Video Fitness

Kickbox Strike Zone

Janis Saffell

This workout isn't real intense but I did work up a great sweat and it's a really good lower body work out.

The first section is just very short combo's that are very easy to learn and she doesn't take it from the top at all, so once you learn the move and practice it a few times, you move on to another one right away. She has you doing side kicks, jump round house kicks (like a jump front kick but only a roundhouse kick), front & back kicks together, crescent kicks and a new one called a hook kick and she finishes this segment with squats and back lunges, adding in quite a few of the jab/cross move for the upper body.

The next segment I wasn't sure I would like because it's partner work with the paddles, but she has 2 people demonstrating the moves without a partner and that's actually the best way to go because after you do an upper body move and a lower body move, you switch partners but if you don't have a partner you do the moves all over again so you're constantly moving. She has you do hooks, upper cuts, hook kick, roundhouse kick, double roundhouse kick, and front kicks during that segment.

The last segment is the strength segment. You start out with jabs, jabs above your head, slow squats, slow side leg lifts, you do this one move where you bring your knee up towards your chest slowly for a count of 8, then you keep the knee up and pulse it and then you extend your leg straight out and then back in while keeping your knee up the whole time, really works your quads. The last strength segment you bend over slightly and do a slow back kick and then you turn that into a hamstring curl, working on balance and strength at the same time. Janis does a nice Tai Chi cooldown and stretch. I thought it was a really good work out and great for those days you don't want anything too intense but want something fun.

Janis and her crew all wore 1 lb weighted hand gloves during segments 1 & 3 so I'm sure that adds a lot of intensity to the upper body but I still found it to be a great upper body work out without them. I happen to really like Janis's personality and I think she makes working out a lot of fun. She shows great form during all the moves and is very energetic. I'd rate this tape as an intermediate level work out, you have to know all your kickboxing moves before trying this tape. For a Fun Factor, I'd give in an A. Intensity I'd give it a B.

Dawn Henson
7-19-01

I had to report in after doing Janis' StrikeZone tape today. I have to put in a disclaimer, I am only now returning to kickboxing after a 5-week hiatus with a broken toe.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this tape! Considering earlier discussions on VF, I was surprised to find that it's relatively intense and the combos are inspired and motivating.

Best of all, Janis is in rare form! I admit, I have her 9702 tape and I haven't yet done the kickboxing section (!) so I don't have much to compare with, but I really thought that Janis was geniuinely enjoying herself and seemed sincere.

She is definitely having fun! As others have said, the first 22min of the workout is combos and I thought that Janis did a good job of keeping the intensity up while teaching the combos without resorting to too many "walking in place" breaks. She uses jumping jacks raising the arms vertically up & down, and so on.

And the combos were fun and included moves not too popular in kickboxing tapes made for the general public - hook kicks, crescent kicks, back kicks.

Then the last 20min are "kickboxing strength" drills with partners and paddles - these were really cardio and technique drills that can be pretty intense - because if you DON'T have a partner to switch off with, you're doing TWICE the work others are doing! And this part of the tape is more relaxed and casual - not as choreographed and yet well organized.

Janis laughs and sincerely enquires how the others are doing throughout and just looks like she's having fun. It's funny in the second half the way she walks around the others coaching them and every so often just can't resist and begins throwing in roundhouse kicks side-by-side with them - like being on the sidelines isn't her nature.

I enjoyed both parts. It's truly a solid intermediate to advanced KB tape with some innovative kicks and combos. More advanced than Kathy Smith's KB tape (c'mon, it's got back kicks!) Less high-impact cardio than Cathe's Cardio Kicks but more intense than Todd Gheisar's Workout 3 (not as many "walking in place while teaching" intensity breaks). I had fun!

I confess, I did not do the cool-down - shame on me, it's supposed to be a very nice Tai Chi cooldown.

I forgot to mention, I do own a pair of IronWear weighted gloves (1lb each) that I haven't used with this tape yet - yet Janis and her team used 2-4lb weighted gloves throughout. Whew! I think I'll need to work back up to my original strength and form to do THAT without hurting myself! I can see how this would definitely bring the intensity up to a high-intensity advanced workout.

