Video Fitness

Power Kicks with Aaron Lankford

THIS is the kickboxing workout I have been waiting for! With a collection of almost every boxing/martial arts video I could get my hands on (Kathy Smith's Aerobox, Stephanie Steele's two "Knockout Workout" tapes, "Kick Butt" with Kristoff St John, KiAerobics, Cory Everson's "Kardio Kick", "Kung Fu Step", Reebok "Power Blast" with Lisa Gaylord, and even the much-hyped "Tae Bo"tapes by Billy Blanks) I STILL couldn't find the perfect workout that didn't have "glitches" (and had resorted to writing up my own workout based on a class I took, and doing it to music). Well, after previewing Aaron's tape yesterday, I'm ALMOST ready to chuck all the others (and to, thankfully, forget about the exercise routine I wrote up...I like videos too much!)! An effective, well-balanced almost-hour-long, GREAT workout, combining strength and speed.

The workout:

Warm-up/stretch (10 minutes):
Upper body stretch combined with side-to-side steps. Punches and kicks, at lower intensity, followed by lower body stretches. Pushups while in leg stretch position (front leg bent, back leg straight...this is a Tae Kwon Do "thing"!).

Punches with footwork (slower single punches, followed by double-time punches). Combos like "squat, two back fists" alternating sides.

Kicks and kick-punch combos.(An especially effective section.)

Each kick is prepared using a knee-up move, before doing the actual full kick. For example: Front kick: sets of "knee up to the front", followed by sets of front kick.

Roundhouse kicks: sets of knee up, with ankle to the side, followed by sets of round(house) kick.

Other kicks: side kick, stomp, back kick (this last one is not used often in other kickboxing videos, and I LOVE that Aaron really has us do a lot of them,in several combinations and variations, but NOT in the sense that he's overusing them. I've found these kicks a bit harder to learn to do--to get height---but especially effective for the glutes! And, as Aaron says, they are very POWERFUL and FAST self-defense moves once you get into them.)

Continuing with kicks, we do 16/side of each kick, in a step-together-step-kick rythym, that gives one time to really work on the height and power of the kick, without feeling rushed OR going too slow.

Some kick combos that are used:

front/back kick combo, 1/2 time, then double time; squat kick combos where you go from a squat to a kick, then back to the other side; grapevine (more-or-less) with a kick at the end, alternating sides, followed by grapevine with triple kicks at the end (high, higher, highest, done for both front kicks and side kicks); front, roundhouse, side, back kick combo.

speed bag work: both hands and one-hand-at-a-time.

Punch-kick combos, for example:

punch-punch-back kick;

punch-punch-squat-front kick-back kick;

punch-punch- front roundhouse kick.

footwork and bobbing (fast squat-like movements)

cooldown

strength exercises:

using a support (they use a chair), you slowly straighten your leg to a front kick position, then HOLD for 16 counts, THEN do 10 slow front kicks. The same thing is repeated to each side with round(house) kicks, side kicks (one background exerciser then almost stumbles when switching sides after doing the reps on the first leg!), side kicks with the toes pointed down at a 45% angle, back kicks.

After the 10 reps with back kick, Aaron has you do leg lifts (6" range of motion from the upright position) for 20 counts. (I can feel my legs and glutes tightening already, and I've only previewed the video!)

abs: concentration on lower abs and obliques.

ab stretch and strengthening: a cobra pose, followed by lifting up onto the elbows and toes and holding, keeping abs tight.

"fun" (!!) pushups: get on your hands and toes (or knees) and do first 1 fast pushup, then 2, 3, 3, , 4, 3, 2, 1.

stretch: good thorough stretch, especially for the legs.

Other comments:

Music is good, standard aerobics vid. music, the workout is continuous, with one move leading smoothly to another, and the only *breaks* in the aerobics being the first, slower versions of the moves.

What I don't like about it...not much!

Well, there is Aaron's tendency to talk about "snapping" the kick, which one should take as an indication of speed, NOT of extension to the max (as he reminds us often). The background exercisers are either funny or distracting, depending on how you look at it (see my other comments). Close-up shots of Aaron at the beginning and end of the workout, when he's *motivating* us are kind of weird (he has a preternaturally long and thick neck in close ups, that doesn't look bad from a distance, he also is not a great speaker--kind of over-gesturing and overemphasizing words. But this isn't during the workout portion of the tape.). Other than that (and I'm digging, here!), I love the tape.

