I bought Rachel Hunter's Kickboxing tape at
Blockbuster yesterday, $9.99 - quite a reasonable price.
I tried it out this morning for the first time.
Simple, uncomplicated, straightforward. The moves are
quite easy to follow (but it will take me a couple more
times to memorize the sequences since this type of
exercise is very new to me). The instructions are clear.
The video production is simple, just Rachel and a
martial arts instructor on a platform, on a beautiful,
sunny Mexican beach.
My initial impression is that this is a good, basic
introduction to kickboxing for beginners, and a good
cardio workout. I will use it to vary my aerobic
workouts, a nice change of pace from my usual aerobic
dance and step routines.
Rachel Hunter and Ed Monaghan, and Stephanie Steele respectively: Rachel Hunter Kickboxing Cardio Workout & Knockout Workout with Stephanie Steele
The best way that I think to review these videos is I believe by comparing them. And in my mind, the Rachel Hunter video is in most ways, believe it or not, the better kickboxing video.
One would think that the Stephanie Steele workout would be better, because first of all, Steele is a professional kickboxer and she looks a whole lot more athletic than Hunter. However, Hunter doesn't do much instruction on her video she wisely leaves most of the instruction to Ed Monaghan who is also a professional kickboxer, who looks extremely athletic (his physique could give Van Damme a run for his money). Having two instructors works well on the Hunter video. Not only do Hunter and Monaghan seem to have an easy rapport, but Monaghan gives Hunter tips on improving her sometimes less than perfect form, which I find very helpful.
Hunter's video is also less expensive. I was able to find the Hunter video as part of a two video set with her bodyshaping video for $5.00 at Target! I paid close to $20.00 for the Steele video. I think the Hunter video would have sold better if it had given Monaghan bigger billing, since I thnk many potential buyers were probably thinking, like me, "What would a supermodel know about kickboxing". Another factor in slow sales for the Hunter video may have been that Hunter has a less than perfectly buff body. In a way, that works to her credit for me, she seems to have other more important and interesting things in her life (her family, hobbies?) than spending hours a day at the gym. (A lot of the musclebound/close-to-zero-fat video instructors seem dull and self-absorbed to me for that reason).
Another reason why one might expect the Steele Workout to be better is that Collage Video for reasons unknown to me gives the Steele Workout a descriptive blurb without doing the same for the Hunter tape.
The most important reason why I think the Hunter tape is better is it seems to me to be a whole lot safer. For example, Steele actually instructs you to lock straignt your base leg and to "snap" your kicks, while Monaghan on the Hunter tape is constantly reminding Hunter to keep her base leg soft and to NOT "snap" her kicks or punches. I'm no kickboxing expert, so I don't know which form is "purer" kickboxing, but I do know that after following Steele's instructions locking my base leg and snapping my kicks, the backs of my knees hurt like the dickens, but after using the Hunter tape I feel great -- relaxed and energized.
I also think that the Hunter tape is easier to follow because it uses a better camera angle: Monaghan and Hunter face forward which makes them easy to follow facing forward and looking at the T.V. Steele faces to the side (switching sides), which makes it hard if not impossible to do the routine and watch her at the same time: the routines require a lot of balance and when I crane and turn my head to look at her on the T.V. , my balance and my form is thrown off more often than not.
The format of the Hunter video also seems to make it a better cardio workout. The Hunter tape has an introduction to all of the moves at the beginning of the tape, so that when you've mastered them, you can simply fast forward through that section, and do all of the routines one after another and keep your heart rate up. The Steele tape has introductions to a few moves at a time interspersed throughout the tape, so that as soon as you've done one heart pumping routine for a minute or so, you have to slow down to a snail's pace to learn the next few moves. It gets frustrating because the quick routines are much faster and more challenging on the Steele tape than on the Hunter tape, but they're too short lasting. And if you've mastered the moves well enough to follow the fast routine, the introduction to it will seem painfully slow -- also if you're enough of a beginner to find the introduction to be at the right pace, the routine that follows will then be way too fast for you to keep up with. The Hunter tape gives you more constant motion, albeit not as intense as on some of the Steele tape's quickest routines.
Also, on a much more minor level the Hunter tape has the much prettier background of a secluded beach. The Steele tape has a spartan gym type background. Also Ms. Steele's exercise gear is very pedestrian and unflattering on her -- it shows off her enviable abs but the just above knee bicycle shorts make her what must be powerful muscular thighs look fat.
Almost all of the kickboxing moves are the same on both tapes with one exception. The Steele tape includes roundhouse kicks which the Hunter tape doesn't have, and the Hunter tape includes crescent kicks which the Steele tape doesn't have.
Instructor comments: The instructors on both tapes have likeable presences and good cuing. Ms. Steele has more of the Voight-type seriousness; Monaghan and Hunter act more like they're having fun.
I am a beginning exerciser, and I feel that this tape is suited for people like me: new at exercise AND at kickboxing. I think some of the other kickboxing tapes expect you to be new at kickboxing, but not new at exercising. There are a lot of modifications given, both for very inexperienced and more experienced exercisers. I have done this tape 6 times.
