderson/Blahnik's Classic Step (easier but still dancy). Gay has her own unique style, and she cues very well.

In this routine, she performs four combos, taking it from the top after each one, and performing the entire routine three or four times at the end. She moves over and around the bench a lot, changing leads and directions. There's a potential for dizziness. Moves new to me were a reverse A-step and a kind of mambo around the end of the step.

You have to be able to follow cues by listening and concentrating, not just by watching. It's kind of like thinking your way into the routine, instead of just imitating the movements. Even with a lot of step experience, I find this quite challenging. You will turn your back to the screen frequently.

The warm-up and cooldown are extra-long, with a little tricky footwork. The workout is followed by a short stretch.

The set is Oriental--red walls, shoji screens, a fan. I find this a little distracting, but not annoying. Music is pop vocals with a strong beat--although I'm too busy listening for cues at this point to pay much attention to music, so I couldn't say whether it's inspiring or not.

The Conditioning Segment (approx. 45 minutes)

For this moderate strength training workout, Gay uses a quite a pile of equipment: step, exertube, dumbbells (at least two sizes), and a fitball (the large, inflatable ball). You can sub dumbbells or a dynaband for the exertube, but you might need a little experience with weight training to know how to do this effectively.

I'm glad to find a workout that uses the fitball I already have. It's great for lower abdominal crunches and for hamstring/glutes. I didn't use it for the tricep extensions, however, because when I lean over the ball, it's wider than my body and interferes with the correct position of my elbows and forearms through the movement. Again, it's helpful to have a little experience to know when and how to adapt this routine with substitute positions or equipment.

I would not recommend this tape just for the "conditioning" workout. It serves as a pleasant maintenance routine, but it isn't as challenging or interesting to me as, say, Tough Tape, or as convenient (no equipment!) as Christi's Strength, Balance, and Flexibility. If you already have a lot of fitness "toys," you'll get to use them. But if you don't have a convenient workout space, you won't like all the set-up required for this routine.

Gay alternates upper and lower body work. You will need a few run-throughs to figure out how much weight or resistance to use. In a couple of places, I wanted to change up the weights where she does not. Beginners might be a little confused by all the equipment changes.

If you have the time, you can do both segments back-to-back without killing yourself.

I'm glad I bought this tape, because Gay is an encouraging coach and a good teacher. Her personality has just the right balance of perky and serious. This workout is a good addition to my variety selection. Overall, I give it a B+

Instructor: Gay builds each combo with helpful instruction, and provides good cues throughout the workout. Verbal cueing is especially important in 2104, because you'll be turning around the step often.

Barbara Loots
3/16/01

Surprise, surprise, surprise. The second tape of this CIA series I like better for the toning, than the aerobic workout. Although I think the step portion is very good. If you like the Firm and want some variety, I think the weight work would be a fantastic substitute for Tough Tape 1 or 2. The toning section is about 35 minutes of work, with great variety. Gay alternates between upper and lower body, but there is enough variety so I don't feel like it is regimented. Like the Firm, the workout is non-stop but so full of variety, it moves fast. She does several sets of step up or down type moves, and I use my tall box for these, yowza. This workout also uses a ton of equipment, hand wts, tubing, a ball, a step or tall box, which can either be good or bad depending on your perspective. My favorite workout of this series.

The Greatest Step Workout. I like this workout, but it isn't as intense as the usual CIA cardio. Gay does have some interesting moves, and she teaches them slower than other CIA videos also. If you like very fast moving choreography and only short teaching sections, this video may not meet your needs. I agree with a previous reviewer that she takes it from the top, two too many times. This workout is a solid B, and I think would be wonderful for people who are trying to branch out into more complex choreography.

Instructor - Gay is a very professional, very precise instructor. She's friendly and warm without being overly chatty or chummy. Although I do sometimes like chatty and chummy too.

LynnO
5/16/01

I think of this workout as the video equivalent of eating a Luna Bar – light, tasty, full of energy and whaddayaknow, it’s kind of good for you too. Gay does a superb job of mixing in reverse v-steps, shuffles and turning step-touches that will have you spinning all around your step, with good old cardio-pumping lunges around the world, kick-straddles and over-and-overs.

Gay is an excellent instructor and meticulously cues every move. The music is a happy mix of current pop hits that will have you singing along to “Oops, I did it again,” “What a girl wants,” “Walking on the Sun,” and “CC Rider.” . Gay is not one for tricky rhythm changes, she sticks to the basic 4-count for the whole workout. You easily could adapt the intensity to make it intermediate or advanced, depending on how much range of motion and power you put into the moves.