Instructor comments: He has a pleasant, boy-next-door quality about him. His cues remind exercisers that these moves can be used in self-defense situations: "get his butt", "bam!",kick the "low guy, middle guy, high guy" "punch him in the nose, kick him in the chin".

The background exercisers, two women in WAY oversized shiny red boxing shorts (Aaron wears a more conservative and appropriate black cotton-spandex outfit), make me laugh! They sometimes can't keep up with Aaron, and look too awkward to be a "black belt" and a "high red belt". It's motivating in a way to look at them and think "I could kick their butts". Otherwise, just keep your eyes on Aaron!

Kathryn Bulver
9/11/98

I highly recommend this kickboxing tape!! It is better then Tae Bo and CIA 9809. Finally a well put together video that doesn't burn a whole in your wallet. This video is the one you should get. It starts off with a bit of instruction. Aaron shows you all the kicks and punches. There, no extra video you have to buy like with Tae Bo. Then Aaron does a very very thorough warm up with nice holds on the stretches. The stretches are well rounded for your upper and lower body. He really gives you a nice long lat stretch!

Aaron is motivating throughout the video. He doesn't yell and scream at you like Billy Blanks in Tae Bo. He also doesn't walk around poking people like Billy but does the whole workout working just as hard as you! He just pumps you up to keep kicking higher and higher. He is much more conservative with his approach to teaching then Tae Bo. With Tae Bo, it's like a charasmatic church meeting with whoops and hollers and clapping. But with Powerkicks, it's upbeat fun music and a great solid of a sweat workout and my heartrate just soared. No Screaming. No clapping. Just a get down to some fun kickboxing business tape.

I thought I was fit also with doing Cathe Friedrich tapes. Boy was this workout tough! I had to stop and rub my outer thigh on some of the kicks as well as gulp some water. The punches are so fast and fun. Anyway, the workout starts off with some great fun fast punches. The counting is well balanced too. Not like Tae Bo that is unbalanced in the counting. Then you go into kicking. Front kicks, Round house kicks, side kicks, back kicks. Very basic and intense. No hard grapevines or shuffles to the front. No choreography mixed with the kicking. Then you do kicks mixed with punching. The toning is great too. YOu use a chair and do isometric kicks holding for a while and then pulse. Burn! Then you go down for some pushups and ab work. Aaron does perfect form on the pushups I must say.

The girls in the background try to keep up but have a little trouble. They are wearing these bright red shorts that make them look pretty big. One girl looks kinda like Allie Strickland. Their kicks are pretty high. I laughed at first when I watched the video, but when I actually did the video, I was sweating so hard and breathing so hard that I didn't notice the girls in the back. In fact, I'm glad they don't look like Firm background girls. Perfect in every detail. They are just normal gals working hard with Aaron and trying to keep up. It was nice to know I wasn't the only one:)) The set is CIA and the music is new except for the warmup and toning which I've heard before in other CIA's. But the workout is all new music and VERY UPBEAT! That is why I liked it so much.

The only thing I didn't like is Aaron keeps saying, "Warm that baby up". Referring to the muscles. That bugged me. He does act a little cool but I think it was because he was nervous in front of the camera. I wish I would have bought this workout first instead of Tae Bo. I would have saved $$$. I give this workout an A++ and I've tried many many kickboxing tapes. Go for this one, you will not be disappointed. It is well rounded, perfect video for it's price.

Instructor comments: Aaron Lankford does a great job on form and teaching. I really was able to understand how my legs should kick with his great instruction. He also does some incredible high kicks! He reminds you to kick the guy in front and his buddy in back. A nice way of teaching self defense. !

Mandy Lee
11/27/98

I love this tape! This was my first kickboxing tape - I have Aerobox so I knew how to do the punches, but I didn't have any other kicking experience. Aaron does a good job of teaching you the kicks and punches before the workout begins (now I wish that was actually at the end, so I wouldn't have to fast forward through it, but that's a minor complaint). He does a nice warm up and stretch, and then the punching begins! The workout progresses from punching only, to kicking only, to punching & kicking combos. The choreography is *really* basic, but it's fun because you feel like you are doing a real *kickboxing* workout, not an "aerobics" workout. There is also a brief leg toning segment and pushup and abs segments, followed by the stretch.

