For some reason this tape didn't "grab" me
the first time, so it sat on the shelf for a while. But
now, the more I do it, the better I like it! The first
two segments, 30 minutes each of hi-lo and stepping
taught by Franny, are my favorites. Franny builds up
several kicky, dancy hi-lo combos that aren't overly
complicated, and just tough enough without wearing me out
for the step. The routine uses lots of room, but I was
able to adapt it for my tiny area, for instance by doing
the U-shaped grapevine forward instead of backward which
seemed more logical anyway. Save some breath for the
stepping, because you'll need it!! Franny shows off
enough karate kicks, pivots, creative turnstep variations
and jump-turning lunges to please any advanced bencher.
She does pad out her segments with some in-between
marching and tapping , but as the stepping wound down, I
was grateful for every little break! The last two
segments, 30 minutes of more hi-lo and about 15 minutes
of toning, are led by Gary Magno. CIA tends to put the
less-inspiring segments at the end of their tapes, which
probably makes sense since anyone who hasn't already
thrown in the towel, will have trouble absorbing more
brain-twisting choreography. Gary's hi-lo isn't as
intense as Franny's and is a little boring by itself, but
as an addition to the tough first hour it will certainly
push your cardio endurance envelope. The ending toning is
basically filler. After 90 minutes of this grueling
"Marathon", the only thing your muscles will
want to do is switch on a jacuzzi! Grade: A
Instructor comments: Franny Benedetto is friendly,
non-whooping, cues well, and comes up with some super
moves and combos. She just needs to get the knack of
putting them together "seamlessly" like Kari
and Cathe do. Gary also cues well, but his constant
little comments to Franny ("Ready, Franny? Is that
ok, Franny?") annoy me.
This was my first CIA tape, and I really enjoyed it. I've only done it once, and I can't wait to do it again. The floor section had some really fun moves that I had never done before (after 17 years yo think you've seen it all). The tape is broken up into a 10 minute warmup, 30 minute Hi/Lo floor aerobics section, 30 step section, and 27 floor section, followed by a short cool down, standing and floor toning. You can break it up into 2 or more workouts, but I will probably be doing the whole thing in one session. The choreography is rather complex, but not real dancy, like Kari's style. They repeat the combos enough times so you're sure to get it, otherwise, just rewind and try again. The instructors alternate. Overall, I would rate this a B+ to an A.
Instructor comments: The instructors alternate, and while I found Gary's incessant "Are you ready Franny?" "How's this Franny?" annoying, I'm pretty good at tuning out what I don't want to hear (my husband can certainly attest to that!!). I like Franny's style better, but they are both pretty good.
The Boston Marathon starts out with a 10 minute warm-up with Gary Magno - great basic moves and lots of fun, even though he must has said "Franny" 30 times (I did giggle thinking of the other review with that comment about him). Then comes Franny - a master instructor - who I loved in CIA 3004 and who did not disappoint me in this video. Great hi/lo aerobics with high impact moves, lots of fun - turns, pivots, jacks, all the good basic stuff with some new twists. This was 30 minutes long, followed by Franny doing a step segment that was very easy to follow and not too high aerobically, but that's okay after the aerobics. She did fun moves, even a 360 like Cathe. Lots of turn steps, moves staying on the step, pivots, straddle, all to great music and easy to follow instruction. This was followed by Gary Magno doing a 25 minute hi/low segment that was very basic - grapevines, jacks, pivots, all easy again but the music and tempo was so much fun, I know you'll love it. Gary is a great instructor too. I had a great 85 minutes of medium intensity aerobic training doing this tape. The sculpting section was only 20 minutes with some bicep curls, tricep work on the bench, lat rows, push-ups, ab work (very short). I will probably not do the sculpting segment again, but the 85 minute marathon is outstanding, lots of fun, great music, great instructors - what a bargain!
This 2-hour video has two hi/lo sections, a step section, and a toning section.
Gary Magno starts with the warmup. He is instantly a turn-off. His warmup is fine, but every other sentence out of his mouth is, "Are you okay, Franny?" or "How ya doin', Franny?" It gets old, fast. And he even calls her "honey" once. Blech.
Then, on to the good stuff. Franny teaches high/low, and this is my favorite routine on the tape. It's a blast! And she's so good at teaching. She says that in a regular class, she would teach the moves slower, but I think it's perfect the way it is. It's easy to pick up the moves and it's easy to remember the sequence of them when you're helped out by her great cueing.
Next is Franny again with step. This is also a lot of fun, but not as fun as the high/low. She has a lot of great moves.