The warm-up is very thorough. Gay uses the time to introduce a couple of the trickier moves you’ll see again in the body of the workout, including the reverse v-step and the v-slide. She also cleverly adds rhythmic stretches into the actual routine, so your heart rate keeps gently climbing while you’re loosening up your hamstrings and quads. Then she moves into the heart of the workout. There are 4 combos and Gay does the usual CIA take-it-from-the-top (TIFTT) thing: as she adds each finished combo to the routine, she TIFTTs the whole routine twice and then goes on to teach the new combo. She is proficient at layering and basic steps quickly morph into pivots and shuffles and reverse steps. If you’re nervous about the fancier steps, it’s very easy to stick with the base moves during the routine and still get a good cardio workout.

Each combo has a snazzy little move that makes it fun: combo 1 has a series of triple shuffles circling the step, combo 2 lets you go from a reverse-v into a turning knee-up on the step; combo 3 includes a knee up, walk-and-mambo back, shuffle up into a double-knee -- and combo 4 is my favorite with a jazz square, v-slide, step touch around and power hop over the step. Some of these choreography blocks will have your back to the TV set, which takes a little more time to learn, but you can do the basic move until you’re comfortable flipping around that step like a little whirling dervish.

The heart of the workout is not very long – the 4 combos take 34 minutes total. Then it’s on to the cooldown. This is a fun cooldown, but there were too many run-throughs and I think it would have been more fun with a few less filler moves.

Instructor comments: I think Gay is terrific. Her cueing is great, she is warm and natural in front of the camera and I love her choreography. She incorporates plenty of sophisticated steps, but moves so crisply and cleanly that she’s easy to follow. During one of the moves where the cast’s back is to the camera, she says, “How do you like our butt?” Any instructor who can joke about her butt has a special place in my heart. (At the bottom of it, of course. Hee hee.)

Daphne Magnuson
5/07/01

I got this when the 2100 series came out, but only did it once before taking a year off, during which I ran but use videos, so for me, this was new. I have Step N Stones II, which I still think is lots of fun – I’m always exhilarated and motivated during it, and her 2K01, which is good if you do the whole thing and not stop with just the hi-lo section.

I recommend CIA 2104. It is the classic w/o structure, a dynamic warm-up (approx 10 mins), an energetic step routine built up in four segments (approx 45 min), a very brief cool-down, then a solid strength (which for some of you will be more “toning” than muscle-building) section (approx 30 mins). A nice, danced cool down, and a good if rushed stretch. The music is excellent even two years out. Gay seems to be enjoying herself. She has the ability to be very focused, to convey that she is working hard, and yet seem loose and relaxed. As before, she has picked her “crew,” each of whom has different strengths or a story. Eunice models a dancerly style, two I think I recognize from former videos of Gay’s, and there is a lung cancer survivor. Everyone works.

Gay Gaspar’s choreography vocabulary is not that large (witness the first segment of 2K01) , but she always has an excellent sense of the music, of gesture and of the beat, and on this video, she uses these in creative and unexpected ways.

I especially like this workout because just when you really don’t want the step routine again, it’s time for the (pretty much) whole body strength/toning section. As with Cathe, the group appears to go directly into toning, so you really are working together. Gay uses two sets of hand weights, spri tubing, the step and an resistaball. I used one set of wts, a body bar and my step. I’m starting to question the effect of tubing on my tendons (ligaments?) so I substituted wts for tubing. You alternate upper and lower exercises. I particularly liked the multi-staged push-ups and the variations on oblique abdominals.

The camera work is good, and Gay makes sure you see back and side views.

The set is the CIA red zenly one, which, for me, didn’t go well with the more cool blue, cool metal tones of the performers outfits and equipment.

