Video Fitness

Step Ahead

"'s Step Ahead" (Advanced-Step Aerobics)

My favorite advanced step tape, and the closest to a club-style workout I've found on video, complete with those classic step-class tunes ("Wiggle it, just a little bit..."). Not dancy or complicated, just familiar moves (V-steps, repeaters, etc.) strung together into a 50-min. workout with one heart-rate intermission. If you want a long, intense step workout but have two left feet, this one's for you. Candice's cueing and form are excellent.
Grade: A+

Sue Bryant

Step Ahead
(I checked out this video from the public library, so the review is based on only one workout)

I will agree with Sue that Candace Copeland has very clear cuing and body language, and Candace clearly states at the beginning that the workout conforms to Step Reebok safety guidelines, but I have to say that this video bored me to tears. Well, maybe not to tears, but I really had to fight the temptation to hit the VCR's stop button, and if I hadn't wanted to review the video, I would have. It may very well be that someone who dislikes complex choreography would love it, but I found the steps repetitive. Perhaps I might have felt differently if I'd been able to do this workout a few times.

I will also disagree with Sue (sorry Sue! I usually agree with you) that this is an advanced tape. I don't think it's as challenging as most advanced tapes on the market. I did my best to keep up the intensity by using full range of motion, yet the pulse check, taken about 1/2 way through the aerobic segment, told me that my heart rate was below 60% MHR, far below my usual training range. The second half was definitely more intense, with more power moves, but I still found the tape to be less challenging overall than any of the other advanced tapes I own.

Although I can't fault Candace's teaching skills--they're exemplary, she just didn't get me goin'. I think that more advanced exercisers and those who like interesting choreography will be disappointed. It might be a good choice for intermediate/advanced exercisers who don't like complex choreography, though.

Wendy Niemi Kremer

Great workout! This is one of those that make you drip all over your step. The choreography and intensity are both at the intermediate/ advanced level. The actual stepping section is 44 minutes, and there are a warm-up and cool-down for a total of 1 hour and 3 minutes.

I have a lot of fun with this one, and it's one of my favorites. The music is *excellent*, and the routines are fun. And I get a good, solid workout from it. The routines are easy to follow, because Candice is very good at cueing and also at building the step. She'll start with legs only, then add arms, then change this-or-that.

The stretches at the end are nice and relaxing, something you definitely want after this workout.

I give this workout an A+ and recommend it to any intermediate or advanced exerciser.

Annie S.
3/19/97

I really liked this tape quite a bit, even though it doesn't really conform to the "standards" I usually judge a tape on.

The music is Dynamix stuff, so it's thumpy and has cheesy, repetetive lyrics. Also, Candice and her crew "whoop" occasionally. Those are things that typically turn me off immediately. Maybe, I was just so proud that I was able to follow the choregraphy, that I was able to overlook those flaws. Background info about me: I am completely clumsy, uncoordinated, and have never successully done a half turn over my step before this :)

The workout starts off with a decent warmup. Nothing spectacular, but definitely adequate. Then 4 segments follow, the second and third segements have a higher intensity level than the first and fourth. The choreography uses a lot of turn steps, grapevines, v steps, and repeaters. There are a couple times when your back has to face the television, but the cues are good enough that it is not *too* confusing. Candice uses propulsion moves in several of the segments, but has one class member demonstrating lower-impacr versions of the same exercise.

This workout is rated intermediate/advanced. I agree with that classification. I did the workout on both a 6" and 8" step, and felt that I got a solid cardio workout. The tape is about 65 minutes long, with about 45 minutes of steady stepping. The remaining 15 minutes are warmup, cooldown and stretch.

The only things that I didn't like about the video were the occasional whoops and the cheesy music. Also, Candice and her class look very 1980's. They all have "mall-hair". (you know... the big, poofy, claw bangs)

Other than that, I like this workout, and would give it an A-.

Candice *must* be giving great cues, because before this tape I've never, ever been able to do any step move that required turn steps, crossing from corner to corner, or having my back to the television. I caught on to Step Ahead during my first time through the workout. I've done this tape 4 times, and already feel like I've learned the choreography.

Christine Letsky
11/10/97

This is a keeper. The workout starts out a bit boring. It gets somewhat intense, but repetitive. But the thing that I love about it is that it seems like you're not really working that hard, and by the time you're done, you're drenched! The step part is pretty long and very effective. Candice said that after a workout you should feel energized. Even though I love Cathe F., I usually feel pretty beat after her workouts. After Step Ahead, I felt AWESOME. I even did a toning tape afterwards. This was a really good tape and I liked Candice's style.

