CIA 2003: Two Steppin', Armed & Dangerous, Timeout

Greg Twombly, Diane Zapata, Ken Gilbert, Debbie Ellenberg
Year Released: 1990

Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance , Step Aerobics

Of the 20 step videos I own, CIA 2003 has probably gotten the most use.

The CIA series, originally designed for instructors, offers challenging, lengthy routines by talented, but unknown instructors. All the CIA tapes I've done have been devoid of glitz, but professional, straight-forward and fast-paced.

CIA 2003 consists of three segments: TWO-STEPPIN', a 60- minute advanced step class with Diane Zapata and Ken Gilbert; ARMED AND DANGEROUS, a 25-minute low-impact aerobics floor routine with unusual arms with Debbie Ellenberg; and TIME OUT WITH GREG, low-impact moves with Greg Twombly.

Zapata and Gilbert's team-taught step routine is extraordinary. Since they don't break down any of the combinations, I stumbled through this section of the tape the first few times I worked out to this video. The step routine starts out with a no- nonsense warm-up that combines push-ups with basic step moves and stretches. The aerobic step routine is divided into two parts: a fifteen-minute intermediate section and a longer advanced section.

The first section includes practically every imaginable step move and combo: straddles, rocking horses, across the bench, over the tops, turn-straddle-turns, traveling knees, lunges, propulsions and more. The most aggressive segment in the first section is a lunge series consisting of 100 or so lunges and propulsion moves. If you're still standing after the first section (all advanced steppers will be), the advanced step section will undoubtedly kick your butt. Zapata begins this section with some basic moves, but Gilbert quickly takes over with "over-the- top-heel-digs, over-the-top-knee-ups, over-the -top-propulsion knees". If that's not enough for you, Gilbert whips you into submission with a three-minute lunge series that will leave your heart racing and your chest heaving. The rest of this step segment is somewhat tamer, concentrating on simpler moves and individual muscles: glutes, hamstrings, etc.

Ellenberg's low-impact floor aerobics segment features Ellenberg's unbridled enthusiasm and a couple of clumsy assistants. Ellenberg is a fantastic instructor, sure to get you up and moving on even your most apathetic days. The routine itself is easy to follow and fun. I do this segment of the video when I'm pressed for time (it's under 30 minutes) and I need an emotional lift.

Twombly's low-impact moves are equally polished. A serious, professional instructor himself, Twombly provides a good, but quick work-out in this segment.

It is unfortunate that this video hasn't been more agressively marketed. It's one of the best exercise videos out there. If you're an advanced stepper, buy it.

Vivian Jones