Video Fitness

Powerstrike Millenium Series #2

Patricia Moreno and Ilaria Montagnani

The Powerstrike videos just keep getting better. These advanced kickboxing videos give you complete workouts of approximately 55-60 minutes with warm-up, cooldown and stretches. In the earlier videos, you were a spectator to a large live class in an aerobic studio where Patricia and Ilaria were on a platform facing the class. At times the camera angles were confusing (i.e. left vs. right) as they switched between the instructors and the students. Every once in a while the instructor that was not leading at the time would go and adjust the music on the stereo. I have done #3 and #4, which were great workouts but had mediocre sound and video. Level one #1 and Advanced series #1 had better production quality but were slightly shorter workouts with minimal cooldowns and stretches.

In the Millenium series, it feels more like a typical exercise video. There is an introductory segment at the beginning of each tape where they demonstrate the proper form and technique for the punches and kicks that will be used in the video. During the workout, the instructors and background exercisers are facing and mirroring you. The class size is much smaller, maybe 8 to 10 people. You may recognize some of the background exercisers from previous Powerstrike videos. The artsy camera angles are kept to a minimum, though in video1 they switch back and forth to black and white sometimes. Patricia and Ilaria address the camera rather than the class, and occasionally will mention low-impact or beginner modifications demonstrated by one or two background exercisers. Both instructors seem at ease in front of the camera and joke around – you can see that they enjoy what they do and have a good rapport. I did miss the raw energy from the live class in previous Powerstrike videos, but this did not hinder my enjoyment of the workout.

The workouts themselves follow the familiar Powerstrike formula – warm-up with some lower body stretches and pushups, a tough punch combo and 2-3 punch and kick combos all on one side (usually left stance first), then everything on the other side, ending with the punch combo. They usually teach the kicks on both sides through some short drills in between combos. At the end there is a drill with blocks to cool you down, followed by stretches. Ilaria and Patricia take turns teaching combos

Video #1 focuses on the jab, cross, hook, front push kick and roundhouse kick. Patricia does the introduction and teaches the punches and kicks. Video #2 incorporates all of the punches (jab, cross, hook, uppercut) and the "push" kicks – front push, side kick and back kick. Ilaria does the introduction and initial drills in this one. These workouts seemed to me to be a notch up in intensity vs. Advanced series #1 and Level one #1 – there were some tough kicking combos, such as front push, front push, knee, side kick, side squat with block, side kick, scissors. Even during the punch drills my heartrate was very high. You can clearly see some of the exercisers and instructors (I won’t name names!) absolutely drenched in sweat. #2 left me sore the next day – the back kicks really worked my glutes and my mid-back was pleasantly sore from the many upper cuts and hooks.

So what’s so great about Powerstrike? I like the attention to proper technique and the sequencing of punches, kicks and blocks in the combinations. As you practice the combos, both instructors are constantly reminding you about proper form. Instead of the basic "jab, cross, hook, uppercut" pattern you often see in other kickboxing workouts, you do more interesting combos which incorporate various speeds. The quick jab-cross-jab patterns are especially tough. And they are just plain fun! I would’t recommend Powerstrike for kickboxing novices because the combinations move very quickly, but once you are comfortable with technique you will find Powerstrike both fun and challenging. A+

One last superficial comment – I really loved the tops that Patricia and Ilaria wore in these workouts – very cute and show off their toned physiques. In #2 both instructors have the Powerstrike lightning bolt in sparkly paint on their upper arms.

Caroline Kim
12-29-01

I received my Millennium 1 and 2 tapes and did 2 last night - WOW! This tape is amazing. I previewed it a bit and it seemed really easy since there is hardly any impact, but I noticed that the entire class, including the instructors were sweating like crazy.

So I tried it and couldn't believe the workout I got - this is GREAT for anyone who wants a good cardio low impact workout w/o weights. No equipment at all is needed and you barely need any space (you could do this in your bathroom!).

The combos include moves such as jabs, cross punches, uppercuts, hooks, push kicks, back kicks, side kicks, squats, push-ups, and some jumping jacks.

What I really loved about it is that proper form/technique are constantly emphasized throught the entire workout. I really felt as though I were in an actual kickboxing class and now I'm interested in taking karate or something similar.

One of the instructors is a black belt in karate and has impeccable form, defined abs, and is so fun to watch. The other one is a fitness/dance instructor. They trade off leading the workout and seem to be having a blast w/ each other.

