with Franny Benedetto
I haven't been this excited about a workout since CIA 9801. Franny's hi/lo begins with an invigorating 8-minute warm-up and stretch. Then for 40 minutes you will be having one of the greatest hi/lo experiences of your life. Some moves: kicks, jogs, jacks, arabesque, rock steps, Roger Rabbit (back kicks), great kickboxing, including jabbing eight times across the room, squatting back four times, squat kick right and left, walk forward then front/side/front kicks really high, with power squats (1-2-3 jump). Loved it.
After the heartrate check, she starts new moves, including mambo, pivot, jog, knee ups, lunges back and side; cross kicks, jog and jab around four counts. Then there are triple steps/pivot/turn/grapevines and ham curls. She does "from the top" but the moves are so much fun, you will want to do them over and over. There is a nine minute cooldown and stretch.
Next comes Step: when I did it the first time, I was a little confused, but the body remembers, and the second time, I got it 95%. I was having a ball with the 'nightmare' and 'whirlybird.' There are pogo repeaters/quick move over the step/pivot on the floor. She does the 360 move but calls it "lunge leg around" - when you can't believe all the choreography you are learning, there is more to come. There are knee ups in between the moves, but you will love that to give your mind a rest. I clocked the step at 42 minutes.
There was a 4-minute cooldown, followed by only 2 minutes of abs, and no stretch. But that's such a small flaw, it's not worth mentioning. Franny looks great with lighter hair. Such a great cuer and choreographer, this tape is a classic and should be in the Hall of Fame in no time at all.
Instructor comments: Franny is one of the best instructors for both hi/lo and step. I was really impressed with her on CIA 3004 and have bought all her videos never being disappointed. She is a star.
MaryAnne's right...this video should be in the Hall of Fame. I had such a blast doing it. The choreography is tricky in spots, but Franny's cuing is just terrific. I love 7005 and 9704, but I think this one is even better. I'm not sure whether I like the step portion better or the hi/low. MaryAnne thoroughly described the moves, so I'll just give my impressions. The hi/lo is very high-impact and intense. I was sweating a lot. The last combo in the hi/lo was the trickiest for me, and I still don't have it down completely. In fact, when I finished the step today, I went back and did the last 15 minutes of the hi/low just to get some more practice, and it went a little better. *Hopefully* the next time I do it, I'll have it. I liked the kickboxing combo that she had in the hi/low, and I thought it flowed really well with the other combos. When I watched the step section, I really thought I'd have to rewind a LOT to get "nightmare," but I ended up only having to rewind once (at that part, anyway). Franny definitely uses all sides of the step. The two moves that I had the most trouble with were a boxing move, and a reverse V into a lunge and hop-turn. And actually, that last move wasn't that hard once I actually listened to what she was saying, but since your back is to the TV while she's teaching it, it was kinda tough (for me anyway). The ab section is very short, but since I don't like doing abs anyway, that didn't bother me at all. This video is definitely a keeper. I give it an A+!
Instructor comments: Franny is one of my very favorite instructors. She's up there with Cathe Friedrich and Patrick Goudeau. (Her cuing's MUCH better than Patrick's, though. ;-)) She's full of energy, her choreography is soooo creative, and she seems like she's having a ball through the whole workout. Her cuing is the reason I was able to make it through the workouts as well as I did. I had to rewind a few times during the workout, but on the last run-through in the step section, I nailed it! (the footwork...NOT the arms!)
What a great tape! This one is chock full of fun, innovative combinations that Franny makes fun to learn. The hi-lo is very challenging, mostly high impact, and has something for every hi-lo fan. There are some more traditional hi-lo moves (jogging, knees up), there are some dancy parts (chasses, pivots, turns), and there are some kickboxing combos. All packed into 40 minutes (excluding warm-up and cool down/stretch)! Franny takes it from the top when she adds new moves, and I enjoyed doing the moves again. And the cool-down. What fun! I had to keep reminding myself that I was trying to bring my heartrate down so I wouldn't go all out!