I recognized some of the music on this tape as previous Dynamix or MusicFlex tracks, and even recognized one song from Cathe's MIS (I think). The music had a good beat, medium volume, not pounding, and I liked it, but overall it wasn't memorable. I hope Janis uses some really motivating rock or pop music in her future productions.

What a nice way to get back into kickboxing. Overall, I was surprised I liked it! I'm glad I got this tape. I know she's selling it at her website, www.janissaffell.com. Now I'm inspired to go back and try 9702 - to learn why it got such mixed reviews.

Dawn P.
8/05/01

This was the kickboxing workout that I have been looking for. I have tried almost every kickboxing workout ever made and my two keepers are Janis's Kickbox Express and Dawai Cardio Kickboxing. This workout is about an hour long and perfect for people who don't have a lot of time for exercise like me. This video combines cardio and strength workout all in one. The cardio segment is fun and invigorating. There is a segment of paddle work that she also demonstrates how to do this alone without a partner. When I do this segment I can work on precision and strength in my kicks and punches which I feel is more important that going faster for the sake of raising your heart rate (plus I think it is safer too). The ending segment of strength training is mostly focusing on the buns and legs and isn't to bad. By using hand weight throughout the video (except the paddle segment) I really felt it the next day in my lats which I usually don't work that hard so it is a good strength workout as well as cardio. There is more cardio in this tape than in the Yin Yang video so I will use this tape on days I want to work harder. I really recommend this tape for anyone wanting to really improve their skill in kickboxing because this tape will do it.

Instructor comments: I love Janis. She is my all time favorite instructor. She is friendly and motivating without being too silly. She is serious about kickboxing and her pointers and suggestions confirm this, in my opinion. She is obviously having a lot of fun in this video which helps me to enjoy it more too.

Tara
taralynn36@hotmail.com
2/24/02

W/U: 6 min, Kickbox Aerobics: 22 min, Drills: 16 min, Toning: 10 min, Stretch: 6 min. = 60 min.

Janis is wearing red pants and 70’s style blue bra halter, she’s tall, svelte, knockout-beautiful.
I previewed the video and liked it immensely, though I felt a little intimidated. This could have been a kicks-only video, because the jab, cross, hook, uppercut are only presented a few times; seemingly just to give you a break from kicking. I should say Janis’ background exercisers included 3 or 4 guys; two of them were clearly advanced kickboxers, with agility and precision matching the girls.

I only did it for the first time last night, so I can’t remember it well enough to say what happens when, but I’d like to mention some of the moves that I really liked. The warm-up comprises bob and weave combinations with jabs and speed bag. There’s a fun segment where she’s stepping sideways with body angled away and jabbing to the front.

Janis and her team wore 1-lb. hand weights for the entire workout, excepting the warm-up and drill section. I only wore ½ lb. weights because that’s all I have, and I didn’t feel it during the workout or the next day – I should go out and buy the 1-lb. gloves. There’s some jumping jacks interspersed throughout, but at an easygoing, fun speed. You have time to plyo the impact if you want.

The preparation before executing the different types of kicks was well thought out. My hips and knees were always turned the right way. She did the front push kick, the roundhouse, front stance hip-rotation with the roundhouse, the crescent kick, the back kick, the hook kick. She taught the back-kick, then combined it with the front push kick. The hook kick was the only kick that I needed to do at half time to figure it out. These are fun.

The drill section has a drill for the 4 types of punches paired with front, roundhouse and hook kicks. There are double roundhouses in here. Janis’ team works in pairs, with one partner holding out a target paddle for the working partner to hit/kick. I really wish I had a heavy bag or something to beat on for this part. I think the strike zone target would really intensify the workout.

That’s something I have to mention. In spite of all the kicking I did, the workout was intermediate level intensity. I think this is because the speed of the punches and kicks is medium-fast, never super fast; plus, the drills are short and the many transitions happen at a relaxed pace (“how ya doin’? how was that?” ).