The choreography is very basic. There is an instructional segment in the beginning so you can learn the types of punches and kicks they used (I watched it once). It is very clear on the form (i.e., "kick with your heel," "your shoulder should come past the rest of your body"). The rest of the tape is broken into upper body warm-up, upper body workout, lower body warm-up, lower body workout, and cool-down.
When I first viewed the tape, I wondered if the upper-body workout would be aerobic. It is!! There are single punches and combinations of 2-4 different punches. (Some combos are "jab, step, elbow" and "jab, cross, hook, cross"). The lower body warm up is kind of too "on the floor" for me. I make sure I am stretching the same muscles they are without doing a virtual split.
In the lower body workout, single kicks are practiced (these are all in sets of 8 by the way, a set of 8 kicks or punches or combos), then you get into the combos. Just when you think you are working too hard, Ed will bring you back into a jab with a shuffle or the "bob" (basically step touch). The last bit is a 4 part punch/kick combo done twice on each side. I feel I've really accomplished something when its all over!!
Even though the tape is not geared for self-defense, you are reminded where to put your hand to protect your face.
Downside: They do not "mirror" instruct. I switch left and right and I do fine.
I selected this video because of the previous reviews; I am glad I did! I will never do a regular aerobics video again. No more grapevines for me! I feel strong, I feel tough, and I feel good after I workout (and I feel it the next day, especially in my arms, shoulders and upper back!). I recommend this video for anyone who is out of shape or a beginning exerciser.
Instructor comments: I feel that Rachel was really working in some parts; her less than totally buff physique comforted me :)
Ed acted more as a "trainer" to Rachel during the workout, making comments about her form, etc., that you could apply to yourself. I especially liked the way he counted everything! What you were supposed to be doing was very clear.
Like so many others, I am now reading the reviews prior to buying more tapes and I am so glad that I did because they were right on the mark about this one. I have heard that this current kickboxing trend is no more than bad choreography with kicks - i.e. the Steele tapes but this tape is truly the wheat in a large barrel of chaff.
I have been utterly amazed as a group fitness instructor on the audacity of many videos with very bad music, cuing, sets and in this genre(kickboxing) in moves with very real dangers(snapping knees and doing way too many repeaters). The set for the video was a beautiful beach front location and the actual intructor Ed Monaghan was a conscientious individual who followed established safety guidelines yet made this tape extremely challenging and fun to do.
I would however caution the viewer to add their own additional warmups as well as questioning the break from the upper to lower body in the middle of the tape to make certain that you are not too high in your heart rate before lowering to the ground.
Finally, as a note of caution, I have seen from other videos, notably the Billy Blanks Crunch tape where he tried to show how to use the moves to thwart off an attack which could be very dangerous in real life. But for a great workout that is safe the Rachel Hunter tape is the one.
Instructor comments: Rachel Hunter's presence on the tape, except for the obvious reason of marketing was unnecessary. However, the actual instructor was excellent in cuing, providing alternatives to the dangerous snapping and locking of knees and elbows found in other videos.
March 11, 1999
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this tape! The first time I did it, I had so much fun I rewound it and did the tape again immediately. I've never had this experience in 5 years and 50+ videos.
First of all, Ed Monaghan, the expert instructor, is an athlete who is beautiful to watch. His form, demonstrations, and pointers are top-notch. There is real chemistry between Ed and Rachel that I found very motivating. They gently tease each other in a way that makes them seem warm and human without detracting from the steps. After being completely annoyed with the anti-charisma of Aaron Lankford in Powerkicks and the cult of personality in Tae Bo, I found Ed and Rachel to fall somewhere in the middle. They are both motivating and reassuring.
The tape is done in a welcoming beach setting similar to that used by Gilad. The two person "personal trainer" combo avoided all the pitfalls of distracting background exercisers.
I also really appreciated the pacing of this video. I am an intermediate exerciser. The tape is geared toward people who are new to kickboxing and in the advanced beginner to intermediate range for cardio work. I didn't have any trouble keeping my heart rate up, and the moves are done at a speed that you can use correct form. I felt stronger and more confident doing the punches and kicks in this video because I wasn't desperate to do them double-time in order to keep up. In terms of intensity, I think this video is comparable to Tae Bo Basic.
Just so you don't think I'm totally biased, I do have a few criticisms of the video. It is too brief (25 minutes of cardio?) and there is a lower body stretching segment thrown in between the upper body cardio and the lower body/combinations cardio. It was distracting to get my heart rate up, slow down for stretching, and then pump the heart rate back up.
If you are wanting to try out kickboxing, I would definitely recommend this tape! For some reason Collage doesn't have a description of this tape in the main part of the catalog, but it is listed on the last page for $12.95. Worth every penny and a much better deal than the Tae Bo instructional + Basic for $36 (at Target and other stores).
Instructor comments: Ed Monaghan is wonderful. If he came out with his own kickboxing video, I'd be the first one in line.