CIA videos, originally intended to give
instructors ideas for classes, are approximately 2 hours
long and feature several 20-40 minute workout segments by
professional, mostly unknown instructors. They're
available only by mail, either directly from CIA
(800-435-0055) or Collage Video. While the newest tapes
usually list for $29.95, the older ones are discounted or
can be bought in sets for as little as $10 each. Greg
Twombly, CIA's president (and producer of seemingly about
half the exercise videos ever made) appears in many of
the CIAs. Some tapes are complete workouts, starting with
warmups and ending with cooldowns/stretches; others are
just collections of stepping, sliding, toning or
what-have-you, that you can mix and match as you desire.
These videos are shot on a shoestring; basically they
set up a camera and conduct a class in front of it. The
same spartan sets and soundtracks (mostly funky/club
music) are used repeatedly, and occasional flubs and
missteps occur - much like a real live class. But what
the CIAs lack in looks, they deliver in substance. Their
instructors are genuine "fitness pros" - no
models or celebrities - and most are very skillful in
their cueing and form instructing. The workouts
themselves range from intermediate to advanced, and from
very basic to very dancy and creative. While advanced
exercisers can test their endurance by doing a whole tape
from beginning to end, the instructional nature of CIAs
make them ideal for intermediates wanting to extend their
limits. However, be aware that very few modifications are
shown, and warmups, cooldowns and heart rate checks are
often on your own.
If you need the motivation of slick, big-budget
productions from the likes of Jane Fonda or The FIRM, you
may find CIA videos rather dull by comparison. But if
you're accustomed to taking long health club classes,
like to see a variety of instructors and styles, enjoy
learning new routines, or just want the most bang for
your video buck, the CIAs are worth looking into.
Personally, I really like the versatility and no-nonsense
of the CIAs; now that I have the entire 5000 series to
play with, most of my other videos are gathering dust!
Many of the videos are great to get choreography ideas. A few are SO bad. One in particular was a funk video with a pair of twins. These girls were a HOOT! Excellent dancers no doubt but they appeared to be so loaded! At one point in the video one sister turns to the other and mutters "help me". It was so unprofessional I'm surpised they didn't catch it in the edit. I think whoever started this series had a great idea! Wish I would've thought of it.
This is a general comment about CIA tapes from a NON-aerobics instructor. I have found that I have to be very careful which CIA videos I chose. Keep in mind that one of the main purposes of these videos is to give instructors ideas for new routines. What that can mean is COMPLEX choreography, with minimal time devoted to introducing each segment and almost no repetition (I often haven't even picked up the moves for one segment before the next is introduced). With one tape I spent hours watching, practicing, and rewinding trying to get the choreography down and finally gave up. I've been doing step for about 6 years and very rarely get lost in other videos. Thus, if you are not an instructor looking for new moves, I'd strongly recommend waiting for reviews that describe the complexity of the choreography before buying a CIA tape. Some CIA tapes are wonderful for everyone. I have a couple that have stayed on my favorites list for years. If you chose carefully, you'll avoid disappointment.
I have tried various Clubs and tapes over the years, but I found a true gold mine when I tried CIA video's. I would recommend these only to the more advanced people.
CIA video's promote SAFE aerobic workouts, that are fun and enjoyable to do. The instructors are all knowledgeable and "real" people. It's great to work out with people that look normal and are fit, unlike the impossible/fake looks that you see in the FIRM and most tapes.
Because of the CIA tapes, I never have to look elsewhere for a GREAT workout!!! What a refreshing discovery...
Instructor comments: In general, I find the instructors to be excellent and extremely SAFETY conscious.
Most give good cues, but you have to watch the video's before you do your first workout.