One other thing I should mention. Janis and her team show good kickboxing form. But there’s not a lot of verbal tips to help you get it down. If you can learn by watching them, great. But I know I was modifying or intensifying their moves as I needed, based on techniques I learned in previous kickboxing tapes.

I started out two years ago with Katalin Zamiar’s G.I. Jabb tapes, then moved on to the more demanding Powerstrike tapes. I think at my present level of fitness, I need to stick with the Powerstrike tapes to get a good workout. But I would like to do this tape again just to see Janis, and also to spend time doing all the cool kicks.

Instructor comments:

Desie

May 17, 2002

I just started kickboxing a few months ago, and since that time, I've had trouble finding kickboxing videos that I really enjoy. Some have been too aerobic-oriented, others have lacked fun variations and kick-punch combos, and still others contained too mainly elements I didn't want (eg, the floor work in most Tae Bo videos). However, with Janis Saffell's Kickbox Strike Zone, I think I have finally found the PERFECT kickboxing video.

What I liked so much about this workout is that it's pure kickboxing: regardless of whether you're warming up, doing cardio, or focusing on toning, you're always combining punches and kicks. In addition, although the video provides an excellent, sustained cardio workout, there is almost no jumping, so it is completely low impact. Furthermore, the workout is great for those (like myself) who have trouble following complicated choreography, as the moves are very simple: most of the time, you are moving either your upper OR your lower body rather than trying to coordinate both together.

The workout begins with a 5 minute warmup. In this section, you move through slower-paced kicks, knee raises, lunges, and just a few push-ups. Next comes the main kickboxing section, which totals about 20 minutes. In this segment, you begin by focusing mainly on punches with a few kicks and knee raises thrown in, but eventually, you concentrate more on kicks, including front, back, side, roundhouse, and hook (which I'd never seen before). Jumping jacks are included inbetween some of the moves, but you can easily substitute marching if you want to keep the workout completely low-impact. This section ends with a few squats to provide additional toning benefits.

The next segment consists of 16 minutes of kickboxing drills. These are performed using a partner who is holding a target; I simply imagined a target, and not having a partner just meant that I repeated each routine. I really enjoyed this section, as it provided a great opportunity to intently focus on my form for both my punches and my kicks (there are no combinations in this section). Following the drills, there is an additional 10 minutes of standing toning work, mainly knee lifts and squats combined with punches and kicks. The workout ends with a 5 minute Tai Chi stretch for a total time of 56 minutes.

Although I think that those new to kickboxing would be able to follow along with this workout, I would recommend starting with a more teaching-oriented video (such as Kathy Smith's Kickboxing Workout) and then moving on to this one as soon as you know the basics. I'm confident that I will continue to use this video frequently over time to provide me with a great cardio AND toning workout. Highly recommended!

Instructor comments:

I found Janis Saffell to be an excellent instructor. Although she assumes prior familiarity with the basic kickboxing moves, she offers great form reminders and models flawless form herself. She and the 8 background exercisers really look like they are enjoying themselves and getting into the workout. They all use 1-lb. weighted gloves during the workout (with the exception of the warmup, drills, and cool-down sections), and I was able keep up fine wearing my own 1-lb. gloves; I also held 3 lb. hand weights for just a few of the toning exercises in the last segment.

Beth C (aka toaster)

August 19, 2004

Kickbox Strike Zone offers an intermediate-to-advanced kickboxing workout in terms of the moves used and taught, but the cardio workout it provides is short and only intermediate in intensity. This is one of the only videos that breaks down crescent kicks, hook kicks, jump front kicks, and jump roundhouse kicks, with plenty of opportunities to practice all of these slightly-less-common kicks. If you work out with a partner and a kickbox paddle or focus mitt, or if you use a heavy bag, the paddle work segment (16 min) provides a good opportunity to practice technique for aiming one’s punches and kicks more precisely. The “strength” section (10 min) allows you to practice executing your punches and kicks while testing your balance, since Janis doesn’t have you steadying yourself on a chair during these drills. Throughout the video, Janis explains all the moves carefully and demonstrates them deliberately, so you have a good model to follow in executing your own moves.