Anne N.
3/5/98

I have to totally agree with Wendy's review of this video. I was bored and frustrated to tears. I bought this video because I really like Kathy Smith's "Power Step" video and it states on the box of that video that Candace wrote KS's Power Step. Therefore, I thought I would like Step Ahead, too.

I have recently just gotten into Cathe F. and Kari (due to VF) and while choreography takes me a couple of times through to get it down, I am getting better at picking up more complex choreography. Having said that, I still don't mind videos that have basic moves, like Intense Moves, KS Power Step. But in Step Ahead, the moves didn't seem "basic" - they seemed repetitive and boring.

This video had a couple of things that drove me crazy. First and foremost, I HATED the music. Music never really bothers me - I can pretty much just tune it out if it isn't catchy - like lots of the Firm music. But Step Ahead's music had a lot of "club rap", which is just not my style. And it drove me to such distraction that I couldn't get into the workout. I think that is primarily why I couldn't get into these more basic moves. My intense dislike of the music surprised me, as I usually like Dynamix music and love all of Cathe's music.

In addition, Candace states in the beginning that this is an "intermediate/advanced workout and you should only attempt it if you have prior stepping experience". Well, that is fine, but she spent SO much of the warmup getting us acclimated to our step height and width that I started to feel insulted! If we are supposed to have had prior step experience, wouldn't we KNOW by now how high/wide our step was? The warmup was also too long and I didn't feel "warmed up" at all.

Another thing that drove me crazy was that the arm movements were excessive. It seemed like she had to make up for the fact that we really weren't doing anything with the legs, therefore, throw in wild arm movements. Everyone's arms flailing wildly about combined with the rap music got me so frustrated that after the tape ended, I had to do Kari's Fitness Formula just to calm me down so I wouldn't throw my VCR out the window.

Instructor comments: Candace seemed nice and I wanted to like her. Her cueing was good, but she either needs to talk louder, turn her microphone up or turn the music down, as sometimes the cues were hard to hear.

Christine Trecroci
April 12, 1998

Despite the somewhat mixed reviews here, I decided to order this video because it seemed to be precisely what I was looking for: an intermediate level step tape, with a 40+ minute aerobic section and moderately complex choreography. I was not disappointed. In fact, I like just about everything about this tape, including the vocal club music. The choreography is nothing fancy, and everyone who has been stepping for a while will be familiar with the steps. It's the standard fare: repeaters, turn steps, straddles, knee lifts, kicks, diagonals, lunges, turn steps, propulsions, grapevines, etc. But Candice uses such a variety of steps that the routines just don't become boring. Time flies when I'm doing this workout, and before I know it I've stepped for 43 minutes, and it's time to cooldown. The cooldown, btw, is a little dancy and much more interesting than the warm-up which is really nothing special (but it get's the job done). I would most definitely recommend this tape to intermediate exercisers looking for a long and fairly intense step workout.

Instructor comments: Yes, as one reviewer pointed out, she does have that 80's "mall hair," (in fact, I must admit that her "look" had kept me from buying this video once or twice) but her lack of style notwithstanding, Candice is as professional as they come. Her form is impeccable. Her cuing is excellent. I'm always amazed at how easy it is to follow her. She also manages to motivate without being overly chatty, and she does not feel compelled to tell "funny" jokes that make me cringe (especially when I have to hear them again and again). Basically: friendly, likeable, and motivating, but fairly low-key.

Darian Stanton
4/26/98

I checked this tape out from the library and only got to do it twice, so bear that in mind when reading this review. I read the mixed reviews on VF, but this was recommended as a good intermediate/advanced video for those who don't like "dancy" choreography, so I thought I'd try it.

Others have already mentioned the "mall-hair" and the outfits. Some of the other reviews either loved the music or hated it--but the music was so low that I could hardly hear it.

There are three exercisers. One demonstrates beginner-level variations.

I really, really liked this video. The only other step aerobics I've done has been Gin Miller (The Video, Circuit Challenge, and Intense Moves) and what little bit there is in Firm Videos. The moves were interesting without being too complex--just complex enough to make me lose my place a few times the first time through! And the actual stepping section is 44 minutes long--according to the reviews I've read this is one of the longest stepping sections on a non-advanced video. Overall this is a great video. I highly recommend it.

Instructor comments: Candice cues very well and is very likeable. I didn't care for the 80's style hair, but hey, it's the workout that's important after all.