This is a great aerobic workout for me - I frequently have to stop to take little breaks and to get some water (I go through 2 bottles of water on this tape!), and I *never* have to do that with any other tapes (even Cathe!). I consider myself an advanced exerciser, but this would also be a great tape for any level - you could just take it slow, and take breaks when you need them. Besides being a good aerobic workout, I also get some toning benefits. My glutes, rear delts and lats are always sore the next day.

I really like this type of workout - I liked Aerobox, and I like this one even more. I really get into the punches and kicks - I am very serious and determined with this workout, concentrating on punching and kicking, and letting out lots of yells on the kicks. It's a great stress reliever as well as being a great workout! I highly recommend it.

Instructor comments: Aaron does a good job of teaching you the punches and kicks at the beginning of the tape, and is very motivating throughout the workout. I like how he makes it feel like you are really punching & kicking a "bad guy" ("punch him in the nose, kick him in the chin...") - that really motivates me to punch harder and kick higher. He is also fun in the workout - he encourages you to let out a big yell on your high kicks! His form is excellent, and I am very motivated by the height of his kicks. He also lets you know that you can kick lower if you can't do all of the high kicks, and is encouraging throughout ("you're doing great - almost done...").

Michelle Spina
12/3/98

First off, I have to say that my comments on the video are based on my 5 years of learning and teaching karate and as an advanced exerciser. I found this video to be fun to do, but not particularly taxing in terms of aerobic intensity. I was hoping for a serious workout like I would get at my dojo, and this tape doesn't quite deliver that. However, it comes a pretty close second in terms of just having fun kicking and punching. I found Aaron to be a very good instructor with his cues and enthusiasm. The leg toning section and abs work at the end were quite good, and the push ups were fun. The only real complaint I have about the video is Aaron does not look at his target while doing the back kick. This really bugs me because in karate you are ALWAYS supposed to look at the target you are kicking. The other minor irritant for me is I'm also used to cover the groin area when kicking. This is important in a real life self defense situation since when you are kicking, you leave yourself open for someone to kick you back, so you need to keep a hand up by your face and a hand down in front of you to block any kick. However, for the average fitness enthusiast who just wants to get fit and have fun, these are extremely minor details that they wouldn't know or care about.

Instructor comments: I found Aaron to be a very motivating, enthusiastic instructor. I would love to see an advanced kickboxing video from him.

Marie C
12/8/98

It seems that most people who like kickboxing videos divvy up into Tae Bo people, CIA people, or Power Kicks people and I am definitely one of the latter! I have Tae Bo, but haven't purchased the CIA video since I don't like tapes that are longer than an hour.

I like Power Kicks better than Tae Bo (advanced) for a couple of reasons:

1)While it seems to be the opposite for others, PowerKicks challenges me without making me feel like I'm going to die. Tae Bo advanced has me huffing and puffing right out of my aerobic zone and leaves me with a killer headache, while Tae Bo basic is too easy.

2) I like Aaron's more straightforward style. There's less of a cult of personality thing going on here.

3) I like the self-defense emphasis rather than the "get those tight buns!" emphasis

4) I feel more stable when doing the kicks.

5) No double-time strobe light sections

6) No floor work (though the standing leg work is killer)

The video reminded me a lot of Aerobox, which I like but almost never do. I do see myself doing Power Kicks on a semi-regular (every week or so) basis.

It's not perfect--the background exercisers seem to flail about (and one is a blackbelt??), the music is there, but not terribly inspiring, and on the last section where he does punches and blocks, while he does the blocks with both hands, he only does it in one stance, so you end up working your right side more than your left. Also, the warm-up and final stretch could be more thorough, as could the ab work. The set is kind of blah, although I must admit that I was so focused on watching Aaron (for form! He's cute, but not my cup o'tea) that I really didn't pay that much attention to anything else. I even missed the infamous nose pick!

Instructor comments: Aaron gives clear cuing. Form pointers could be a *lttle* bit better. I like him!

