Video Fitness

The Method: Step Up to Dance

Lisa Wheeler

This latest Method tape provides more of an aerobic workout than the previous tapes, with less of that very precise Method instruction.

After the warmup, there are 4 step sections separated by brief toning intervals. The stepping is not really any more complicated than a Cathe tape, but I found it more difficult to learn. There’s a danciness to the style that doesn’t come naturally to me, and also there’s not much repitition once you’ve built up the combo. (A plus for the easily bored. Me, I like to repeat a combo a few times after going to the trouble of learning it.) After doing the tape three times, though, I’m able to follow most of it and enjoy it. The intensity I would call intermediate. There are some power moves.

The toning sections are very short - a set of rear dips off the step, holding a dowel for support, and a set of standing inner thigh raises, also holding the dowel. Picture yourself in a dance class doing leg work at the barre - that’s the feel.

The structure of the workout is warmup, first step combo, one leg’s worth of dips, second step combo, the other leg’s worth of dips, third step combo, one leg’s inner thigh lifts, fourth combo, other leg’s inner thigh lifts. Then you go through all four step combos again without pausing in between. This is the most fun part (or will be once I really master the moves.) Going through the finished step routines, without any teaching or building up, is a challenge choreographically, but you really feel like you’re dancing on the step. (At least when your not forgetting which way you’re supposed to be turning!)

I suspect you could raise the aerobic intensity of the workout by fast forwarding through the toning sections. They really bring the heart rate down, and as a devoted Firmie, I’m not convinced standing leg work without weights is going to give me any real benefits. The step sections are long enough to feel worthwhile, though - not like the aerobics in the All-in-One Workout, where your heartrate has barely started to climb when they stop for weight work.

The aerobics/toning workout is followed by a short abs workout. It’s more conventional than the previous Method ab work - there are crunches, reverse crunches and oblique twists that are pretty much the standard fare, although the style reminds you that you’re doing a Method tape. There are also a few straight-legged rollups and, of course, the Teaser. This section moves more briskly than other Method ab work, but the trade-off is less detailed instruction. It’s a trade-off I’m happy to make.

The final stretch is mostly yoga inspired. As a non-yoga person, I find it a bit challenging and only a little intimidating.

Instructor: Lisa Wheeler is a friendly but businesslike instructor. I liked her a lot. (I also love her haircut. Do you think a hairdresser would mind if I brought in an exercise video and said “here, watch this - that’s my haircut!”)The rest of the class includes two men and two women. One of the women I find really annoying. She seems very impressed with her own sexiness, and is so busy undulating her pelvis that she sometimes has trouble following the moves. Speaking of excessive sexiness, there’s one moment that rivals the Firm for pornographic weirdness. Lisa Wheeler is instructing you to move from the pelvis - a perfectly reasonable instruction - but then she says, in a really suggestive voice, “I know you know how to swing your pelvis!” Huh? It’s an isolated oddity, though.

Instructor comments: Instructor: Lisa Wheeler is a friendly but businesslike instructor. I liked her a lot. (I also love her haircut. Do you think a hairdresser would mind if I brought in an exercise video and said “here, watch this - that’s my haircut!”)The rest of the class includes two men and two women. One of the women I find really annoying. She seems very impressed with her own sexiness, and is so busy undulating her pelvis that she sometimes has trouble following the moves. Speaking of excessive sexiness, there’s one moment that rivals the Firm for pornographic weirdness. Lisa Wheeler is instructing you to move from the pelvis - a perfectly reasonable instruction - but then she says, in a really suggestive voice, “I know you know how to swing your pelvis!” Huh? It’s an isolated oddity, though.

Amy Kennett
06/25/98

This is more of an intermediate level tape but I really liked it and think it's perfect to do on my yoga only day as a nice warm up. You do 4 separate sections of step, low impact but very dancy and I thought it was fun. These sections are separated by toning sections, not intense or challenging but if you really concentrate on the part being challenged you can feel it. You do one section on the step, then toning doing lunges off the step on one leg, then another step section, followed by lunges off the step on the other leg, then another step section followed by inner thigh raises using the dowel and standing on the step for one leg, then another step section followed by inner thigh work on the other leg. After that you do all 4 step sections together with breaks inbetween each section and after you do that through once you do all 4 sections together without taking breaks and you do that twice so it's a fun workout. She even does Cathe's pendulum move during her last step interval. After that you do the method style ab workout and I have to admit I really felt it! Then you do a relaxing yoga style cooldown and stretch. I think this is a very good tape for intermediates that want a dancy type workout. I'm advanced but I still like easier tapes for days I'm not up to a tough workout and this one is great for that.

Instructor comments: I happen to really like Lisa's teaching style. I used to do her workouts on Fit TV and haven't done them since we moved so it was nice to have a workout on tape from her.