The bangin' techno music is also very motivating, though I did notice the same music is on both tapes (hopefully I won't get sick of it!).

I am looking forward to the third volume of this Millennium series, which is supposed to be available on DVD.

Instructor comments: Ilaria is a martial arts expert and it really shows - her form is perfect. Both instructors seem to be having a blast and seem to know each other very well and laugh when they screw up. Patricia & Ilaria constantly gives form pointers all throughout the entire workout and have lots of energy.

Amy
amy_vonk@hotmail.com
6/27/02

This is another great powerstrike video. It is different than the first millenium video because there is more kicking (the punching combos are still very intense though). I couldn't believe how much I was sweating towards the end of this workout. Although this is one of the most intense workouts on video, I felt invigorated after this workout.
I like the first video slightly better than this one, but that is just my opinion. I have heard many people say they think this video is tougher. If you like taebo and cathe video and are looking for a fun,new challenge, Powerstrike is for you.

Instructor comments: These two work great together. They are really motivating.

Pat Griffin

7/19/03

On cardio work, I am an intermediate exerciser who is playing with advanced choreography. Kickboxing is a break with my normal step and hi/lo workouts. I really like this workout since it gets my heart going and it doesn’t stop until it’s done. I also like the combinations they put together and the way Ilaria and Patricia interact with each other. OK. Some details…

I stopped at the beginning of the cooldown to do a stretch tape instead. It was 54 minutes into the workout. The basic breakdown of the workout is as follows (note that I was trying to take notes during the workout, so forgive me if something is wrong with this list…):

Warm-up
Punch combination, right side
Front kicks, both sides
Back kicks, both sides
Combination with punches and kicks, left side
Jumping jacks
Side kicks, both sides
Combo with kicks and punches, left side
First full combo, right side
Second full combo, right side
Slow punches and squats
Cooldown

Ilaria and Patricia trade of leading the exercises. In general they cue well, although they mess up occasionally (and who isn’t leading points that fact out). There is joking and laughing between them, but they also give a lot of form pointers and reminders through the whole workout. They are also encouraging about what I can do and they kept me with them.

They lead a small group of background exercises that are just sort of there, but they all keep up. The workout appears to be done in a workout room. I enjoyed the music and found it motivating, even though it was instrumental.

They did do a few high-impact moves. The jumping jacks, I just alternated shallow squats side to side. The scissors, I just ignored and shuffled to the side they ended up on. I just fast forwarded through the push-ups in the warm up. Other than that, I think all the other moves are not high impact.

Instructor comments: They are fun and knowledgeable and capable of reminding me about form.

Laura S.

September 6, 2004

Another VFer, Laura S, generously offered to loan me the first two Powerstrike Millenium videos on the condition that I write reviews of both. ;-) At the start of each video, instructors Ilaria and Patricia spend a few minutes providing instruction on the punches and kicks that will be used during the workout. The format of these workouts is somewhat unique: after the warm-up, they each begin with a punching combination series performed on one side of the body only. After that, you go into various kicking and punching combinations, but you don't repeat the initial punch series on the other side until the very end of the workout.

The box describes video 2 as "advanced level," and that's definitely the case! I didn't even try wearing my 1 lb. weighted gloves, as I knew the workout would be intense enough without them. It begins with a fast-paced warm-up that is similar in style to other kickboxing videos (eg, Janis, Kathy Smith) but moves at a much quicker pace, getting your heart rate right up from the beginning; push-ups are included as part of the warm-up. Next comes the initial punching combination performed on the left side only and consisting of a jab-cross sequence which adds on hooks and uppercuts; you do a lot of nice body twisting in this section.

The first kick series, performed on both sides, consists of a front push set and then a back kick set. You then do a punch combination on the left side only, adding in the kicks. Transitioning with a few jumping jacks, you remain on the left side for side kicks and then a front/side combo series; again, you add a punch series and then repeat the entire sequence together. Both of these sequences are then performed on the right side before going back to repeat the initial punch combination on the right. The workout the begins to wind down with 4 minutes of squats and plies combined with a block. There are 3 minutes of stretches to finish, bringing the entire workout in at 57 minutes.