Renee Drellishak
12/31/98

All I can say is WOW!! I love this tape. I was a little turned off of kickboxing after doing 9809 and Tae Bo Advanced, but with all the raves on the Forum, I made the wisest decision to buy this video (thanks, girls). This is definitely an achieveable kickboxing workout for me - all the kicks were done in place, no turning around like Janis and no losing my balance like those machine guns in Tae Bo. I love boxing moves and Aaron had enough of them to satisfy me (like jabbing and "bob and weave"). I really felt it in my legs and gluts and consider this more of a leg workout than an intense cardio one. Aaron is fast moving and doesn't waste any time in teaching a move. It's 28 minutes of continuous fun, followed by a leg segment that I must admit, without weights, knocked me out. I've never done or seen a leg workout like those high holding kicks and my legs were burning. The ab work could have been longer, but it could be done twice. The pushups were tough and the stretch was short and good enough for me. Aaron is a doll - I knew from the music and set that my Greg was involved, and yes indeed, Greg produced it. Highly recommended even if you are new to kickboxing like I am.

Instructor comments: What a wonderful instructor. Greg Twombly, watch out, Aaron is hot on your heels to take over my "favorite male instructor" title.

maryann parker
12/31/98

I'm just adding my two cents here, because with all of the talk about this video on the forum, I'm sure that it won't be long before this video makes the VF Hall of Fame. I am an advanced exerciser but I am new to kickboxing, and I found this workout to be at a good level for me. My only previous experience with kickboxing was with Stephanie Steele's tape. I watched that one only once and it did NOT hold my interest. It turned me off to kickboxing for awhile. With the great response this tape got, I decided to give kickboxing another try. I'm glad that I did! I like the beginning segment where Aaron teaches the moves--I'm glad it's at the beginning because I make myself watch it every time so I can do the kicks and punches correctly (I've done the video 4 or 5 times; I'm sure that later on I'll FF through this part). Cardiovascularly this workout is challenging, but not killer, for me. For me, MIC and Bodymax are much more challenging. But this is still an excellent workout--especially for being low impact! While the standing leg work is effective, I'm used to using heavy weights so I use that part to concentrate on my form for the kicks. The abdominal section is short, but good for a light abdominal day. I wish the stretch section were a little longer, but these are all MINOR glitches for me. I can't believe how fun this one is! Oh, and I really like the music that Aaron uses for the stretch--those of you who have Kari Anderson's Angles, Lines and Curves will recognize it. I recommend this video to intermediate to advanced exercisers, and I also think that it is good for a first kickboxing video. I also like the way the self-defense aspect is covered. Great tape!

Instructor comments: I thought Aaron instructed the workout well. I'm a kickboxing novice, so I can't make any judgments re: form; I just know that he looked good doing the workout! I felt that given the nature of this video, he gave just the right amount of encouragement without overdoing it. Regarding the background exercisers: well, a lot has been said. Form-wise, I just know that they didn't look like Aaron did doing the punches and kicks! But other reviewers are right--once you get into the workout you don't notice them.

Kristin Aziz
1/7/99

This may turn out to be the best video of 1999. Okay, so it actually came out in 98, but it was late 98. So I'll call it 99.

I am just delighted with this workout! It's not a choreographed aerobic workout, just a series of kicks and punches. But if that sounds boring, wait till you try it! He starts with a punching section, then goes into a kicking section, and finally a section combining punches and kicks. Some get very challenging if you're trying to mimic his form. I want to learn to kick like he does, so I really get into it. Sometimes you'll probably go anaerobic for a minute or two.

This is the only aerobic tape that ever made my upper body sore the next day. I also do Jump 'n Jab, but it doesn't make me sore. I think I just really put more effort into this one, because Aaron is a great motivator.

After you do the aerobic part, you do some standing leg work designed to strengthen your legs for kicks. When I previewed this part, I didn't think I'd get much out of it, but it's very good. Then you do some pushups and abs. He does the pushups in a way that's actually kind of fun -- and I HATE pushups!

Finally, there are some nice long stretches, which you'll enjoy. They are leg stretches. I would have preferred some upper body stretches, too, but no big deal.

Grade A+++.

Instructor comments: Aaron Lankford is a tae kwon do champion. After doing this video, I'm interested in learning a lot more about tae kwon do.

Annie S.
1-9-99

Reading all the great reviews on this tape immediately made me pick up my phone and order this video. There was no way I could wait to get this one off the exchange. I had to see for myself what all the excitement over this video was all about. Well, after reviewing it and actually doing the video three times now, I'm still asking why is everyone so excited over this video?

Like others have said here, Powerkicks does give you a great 26 minute heart-thumping, sweat soaked, cardio workout. Aaron is a likeable, and good instructor who cues well and the moves are easy to follow since they are basic. You start off doing upper body moves, next comes powerkicks, and then you complete the cardio portion of the workout with combination moves (upper body punching and lower body kicking) that will challenge intermediate and advanced exercisers. You finish this tape by doing isolation moves for toning your lower body and ab work. The background excercisers really did not bother me either. Like I said, it gave me a great workout but I was still left asking, why I'm not as excited as everyone else about this workout?