Several factors keep the intensity in this workout below the advanced level. The workout is set at a moderate-to-slow pace for kickboxing (132bpm in the warmup, 126bpm in the workout), and the choreography section is short (20 min). The punching and kicking are frequently interrupted by breaks, since Janis sometimes teaches a new section of the routine at half-time while we march in place and often stops the workout altogether to explain form pointers. As a result, I felt the video was more targeted at learning and improving one’s kickboxing technique than at getting an intense workout.

In spite of the focus on technique, I would not recommend this video to a kickboxing novice, since it assumes knowledge of how to execute the simpler moves correctly and since the choreography does not practice them methodically. For example, the routine in the first section introduces jump roundhouse kicks, but regular roundhouse kicks do not appear until the paddle section.

Janis has a friendly and relaxed instructing style here that makes the workout feel more like having fun than tough exercise. She’s a little giggly and she does talk a lot about “feeling it in your buns” and obliques, which suggests a bit of an appearance focus. Although she does talk a lot about proper leg positioning, I find that other aspects of my form suffer (e.g. I get lazy about keeping my guard up), and I don’t push myself to punch as hard or as fast as I do in other workouts. I personally prefer a “tougher” instruction style for kickboxing. Some of her cues are a little odd: she repeats “double double” when the move executed is actually a double roundhouse, and she says “up!” on the beat of the music when your arms are actually down.

I was particularly impressed by one background exerciser (I think it’s Sensei Bryce Montgomery). He comes up in front for the paddle drills, and his hooks are inspiringly sharp and fast. I would be very interested in seeing him lead a workout himself, since his punching and kicking style motivates me to try to emulate his speed and power.

Unfortunately, the cooldown is not chaptered separately on the DVD, which makes it hard to use just the cardio portion for a half-hour workout.

Verdict? I traded it. I was looking for a continuous cardio workout, and I felt like there was too much standing around in this one. The different segments also made the workout feel too choppy, with just a little bit of this, and a little bit of that. It’s too bad Janis hasn’t incorporated the unusual moves here into a longer and more coherently choreographed routine. I’m sticking with Powerstrike.

Instructor comments: Janis teaches all the moves very deliberately, with a cheerful and bubbly personality. Her cueing is imperfect but adequate.

KickDancer

8/24/05

I have held off on getting Janis's older workouts until now-since they are DVD I recently aquired Strike Zone. I am so glad I did. Janis has designed a good well rounded workout. The cardio kickboxing section is great fun and the drills were very effective since you do double the work if you don't have a partner or a paddle. The toning section and cool down make this a well rounded workout. Also on a note, I use 1lb soft hand weignts for most of Janis' kickboxing tapes, but I was really feelin' them in this one!!

Instructor comments: Janis seems relaxed and give great form pointers and cues well in this video.

Kathy
skkallus@vicec.org
11/27/2005

I was not disappointed with this one, but not as impressed as I had hoped to be. I think I prefer "Kick It" and "Hardcore Kickboxing Circuit" with a little more in the way of high impact cardio. That being said, I did have some DOMS in my lats the following morning, so I must have gotten something out of it.

The first workout segment was a good one, but nothing remarkable or all that different from Janis' usual kickboxing moves. The section with the paddle was probably efficient for working out, but I found it a bit tedious. I was working on my own and without a partner or a paddle. I will keep it and continue doing it, but I have other Janis Saffell videos that I prefer more.

Instructor comments: Janis is enthusiastic and gives good cueing.

Lady D

5/26/06

I have the mass market DVD release, which is sometimes listed as “Strike Zone” only because the “Kickbox” is in smaller font off to the side; this should not be confused with another of Janis’ releases which has “Strike Zone” in the title.

I’m reviewing this workout after doing it somewhere between 3 and 6 times.