beth simon
simon@ipfw.edu
12-7-02

Greatest Step Workout? I don't consider the title hyperbole at all! I am forcing myself not to do this one too much, but it is difficult. The only improvements I could suggest would be a)new set please! and b)put it on DVD.
The step workout begins with a great warm up-- fast paced, with some dynamic stretching. You then go on to learn (I think) 4 combinations. The last is the trickiest for me, because it involves straddling the step and ending up on the correct side. I always have trouble with such moves. I think someone described the choreography's complexity as somewhere between Kari and Cathe. I would agree with that. Parts of it reminded me of Rhythmic Step, and parts of it reminded me of Hot Steps. The impact is fairly low, and the speed is a little slower than Cathe's. I do this workout on an 8" step to get a good workout-- the same height I use for most non- Cathe step workouts (sometimes Cathe seems too easy for this reason, but the speed is just too fast for me to raise the height of the step.)I am not a fan of recognizable tunes a la Christi, but the versions of songs used were different enough to make them
palatable to me.
The strength workout was good too. I have tubing, so I used it, but I don't think that it is necessary. She only uses it for a few exercises, and dumbbells would work just fine. I like the fact that you get a thorough full body workout in thirty minutes. Gay alternates working upper and lower body parts. The abs were definitely the weak link in the workout, but that is ok. I have plenty of other ab routines.
I don't usually grade workouts, but I will give this one an A+.

Roz

11/04/03

It is seldom that I finish doing a workout and think to myself" this is going to be difficult to not do every week."

This workout consists of two workouts - a step workout - which according the chart on the box consists of a 10 min warmup, 45 min step, 5 min cooldown.

The workout is done in a Gym Setting but has some Japanese decorations on the walls. Gay is working out with her crew. They don't show modifications of the moves. I am an intermediate to low advanced exerciser. I enjoy step workouts but can't do dancy and complicated workouts. On the other hand, I don't like workouts that are so simple that you are able to master them on the first try. I would rate the choreograpy difficulty level at a medium. The workout is taught in layers and TIFTING (take if from the top.) If you don't like that - skip this workout. On the other hand, since it takes me a long time to master difficult choreography, I find the layering and TIFTIng helpful. There are some over the tops and turning moves that require you to be backwards to the TV. I can't do these moves - no matter who is the lead. However, with this workout, I was able to modify by dropping down to the previous layer of choreography.

I would rate the intensity of this workout - intermediate/advanced. The workout is surprisingly low impact for a step workout - there is not a lot of jumping.

I enjoyed the music. It is a mix of popular songs, but since I'm out of the loop these days of what is current, the onle title I Recognized was "Jump" by the Pointer sisters. I found the music driving - even when I couldn't figure out what Gay was trying to do, the music just made me want to keep moving.

The cooldown is choreographed but was the easiest for me to learn. It ends with a short stretch and then on to the strength training.

This 30 min. strength training workout is a total body, light weight endurance workout. Gay uses bands, light weights, a stability ball and step. You could easily substitute weights for the bands or modify any moves with the stability ball by substituting your step.

I won't break down each exercise but she does exercises with the bands while you sit on the stability ball, exercises using light weights, leg presses and squat variations using the step, a killer pushup move and ends with a short but intense ab workout and a stretch.

I would rate the strength workout intermediate with some moves being advanced, if you use the stability ball and beginner/intermediate if you did not use the stability ball.

Gay's form in this workout is fantastic.

The music during this section was similar to the step section - it just kept me wanting to continue.


Instructor comments: Pleasant, up-beat - perfect cueing and form.

Robin F. a/k/a Bebop

October 2, 2004

On cardio work, I am an intermediate to advanced exerciser who enjoys with complex choreography at some level. I also enjoy my “easier” workouts on those mornings I don’t feel like thinking that much. My absolute favorites are those that many complexity lovers on VF would classify as intermediate because the instructor takes awhile to build combinations and/or explains more than the most complex instructors.

The choreography in this step workout seemed pretty basic to me; I pretty much picked up the choreography the first time I did it. For those looking for step workouts with choreography less complex than Christi, Franny, and even Marcus and Kari, this may be one you want to read about and investigate. I have kept it because it’s a good workout for days on which I feel like my brain power is very low.

Gay leads the workout with several background exercisers. It’s a typical CIA set. The music is really good; I thoroughly enjoyed it and wished more workouts had as good a soundtrack to it. Gay’s cueing is good and she seems to have a good time while leading the workout. You do need a little room in front of the step and need to be able t take several steps back from the step – about four or five. She TIFTs a LOT, taking it from the top after each new section. Overall, this workout went by really quickly for me and I enjoyed it.

I did the strength section after the step workout, something I usually don’t do, but I wanted to try it for some reason. And, I liked it. It lasts around half an hour and she hits the muscles well. She does the workout, but does get up to point out form pointers on one of the background exercisers She gives lots of form pointers.

I recommend this tape. I do wish it would come out on DVD though!

Instructor comments: She is upbeat, fun, and informative. I just enjoy working out with her in this workout!

Laura S.

March 2, 2006



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