Well I think I got it figured out. In my opinion, this tape is no Tae Bo. Now I'm not saying that it is suppose to be like Tae Bo but to me, the fun factor is missing in this tape. If you just want a straight forward, good cardio workout where the moves are easy to follow, than this is the workout for you. Personally, I find that with kickboxing style workouts, I need something a little more fun to keep my interest. Really good music, a super motivated instructor, and background exercisers that look like they love the workout and are having fun. This is what Powerkicks is missing.

Some have asked at VF's Forum the difference between Powerkicks and Tae Bo. While both provide a great workout, when I do Tae Bo, I want to jump in the t.v. and do the workout with them. When I watch Powerkicks, I also watch the clock as well. This is not a good sign of a great workout to me.

While I will not be putting Powerkicks up on the exchange anytime soon, I'm sorry to say that I don't think this will be in my regular rotation either.

Tiffanee Saunders
1-9/99

If people fall into either the Tae Bo, CIA 9809, or Power Kicks camps (as Renee suggested), I am firmly in the Tae Bo camp. My alternate camp would be CIA 9809. I do not care for Power Kicks. Since there are so many reviews for Power Kicks, I will not go into detail about the workout. I will mostly compare it to Tae Bo. One of the things that I love about Tae Bo is how motivating I think it is. It can get me out of bed in the morning to workout like nothing else can. If you have no trouble getting out of bed, then Power Kicks may be for you. I did not find it motivating at all. It is a good workout, and very well-conceived and executed, but I was watching the clock the whole time. In contrast to most other reviewers, my heart rate did not get as high as it does with Tae Bo advanced tape or with the 9809 workout or conditioning segments. In fact, I often do the Tae Bo basic tape with weighted gloves, and I get sweatier in 25 minutes with the Tae Bo basic than I do with all of Power Kicks. I was just generally underwhelmed with this tape. Was it fair for me to compare it to Tae Bo and 9809 when I tried it out? I do not know if it is fair, but it is realistic. I will be comparing them as I choose my workouts in the morning, and I will not be reaching for Power Kicks anytime soon. I was completely underwhelmed by the tape. I do want to end on a good note, though, so let me list the things that I liked: I loved the ab exercise where you go into a push-up position from your elbows. I will use that one everday, because I think it will help me with push-ups. It is really an imaginative exercise. He also has this fun move where you hop to the side, punch, punch, machine-gun your arms, and then jump to the front. That move made me smile. But, alas, just the idea of doing Tae Bo makes me smile, so I remain firmly in that camp.

Instructor comments: He is a nice enough fellow. He gestures a lot when he speaks, which I find distracting, but most people don't. As I said in the review, I compared him and his workout to Billy Blanks and Tae Bo. I do not think Aaron comes close to Billy's level of charisma. But he is encouraging and enthusiastic. Much has been said about the background exercisers, but with the exception of the push-up segment (where one of them was so lame that she should have just done them from her knees), they did not bother me. In fact, it made me realize how skilled the background exercisers in every other video are. These women just looked like pretty normal (even high-end) people in any exercise class.

Pilar
1/19/99

Much has been said about this video so I am just going to add my impressions. Power Kicks is a thorough, balanced workout. I really enjoy the combination work at the end, it gets my heartrate up. I like how Aaron tells you to snap your kicks and punches. I don't like the background exercisers. Fortunately, you can block them out for the most part and focus on Aaron.

I just borrowed Tae Bo and want to give my comparisons. In Power Kicks, Aaron makes comments like get this guy and that guy. I really worried about doing this workout in front of my kids because of his comments. I know this is to visualize self defense moves but I for one didn't like it very well. In Tae Bo, Billy wants you to concentrate on your muscles and never mentions hitting or kicking someone. My child actually watched me doing part of it and I was not one bit concerned. I enjoy focusing on the muscles instead of the attacker. I really was motivated by Billy but especially by his "class", unlike Power Kicks.