This is a high energy workout that is definitely at an intermediate/advanced level. It is a bit shorter than the first Millenium series workout and in some ways less intense--not as many double-time punches, no kick-lunges combos--yet the kicking sequences are still very challenging. I enjoyed this workout a bit more than the first, as the slightly slower pace allowed me to concentrate more on form; also, I liked using all 4 punches, although there were no roundhouse kicks. One small pet peeve was that during the cool-down, the fast-paced music was still playing, making it difficult to relax and wind down. Overall, however, I would recommend this workout to anyone looking for a kickboxing workout with simple, fun choreography performed at advanced intensity levels.

Instructor comments: Ilaria and Patricia take turns leading a full class in a gym setting. Both cued adequately, although they occasionally made mistakes. They are both obviously very fit; Ilaria in particular is extremely buff. However, I didn't like that they were wearing headgear--Ilaria a baseball cap and and Patricia a headband. I would have preferred if they had dressed more as they are outfitted on the video box cover to highlight their great physiques.

Beth C (aka toaster)

March 16, 2005

I LOOOOOVED this workout! I am an advanced exerciser who was growing bored with step and hi/lo so decided to try out kickboxing. I liked Cathe's stuff so I figured I'd give Patricia & Ilaria a try. I am so glad I did. The workout is tough. I am an intensity junkie, and always worry about a workout not being geared toward the advanced exerciser. This one absolutely is made for the advanced exerciser. I was drenched at the end of this workout, and it is winter and pretty chilly in this old house regardless of how high the thermostat is. I felt my upper back burning within 10 minutes of ending the workout - how's that for DOMS??? Ilaria & Patricia take turns leading you up to a combo, layering one extra punch or kick, etc onto the end of the last round until you've got the finished product. I give this one an A+!!

Instructor comments: Patricia & Ilaria have a great on screen rapport. They have fun throughout this tape, goofing on each other's occassional mess ups and laughing together. They constantly emphasize the importance of proper form throughout the entire tape. They both appear to be very knowledgeable in martial arts, and have the physiques to match that knowledge. These ladies are CUT!

Anonymous

1/14/06

Breakdown of workout:
0:00:00 Intro: Ilaria explains (and both demonstrate) all punches & kicks
0:03:15 Warmup: J, C, H, U, torso twists, front chambers & push kicks; calf stretches & 8 pushups facing each side
0:08:45 L Punching drills: J C JC; H H; U U; put sequences together
0:13:44 Front & Back Kick drills – L front, R front, L back, R back
0:19:49 L: Combo 1 – Punch-kick combo (2 counts of 8):
JC C Drop U U; Front kick Back kick Front kick
[Transition: 16 jumping jacks]
0:24:59 Side Kick drills – R, L, R, L: side chamber & kick
0:27:07 L: Combo 2 – Kick-punch combo (4 counts of 8)
L front, R front, L knee, L side; squat to R, L side, scissors; JCJ JCJ C; JCJ JCJ C
[Transition: jogs]
0:35:13 R: Combo 1 – Punch-kick combo (2 counts of 8)
0:40:36 R: Combo 2 – Kick-punch combo (4 counts of 8)
0:47:32 R: Punching drills: alternating JC JC H H; JC JC U U; J, C, H, H
0:53:20 Cooldown: Squats w/ blocks
0:57:08 Stretch (Tai-Chi style)

J = jab, C = cross, H = hook, U = uppercut
(No spaces in between the letters means the punches happen in rapid succession. In the combinations, I’ve used boldface to indicate the first beat in each count of 8.)

As a passionate fan of this workout (and of Powerstrike more generally), I felt obliged to explain exactly what I love about it, while also addressing specific criticisms I’ve read from other VFers about it and acknowledging a few ways in which it might not suit everyone’s needs. My prior kickboxing experience comes from a couple years of semi-private self-defense training, plus a few more years of group fitness classes, and 80+ kickboxing videos. I guess I would classify my cardiovascular fitness level as advanced.

What I find most outstanding about this workout is the way it builds and maintains intensity without too much high-impact and without wasting time. Many other cardio tapes rely on jumping of various kinds to add intensity, but this workout shows that that’s unnecessary. There are some jumping jacks and scissor jacks in the choreography, but they’re very short and easily could be skipped or modified without compromising the workout. Instead, the nonstop kicks and punches, at a fast tempo of 144-152bpm, are what propel your heart rate up. In 54 minutes, from warmup to cooldown, you execute 2000+ punches, 160+ chambers, and 700+ kicks. Compare this to 3326 punches and no chambers or kicks in 46 minutes with Michael Olajide’s Aerobox; 816 punches, 128 chambers, and 528 kicks in 26 minutes with Dewey Yung’s Dawei Cardio Kickboxing; and 2000+ punches, ~270 chambers, and 600+ kicks in 54 minutes with Cathe Friedrich’s Kick, Punch, & Crunch. Unlike the other workouts, however, Powerstrike Millennium #2 has very little marching and jogging in place to fill time while teaching the choreography, without throwing complicated combinations at you too quickly for you to execute every move with good form and power.