Then Gary is back with his version of high/low. I do not like this routine at all. And I am being very careful to separate my dislike of his personality with my dislike of his routine! The moves just do NOT go with the music. You have to take baby steps (or baby jumps) because he tries to squeeze too much into a four-count or eight-count. In other words, you don't get a full range of motion, and for me, it makes me feel like I'm not even working out. I should say, in all fairness, it's not ALL bad. There are a few moves where you can get going, but overall, it's
not enough to make you feel satisfyingly worked out.
Finally, there is sculpting with Gary again. This is much better than his high/low. Even his obnoxious personality is toned down, and he seems like a normal person. It's a short section, about 20 minutes, and it's good for an extended
cooldown. Gary also does the final stretch, and it is good. Too bad he can't be like that the rest of the time.
I'm definitely keeping this tape because Franny is such fun, but I won't be doing Gary's high/low anymore. Despite my distaste for his routine, I still give the tape an A. That shows you how delighted I am with Franny!
Instructor comments: The only word for Franny Benedetto is EXCELLENT. She's so easy to follow, and creates fun, challenging routines. Gary Magno, however, is
another story. I think he could take a choreography lesson or two, and maybe even a personality lesson.
I thought this video was on the low side of okay. Franny's floor section was good. I think I enjoyed it more than the step. She does lots of kicks and hops. The only part I didn't enjoy were these really wide box steps. I've always thought box steps were boring, and she does these quite a bit. The step section was ok, but I thought she did too much "take it to the top" combos. I frankly got bored after a while. Some of the turning moves and lunges are executed a little faster than I consider safe, and the cuing got a little sloppy on some of the turning moves, I thought. None of the choreography was particularly fun or creative, I thought. I did like the salute move in the floor section, however.
Greg's section was super fast, and alright. Nothing fancy or complicated. Mainly the basics, sped up, with high impact. I'm not sure why people find him so annoying. He has a strange voice and smile, and I wondered if he had a little afro wig on. ;^) But it's his real hair, I'm sure. Just a tiny superficial observation. Overall, good guy. No complaints about him from me.
Generally speaking, this video is solid, though not really energizing or fun for me. I prefer things a little dancier (chasses, pivots) and less "athletic," so maybe that's why I didn't really fall in love with this video.
The nice thing about CIA videos is that if you don't like certain sections, there's still plenty left to enjoy. I tried this step section twice, one move bugged me right away, and I will probably never do it again. I am getting very elitest about step these days - I love my Cathe tapes so much that I instantly write off step tapes that don't really grab me.
That's okay, though, because there are parts of the workout that I do often: namely, the first 40 minutes. Gary is a bit odd, as has been mentioned, but the warm-up is pretty good and one I plan to try in my own classes. The 30 minutes of hi-lo with Franny is also very good. Franny is *very* likeable and seems like she'd be a very nice, gracious person to meet in real life. The choreography and cuing is also very good.
Now, here's the negative part, which I will try to be delicate about because Franny does seem so very nice and I know she visits this site: I dislike the way some of these combos are built. For example, she will do a combo on the right lead that ends with a jack, so you could either begin again on your right or do it on your left. To me, it would be more natural to repeat the combo on your left lead, but instead she will do it 3-4 times on the right, then start doing it on the left. It may just be a personal preference.
This next part is more annoying: Franny tends to teach a combo, do it a couple times, then start marching as she explains what will happen next. I counted about 8 times in 30 minutes that she does this, and it puts a damper on an otherwise very good section, especially when you have done the tape several times and are ready to move on without having to stop everything and march.
Having said all that, this is a tape that I use a lot for the hi-lo section, although Christi Taylor is still my hi-lo favorite.
I have only done Franny's hi/lo and step sections, along with Gary's warmup, cooldown and stretch. I agree with most of what others have said about this video. I enjoy the workout a lot.
The main thing I wanted to say is that I like this workout a lot more than 9704, (which I do like, but just not as much.) I bought 9704 first, thinking from the reviews that I would like it better. I think the reason I prefer this tape is that the hi/lo and step sections are only 30 minutes, but I believe there is the same amount of choreography as in 9704, with 36 minute sections. I don't get as bored with "taking it from the top" because I don't think it happens as much, and she is trying to pack in as much teaching in a shorter time. Also, I feel like I can get a 70 minute workout from this tape (w/ warmup/cooldown), which is actually feasible for me, whereas with 9704, I almost never have the time or energy to complete both the step and hi/lo during 1 session.
Instructor comments: Franny is a great instructor. I would prefer less taking it from the top, but I do enjoy doing the whole workout together, because her choreography is a lot of fun and flows well.