I am a big Donna Read fan, so I knew I'd love this video before it even
arrived. It's the most intense Donna video that I've used (versus 9701
and 9903) both in terms of choreography & intensity. Donna is a perfect
match for those of us who like low impact--she does the moves low impact
herself. The occasional high impact moves, I've found, are easily
The first thing I noticed about this video is that the background
exercisers look different from any other CIA I've used. They're very
realistic looking women, a little older than I'm used to seeing in
videos (except Susan Powter videos). The exerciser on the left has a
body much like mine--weight is carried in the legs. The exerciser on
the left I'm guessing is the eldest of the three women, and she's
working at a level of intensity that I can only hope to achieve! Donna
points out that they're CIA "virgins", participating in their first CIA
video. I noticed that both women make slight modifications to the moves
if they so desire--something I do quite often!
The music was the typical stuff, but updated. Ally McBeal fans will
recognize "Searching My Soul" and fellow VFers who were teens in the
80's like me will no doubt remember Madonna's "Get Into The Groove".
The perceived exertion scale is gone in this video. There is one heart
rate check, done for 6 seconds, with bpm chart shown after. That seems
about halfway to me.
The first half was good choreography; there are enough pieces of moves I
recognize from Donna's other videos to keep up. The second half is much
more intense featuring what she calls "fast feet" that will get your
heart rate way up there! The combo beginning with an "L" step is
particularly intense. There is no going from the top in this video--you
might go a combo back or two, but the combos are never done straight
thru from the top to the end. There is a LOT less breaking down of the
moves; it's more like Christi's "watch me" style. Once you learn it all
though, I think that makes the workout more fun, because you can get
right into it. Donna herself is red faced throughout the 2nd half of
the workout. All exercisers are sweaty as well. Let me tell ya, that
makes me feel a lot better when I'm working out--to be able to see the
workout is tough for the instructor too. I did recognize Donna's shorts
as similar to or the same as 9701, and yup, she hiked up them up once or
I didn't do the second half of the video--Body Conditioning. I buy
Donna's videos for her step choreography and have plenty of
toning/strength stuff I love using. I did notice Brittany Spears
"Crazy" is included in the soundtrack during this portion.
Instructor Comments: Donna is my all time favorite step instructor.
She's comes across as very sweet. She's never irritating, and she seems
to have just as much fun teaching her choreography as I do learning it.
Donna will always have you twisting and turning around on the step, so
some combos take longer to learn, but I find those combos to be the most
fun later on!
I love Donna for her naturalness and the way she teaches the moves and I
am not disappointed here, but there is one problem: the workout is not
44 minutes as the box says, but actually only 32. This is a big
difference and CIA is constantly making this same mistake on their
tapes. Donna is her usual bubbly, natural, adorable self and when the
workout started out, I didn't care for the music but as it progressed,
it greatly improved. The intensity is moderate and she doesn't go "from
the top" very much because it's broken down into two segments. As with
her other tapes, she intersperses sprints to get your heartrate up. Her
"tick-tock" move is here, along with "safe" (Andre uses this in his CIA
tape) and the usual straddles with some moves on the floor. I just
scanned the toning and it look tough with lots of push-ups and "core" ab
work (not my thing). Excellent workout but should have been longer.
I was excited to see that Donna had a new video since I thoroughly enjoyed 9701. This workout seems to be a little bit less on the intensity (I.e. it is lower impact than 9701) but not less on the fun. Her choreography was different, many things that she did was new and different from most of the other videos that are on the market. The workout is very customizable, you can turn almost anything into higher impact or lower impact.
My few complaints about the video: I agree that the music has much to be desired. I tend to like music that gets me pumped, most of the music just left me wanting a very different sound track (like one from Franny's new video). I also didn't care of the continuous bantering from Donna about how the other two exercisers were virgin CIA'ers. I thought the two in the back were great and very inspiring because they were 'real' people instead of perfect models.
The conditioning portion was intense, and I had never thought of using tubing and weights to get a harder muscle conditioning. After trying that addition out I will never go back to just using a body bar! She concentrated on form and tried to show you what you should and shouldn't do when you are doing the plank exercises.
Overall I think the video is a good solid A. The choreography is a A. The music is a D. The intensity and options are a good A-.
I was really disappointed in this tape. I was hoping for a great step workout but after doing this tape a few times I realize that it just doesn't fit the bill.
The workout length is approximately 60 minutes in length. The workout is for the most part lower impact. There are some power moves, and many of the moves can be easily "powered up". The workout didn't seem to flow very well. Many of the moves were not explained very well and/or were not cued at all clearly. The running chatter about "video virgins" distracts very much from the content of the workout. Though the background exercisers look polished and like they were having fun. The music in the video was pretty darn bad.
Donna seemed in great spirits and back again were those baggy pants :=)
This is an hour-long step workout followed by a half-hour of toning work. While I do like this tape, I have to say that I really liked her two earlier step tapes better. This is a good workout and fun to do, but it won't ever be one that I get excited about. Some of the moves aren't quite as well-broken-down as they could be, although there aren't very many this way. My main complaint is that I don't get that sense of "flowingness" that I did in her earlier tapes. Before, it was like one long dance party where you just moved with the music guided by her excellent cueing. This one takes a little more effort mentally, because it's not as "smooth." The music probably has something to do with that as well -- it's what I would call average music -- nothing that really motivates or energizes, but just okay. She intersperses drills into the combos, which I don't care for much, but can live with. It may sound like I'm really negative about this workout, but I'm not. I do like it, it's just not exactly what I had hoped for from Donna. She is one of my favorite step instructors, so I may have had higher expectations than some.