To sum up, I think Power Kicks is a very good video and a much better price for kickboxing (Tae Bo is overpriced in my opinion). However, after doing it a few times I just haven't wanted to do it again. I don't find it very motivating and I don't like to visualize hiting or kicking people but don't mind doing the movement. Power Kicks did help me lose some inches around my waist and it is a good low impact workout. Power Kicks also helps you learn the punches and kicks very well. I'm sure in another month or two I will want to do it again, but I don't love it like I do other videos.

Instructor comments: Aaron uses good form throughout the workout, unlike his background exercisers. He really helps you learn your punches and kicks.

Heather Young
1/29/99

The workout is good. It's thorough, you get your heart rate up, you kick, you punch...I just think it's a completely boring tape. The background exercisers are hilarious, but distracting. What ON EARTH were they thinking of? It looks like they've never done the workout before. They both look like they'd much rather be doing something more exciting like watching television. They look completely unenthusiastic. I could forgive them being not very good at kickboxing if they were just INTO it a bit more. I find this completely offputting. You could ignore them if you were really intent on getting the workout done, but I like to enjoy what I am looking at on the video screen and I can hardly bear to look at Powerkicks. It's completely an aesthetic thing, because as I said the workout is very good. But hugely lacking in the Fun Factor. I've had Powerkicks for 3 months now, and I've only done it about 3 or 4 times. I keep looking at it, and saying to myself, "Sarah, you really must do Powerkicks", but I always reach for The FIRM or Tae Bo instead. I actually think that this is a slightly superior workout than Tae bo- it's more organised and thorough, but I'd rather do Tae Bo anyday.

The leg toning section is pretty worthless, IMHO, but it's a good chance to practice your kicking form.

I'll give this tape a few more tries, but if it doesn't start getting more fun, I'll be putting it on the exchange.

Instructor comments: I'm not keen on Aaron as an instructor. He seems very forced, he's kind of odd-looking and his way of talking just irritates me. This is just my personal feeling, others may really like him. For me he has absolutely zip in the charisma department.

Sarah F
30.1.99

I really enjoy this video. If you have never tried kickboxing, this is a good introduction to it. It is a well thought out workout and progresses through the segments at a steady pace. I would rank this as a definite intermediate workout, depending on your experience with kickboxing. I enjoy Aaron's motivational comments and encouragement to kick higher, keep the fists up and to snap those punches out and back to tone up those arms. (not fully extending, of course) He is right - the more you do his video, the higher and stronger your kicks become. This video has increased my interest in learning a martial art for the sake of personal protection and to improve my form. I enjoy alternating this with Tae Bo to provide a variety in my workouts. I have seen the most change in my abs since beginning aerobic kickboxing and it keeps me motivated. I have enjoyed Firm videos in the past, but they never quite gave me abs I could see. Not so with kickboxing. I will keep Aaron at the top o of my kickboxing list for some time to come. I hope he comes out with a second video soon!

Instructor comments: I think Aaron is a very motivating instructor. He is always encouraging you to kick higher but doesn't pressure you into feeling bad if you can't. He genuinely enjoys kickboxing and is very clear in his instructions. I enjoy him as much as I do Billy Blanks. Both instructors are different, yes, but sometimes you need a different motivator on different days. I tend to alternate Power Kicks and Tae Bo to provide variety.

NCG

2/11/99

Music: Techno
Format: Warmup, Cardio, Strength, Stretch
Set: Brightly lit gym-like room.

This is not an easy workout for me. However, I have only been working out for a month and half seriously. I can tell that it is going to improve my boxing and kicking technique immensely. Aaron frequently reminds you to snap your punches and kicks, and to keep your hands in power position. These reminders will improve my Tae Bo method, as the Tae Bo reminders to keep your abs tight improved my Power Kicks method. I see the two videos as being able to work very well in tandem, so if you own Tae Bo now, I recommend you try this tape next.

If you had any questions about how to form your punches and kicks, this video will answer them. Before this video, my side kicks were very poor. Now I understand how to do them - by stomping, but instead of stomping on the ground, stomping to the side.

In addition, instead of just saying "double time" or "faster", Aaron helps you visualize going faster by saying things like "Pull back quick, as if someone was trying to grab your hand." "Kick this guy, and the guy behind him!" These phrases make me work harder, and they definitely make the workout more fun, as I visualize a group of Bad Guys [TM] that I'm taking down kick by punch.

There are very few inspirational messages in this tape. Those that are there won't offend anyone from any religion, as they do not involve 'spiritual guidance'. The inspirational messages revolve around confidence, inner and outer strength, and, as Aaron puts it, "Personal Power." These are messages that even a cynical skeptic like myself can endorse.

