Strong and Smooth Moves

Karen Voight
Year Released: 1995

Categories: Body Bar , Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance

"Strong and Smooth Moves"

The first thing Voight fans will notice about this video is the totally different look. The cozy, brightly-lit gym from previous Voight videos has been replaced by a carbon copy of the Step Reebok set - steel decks, kinetic spotlights, wild camerawork, and those giant factory fans that are becoming the mirror-ball cliche of the 90's. The music is still jazzy, but with a funky edge. Evidently Karen Voight is trying to grasp a younger (or more male) audience with this video. Some of her followers might be turned off by this MTV/industrial look, but S&SM is no less professional than Voight's other workouts, and Karen herself comes across as a tad less serious and more relaxed.

Karen and her hardbody troupe open with a vigorous 25 minutes of mostly-low-impact aerobics that thankfully don't take up a lot of room. Like Karen's other workouts, the moves are relatively simple but put a lot of emphasis on form, which she talks you through with her usual meticulous detail. Many of the steps involve lower-body toning, for example a combo of fast grapevines, slow squats and lunges. I really like how Karen repeats each combo just enough so you learn it but not so much that it gets boring; thus the aerobic section just flies by. Oddly, there is no heart rate or exertion check.

Next comes 25 minutes of Body Bar toning. Two exercisers use dumbbells instead of bars; Karen suggests you alternate the two. I used dumbbells plus a plain old kitchen mop. Though Karen doesn't mention it, ankle weights could also be worn to increase intensity. The first part of the toning alternates 8 to 16-rep sets of lower-body and upper-body exercises, first squats and leg lifts, then arm and shoulder exercises, then another series of squats, all choreographed with Karen's own imaginative, dance-like variations. These are followed by floor exercises, including ab curls and crunches that make use of the bar by holding it with the knees, or over one shoulder for obliques.

Personally I like this even better than Energy Sprint, mainly because it does the job in less time and doesn't strain my joints as much. (Plus I like the music better.) I would best describe S&SM as "Energy Sprint Lite". Both are superb total-body workouts, but S&SM focuses more on strength while Energy Sprint builds endurance. Regular Energy Sprinters won't find S&SM to be that big of a challenge, but it'll fit their workout needs when they're short on time and/or energy.

Sue B