Video Fitness

Step-n-Stones

Keep in mind that I'm extremely picky and usually either "dislike" a video or "love" it. These are comments from only watching the video; I didn't actually do it.

The music is great; some is from PowerMax and the rest is just as good. Gay is a good instructor and the step moves are intermediate/advanced.

There's a very brief upperbody Dynaband/light weight workout and a better lower body workout within the step sections.

Here's what I don't like. The set is one giant ad for Avia. There are very distracting, large red Avia graphics on the floor and the back wall. The Avia step is very narrow and wobbly - also very distracting. There are a lot of bizarre camera shots that are extremely distracting and make the video very hard to follow. The picture continually switches from color to black and white, and also occasionally splits into about 10 small squares -- each having the same picture. Many shots are from the ceiling, making it hard to see what the exercisers are doing. There are other special effect shots that I can't even describe.

If you can get past all the distractions, you might like this video. I have many others that I enjoy a lot more, and exchanged this one immediately. If you don't mind the visual effects in Strong and Smooth Moves, you might really like this video.

Joni O
9/15/97

This video is rated Intermediate and I would have to agree with that rating level. The workout consists of a warm-up followed by 3 stepping/toning segments. The step segment is done first and then the toning. A dynaband and dumbells are used in the toning sections. The step sections are fairly simple with each section being an add-on and the whole thing is done from "the top" in each section. This is not a "kick butt" workout but something you might want to do occasionally or when you are tired. I probaby won't do this video a lot but I definitely will keep it. I found I didn't mind the set or the strange special effects that appeared once in a awhile but I can see that if might annoy some people.

Sue Jones
10/04/97

I really enjoyed this video. I've been a Gay Gasper fan even though I think her earlier videos don't do her enough justice. I'm glad she finally did a full-length video by herself. Step-N-Stones is about 50 minutes long. It's structured around intervals -- you step for about 6-8 minutes, then you do toning for about 6-8 minutes. The step routine is built progressively throughout the intervals. She continues to add onto the step routine during each 6-8 minute segment, so you're not doing the same thing over and over OR trying to learn something new in 6 minutes. The step routine that you do in the very last interval is very fun. The moves include: walking diagonally across the bench, over the top, step touches around the bench, and hop turns. The moves aren't really complicated, but Gay blends them into a routine that takes you around all four corners of the bench. There's even this great shuffle repeater move, which is probably the most complicated, intense move in the video. It took me a while to get it, but it's a nice high impact move that spices things and keeps the workout energizing. The cuing, by the way, is great. I kept the intensity up (and I'm an advanced exerciser) by going through full range of motion. Many of the moves involve overhead arm motions, which can actually be very tiring. I actually found that the aerobic part of this intermediate video could easily tip towards the lower advanced range with an 8" step and if you add propulsions.

The toning will disappoint hard core Firm fans. The segments are short, and don't really fatigue you like the "peak hold contracts" in the Firm. Gay also doesn't look like she's using very heavy weights. The toning moves are tried and true standards (delt raises with dynaband, tricep kick backs with weights, pec work with a dynaband), and you'll probably get more out of them if you use heavier weights. For me, I just treat as a boredom buster that keeps the routine moving. The lower body workout is more intense than the upper body. It has lots of lunges and squats using the step for resistance. Gay tries to keep your feet moving during the toning, so your heart rate doesn't drop. Mine did, but not majorly. The setting is a little distracting. The split screens seems sort of amateurship and didn't really add much to make the video more motivating. Not a huge problem for me, but occasionally made the routine a little confusing. Personality-wise, Gay is motivating and no-nonsense, without being boring. I think of her as really nice, genuine, teacher. She doesn't whoop or make jokes, but she exhorts you and her group to work harder. She smiles alot and really seems to enjoy doing this. She even thanks her Grandma in the credits. Grade: A-

Instructor comments:

Eulonda Skyles
1/22/97

This is really quite fun! It's a 53-minute circuit workout (including warmup and cooldown), and you alternate between stepping and resistance training. You use both dynabands and hand weights.

I enjoy the stepping choreography a lot. The choreography is intermediate/advanced, and the intensity is higher-intermediate. You do 3 stepping sections alternated with 3 resistance sections. She keeps building on to the step patterns, so you don't have to "start over" each time. That keeps your heart rate up.

The dynaband/weight sections are decent, but not outstanding. Most of it is upper body; the lower body isn't worked too much. Some of the upper body work can be pretty challenging if you use heavy enough weights. I got quite a burn on the shoulders/delt work using 8-lb dumbbells.

There are some special effects thrown in (during the stepping) that I really don't think need to be in an exercise video. They didn't bother me, but I can see where some might have problems with it.

The music is high-energy, motivating, funky- type, which I personally would like to have in ALL videos! That' another reason I enjoy this so much.

I give this tape an A and will do it on days when I need a pick-me-up or just wanna have a good time with the music.

Instructor comments: Gay is one of the best, even though we don't see much of her in the video market. She's always enthusiastic and motivating without being too perky, and her cueing is extremely good.

Annie S.
1-19-98

I've only recently been introduced to Gay Gasper and I've really enjoyed her shorter tapes that I've gotten through the exchange. I was really excited to get this tape and unfortunately I was VERY disappointed. The other reviewers of this tape have mentioned the distracting set and effects but I didn't think that would bother me. Most of the Reebok tapes have distracting sets and Reebok logos everywhere and they really haven't bothered me, but this is a whole other order of magnitude. The huge red/white/black Avia logos are set against a sea green background and there is no distinct line between the floor and the walls, so the exercisers sort of look like they're floating in space. The goofy video toaster effects are not only annoying, they make it very hard to follow a routine that really isn't that tough. The sound levels also fluctuated quite a bit, which added to the problem. I was very frustrated and didn't even finish the tape (I got about 2/3 of the way through and then watched the rest on fast forward). I will not do this tape again.