The brilliance of Ilaria’s and Patricia’s teaching is that they keep you moving constantly and give you plenty of practice and advance notice so that you can put your full effort into every move. Because they break down the routine into smaller chunks and cue ahead of each move, it’s possible to get all the moves even on the first time through. For example, Patricia introduces combination #1 (punch-kick combo) by focusing on just the punches. After practicing 24 jab-crosses, you add on the second cross and drop, repeating that 10 times before adding on a block at the end. Four repetitions later, you add an uppercut, and ten repetitions after that, you add another uppercut with the other arm. Patricia then sets that aside and moves to the kick portion of the combination, practicing just front kicks, then front and back kicks, then front and back and front kicks. After practicing the kicks, she puts the punch segment and kick segment together, repeating the entire combination 10 times. This approach ensures that you’re prepared for each additional move and can focus on form and power, rather than just flailing about clumsily trying to keep up with the instructor (which is how I often feel as a choreography-challenged exerciser doing other videos!).

Because this is designed as an hour-long workout, with the intensity gradually building up from a thorough warmup and then gradually cooling down to the final stretch, you won’t be able to split it up into halves easily. As you can see from the breakdown above, the workout starts with punching drills on the left, effectively extending the warmup, and it ends with the same punching drills on the right, which become a preliminary cooldown. Both combinations are taught on the left side, during the first half of the workout, before moving to the right side. While some people have complained that this format exhausts one side of the body before the other, I don’t perceive that to be a problem in this workout because all of the combinations utilize punches and kicks on both sides of the body, even if you’re always staying in left stance. However, if you don’t like revisiting the first combination of the video significantly later in the workout, it’s possible that this format won’t be right for you. Some people have suggested creating their own "remix" of this workout by changing the order of the segments to avoid this.

This particular workout is my favorite among the Powerstrike videos, since it’s more intense than Millennium #3 and feels more balanced than Millennium #1. I was surprised to discover that this has approximately the same number of punches as but more kicks than M1, since M1 is noteworthy to me for its long kicking sequences. I think the difference is that M2 does a better job of balancing the kicks on the two sides within each segment, and it has fewer knee chambers and high-impact jacks.

There are some other characteristics of the workout that might not suit your preferences. The greatest drawback is the abbreviated stretch; I personally need to add on more stretching to relax those muscles after working them so much. Also, the number of repetitions isn’t exactly the same from one sequence to the next or from one side to the other. While I don’t think it’s a problem given what a small percentage that deviation constitutes of the total number of punches and kicks, it might bother someone who’s a stickler for perfect symmetry. Finally, there is some whooping and counting, not so much from Ilaria as from Patricia, who lets out a few enthusiastic shouts and sometimes encourages the class to count down the number of repetitions remaining.

Some production details to note about this video are that it is only available on VHS; it uses the same music as M1 (good if you like it, bad if you want more variety or distinctiveness); and the lighting isn’t stellar. But if you can forgive those flaws, you can get an incredible workout from Powerstrike Millennium #2—the best kickboxing video on the market, in my opinion.

Instructor comments: I absolutely love Powerstrike! I think Ilaria and Patricia provide excellent instruction and demonstrate fantastic form, while also serving as a wonderful model of how to structure a safe but intense kickboxing workout that’s relatively low-impact. In addition, they know how to teach a combination in such a way that you can get it the first time without having to sacrifice intensity, and you can actually practice the moves to work on your own form while also improving speed and power. More specifically, they actually work on transitions between sequences, so you don’t have that “oh-wait-a-minute—what's-next-again?” feeling of having to scramble and catch up when you move on to the next series of moves. I think it’s a shame that this practice is so rare in fitness classes and videos. It makes perfect sense that people need to practice putting together tough sequences (this is how my violin teacher taught me to practice). This is what helps keep the intensity high throughout the workout, since you don’t have those little lapses where you miss something and can’t do the moves full-out.

KickDancer

10/7/2005



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