After saying all this, I have to say that I'm not the world's greatest hi-lo fan, but I enjoyed this one very much! Then comes the step portion. I LOVE this workout! The nightmare, the whirlybird, the pogo repeater, and all the other moves were put together in such a fun way. It's the kind of step workout that if you like complex choreography you will love this one. It's challenging, but not to the point that you will have to rewind a million times. I got it pretty well the first time through (after previewing parts of it). The pace is fast but not too fast.
The step workout reminded me a lot of a Cathe Friedrich tape, with a similar intensity level and complexity level. I would call the choreography complex (but not too dancy), and the level of both the hi-lo and the step advanced. There is a short ab section at the end of the step, without oblique work, but this is not a big deal at all. There is no stretch to speak of after the step, either, so I just do my own. Definitely not something that should take away from the quality of this tape. Some CIA tapes I do two cardio sections together, but not this one! I get a great workout doing just one of the sections at a time!
If I had to choose only one of the new CIA tapes to get (oh, horrors!), I would definitely choose this one. It's GREAT!
Instructor comments: This is my first experience with a Franny tape, and let me tell you, I'm really tempted to get her other ones. She's so full of energy, she seems to be enjoying what she's doing, she relates well to the audience, and her cuing is great and easy to follow. She made even her complex moves easy to learn! What more could you want!
Since MaryAnn described this tape so well, I will use my space mainly to gush. Franny has outdone herself. Her hi-lo is every bit as good as Christi Taylor's 9801, but there's a difference. While Christi is for those days when I just gotta dance, Franny is for those Olympian, kick-butt days.
The hi-lo of 9905 has the most perfect melding of athletic, boxing and dancy moves I could ever imagine. Franny has performed a miracle: she created a boxing-themed workout I LIKE! Until now, boxing workouts bored me to tears. But on 9905, the punches and kicks feel like part of the dance! The first half of the hi-lo contains most of the boxing moves, including a section which resembles the boxing drills in 9704. But the second section, my favorite, has dancy combos worthy of Christi. Franny even plays with rhythms and shows several spins and creative arms in the last combo. The music, all-new except for some parts I recognize from Interval Max, fits perfectly and even changes along with the combos. There isn't as much "taking it from the top" as there is during 9801 - Franny does four complete run throughs (two each on the left and right) at the very end, so you can FF to the cooldown if you need to save time and/or muscle. But this is one of those routines that is so much fun, I hate to cut it short even when sweat is pouring down in rivers and my muscles are begging for mercy!
I have only done the step workout one and a half times. 9704 still rules as my favorite Franny step, but that is mainly my personal taste. For one thing, 9905 is noticeably faster - I timed it at 136 bpm. That is probably my absolute speed limit for step. I prefer slower speeds that allow me to use larger, more controlled movements. I'm also apprehensive about doing fast kickboxing on the step; I almost fell a couple of times. But there are plenty of creative moves like the whirlybird and nightmare, and unlike some instructors, Franny will actually cue you through the steps instead of just saying "Do the Whirlybird!"
I'll give the step an A despite my misgivings, just because it's Franny's. As for the hi-lo, what more can I say, it is Hall of Fame material all the way.
Instructor comments: Once again, Franny blends warmth and encouragement with professionalism and thorough cueing. She's so down-to-earth; she sweats and puffs just as you're sweating and puffing! Franny is not just Boston's best; she is one of America's best.
This video has both a high/low and a step workout. The step is one of the best step workouts I've ever done. I just love it, and I feel such a sense of accomplishment when I'm done.
The step choreography is advanced, and the intensity is advanced. The choreography is very challenging without being frustrating or dancy. It holds your interest -- and it's a blast!
The first time you do this, you'll probably spend a lot of time rewinding like I did. But, tough as it was, I WANTED to learn it. It's that much fun. One thing about this, if you don't do it very often, it will be like starting over. The choreography is complicated enough that I know if I don't do it at least every 10-14 days or so, I'll have to re-learn it. That shouldn't be a problem -- my problem will be making myself NOT do it all the time!
Now, I know I'm going to be in the minority here, but I am a little lukewarm on the high/low. It's very high intensity, which I love, but I didn't think the routines were as fun as some others. I DO like this section, but I will do the step workout a lot more.
One more comment about the two workouts -- I found the cool-downs unbearably long, especially the cool-down to the high/low. I would much rather spend some of that time stretching more.