Instructor comments: Aaron is an excellent instructor. At the times when he stutters over a phrase, he comes across as endearing. However, when explaining things, he is very clear. He also adds frequent reminders on form. He isn't hyper, or insincerely enthusiastic.

Shannon Davis
sdavis@bbn.com
3/7/98

I want to echo Tiffanee Saunders, Sarah F. and Pilar: I was incredibly disappointed with this tape. I bought it as a result of all the overwhelmingly glowing reviews, but I can't figure out what people are so excited about. I found this video BORING. I'm not a big fan of Billy Blank's "cult of personality", but I found Aaron so anti-charismatic that his lack of personality DRAINED me of motivation. Aaron is also rather odd-looking and does not appear to be particularly athletic.

Sarah F. indicated that she thought Aaron was forced during his presentation, and this was definitely my impression. To me his statements were so phony and forced ("feels soooo goooood") it reminded me of the soundtrack to a dirty movie. VERY irritating.

To be fair, the workout was challenging and intense. There were a nice variety of moves and combinations.

After previewing the tape and doing it twice, I just can't bring myself to do it again, so mine is on the exchange.

Michelle Clark

3-16-99

Overall, I enjoy this workout. The warm-up prepares you well for the punching and kicking. The punches and kicks are taught extremely well and instructor Aaron Lankford incorporates a lot of variety in how he combines the various kicks and punches. The tempo builds nicely, but even at the lowest intensity, Aaron includes enough squats and shuffles that you *know* you are working moderately hard. (I'm a Cathe Friedrich-addicted advanced exerciser, by the way.)

There are quite a few rapid combo sections that leave me literally gasping for air, but I CAN keep up and my form improves each time I do the workout. I particularly like his emphasis on the self-defense aspect of the workout, since I don't care for workouts that are focused on burning calories or getting my butt in shape for a thong bikini this summer. (NOT!!) I also appreciate his constant reminders on form.

I particularly like his strength work at the end. The standing leg work feels like an excellent complement to enhancing my kicks; the ab work is short, but I clench my abs hard and really push them to the limit and I feel my obliques and lower abs burn at the end. I like the ab stabilization exercise on your elbows and toes and I love the way he pyramids his push-ups. The stretch is excellent for the inner thighs, hips and butt.

PICKY STUFF: Okay. It's not a perfect workout. First and foremost, the background exercisers look like they met Aaron for the first time that morning (one of them is his wife, so that's a real guffaw) and have no idea what moves will be coming next. Also, I'll admit that I'm shallow and I'd like a little more glitz - better music, a set that didn't look like where I send my kids for time-out, well, you get the idea. Aaron gives these marvelous form pointers at the outset and then suddenly reverts to this crazed kind of Monday-night football patter, "are you ready for some power kicks? Let's get ready to rumble!" I sure would like to provide him with some synonyms for the word, "baby." And in the final combo of punching and blocking moves, he forgets to switch his stance and it feels very awkward.

For me, the complaints are minor. It's an excellent intermediate/advanced level workout. I'll happily buy the next video he makes. I'm not comparing it to Tae Bo, because I don't have the TB tapes.

Instructor comments: I like him. He seems like a big wholesome guy and comes across as a little awkward in the beginning. But by the end of the workout, I'm always amazed by the speed and grace of his kicks. Also, this guy is FLEXIBLE! He was practically doing the splits with a forward bend at the end of the workout. He's some kind of TKD champ and it shows. The background exercisers remind me of girls who never prepared for their final exams, sort of nervous and giggly. They are way out of whack in the warm-up and their punches look half-hearted. However, I'd be thrilled to be able to kick like either one of them -- I noticed their speed and form were pretty darned good. Next video, I hope Aaron and company take a little extra time to rehearse.

Daphne Magnuson

3/19/99

This is a totally different kind of workout. It is not for the faint of heart. I have been doing kickboxing since Taebo first came out and Aaron's video has added a new level to my workout. The footwork can be tricky but when I got used to it, it felt like a real martial arts class. It took me a few workouts before I could really put alot of power into the moves. Now I use it twice a month in between my other favorites (Total energy, Power Yoga and Interval Max). **I love this workout, it is my new favorite. I like the jumping kicks. I would like to see a longer more thorough ab workout. This is definitely one I'll keep.

