This is Marcus' most complex choreography to date. Marcus has a talent for making the complex do-able, though, and that holds true with this workout. The format is the same as other tapes in his Choreography 2 Go series: you start right in (no warmup or cooldown) and proceed through 20 to 30 different routines which are not repeated. Usually, there are around 25 different routines. The tapes are divided into 3 sections of increasing complexity. This one starts off complex in section 1, and builds to a real brain-burner in section 3. In section 3, he uses 4 -- yes 4! -- steps. However, he shows you first how to do the routines on one step, then two steps, and finally four. I just stay with one, since that's all I have. As complicated as it is, though, it's surprisingly do-able thanks to Marcus' teaching ability. And he manages to teach you this without endless repetition or boredom. I never get bored with any of the Choreography 2 Go tapes. Even if there's a routine you don't particularly care for, you know it's going to change in a few minutes.
Marcus' personality, as usual, shines. He's very engaging and shows a great sense of humor. He's not afraid to laugh at himself if he goofs (which, fortunately, he doesn't do much!). The production quality isn't the greatest, but it's not too bad. I'd describe the quality as something between Sara's City and CIA (better than Sara's but less than CIA's).
If you like Christi Taylor's or Marcos Prolo's step workouts, you'll probably like this one, too. Grade A.
WARNING: There may be a bit of gushing about this workout, because I LOVE it! It is complex, but so much fun! Marcus is such a good cuer AND his sense of humor makes working out a joy.
I am an intermediate exerciser who is learning to love complex choreography. It can take me quite a bit of time to learn complex choreography. I learn a little bit at a time; I go until I get frustrated and then I quit. The next time I go a bit further. The next time, a bit more. It took me several times to get through the first two sections of this workout, but not as long as with other comparable instructors like Christi or Andre.
This workout is made for step instructors to learn choreography they can use in their classes and the entire tape is oriented toward that. However, it does not get in the way of the fun factor of the workout at all. There are three sections. The first section is comprised of combinations that get more complex as they go through them. In the second section, Marcus brings back some choreography he has already done and then changes it to produce a new combination. In these two sections, there are two background exercisers with him. In the third section, Marcus is by himself and he teaches combinations that can be done on up to four steps. I clocked the first two sections at 54 minutes, a good long workout. I don’t know how often I’ll go on to the third sectin.
On the negative side (and there are a couple…), I found one combination with a turn not cued well. I’m still figuring it out. There was also one combination where he makes changes when my back was turned to the TV. That was a bit disconcerting. Overall, however, I am following along, even when my mind says, “Huh?” The choreography just flows and flows.
The music was good when I noticed it. The set is basic and the production values are adequate, but not top notch. There are some mistakes made by Marcus (not many) and the background exercisers (a few more). However, with the humor that runs throughout the workout, they are just part of the process.
There is no TIFTing as he does a string of combinations – it is not a “normal” step workout routine. He teaches a combination and then moves on. There are, however, a few combinations that he teaches, moves on to the next section, and then teaches you how to combine those two workouts. He also brings back some choreography and then changes it into a new combination. Overall, however, there is no repeating without a specific purpose of adding something new.
This was recommended to me as “the most fun” Marcus workout. It is the only workout of his I have (so far!). It turned out to be a great recommendation.
Marcus is such a good cuer and leads me through complex choreography without it seeming to be hard. He also displays a sense of humor that keeps me laughing.
September 27, 2004
Format: VHS – To my knowledge this isn't available in DVD
Type of workout: Step, double/quad step in section 3
Length: 70 minutes
Set: bright, studio-style set
Background on me: Advanced Exerciser who loves complex choreography. Christi Taylor, Seasun Z., Patrick Goudeau, Andre Houle, etc are all faves of mine. The more complex the choreo, the better I like it.
The short version of my feelings about this workout: WINNER!! Okay, now for the longer version: Marcus has this workout organized a bit differently from some of his other workouts that I've tried. As usual there is no warmup or cooldown, and as usual you can build up the intensity gradually in the 1st section so you get nice and warm and don't risk injury. What's different about this workout is that he splits the 3 sections into different levels of complexity, starting with the least complex and building up from there. The blocks in all 3 use the same general footstrike pattern, making the choreography easy to pick up, but are not so similar that I lost interest. This structure makes Step Express, in my opinion, an excellent workout for someone who WANTS to be a choreography maven, but lacks the experience base to tackle instructors who don't really break down their choreography very much when teaching, like Christi or Patrick. There is no taking it from the top ( TIFT ) of all of the blocks in each section. You complete one block and then move on. Some blocks are actually combos of 2 smaller blocks he has taught, so there is TIFT within that combo. I was concerned, since I have done some of his more recent step workouts, that this one, from 2001, might feel “old,” as if the choreography had been recycled and updated in the recent ones. I need not have worried. :) While Step Express has an obvious Marcus Irwin flavor, chock full of L-mambos, cha chas, and chasses, he puts them together with other choreography in fun and innovative ways that kept me wanting more. As a special treat, the 3rd section can use 1, 2, or 4 steps! Gosh, do I ever wish I had room ( and steps ) to be able to do that! He builds the combos 1st on a single step, so there's no problem if you have just one, but I admit that I was very envious of him traveling all over the 4 steps! :) If you have the room for 2 steps, there is also no problem with using 2 in the quad step sections.
The music was quite good, in my opinion. I recognized most of it as being the same as in Andre Houle's Advanced Step and Advanced Cardio workouts. The production values were not stellar. Certainly they were not on par with, say CIA or Cathe, but were above what I have seen in most Sara City productions. Unlike in those Sara City workouts, the production values did not distract me from my enjoyment of the workout.
Section 1 is significantly less intense due to longer breakdowns and lots of marching as placeholders as he builds the combos. I jogged on the step during the marches on the step, and was able to bring the intensity up. There were a couple of other parts where the intensity dropped, but I was able to substitute a higher intensity/higher impact move quite easily. By the end of section 2 it was a solid moderate intensity without any need on my part to modify upwards. The impact is mixed, but given the layering system Marcus uses when teaching, it's easy to stick with the lower impact option. You will sacrifice some of the intensity, obviously, but save on your joints. :) I forgot to note the time for section 1, but the 1st 2 sections together were 55 minutes, while the 3rd section was 15 minutes. While this is only available on VHS, Marcus has numbers in the corner of the screen that correspond with each new element that is added, so it is relatively easy to find the right spot if you want to use this as an add-on to another workout.
Marcus is just a blast to work out with! He laughs and has a great time the whole way through, and you can't help but come along for the ride. His cuing and teaching style make the most complex choreography doable.
January 20, 2005