Grade A+++++++++. Especially recommended to Cathe Friedrich fans.
Instructor comments: Franny is one of the greatest instructors ever. I hope she makes more, more, more videos!
I agree with all of the previous reviews. I love this video! I am an advanced exerciser and my fav instructors include Cathe F. and Christy Taylor. Just so you know, I had kinda lost faith in CIA videos cause their workouts have been boring and slow with lots of marching in place and such. But this one had such good reviews, that I gave into the tempation and I'm glad I did. I know the moves have been broken down so I'll just say that the choreography of both sections is interesting without being too complicated. My heartrate stayed up the whole time and music really got me going. Franny is a lot of fun and she breaks down the moves without a lot of marching in place (which really annoys me). It isn't hard to pick up (after you do it a couple of times). Best things about this video: the intensity and the music. The worst thing: the editing! Did anyone else notice there were times when the tape just flew a couple seconds ahead and you realized you were still kicking when you should've been punching? It only happened a few times, but it was really annoying. Still, a great workout.
Instructor comments: Franny's a lot of fun. She is able to breakdown the routines in a simple way and motivate you to keep going. I get the sense, though, that occasionally she would get lost in the middle of a routine and would start on the other leg when that wasn't correct. It was sorta funny. Still, she's great!
I am a high intermediate exerciser who hit a plateau with my inter level videos. So I decided to try a CIA video. I wasn't disappointed!!!! This is a terrific cardio workout that leaves you feeling pumped. The choregraphy was hard for me at first but I am catching on. The hi/lo moves are very high impact (which is new for me) But it is really fun!! One of the kickboxing moves is a squat with alternating front kicks. This one really works your legs!!!
I haven't tried the step yet, only hi/lo for I am a beginner to step and want to catch on to basic moves from Gin Miller before I move on to more advanced. I have watched it and can't wait to try. I am from here on out a true CIA fan through this video (as well as CIA 9809 Kickbox Express)!!!
Instructor comments: She is down pat on her cueing. Which means alot from a choregraphy dunce such as myself. I found her very easy to follow and I like her personality as well.
I have only recently started writing reviews, and I'm not sure I like the effect it has had on my enjoyment of my favorite workouts! I say this because I find myself being much more critical of a tape when I review it than I am when I am just doing it for my own benefit.
That said, CIA 9905 is one of my all-time favorite CIA videos. I especially love the step portion of the workout, but the hi-lo is also among the best that CIA has to offer. If you like intense, sweaty, heart-pounding cardio workouts with lots of complex, innovative choreography, this tape is definitely worth adding to your collection.
The video starts with the hi-lo workout, but I'm going to talk about the step section first. As Chriti Taylor does in 9801, Franny integrates the warm-up choreography into the workout itself (in other words, the warm-up becomes the first combination). I like this approach because it makes the final product longer -- so long, in fact, that I lost track of how many combinations there were! Overall, I think the workout lasts about 40 minutes.
The warm-up is taught to a pretty fast beat, and I find that I feel invigorated even before the stretch. After the stretch the music slows down a little, which I appreciate because the moves quickly become more demanding and complex. A minor complaint about the warm-up is that Franny changes one of the steps (from around the step to across the top) once it becomes part of the work-out, and having learned it one way, I have a hard time remembering the change!
Franny is an excellent instructor, with impeccable cuing and a very upbeat, encouraging attitude. With the exception of the "nightmare" (ably described by other reviewers), I found that I was able to learn most of the moves the first time through, even though Franny uses some descriptions (like "two knees on the step") that for me were not clearly descriptive. Franny gets your heart rate up right away and keeps it there throughout the workout. There is very little time spent in repetetive moves like step-touches; when she does use them, Franny's "filler" moves are more intense (like alternating step-knees). Because she spends less time teaching, Franny is able to spend more time putting all the combinations together at the end of the workout. As a result, this is one of the only CIA workouts that I don't feel compelled to rewind in order to "take it from the top" one more time. At one point, about 30 - 35 minutes into the workout, Franny repeats all the combinations that have been taught up to that point two or three times. If I haven't done the workout for a while, I always think that this is going to be the end, and am astonished when she says, "Okay, we're goin' on!" -- and then proceeds to teach two more combinations.