Instructor comments: Very motivating. Knows just what to say to keep you up.

Laurelie Penrod
Lolly1234@Juno.com
4-4-2000

I agree with Sarah F's review. I just got this video off the exchange and reviewed it for the first time last night. . . and I disliked it so much that I couldn't even review the whole tape, even with fast-forwarding. I prefer dancy aerobics with complicated choreography, but I've done Tae Bo a few times for variety and I thought it was fun, and I got Kathy Smith's Kickboxing for form pointers, and I thought that was fun, too. But I kept waiting for some fun patterns to start while I was watching Power Kicks, and never got to any. Also, the background exercisers were not always on the same beat with Aaron, and this was quite distracting. I've never had a video that I didn't even try once, based on reviewing it. . .but oh, well, this one is popular, so I'll just put it back on the exchange!

Barbara F
6/28/00

This tape is already well-reviewed, so I don't have much to add. I just want to post my opinion. I have mixed feelings about this one.

I have no issue with Aaron Lankford. He clearly has expertise. And he's so darn cute & likeable! He provides great form pointers and that rarity - an intense, low-impact workout. Though I don't care for the boring set and music much, it's easy to ignore these factors once I'm working out.

The problem is that Power Kicks is a big fat yawn compared to Tae Bo. The only reason I held on to this video for as long as I did is because it is a low-impact workout which manages to push me into my THZ. Any tape that provides an advanced workout without impacting my feet or knees earns my undying respect. But I don't have to love it.

NOTE: The background exercisers - two women - are unlikely choices for a workout video. There's a stiff uneasiness to their movements as they mimic Aaron Lankford's movements. Their awkwardness is very endearing (& understandable!) to me . but none too inspiring.

Michelle Easton
October 26, 2000

Power Kicks is a strong, tough kickboxing workout for all levels of kickboxing enthusiasts. Prior to the start of the workout, instructor Aaron Lankford spends a few minutes reviewing method and form for each of the punches and kicks; even though I've been kickboxing for awhile now, I found this review to be helpful. The workout itself begins with a few minutes of arm stretches, which surprised me because Aaron performs the stretches before warming up the muscles. He then moves on to some simple series of punches followed by an additional few minutes of streches for a total warm-up time of 12 minutes.

The main body of the workout consists of three separate sections: all punches (5 minutes), all kicks (13 minutes), and then kick-punch combinations. The short punch section is the least varied, as Aaron focuses on the jab and cross punches but does not include hooks or uppercuts, but it does really work the shoulders. The kicking section includes front kicks, side kicks, roundhouse kicks, and back kicks and moves methodically through each type. In the combination section, Aaron leads sequences which are simple and easy to follow--e.g., jab, cross, front kick. Throughout the kickboxing sections, there is absolute NO jumping and only a few boxer shuffles thrown in, making the workout completely low impact. Some of the moves are performed double-time, but never at a pace which makes it too difficult to keep up or which sacrifices form.

For more specific toning work, Aaron leads an additional 6 minutes of kickboxing drills (similar to Kathy Smith's Kickboxing Workout). Here, the kicks are performed at a slower pace and with the assistance of a chair for balance. Following this, there is a 6 minute abs segment with includes traditional crunches, planks, and a few quick sets of push-ups, and then the workout concludes with a 4 minute cool-down consisting of seated forward bends.

By the end of this 56-minute video, I felt that all of the muscles in my body had been thoroughly worked out and was pleasantly tired. I think that this program would probably be doable for those new to kickboxing IF they are already in pretty good shape; I would NOT recommend this video to the beginning exerciser. This workout is probably best thought of as being low- to mid-intermediate level, but I think even those more advanced can get an excellent workout, especially with the addition of weighted gloves (I used 1 lb. per hand). However, those who prefer complex choreography and higher-impact cardio might be disappointed in this workout and might view it as lacking in the "fun" factor since the moves themselves are so basic. But if what you are looking for is a strong, full-body workout with both toning and cardiovascular benefits, I highly recommend Power Kicks.

Instructor comments: Aaron cues very well throughout the workout; he both encourages you to push yourself and lets you know it's okay to take it easy (saying things like "feel free to keep the kicks low"). He works out with two female background exercisers on a plain-looking set and with upbeat music. I liked that both Aaron and the background exercisers seemed to be getting tired at times--I was glad that I wasn't the only one!

Beth C (aka toaster)

October 12, 2004

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