Level: I’d recommend this to intermediate through maybe low advanced exercisers with previous kickboxing experience. You don’t have to be an expert, but you should be familiar with all of the basic punches and kicks. Intermediates and intermediates + will find this a suitably challenging workout without any equipment; intermediate / advanced through low advanced exercisers who are experienced with using weighted gloves may find that helps boost the intensity to their level.
I consider myself an intermediate + to intermediate / advanced in cardio; I don’t go for puke in the bucket or fall into a puddle of goo afterwards intensity, nor am I a huge high impact fan. I find this an acceptable level of challenge, especially since it can be modified up or down, depending upon my needs or moods on a particular day. The impact from the jumping jacks and jump kicks is well within my tolerance level.

Music: upbeat primarily instrumental with a driving beat; it’s a typical MuscleFlex mix, and I’ve heard some of the songs on other videos (e.g. the “It’s Party Time” song that Katina Hunter has adopted as her own).

Set: the 2001 CIA set (bright red walls, wood-grained barn doors, windows behind which float what appear to be dead branches). Between the bright colors on the wall and the bright colors on the large class the set looks very busy and crowded.

Production: clear picture and sound (especially considering this is a VHS transfer), the usual CIA camera angles without too many cutaways, close-ups, etc. (although after using this one I’ve noticed Greg has moved away from the full on side shot in more recent productions).

Equipment: (optional) weighted gloves (0.5-1 lb. and no more than 1.5-2 lb. on each hand). Although Janis and her class have gloves on for the cardio portion but take them off for the two sets of drills, I prefer to do the opposite, which enables me to work at a more controlled pace and focus on my form during the partner paddle portion.
Most of Janis’ students pair up for the target drills portion, using a paddle that claps when hit. 2 of them – as well as Janis – do the segment without paddles, which allows you to do the drills twice. I don’t have a punching bag, but I’m guessing you could easily figure out how to use it in place of the paddles

Space Requirements: You should be able to take a big step and kick in each direction (front, sides, and back).

DVD Notes: This fairly recent DVD transfer features the following menu options: Intro, Warm-up, Strike Zone, Paddle Work, and Strength. Unfortunately, the cool-down / stretch is not chaptered separately; the only way to get to it is to do or fast forward through the Strength segment. There are also no chapters within the segments themselves, so you can’t repeat or skip a combo easily. Thus, this DVD doesn’t offer significant improvement vs. the VHS.

Comments: I agree that if you’re looking for a non-stop cardio session, this isn’t it. If you’re creative and willing to put in the effort, you can increase the cardio potential of the target drills and kickbox sculpt segments, however. Even so, if you focus on form, you can get a different kind of intensity out of these two portions vs. the pure cardio segment.

If I had to compare the overall format to other videos I have, Cathe Friedrich’s Kick, Punch & Crunch, Amy Bento’s Rumble, and Chalene Johnson’s Turbo Jam Kick, Punch & Jam are probably the closest in that they begin with a more cardio-oriented segment before continuing with kickboxing drills. KP&C is definitely the most intense and challenging, then for me probably KB Strike Zone, followed by Rumble and finally TJ KP&J.

This is more challenging than Janis and Guillermo’s Hardcore Kickbox Circuit (and definitely more intense than Guillermo’s Kickbox Underground, which she helped film). That said, it’s less choreographed than those two, although Janis still builds up combos in the manner of a group aerobics instructor.
It seems like Janis started making more advanced workouts, then worked her way to intermediate and then more beginner ones. I’d love to see her reverse that trend and/or update the earlier CIA-produced ones like this video, although at this point I’d almost take anything from her, as she seems to have disappeared from the fitness video world.

Instructor comments: Janis cues well, mirror cues, and includes a decent amount of form reminders. She focuses on instruction, especially during the partner portion, although she seems to have a strong interest in shaping the buns and, to a lesser extent, abs and biceps. Janis’ form is significantly crisper than your average group kickboxing instructor, although she’s not as precise as Ilaria (but then, is anyone?). Yes, Janis is young here, and she has a few moments of “This is, like, a back kick,” but she’s well within my realm of tolerance.

KathAL79

March 19, 2009



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