Although I find this tape a lot of fun, I have to say it's unnecessarily difficult to learn. In fact, after three tries, I still stumble about.
Despite that, I still am having a good enough time to stick with it.
This tape has some great choreography, but the problem is they squished it into 30 minutes, and Michelle does not have time to break down the moves properly. I don't know why Crunch insists on making all their tapes only 30 minutes. They have some fine workouts that could just be so darn good if they were expanded!
Step & Sweat consists of 5 routines. They get progressively more complicated. I start stumbling at #3, and at #5 I'm practically in a different universe from where they are. But I am getting it. Even though the routines can be hard to pick up, by the end I'm pretty well in sync. (These are separate routines, by the way -- you don't go back and "do it from the top.")
I enjoy this workout and will keep doing it. But some might find it frustrating. I give it an A for choreography and fun, but a C- for instruction. I think it would be a big hit among VFers if they had lengthened it and taught it properly.
Instructor comments: Michelle (a national aerobic champ) is great.
She's fun and creative, and her cueing is good. She seems like a very friendly person.
The first time I did this video, I was really frustrated! The cuing is sparse and next to nothing many times. Michelle does a lot of moves that require you to switch legs, go from step touches to basic steps, do pivots and wind up on the other leg, and other changes. Sometimes she seems to assume that you'll eventually turn out on the right leg. NOT! The camera angles also adds to the confusion. The camera frequently focuses on the smiling faces of the exercisers instead of doing a wide angle shot so you can see what the heck is going on. On the really complicated moves, the camera, for no rhyme or reason, does close ups on the exercisers' ankles and feet. Why I have no earthly idea. You're left to depend on Michelle's cuing in such instances--which leaves you completely lost and clueless. After my first attempt, I decided to watch the entire video once through. Doing this helped *so* much. The second time I did the video, I listened very carefully and concentrated. I hardly missed a step. At the end, I really enjoyed this tape. It packs a ton of really fun moves into 24 minutes. You do like 5 five minute combos and then move on. It's a great routine for quick days or to add onto a strength tape. This tape will require some concentration on the first try, and even then, you probably won't pick everything up the first time. In order to master this tape, you have to be willing to invest about two sessions getting the moves down. If you're willing to put the time in, it's a blast.
Right off this seemed very different from the Crunch videos that I have grown used to. Different set, only 2 additional participants (though they are in peak physical shape, my husband wandered by and asked "Honey, why's she wearing orange bell-bottoms?" "I DON'T KNOW."), poor sound, lighting, and film quality.
Like the other reviewers, I found the cuing and camera angles very frustrating. Lots of times I think videos are too repeptitive, but I felt that this one wasn't repetitive enough. Just when I didn't quite almost have a combination, it was time to change! Arrg! For some reason the Crunchers decided to leave off the whoop track, so I supplied my own..."You SUCK!" "I'm NOT having a good time!" " My knees hurt and my heart rate is NOT high enough!" So even though I've only done this once, I think that was enough. This one will go back on the exchange and I will go back to Master Class Aerobics with Michael Perron (now *there's* something to whoop about!)
Step & Sweat is a short, 33-minute step video. The set is a bare studio and the cast consists of instructor Michelle Nevidomsky and two other exercisers. I feel this video is geared toward a high level beginner/low level intermediate exerciser who prefers dancy choreography and shorter workouts. Some moves involve optional "hops" onto the step or pony steps, for which there is always a low-impact modification. I agree with the other reviewers that this video is difficult to learn, especially for the choreographically-challenged exercisers. Here's what I did, and it helped me A LOT:
- Watch tape one time through
- Watch tape and try out some of the more complicated steps
- Do entire video, pausing and rewinding if necessary
Let me qualify this by saying that I prefer dancy videos and I usually don't have too much trouble learning complicated steps. At the time of this review, I have done the complete workout 4 times and I can truly say I have thoroughly learned it.
I felt this routine was worth learning, because I enjoy the choreography. I personally prefer to take the time to learn a new routine rather than having to "learn" the steps each time after I've been using a video for years. I didn't have a problem with the camera angles, though; the filming style is pretty much the same as the Crunch Fitness TV show, and I was already familiar with that. The only thing I found annoying was the exerciser in the back on the right side of the screen; the camera focuses on her too much -- almost as much as Michelle -- and she's usually making a strange facial expression. However, I've now learned the video well enough that I don't need to look at the TV through the whole thing, so this doesn't bother me as much anymore.
I give this video a B+ for choreography and a C for cueing/instruction.
Instructor comments: Michelle is a likeable instructor; she's not too perky and not too serious. Her cueing is "okay" -- not the worst, but there are many instructors with better cueing. Overall, I enjoy her as an instructor.
I had mixed feelings about this video. I thought the cuing left a LOT to be desired--many times Michelle just announces a move as it happens, and doesn't break down the steps very well.
On the other hand, if you're the type who's willing to put in the time to get this cute routine down, you'll have a solid, relatively intense half hour workout. You won't have those gaps in intensity that come when an instructor teaches a new move.
Wendy Niemi Kremer
This was one of the early videos that I purchased. At the time, it was a breath of fresh air. As Michelle Nevidomsky says at the beginning of the video, "this is not your usual up-up-down-down routine." It certainly isn't. I would consider the choreography moderately complex (although it might be moderate except for the teaching style). It took me 2 or 3 times through to really get the combos down, and I am a lover of complex choreography; I usually catch on quickly. But I found it quite doable. One reviewer mentioned that her knees hurt while doing this routine. There is a step called "rocking knees" that is like a wide march on the step, except that you kind of knock your knees together as you march. That one bothered my knees a bit, too, until I just modified it to a wide march. Most of the moves are low impact, but you can add power if you want.
I like this video, but I've since discovered the wide, wonderful world of mail order videos (and my workouts got longer). I put this one on the exchange. That said, this is my second favorite of all the Crunch videos that I've done (there's very little, if any, whooping in this one). My favorite is the Joy of Yoga. If you are looking for a short step workout (24 minutes of cardio) with complex choreography, and you're willing to invest a little time to learn it, you will probably like this video.
Instructor comments: Michelle Nevidomsky is an enthusiastic instructor, and she seems to have a good rapport with the background exercisers. Her cuing is mediocre and late at times, and her teaching style a bit difficult to learn (instead of using verbal cues and breaking a combo down, she demonstrates it slowly). Maybe it will improve over time, as I like her as an instructor overall. She is also one of the instructors in the NAC Interval Challenge series, as well as Buns of Steel Total Body Fat Burner.
This has to be one of my favorite videos. The choreography is complex, which I like. I've done the video about 5 times now and I have most of the steps down. The video's intensity is probably moderate.
The one complaint I do have about the video is that I'm sometimes on the opposite foot as the instructor. There is one part that really confused me the first time I did it. During an over the top strattle combo, if I follow the video I end up on the wrong foot. So, I don't watch the TV during that part and just do my own thing. If you can look past this you should enjoy this video.