Those who are familiar with CIA 9704 will find echoes of that workout in both segments of 9905: some similar moves, as well as a similar choreographic structure. Even so, this workout feels completely fresh and new, and for the most part the moves flow beautifully. The one exception to this is in a combination that involves a boxing move, a karate kick, and a hitch kick one after the other -- there is a direction change between the karate kick and the hitch kick that feels unnatural to me.
Compared to Franny, the background exercisers in this portion of the workout seem very serious and somewhat stiff. Franny is so exuberant, her energy would be hard to match; but the contrast here is pretty stark.
The step portion ends with a short abs workout which I never do; as others have mentioned, you're on your own for the stretch.
Now for the hi-lo segment. I am not a big fan of kickboxing, and was not sure how I was going to like the integration of kickboxing moves into a hi-lo workout. As it turns out, the combination that incorporates the most kickboxing moves is my favorite! It's a great leg workout, especially if you have done a strength workout the day before -- it incorporates some very intense squats with alternating kicks, and a series of jump-squats. Much more fun than it sounds, I promise! Franny is great about sweating and working hard right along with you -- she says things like "I know you're feeling it now, because I am," and "come on, this is it!"
As with the step workout, Franny really makes an effort to keep your heart rate up consistently -- in this case, through the use quite a few hi-impact moves. Those who don't like jogging and doing jacks, be forewarned! For me, the moves in the hi-lo workout don't seem to flow together as well as those in the step section. One transition in particular seems abrupt, when an intense kickboxing series (combintion #2) is immediately followed by a mambo cha-cha (combination #3). Still, I really enjoy both of these combinations.
The biggest drawback in this workout is the time pressure, which becomes more and more apparent as the workout goes on. When Franny starts to teach the fourth combination (starts with kick-cross-kick) you can see that she feels rushed: she begins to speak more quickly and explain less clearly; her face is tense; she takes relatively more time to teach the simpler moves (pivot, triple step) and less time to teach the more complex variations; and she makes comments like, "I know this is hard," and "here comes the tricky part" -- all of which make it difficult for me to learn, because I start to feel anxious. As others have commented, there is some pretty obvious editing in the hi-lo section, and I'm guessing that is due in part to the time management issue.
Unlike the step portion of the workout, the hi-lo includes a heart rate check, which I really appreciate -- I wish CIA would do this instead of the "perceived exertion" in all their videos.
The workout ends with a long, fun, relaxing, dancy cool-down, with moves very reminiscent of Petra Kolber's Rhythmic Power -- and again, a minimal stretch. I have not done this workout enough to really pay attention to the music, but I can say that it's Dynamix, and as far as I'm aware, not "recycled" from previous CIA videos. I personally prefer vocal soundtracks (like the one in 9704), but with workouts like these, the music is a secondary consideration. Thanks, Franny -- You've really outdone yourself.
As is common with CIA tapes, this tape gives you two complete workouts, one hi-lo and one step. Both are terrific. The choreography is challenging and complex, but the format of "taking it from the top" makes it possible to learn quickly. Franny's great cuing is also a factor.
Both workouts begin with a warmup, then go into 40 minutes of intense aerobic activity. Both workouts also incorporate kickboxing moves. The hi-lo workout has you take a heartrate halfway through, and the step workout relies on the perceived exertion check. The step workout has a brief abs section at the end, the hi-lo workout is pure aerobics.
The hi-lo workout in this video was the first hi-lo workout that I'd done in years, and I'd forgotten how exhausting hi-lo can be. Step choreography is much easier to learn (IMO), and hi-lo takes up a lot of space. However, if you can move the furniture out of the way and concentrate, this hi-lo workout will reward you well. There are boxing and kickboxing moves, rocking horses, Roger Rabbits, and plenty of mambos and turns. The fact that it's fun makes it somewhat easier to learn.
The step portion, if anything, is even more fun. It includes combos like the nightmare and whirlybird, as well as karate kicks and hitch kicks. This video can stand up well in a comparison to Cathe Friedrich's PowerMax; I may someday decide that I actually like it better.
Both of the workouts on this video are Hall of Fame material.
