I was initially disappointed that the cardio section was so short on Gay's latest CIA. However, the warm-up is fairly vigorous and it moves right along. Five combos are taught and then strung together once. There is a 46-minute premix that has you do the finished product twice. There's much less breakdown than I'm accustomed to with Gay. But I was able to get most of it on the first try. The sculpting section, in my opinion, is throw-away. You can't possibly work the entire body to any degree in 17 minutes. It was a good effort, but I really would have preferred another combo or two of cardio. I even checked out the circuit premix to see if the sculpting section was well utilized, but you go from aerobics to laying on your back and then back on your feet again - not for me! I do like that I feel like I've had a good cardio workout using the 46-minute cardio premix. The choreo was complex, creative, and intense. Nice to see males in the background too!
Diane aka mtnmom
I’m reviewing this workout after doing it twice, although I’ve only done the strength portion once.
General workout breakdown: This 63-min. video contains a short step aerobics workout followed by a total body strength segment. That’s right: despite the name, this video is NOT all cardio (although the cardio is done on the step).
- Warm-up (7.5 min.) starts right away with a combo on the step, finishing with a few dynamic stretches primarily for the lower body. I agree with Diane’s assessment of the intensity – no easing you into the workout with a gentle warm-up here!
- Stepping (31 min.) has 5 combos on the step. If 5 combos sound like a lot to learn in 30 min., it is. It’s as if Gay was told at the start she had to get this done chop chop, then halfway through someone yelled, “Hurry it up, will ya?” because Gay throws whole blocks at you, racing through the last few combos (even doing the entire fourth combo in its entirety, with one or two minor tweaks, from the very start) as if her life depends upon making some deadline. OK, maybe not her life - perhaps just her flight home. Now, all that said, I have to admit the second time I did this routine I found it rather fun…
Gay builds up each block individually, giving you large chunks of each block at a time. She runs through the first three combos together and then the second two but leaves the big TIFT (taking it from the top) until the very end, when you run through all combos in order once. As you might expect from Gay, she takes standard step aerobics moves and makes them more interesting; she also pulls in some dancier moves and includes some more athletic moves, with a number of kickboxing-inspired moves in the last combo. Note that there are a number of full and partial pivots plus a rather large amount of moves where your back or side is to the TV.
- Cool-down (3 min.) has one more quick combo on the step that moves more and more onto the floor, with a dancy flair plus a few balance moves. It ends with some, well, innovative, seemingly ballet-inspired stretches and balance moves plus a few other standard stretches. None of these are held very long.
- Sculpting (17 min.) runs through squat & double arm back rows, 1-armed back row & triceps kickback, squat – lunge – press overhead, plie squat pulses, chest press, chest flye, chest press w/ arms narrow, double crunch, bicycle w/ punches, stationary lunge w/ rear foot elevated & biceps curls, front & lateral raise, bridge w/ heels on step, 1-legged bridge w/ heel on step, push-ups w/ rotation (sometimes called T-push-ups), bird dog w/ triceps extension, squat w/ front raise using step bench, cursty lunge w/ overhead raise of bench, standing twist w/ bench, leg lift & sweep using bench as balance, calf raises using bench as balance, and tibialis strengthening exercise using bench as resistence. Gay moves quickly from exercise to exercise, never doing too many reps of anything.
In my opinion, this is more suitable for maintenance than for serious gains. While I appreciate how much Gay is able to cover in such a short period of time, honestly this segment didn’t do all that much for me, either, especially since it’s a one-weight wonder. I would rather Gay have taken the full hour for the step cardio routine (and included some breakdown!) and left this out, but Gay and Greg obviously had their reasons for putting it in, which I’m sure the truly time crunched appreciate.
- Stretch (4 min.) touches on the lower body (calves, hamstrings, quads), shoulders, and low back. It’s on the short side and misses a lot of the upper body used in the strength portion, although if you’ve only done the step workout you probably won’t miss those stretches.
Level: I’d recommend this to at least solidly intermediate through low advanced exercisers familiar with complex step choreography. Prior familiarity with Gay’s style of teaching and choreography is helpful although if you’re a real complex choreo hound probably not necessary.
