This workout has 35 minutes of step blended with hi-lo that I found quite enjoyable. The extra edge is that Christi and the crew hold compact 5-lb balls that they use to augment the cardio. My problem is that I didn't order the ball, which has less circumference than say, my Firm 4-lb med ball. So I couldn't pass it back and forth very easily while doing cardio. The balls they use are compact enough to fit in one hand.
Sometimes you pass the ball behind you from hand to hand, or do quick tricep bends with it.
Those not fond of TIFTing beware. There are about 4 or 5 combos, and you repeat them a whole lot! At the end you do the whole thing about 5 times!
But the moves are fun and creative (i.e., 2 kneeups on the step, turn and change direction on the floor, do a quick double kick, tango back and forth, mambo pivot on the step). Tangoes on the step, chasses, what Cathe calls power jigs, etc. You sure get plenty of time to learn the moves! She does the final 5 run-throughs without the ball.
Then you go on to non-stop toning exercises including the ball. You do bicycles, tricep pushups on the ball (egads!) tricep dips, lots and lots of fast squats over the step, ab work on the step and a weird kind of squat where you hold the ball in your hands clasped behind your back, then squat and "scoop" your butt back as you rise up. Sort of like squat plus a hip hinge, if that makes sense. It didn't do much for me.
The full workout is about a full hour. The background pillars are clothed in flowing white fabric. The music is pretty fun but not very loud.
Typical Christi - great cuing, sings a little along with the songs, brisk and cute with a bit of humor and lots of cheer. She looks great.
Iím reviewing this workout after doing it once in its entirety.
General workout breakdown: This 60-min. workout contains a step cardio segment and a strength training portion.
Acey has already described this video well, so forgive me if I repeat information.
Christi notes that the music is faster than usual, but I didnít feel like I was chasing after a runaway train or anything like that.
*Cardio (26 min.) begins with an approximately 3 min. warm-up which consists of a basic combo and dynamic (or what Christi has in the past called ďrhythmicĒ) stretches. After that you turn the warm-up combo into the first combo. All in all there are 5 combos.
Christi never slows down to introduce moves; she usually runs through new moves or new parts of combos within the overall combo. Sometimes she does a ďwatch me,Ē and sometimes she just throws moves in. As a result, this may have a little bit of a learning curve for some folks, especially with moves like the tango, but once you learn this youíll be happy not to have to slow down for each new move.
Christi builds up combos evenly on both sides. You keep running through the combo until itís built up to the final product, and then you TIFT (take it from the top). She never weaves or slices & dices (i.e. combos are always done #1 on right, #1 on left, #2 on right, #2 on left, etc., never #1 on right, #2 on left, and so on).
Aceyís already provided a good overview of the types of moves youíll see. As with any Christi video, expect lots of hamstring curls and grapevinesÖ
*Cardio Burn (9 min.) simply consists of 3 (or is it 4?) run throughs of all 5 combos, but without the ball. Thereís a little hip hip and march at the end that starts to cool you down a teensy bit.
*Core (19 min.) picks the ball back up for side lunges, jog jog knee, squats (wide & later narrow; w/ knee lift into straddle), toe-heel rock, squat scoop, chest press w/ alternating knees or bicycles, legs in & out with triceps move (skull crushers) and then lat raises, crunch (straight & then w/ slight rotation), elbow releases (small pluses in triceps push-ups), prone leg lifts which add in several variations of upper body raises, a 1-legged down dog-type move on toes w/ slight pulses, triceps push-ups (i.e. dips) alternating with rolling from heels to toes & back again, v-sit w/ toe taps & then slight upper body rotation, can cans alternating w/ v-sit with bicycle legs, and lunges w/ overhead raise.
*Stretch (5 min.) touches on the lower back, calves, hamstrings, inner thighs, hip flexors, quadriceps, upper back, chest, and triceps; thereís also a seated twist in there, too.
