Strong and Smooth Moves

Karen Voight
Year Released: 1995

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

Paula Abdul looked so fabulous in her "Get Up and Dance" video that I started reading everyone's reviews of her "fitness consultant" Karen Voight here at Video Fitness. At the time I was moving quickly back into intermediate/early advanced level exercise thanks to the Abdul tape, and "S & SM" seemed like the best introduction I could get to Karen's work. It's great!

The staging reminds me of the set for Madonna's "Express Yourself" music video--I half-expected to see the Material Girl herself drop by and show off some of HER smooth moves. But the music--jazz laced with funk, and later, some mellow, almost New Age numbers--is like nothing on MTV. This is not disco or pop that will go out of style in a few years--it will still sound fresh ten or twenty years from now!

Much has already been written about her gift for teaching, but let me add that Karen cues so well that even when the lighting and the camera play goofy tricks on my eyes, I could still follow the routines without messing up. My only complaint about the production is that during the cool-down the camera operators did at least two gratuitous close-ups of Stacy's and Michelle's faces. Granted, these ladies are attractive, but come on now--this is a serious workout--what was the point of filling the screen with extreme zoom-ins focusing on their closed eyes and finely chiseled noses? It didn't do anything toward helping me learn the routine or get into the spirit of relaxation. Of course, maybe I'm not the gender/orientation that would appreciate such artistic camera shots :)

But I digress. That is such a trivial matter in the grand scheme of this workout. It was just annoying, that's all. Let's get back to this review: The title begins with the word "Strong", which rightfully indicates that the tape's primary emphasis is its muscle conditioning program. However, I agree with Wendy that Karen really does a lot with the non-stop 25 minutes of aerobics. Both the music and the moves flow so smoothly into one another that this routine flies by, and before you know it, Karen is smiling at you and saying, "we're done."

Regarding the strengthening section, I must confess I haven't been very faithful about doing it. You're reading a review from someone who hates calisthenics like poison. But other than the first set of exercises for the hips and buttocks, which for some reason I can't do without bothering my lower back, this is the most interesting and even relaxing routine of its type I've ever tried. And bless her heart--Karen exercises right along with you. She doesn't run around the floor correcting everyone's form or counting repetitions while you lie there flopping like a fish out of water. (I really do need to get motivated to stick with this part of the routine--if anyone out there has seen some real results from doing it, let me hear from you. I think that would do the trick!)

The built-in verstility of this tape makes it a winner, too. If you're beginner to intermediate level, you can alternate the two parts of this on a daily basis--aerobics one day, and strength the next. You can also start with lighter weights and work your way up as you get stronger and learn the routine. If you're intermediate-to-advanced, or are trying to lose weight, the entire tape can be done alternating days with a longer (30+ minutes) aerobics routine. Best of all, Karen's style is the greatest for the times when nothing's going right and you're in a bad mood. Most days I'm a party animal when it comes to aerobics. I can't wait till it's 9:00pm when my daughter's in bed and my husband's surfing the "Net" so I can jam with Paula Abdul or Donna Richardson. But once or twice a month I have a bad night where it's 10:30 and I still haven't exercised. With apologies to Cyndi Lauper, when that happens, this girl just doesn't want to have fun! Those are the nights I pull out this tape and let Karen pull me gently into activity. Her all-business demeanor is just what I need at that point. Even if I only do the aerobics, I'm much more refreshed the next day than if I'd just blown off exercise and gone straight to bed.

Terrific instructor, fabulous music, and a versatile workout that will advance with the exerciser. . .need I say more?

Grade: A+

Melissa Cooper