The toning work is really good. She uses a body bar and tubing together, and she also does some tough core work. Her delightful personality is the same as always! I just love how sometimes, when introducing a new step, she says "Oooohhh!" Well, it sounds better coming from her than it does on a computer screen! I give this tape an A-.
After 9701, this is my second favorite Donna Read video. I think it's the
great new music that makes the difference; her step on Boot Camp just had the
generic old instrumental music that CIA was wearing out for awhile. Donna is
as dancy as ever, incorporating around-the-worlds and mambo straddles into
the warmup. The first section of the step is my favorite, not too intense or
too hard to learn (for those who like complexity). There are "skating"
hamstring moves on the step, arabesques, pendulums ("tick tocks" she calls
them) and lunges taking you all around the step. Then come the "fast feet"
drills - WHEW! This part always wipes me out, and I like the balancing kicks
added in. The second part of the step is just ok, for me; I always have to
lower the step because of the shuffling moves off the end, and she does speed
up her teaching, making it hard to catch on especially with the last combo.
There is one more power drill, which I'm usually too tired to do well, and
then straight to the cooldown (good for those who hate TIFTing). I like all
the music except for some weird merry-go-round-like music at the end. Maybe
I'm the only one who isn't tired of hearing Madonna's Into the Groove!
The toning is one of the best CIA has had for awhile. It's similar to the
segment on Kicked Up Step, which I also like. The one-legged squats and leg
lifts may look simple, but boy do they burn! Donna uses various combinations
of Body Bar, medium dumbells and tubing; you can substitute just tubing or
just weights, and if you don't have a Body Bar you can prop yourself with a
dowel or mop for the squats. Donna really focuses in on the shoulders and
back muscles, with some moves I haven't seen before such as shrugs done as
dips off the step. Then comes the ever-popular core conditioning. I admit,
"core work" is my cue to sneak away for a drink. Donna's style may not be
for everyone (I recommend you try 9701 first) but she has won me over and I
give this an A.
Instructor comments: I had the pleasure of meeting Donna at DCAC, and she is
as sweet and adorable in person as on video. Yeah, the "virgins" joke gets
stretched a little thin, plus she repeats "Beautiful!" a lot during the
conditioning. I get the feeling she is a little "over-directed" during her
videos, causing unnecessary tension. But she is still one of my CIA faves,
and I hope she branches out on her own, or teamed up again with Helen
I really like this workout, but I would say it is probably only for real choreography/variety and Donna fans. I think the choreography is great, but it is taught very quickly with not enough breakdown on many moves so people will become frustrated. Also, I guess a lot of people found Donna's comments annoying. They didn't bother me. I guess because I tried the tape after hearing about them, they didn't seem that bad to me. I actually laughed because Donna knew she was being a little annoying and said she would stop.
The video breakdown is:
Warmup - 9 minutes
Cardio - 32 mintes
Cooldown - 5 minutes
Stretch - 2 minutes
Toning - 33 minutes (I think)
The cardio section is 6 combos. The first 3rd and 6th combos are simple more intense combos and one has a kickboxing flavor to them. There isn't really TIFTing in this video, she just puts combos 1 and 2 together and 4 and 5 together. The one thing that bugged me about this section is that she didn't break the moves down enough. She had enough time because she repeated the end moves more times that was needed IMO. I would have preferred fewer repetitions of the final moves and a little more breaking down when teaching it. I like quick teaching, but some moves are really just thrown at you.
I also really liked the toning section which surprised me. It has some good leg work (no weights) with a lot of balancing reps, which I love. It also has some tough core work, which I am trying to love. I am not sure if the upper body work was very balanced, but I like this for the leg and core work enough. Overall the moves are different than your usual strength tape so it is nice to do this work for a change of pace.
This is one of the few longer CIA tapes that I like to do from start to finish. The cardio is a good length and intensity to leave me energized to do the whole tape, so I like this factor also.
On cardio work, I am an intermediate exerciser who is playing with advanced choreography. It often can take me multiple tries to get choreography in a complex workout. This workout, I got most of the steps and stuck with it for the entire step segment.
One of my fellow Cardio Cross Trainer buddies recommended this workout to me as a really fun workout. Since I have loved almost every workout she has recommended to me, I figured Iíd like this workout. However, during the warm up, I was having some doubts. It lasts nine minutes, but seemed rather long and boring. However, halfway or less through the first combination I had no doubt she was right as I was grinning from ear to ear and having a blast.
Donna puts together several combinations and they are such a blast. To me, the moves seemed to flow really well. After reading the other reviews for this workout though, I may have to try another one of her supposedly better workouts! A couple of those combinations really get your heart rate up in a major way, so I may use it when I want an interval type cardio tape.
The music is fine Ė I didnít really notice much about it as I was concentrating on getting my feet to do the right things. The set is a standard CIA set. There are two background exercisers and they seem to be older than the typical CIA background exerciser. Donna tells us that they are virgins to CIA workouts and they seem to mess up more than the typical background exerciser. However, they also seem to be having a good time and I really identified with them. There was one heart rate check that I found really confusing Ė it started before I was ready and I couldnít calculate my heart rate fast enough before it was off the screen.
The cool down was fun and better than most sections like that. I didnít do the strength portion and probably wonít.
Overall, I really liked this workout. It wasnít long enough, but I can combine with other workouts to make longer workouts. Or, it will be nice on mornings Iím time-crunched before work.
She seems like "the girl next door". I followed her cueing without much trouble - although I often had to watch the first time and then follow along. She made me want to do the entire workout along with her.
October 8, 2004