If you're an intermediate level exerciser looking for a good circuit workout try Keli Roberts Real Fitness Circuit Training or Step Reebok Circuit Challange instead.

Instructor comments: Gay Gasper is a very likable instructor. She cues well and shows good form. Most of the routines I've seen have had relatively easy but still interesting choreography. Gay is perky but not offensively so, she kind of reminds me of Dorothy Hamill or Katie Couric.

Paula Lewis
1/17/98

The set is very dazzling, full of lights and attractive clothing. The use of 2 cast members is very nice, however, I can't see a "non-fit" person being in a position to purchase this video. Its only gfor sale through instructor outlets as far as I can tell. The cast member offering a more intense version of what Gay is performing needs to concentrate more on form and less on high-impact intensity, again that "ballistic" steppng method is coming out loud and clear. And, this is not the way we want instructors and participants stepping.

Instructor comments: I really enjoy Gay's approach to choreography. She always "uses" her bench and the floor space by making transitions at every angle on and off the bench, thus creates very easy to follow, but challenging choreography. I am concerned with the ballistic stepping moves down from the top of the bench. Injuries result from not stepping down onto the floor with the entire foot (over time). Very good cues and options for increasing/decreasing intensity. However, the use of hand weights on the bench for the strength intervals is inappropriate. ACE guidelines suggest that weights not be used while stepping. I believe use of hand weights continues to promulgate the fiction surrounding musclar strength increases and light weights. Also, Gay needs to be accurately aware of the muscle names and their locations (occasional references to muscles that are not acting during that particular segmenat of motion).

Irene Lewis McCormick
7/13/98

After enjoying Step and Stones II, I had to buy this video. It's the same format as II, but Gay uses a shorter step, and the special effects are more noticeable, but I judge a video on the instructor, cueing, music and choreography, and this video has those attributes. I listened more than I watched and was able to do the routine on my first try. It is an intermediate step routine and I used 8 lb. handweights and a dynaband during the light toning segments. It's an adequate workout to sandwich in between tough days (like MIS, BM, PS). Since I do very long workouts, I combined this video with Power Kicks and had a great time. I will also use this video in combination with Step and Stones II to give me a full 90 minute workout. Like I said in my other review, I never enjoyed circuit workouts, but Step and Stones changed my mind.

Instructor comments: Gay is an excellent instructor or should do more videos. She reminds me of Nancy Popp.

maryann parker
1/13/99

I am the type of person who typically loves or hates a video. I LOVE this Step n' Stones. When I did Step n' Stones for the first time, I'd received it along with 3 other videos from Collage. I usually work out every-other-day and was looking forward to a whole week of doing new videos. After doing Step n' Stones the first day, I also did Step n' Stones the next workout and the next. It wasn't until the following week that I even tried the other new tapes.

What do I like about this video? First, Gay's cueing is top, top notch. She cues far enough in advance, uses the same words and tone of voice for repeated segments, and is very precise. For example, in most videos whenever there is a "walk around the step" move, I always have to do a stutter-step at the end to get on the right foot for the next step segment. Gay's cueing, "over the step, tap, 1,2,3,4, step" was so precise, I never ended up on the wrong foot (amazing for me). Second, the step component is fun, with enough variety and complexity to keep me interested, but not so many step patterns that I always feel lost. I prefer intermediate complexity for choreography, and that's how I'd label this tape. Third, I appreciate that the segments are longer than in some circuit videos (like Reebok Step Circuit Challenge) because you actually feel like you know what you are doing before moving on to the next segment. Fourth, I also appreciated the fact that Gay did the intermediate workout, with relatively few propulsions, while a background exerciser did the high propulsion moves. I think its easier for advanced exercisers to add propulsion than for those of us who prefer low impact to try to remove cued propulsion moves.

Let me also comment on my criticisms of the video. First, I like the music for this video a great deal, but I find that the audio levels vary considerably, with the music occasionally overwhelming the cueing. Second, I also dislike the set and camera angles. In fact, after previewing the tape, I almost returned it to Collage without actually doing the tape. When I actually did the video, however, I found these things didn't detract from the workout. The weird camera angles almost only appear when you are doing repetitions of moves you've already learned, so precise close-ups aren't as necessary. The steps are fairly easy to follow, so after the first time through, I enjoyed having the music be a stronger component of the tape.

A third criticism I have of this tape is one I have of some other circuit videos. Working your pectorals while standing upright and using an exertube just doesn't work for me. I find that at this angle I work my shoulders, but get very little fatigue where I'm supposed to. While I like the "keep your feet moving" style, I would prefer to do pushups or some type of reclined presses that actually work my chest. I have this same problem in Kelly Robert's circuit video.

When it comes down to it, the most important component is: among the 25 tapes I have, do I keep returning to this one? The answer to that questions is, YES! I give this video an A.

Instructor comments: Gay Gasper is an excellent instructor. Her cueing is precise, her choreography is enjoyable, and she's a joy to watch. Gay is one of my favorite instructors. I'd buy another Gay Gasper tape without hesitation.

Michelle Clark

4-12-99



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