Level: Iíd recommend this to intermediate to intermediate + exercisers. Of course, those closer to beg./int. could do this without the step and/or without the ball (or with an even lighter ball), and int./adv. through low adv. exercisers could use an 8Ē step and heavier ball. You should be comfortable with moderately complex step choreography, but those who have been intimidated by Christiís workouts before may find this can be a ďChristi for the rest of us.Ē
I consider myself int./adv., and I found this appropriate for my level; although the strength portion didnít do all that much for me, I used a 6Ē step and 3 lb. ball for the cardio portions and definitely felt like I got a good workout. I pick up choreography easily, especially Christiís (I havenít done her more complex step workouts but have done her less complex ones and all of her hi/lo, so Iím very used to her style of cuing, choreography, etc.) so I didnít have much problem here. Plus the many run throughs meant that I had lots of chances to practice the moves until I got them down pat.
Class: 4 women join Christi, who instructs live. 2 women in the back show less impact / intensity / complexity: basically they stay with the base moves while Christi and the other 2 women add on the extra layers. And one reason I love Christi is that she always cues both the base AND full moves.
Music: both instrumental and vocal music with a beat. (I donít personally recognize any of the songs, but Iím not the most musically knowledgeable.) Itís a little, well, darker than what Iím used to from Christi, but she seems to be moving away from upbeat, almost sugary sweet, poppy stuff (e.g. the boy bands she often featured 8-10 years ago) towards more hip hop-type stuff.
Set: bright interior space, with wood floor and gauzy curtains hanging in the back with bluish/purplish lights on them.
Production: clear picture and sound, with Christiís voice just a little bit louder than the background music. The main camera is directly in front of the exercisers and follows them side to side, so that all of them are shown at all times; thereís also a camera a little bit off to the side that does some closer ups of Christi, but again you generally see all of her. Interestingly, there are no breaks between segments, so when Christi and crew run off to the side between segments to pick up / put down equipment youíre left with a blank set until they come rushing back.
Equipment: Christi and crew use the Reebok step plus 5 lbs. or 3 lbs. soft touch weighted ball, but Christi says both are optional. I used my short Cathe step, which proved problematic for the reclined core portion (At 5í8Ē Iím way too tall to use that step in that position; I had to move to the floor), and I used 1 set of risers; I also used a 3 lbs. soft ball filled with sand by Reebok I bought at Target several years ago when I was looking for an alternative to Karen Voightís Green Genie balls. If you have one of Leslie Sansoneís soft weighted balls, that should work, too; otherwise a few fitness equipment sites sell these. You do want a soft rather than a hard ball so you can grip it with one hand (unless you have a very small hard weighted ball and big hands).
Space Requirements: You should at least be able to do a grapevine to each side behind your step as well as be able to take a step off of each side and the front. If you donít have enough room to do some of the strength moves exactly as Christi does, you can always slide your step to one side and just do the move wherever makes the most sense to you in terms of space (e.g. move the down dog bit to the back of the step).
DVD Notes: You can hit skip to avoid the intro and get right to the main menu, which offers these options: Intro, Cardio, Cardio Burn, Core, Stretch, and Credits. Each combo is chaptered separately.
Comments: It pains me to say this about a Christi Taylor workout, as sheís one of my favorite instructors, but this may not stay in my collection. Itís a good workout and a good video, but itís just one of those that for whatever reason I canít figure out how to make it work in my current workout habits. Her recent strength stuff just doesnít do much for me, and although I like the cardio portion I just donít see myself reaching for it often, especially since I have a shelf full of step workouts I donít have time for as it is Ė including Christiís other step offerings. (Insert the blushing smiley here!)
That said, I definitely think thereís an audience out there for this. If you donít have a lot of time and want to get cardio, strength, & core training in without wiping yourself out, this might be a good choice, especially since you can split it up into smaller chunks.
Christi seems a hair more subdued here than in some of her older workouts, but sheís still Christi: singing the occasional cue, bopping her head, having fun. Christi cues well, although if youíre not used to having an instructor cue that far in advance of a move it may throw you for a loop for a bit. She mirror cues, although she doesnít include a lot of verbal directional cues (but she does point in the upcoming direction sometimes). She gets tripped up in her words a few times, but interestingly Christi seems to do that rarely during the moving portions of the workouts (most are in the stretch portion).
October 27, 2008