I consider myself an intermediate + to intermediate / advanced in cardio, although I’m more intermediate than advanced in step (still relatively new to it), and I have little trouble with all but the most complex (or poorly cued) choreography (although again I get a little more tripped up on step than on the floor just because of familiarity). The lack of breakdown and the amount of moves that turn and/or are done while not facing the TV made this one harder for me to learn. Thank goodness for the modifier: without her, I might have pulled a Joni O my first time through because Gay hits the ground running with that choreography and never lets up. After two times through I’m still lost on a few steps and find myself regularly missing a few more; generally the second time through I’m polishing up most choreography unless it’s very complex and/or otherwise confusing.
Class: 2 women and 3 men (including Carlos Arias, who’s the instructor on CIA 2802, and Greg Sims) join Gay, who instructs live. 1 woman shows lower impact or less complex modifications, although she’s stuck in the back corner.
Music: upbeat mix of instrumentals and vocals that’s definitely better than average, although I’ve heard a number of tunes before.
Set: the 2008 CIA set (purply walls with a built out over the blue barn doors, furniture and a few pieces of exercise equipment along the back and side).
Production: crisp picture and sound. Both Gay’s voice and the music are clearly audible without having to crank up the volume, although the music may be a hair too loud in relation to Gay’s voice for some. There isn’t anything too crazy in terms of camera angles or quick shifts or close-ups. It’s what you’d expect from CIA (well, except for the quick glimpses of parts of camera equipment – usually the CIA’s not that sloppy).
Equipment: sneakers and a step (Gay & co. use a full-sized club step w/ 1 set of risers). For the sculpting you’ll want a pair of dumbbells (Gay moves so quickly between exercises it’s hard to use more than one pair without having that remote in hand) and perhaps a mat for your step.
Space Requirements: You should have plenty of room around your step, including in front of and especially behind it, as Gay has a number of steps that cover some horizontal distance on the floor. You need to be able to shuffle around your step, mambo up and down in front of it with both feet off of the step, and do a big step and kick to the back.
DVD Notes: The main menu options are Intro to Workout, Warm-up to Workout, Workout Sections (Warm-up, Combo One, Combo Two, Combo Three, Combo Four, Combo Five, Combo Six, Cool-down, Sculpting, Stretch), Pre-Mixes (Extra Cardio Mix, 46.5 min., with a bonus run through of all cardio combos 2x – this is the great one Diane mentioned; Extra Cardio Mix & Sculpting, 64 min.; All Combos & Sculpting, 35 min., with just the bonus run through of the combos; and Interval Mix, 52 min., alternating combos with different segments from the sculpting – N.B. “Interval” here means cardio & weights circuit, as per usual with the CIA), Bio & Description, and Contact & Credits.
Comments: Although she’s a true fitness veteran, Gay’s still a relatively new instructor to me; I like Gay’s usual style of choreography a lot because it’s not too complex yet not too repetitive, and I like her personality. I enjoy Gay’s 2006 and 2007 CIA offerings, Cardio Step Express and All Out Infused Step, so I was a little disappointed this wasn’t in the same vein (that is, a longer step cardio workout). I guess if I didn’t have those two already I’d be more willing to push aside my expectations and overlook what I see as drawbacks here, even if I’m warming up to that step routine (you know, it is fun…). I’ve read reviews of Gay’s previous offerings suggesting that she limit the breakdown and TIFTing; while I commend her for being so receptive to feedback, this video just goes a bit too far in the other direction, IMHO. I understand others appreciate minimal breakdown because they use the same videos often, but I feel there are more of us who appreciate a routine that manages to balance breaking down the moves without breaking the pace.
Instructor Comments: Gay is her usual upbeat, pleasant self. She cues decently, usually just ahead of the move, but I would have appreciated, if not more break down of moves, at least more precise cuing of footfalls, especially on moves where the user isn’t directly facing the TV. Gay’s directional cues are mirrored. As always, Gay displays impeccable form while stepping; she moves so crisply, cleanly, and precisely.