Dawn Henson
7-26-98

Well, I've only done this video about 3 times and I find it to be a fairly good workout. Since the other reviewers give a good breakdown of the routine, I'll just give my general "likes" and "dislikes".

I enjoy the choreography. At first, my heart rate jumps a bit too high because the first routine starts out with some "over the tops" across the long length of the step. But, the intensity evens out a bit after that first routine. Overall intensity is intermediate. The moves are definitely "dancy" and not just complex in a Cathe Friedrich way. They are more jazz and ballet inspired. It seems this could definitely trip up those with two left feet. I normally don't have to pause videos because I catch most moves the first few times through, but this was an exception. I think the moves are more doable if you don't worry about the arm movements too much until you get the legs down. I also like the way Lisa demonstrates the more complicated moves instead of *telling* you what you're going to do. Once you've got the moves down, you can just do the demonstration with her.

I thoroughly enjoy the ab and stretch section which runs about 18 minutes according to Collage's catalog. The ab work is pretty tough and includes more traditional ab work than Method style work. There is one "stabilization" move which was tough. You lie on your stomach, and then raise up in push-up position, but with your arms bent, forearms resting on the floor. You hold this position for 30 seconds (I think). Then you rest a few seconds and do it again. This time, you alternate raising your legs up in the air behind you for 30 seconds. Tough stuff!

Now, to the negatives. I am trading this video on the Exchange, because it just doesn't keep my heart rate very stable. There is one section in particular where one move is done particularly slow. During the entire "teaching" of that section, my heart rate drops. Also, my heart rate drops during the "toning" intervals. Actually, these are easy to fast forward over because they only last a minute, but that still interferes too much to be worth doing. The four intervals only add a total of 4 minutes onto the 32 minute aerobic portion, so I just don't see any benefit to them being there.

There are a few "picky" things that are slightly annoying, so I thought I'd mention them. One is the participant on the left of Lisa Wheeler. Her moves are more undulating than everyone elses. She just looks more "dancy" than the others who have a more "athletic" approach in their movement. The other thing is Lisa Wheeler's use of the word "fabulous" too many times.

The music is OK. I didn't really notice it too much except at the beginning. I think it must be very repetitive. There seems to be some recorded music, but there are also musicians in the background playing drums, maracas, and harp (in the warm up). It's a nice effect to be stepping to a live group.

Overall, I like this video, but the intervals between step segments are keeping me from liking it enough to actually do it on a regular basis. I give it a B.

Instructor comments: I like Lisa Wheeler's style. She's very professional and cues well. The only negative about her in this video is she says "fabulous" too much. Other than that, she does a great job.

Chris Jackson
10-23-98

I like this best of all the Method tapes. There are three dance segments interspersed with three toning segments using a bar (a broomstick is fine). The choreography is something I am still struggling with, but it is not impossible. There is ab toning, not as strong as Method "All in One" but effective. I like this tape very much.

Instructor comments: She is very good, not as into the "New Age" yoga terminology as other Method instructors. No terms such as "honoring the alignment of your spine" etc. She is very down to earth. My only complaint is her "Yes!" shrieks in the midst of the workout. Sounds like she is enjoying this TOO much, if you know what I mean. She is very easy to follow.

laura b
11-20

I had been curious about this video for awhile, and I decided to get it from the exchange (thanks, Renae). I have done several other Method workouts, and have been lukewarm about them. I didn't expect to like this tape much, either, but I do! It is very dancy, especially once the arm movements are added). It feels like you are in a dance class. I would call the choreography moderate to complex, and the intensity intermediate. As far as the leg toning intervals go--they were very short, and my heartrate didn't drop much during them. I also found that in order to feel the muscle working during them, I had to really concentrate on contracting the muscle. I really liked the ab work, too. It is a cross between the other Method tapes' abwork and conventional ab work. I liked the part where you assume a plank position leaning on your elbows and hold it for 30 seconds (sometimes raising one leg at a time). Tough! I can see using this tape for the ab work alone. The yoga-type stretches at the end were nice, too. I got this tape for a change of pace, and it suits that purpose. The music is different, too--drums with a Latin/tribal feel. I would recommend this tape to intermediates who like dancy step workouts, and to advanced exercisers who want a change of pace for a light day.

Instructor comments: Lisa Wheeler's cuing is good, but there are a few times that she says, "basic step right" but SHE is on her right foot (not mirroring you). Other than that, I found that she was easy to understand. When I previewed this tape, I felt that she was almost shouting the cues, but I didn't notice that when I was doing the workout. She is very graceful and has a dancer's body.