Jen B.
bown.6@osu.edu
2-3-00

This video has been listed as a Collage staff favorite, but it seems to get mixed reviews here. I personally think it's a classic step video - an underrated gem.

One mild disclaimer, though: I only do step aerobics once a week and own about 15 step videos (mostly Cathe & Kari). Obviously, my perception might be different if I did this workout more than 5 times a year!

I was nursing a heel problem last summer and needed a lower-impact aerobics tape that would get me in my THZ without hurting my foot any further. This was one of the few videos that worked out for me. I do feel Collage accurately lists this as an I/A workout. I certainly do not consider this to be an intermediate workout, at least not on an 8" step. I've done this tape using an 8" step and am operating at at roughly the same THZ as I do with a Cathe Friedrich's tape on a 6" step.

This is an older video, but it's a quality production. I liked the set, the female exercisers, and everything about Candice Copeland. Yes, her hair is a little unfortunate here, but it's not as unfortunate as Cathe Friedrich's hair in Mega Step Blast. There was one tiny problem: the first song is so cheesy it makes me want to cup my hands to my ears like Edvard Munch's SCREAM; otherwise, the soundtrack does improve (older style club music).

Candice's step routine is simplistic but fun. It sort of reminds me of Cathe's Mega Step Blast in that respect. The last step segment goes a bit slower than I care for, but at that time the tape has already been rolling for more than 50 minutes and I'm drenched, so it's a small complaint. The choreography is very reminiscent of the step classes I took in the early 90's. Keep that in mind. You'll be sorely disappointed with this workout if you seek fast, intricate step choreography ala Friedrich, Anderson or CIA. It's not that sort of step workout.

I'm keeping this video in my step rotation for lower impact cross-training. Besides, I always feel inexplicably happy after completing this workout! Step Ahead always puts a big smile on my face -- don't know why! Just does. I'm very glad I got this video despite its mixed reviews.

INSTRUCTOR: Candice Copeland is lovely in every way. She does remind me of Donna Read. It's true that she spends a lot of time discussing step safety, but I've been taking step classes since 1993 and never heard any of this explained before. I was glad to learn it. I just fast-forward through it, now.

Michelle Easton
October 26, 2000

Here I go, reviewing another tape that has been out for ages. Step Ahead is over a decade old and in some ways (the set, the hair) it shows. In other ways, though, it will never be dated.
Why does this tape still deserve a look?
Well, it is a great routine with interesting but moderate choreography, safe stepping speed, and an incredibly fun soundtrack.
Those used to Cathe and others may not find the choreography all that exciting. The most complicated steps are some hop turns and diagonal over the tops with a u-turn. They may also find it a little slow. I didn't mind. I just raise my step height to eight inches and really exaggerate my movements and I actually get my heart rate higher than when I do a Cathe video.
It isn't too hard to want to throw yourself into this routine. The soundtrack is kind of old school hip hop and dance music. It is not like any other video that I have. The second song after the warm up is especially fun.
Candace is an excellent cuer and pays attention to safety at all times.
The workout is long-- over one hour including warm up and stretch (which is very thorough, by the way). So, if you are looking for a long step workout with moderate choreography that lets you work up a sweat, this video may be just the ticket.

Roz

1/25/03

I am an intermediate exerciser who is expanding into the advanced ranks at time, especially with more choreography. I love doing step, my favorite form of cardio.

This is an ďancientĒ tape by exercise video standards, but I think it is a classic, despite the somewhat outdated hair and outfits. I would rank it high beginner/low intermediate in terms of choreography. Someone could learn to step with this tape, but she puts together some more intermediate combinations. Intensity, however, I would rank much higher; I am dripping with sweat through most of the tape. Itís a good tape when I want a long, good workout, but donít have the mental acuity to follow complex steps.

It does get off to a slow start through the warm-up and the first combination. Then, she puts together several combinations that are different from the combinations in other step tapes I have. Same moves, the just feel different in the way they are put together. Throughout the tape, she gives low and higher impact options and has a modifier that shows the lower impact or easier options.

I donít like the music, but thatís because I wouldnít have liked the original music it was based on. It doesnít get in the way of me enjoying the workout though. You move the step twice, from parallel to the TV to pointing toward the TV and back. Itís not a problem moving it, she cues you to do so.

Overall, I would recommend this workout as a good option for a long cardio workout for days you donít want to have think about what you are doing too much.

Instructor comments: Candance is a very good cuer. I always know what to do and am not caught by surprise. She also is supportive and keeps me going through the higher-intensity sections. I really like her style.

Laura S.

July 30, 2004



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