Instructor comments: Franny is a delight. Her cuing is excellent, and she's such a sweetheart. Face it, how can I say anything mean about someone who, during the warmup with boxing moves, says, "get mad at me," then says, "I don't want you to get mad at me"? If you have trouble with accents, you should know that Franny is from Boston. I find her accent downright refreshing in a world of videos that don't seem to have any regional affiliation.
I'm only reviewing the step portion today. I've waiting a long time to review Franny's step portion -- you see, I kept trying the tape over and over. Each time, I hoped I would learn to like it. After all, Franny's style has been compared to Cathe Friedrich's and I love a good intense, athletic-style step workout. But I have just never cottoned to this step workout. And I feel bad about it, because I really like Franny.
Here's the deal: as much as I enjoy the individual portions of the choreography -- the pogo, the whirlybird, the nightmare, etc. -- when Franny sandwiches them together, the moves are just too much the same for me. They all feel like variations of an L-step or variations of a lunge. I think I would be more comfortable with the pace and the choreography if she included a few transitional type moves between the combos. Also -- now I'm getting super picky, I'm SORRY, Franny -- there is a long section where she calls your right lead, "left" and vice versa. At 5:30 in the morning, I get confused easily.
So this workout is not for me, although it intrigued me enough to order Franny's CIA 9704 workout. And I really like the hi/lo section of 9905, but that's another review for another day.
Instructor comments: Franny is a winner. She's got a friendly, down to earth attitude, a great smile and speaks in pure Boston-ese.
This video challenged me! Both the hi/low and the step are high intensity and high impact. The choreography is pretty complex, too. I really enjoy this tape! My workouts had been lacking a bit of intensity; this video is a great combination of athletic intensity and creative choreography. Can I repeat that again?? I think I am stuck on this because I find a lot of advanced cardio workouts with boring, repetitive choreography OR medium-intensity cardio with very complex choreography. This video has both!! I like that.
A couple of notes Ö I have to watch my knees during the step routine. There are a lot of turns; some are done very quickly. During the hi/low, there is an editing glitch and at one point, Franny omits part of one side of the combos. Both are easy enough to recover from.
I must admit this video sat on the shelf for some time before I got up the nerve to try it. The choreography and the pace just looked SO intimidating. But itís not really! I am so thrilled to find Franny.
Instructor comments: This was my introduction to Franny. She is fun, creative, and a good teacher. I really like her combination of high intensity and complex choreography. I just received 9704 and am looking forward to learning that as well.
CIA 9905, Franny Benedetto
I've only done the HiLo section so far, so I'm only able to review that. I
love it!! It's about 40 cardio minutes (minus warmup/cooldown). I'm not a
kickboxing fan at all, but I really enjoy the short kickbox combos in this
tape. I'm lukewarm about HiLo in general, but I really enjoyed this HiLo
routine- not a lot of taking-it-from-the-top, but enough to enjoy the
routine. The choreography is complex, but not TOO complex--I got all of it
(except the very last triple-step combo) on my first try without previewing!
That NEVER happens. I like complex choreo, BUT it usually takes me forever
to catch on. I'm not crazy for the music, there are no vocals and it's the
typical Dynamix fare--I recognized some of it from other CIAs. This was my
first experience with Franny and I really liked her: she's excellent at
cueing (if I got it on the first try...), she has an attainably fit figure
and is cute and funny. I think she's a cross between Jennifer Mills Palmer
(my personal fave!) and Cathe. She's really great.
This video has tons of positive reviews, I just wanted to add a more recent one. I've had this video for at least four years, but haven't done it for at least the past year. I finally pulled it out again and tried it, and just loved it. It's still original, with fun and creative moves. The music is club-ish, but not annoying.
Just a couple of complaints: It's not on DVD, therefore difficult to do the workout you want (step or hi/lo). Also, Franny takes it from the top a few too many times for me near the end, when I'm dying to stop repeating that first combo already!
This is a great advanced workout. I wouldn't recommend it for a beginner, or anyone who doesn't like complex choreography. But if you like Franny, this one is really a classic!
Franny is great! She's enthusiastic, athletic, and cues wonderfully. I went years without doing this workout, and was able to pick it up again easily thanks to her cuing. Her baggy shorts and shirt are a little goofy, but otherwise I still love her.