Kristin Aziz
1/26/99

This tape is definitely a keeper. The first section is a warm up that consists of some dance moves that really get you warmed up. The first workout I think is the best one to learn. When you learn that first section the others or a peice of cake. The first toning segment is short but, very effective(won't bring your heart rate down either) not long and boring like the All in in One Workout. The second workout is really easy to learn and is very fun once you remember what leg you are suppose to be on. Then there is the second toning segment which just switch legs. The last workout is very fun to. And the last toning segement my heart rate is very high and i am sweating like a pig. Then you put all the step together and that is a blast! The cool down is excellent (yoga inspired). This workout is great for those who love to dance. You will not be disapointed with this tape at all.

Instructor comments: Lisa Wheeler is a fun, motivating instructor. Her cuing is excellent and, her technique graceful and elegant.

Lisa Winters

2-2-99

What a gem of a workout! If I sound surprised, it's because I am. In fact, I've been pleasantly surprised by every Method tape I've seen -- you would think I'd learn to expect the best by now!

This is not a killer, drip-sweat workout. In fact, it's not even advanced, except possibly in some of the choreography. Nevertheless, it's extremely enjoyable and a wonderful change of pace.

You do four step routines separated by four toning segments. The toning is standing leg work done on the step, but it's more torso stabilization work than anything else. I don't feel much of anything in my legs. At the end of the four step/toning segments, you put all four step routines together and do it a couple of times. The choreography is intermediate/advanced, but I don't consider it very dancy. The intensity is intermediate.

After this, you do some Method-style ab work. It increases in difficulty as you go along. The last two ab exercises are the teaser and what Keli Roberts (in Straight Up Sculpt) calls the ab bridge -- I'm not sure what the "official" name of it is. Whatever it is, it's killer!

Finally, you do some yoga to stretch out. I like this part just as much as the rest.

Snap this up if you find it. It's perfect for days when you just want something different and refresing. Grade A.

Annie S.
AnnS@mwis.net
2-20-99

This is a feel good video. The routine is interesting, the set is appealing (like other Method tapes), and the exercisers are all good.

While I generally like this video a lot, I modify it quite a bit. I find the choreography unecessarily complex. While I can follow a Cathe tape by the second time, I'm convinced I'll never get some parts of this routine no matter how many times I do it. She does break segments down very slowly—too slowly, because my heart rate plummets. Heart rate also plummets during toning segments. So all in all, I modify what I can't follow, and what goes too slowly. Some parts are also so easy that I feel I'm not getting work out.

Sounds like a lot of negatives, but the moves are fun, the ab section and cool down are great, and it's just a nice tape option to have.

Instructor comments:

Beth
bbunten@fcb.com
3-9-99

This is a fabulous work out, as Lisa will tell you numerous times. Fabulous is probably too strong, but it is fun. Very dancey, mostly low impact. There are lots of turns on the stop, around the step, onto the step and off the step. Yup, that means a lot of turns! Lisa does break them down and add them in gradually though so you don't have to do them until you feel ready. The workout is set up in intervals with lower body, dance inspired toning. I don't usually mind intervals, but the kill my flow in this. I get dancing, have my Gelsey Kirkland thing going, and I have to stop to do some lunges! What a drag! The toning moves are quite basic, but there aren't many reps to get the full advantage. I like the atrium setting, and the music is cool too. There is some Method/Pilates type ab toning at the end. The toning feels very long and kinda grueling. I'd say they're advanced level. The aerobics are fun, intermediate in intensity and advanced in complexity (if you're a dancer though, you should be able to follow it if you're in decent shape). This isn't the best heart rate lifter I've done, but it is a dancers workout. In other words, the intensity comes not from high impact moves or staying in your heart rate for an extended period, but from how you use your body. Think of how you expand your legs and arms into space. How you reach your finger tips, point your toes, turn out at the hips. Think about how you lift your head tall or how you let it drop. FEEL the rhythm, and focus on the quality and purity and ease of your movements. That is the essence of dance, not 85% of your THR. Obviously, if you measure the quality of your work out by its intensity, this will not appeal to you. But if you like dancing and developing you inner dancer, you will enjoy this tape. I thought it was a load of fun and would recommend it enthusiastically.

Instructor comments: Lisa Wheeler seems very pleasant in this work out. She's friendly without "whoo" and professional without being detached. She breaks down this very dancey work out very well. Some of the moves are a little tricky, but she tries to make it as "two left foot" friendly as possible. I liked her approach to the class. And she has a great hair cut!

L'Anne

OK, maybe I'm just dumb, but I really did not expect a Step video, I thought dance steps. Wrong! You will need a step, a dowel and much more coordination and patience than I have! As a former aerobics instructor, trained and certified by Reebok to teach Step (and taught ALOT of step classes) and a former belly dancer, I thought I could handle this tape. HAH! This tape is not for the faint of heart or for the physically challenged, which I now am (read= disabled). I've placed this tape in the exchange, only used once and will never use it again.

Wendy H.
Shaera@aol.com
9/15/99



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