CIA 5004: Step, Hi/Lo, Slide

Christi Taylor, Deborah Silvers, Terri Klinghoffer, Debbie David
Year Released: 1994

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

I’m reviewing this workout after doing it several times, although I’ve only done the step portion once (I think – I can’t recall doing it before).

Please note: I am reviewing Christi Taylor’s portion of this workout as it appears on her Humble Beginnings DVD; I’ve never done or even seen the slide or additional step portion on the original VHS. (I didn’t know there was originally more to this workout until I looked through the reviews!)

General workout breakdown: This has already been described well, so I’ll just add a few more details about Christi’s style here.

Christi will introduce basic steps and layer, although she doesn’t add too many layers here. Her style of instruction is to begin with a few counts of basic moves, then layer it up, run through the new variations of the moves a few times, then put them together to take it from the top. She’ll then add on another set of base moves, repeat, and then run through all of the parts of that combo before moving onto the next. After you learn both combos she’ll do a few TIFTs. Christi never weaves, or slices and dices, combos; she’ll always do combo #1 on the right, combo #1 on the left, combo #2 on the right, and then combo #2 on the left (or whatever side she does first).
Christi teaches things symmetrically, although she’ll sometimes have you do the layered variation on the second side without repeated all of the break down (or build up). If she spends a lot of time repeating the next version of a move on one side (usually these are lower body intensive moves), she’ll do the same on the second, even if she doesn’t repeat the few steps she took to get that variation.
She does include some tap switches, primarily in the warm-up, but for the most part her combos are tapless.
There are a few parts where Christi feels rushed: at one point she reacts to being told from Greg or someone else off camera that she needs to hurry it up, and she asks if there’s time for another run through, while there are other parts where she runs through the base or recently updated moves quite a few times in a row.

Christi draws from what now feels like an old school style of aerobics, relying on simple, clean, classic moves like hamstring curl, grapevine, basic, over the top, ball change, v step, repeater knee, etc., adding a little flavor here and there by playing with the direction, or sometimes arms. This isn’t quite “athletic,” in that there are some lunges but not a lot of other moves like jumping jacks or basketball hops, but it’s definitely not dancey, as you won’t find mambos, cha chas, and many other dance-inspired moves that become a standard part of aerobics, including Christi’s, repertoire.

As has been mentioned, there’s a decent amount of impact here; Christi does show some modifications if you’d like to keep your feet closer to the ground. There are a number of pivots, so be careful if your sneakers like to catch on your step and/or carpet.

Level: I’d recommend this to experienced exercisers at least at the solidly intermediate through low advanced level who are comfortable with at least moderate level of choreography.
I consider myself an intermediate / advanced in cardio, although I’m more of an intermediate plus when it comes to step, since I’m still working my way through more complex step aerobics workouts. I pick choreography up pretty quickly if it’s broken down and cued well, which is very true here. I felt confident with the choreography after just one run through (again, know I think I’m better than average at picking up – although probably not exactly executing – choreography), although I did have a little trouble with the final version of a few steps in the second step combo until right at the very end when they clicked. This gave me a solid steady state workout that had me in a moderately high zone according to my heart rate monitor.

Class: 2 women join Christi, who instructs live. One bumps things up a little in intensity, although at one point Christi asks her to take things down to lower impact.

Music: kind of generic 90s-sounding exercise video music for a good portion, but suddenly a few recognizable vocal songs come in, like during the last part of the hi/lo, and it makes a difference to those last few TIFTs.

Set: the 1994 CIA set, an interior space with neutral-colored walls, “windows” onto stylized cityscape scenes, and potted plants.

Production: clear picture and sound, especially considering this is a VHS transfer. The music is a little quiet in relation to Christi’s voice.

Equipment: step (Christi and crew used a full-sized club step with 1 set of risers; I did likewise) and sneakers.

Space Requirements: The warm-up, step, and cool-down and stretch are compact. For the warm-up and cool-down you should be able to take a few small steps in each direction. For the step you should have enough room to move comfortably around and behind your step. As has already been mentioned, the hi/lo requires significantly more room; Christi has a double grapevine up and back (tricky when your workout space is at the top of the stairs) plus a grapevine box. If you’re really tight on space, make sure you can at least do a full grapevine in all directions.

DVD Notes: As mentioned, (Christi’s part of) the workout is on the Humble Beginnings DVD, with the warm-up, hi/lo (divided into two combos), cool-down, and stretch on one DVD and the same warm-up, step (divided into two combos), same cool-down, and same stretch on another DVD inside a regular-sized case.

Comments: This is not my favorite Christi, although because of the repeated simple moves, some with some impact, I personally find it one of her more intense in terms of cardiovascular activity. I pull it out when I feel like running through my Christi collection. I agree with Laura and others who are looking at this after having experienced a good deal of Christi’s full (and I really, really hope against hope not yet completed) catalogue: this is simpler and more straightforward in terms of choreography, and the hair and outfits are a bit dated (I’ve seen this referred to as the “triangle workout” for the brightly colored thong-like things Christi and crew wear over their black bike shorts).
Mission: Possible is in some ways an updated version of CIA 5004, as it’s meant for those who want less complexity. M:P is definitely less intense with less impact, however. 5004 remains a good introduction to Christi; for those looking to get into her, particularly if they are not that familiar with more complex choreography, 5004 and/or M:P as well as Ultimate Cardio Core, Fit to Dance, and Funktional Fitness are more approachable.

Instructor Comments:
I will echo everyone else on Christi’s great cuing and on camera presence. She mirror cues (although she doesn’t include a lot of directional cues), cues ahead of the move change, and often uses the “watch me” method. Her cues are usually clear and concise (but not too much so), although there are a few turns, over the top moves, and a transition where I could have used a little more explanation of footfalls the first time through. Christi is professional and appropriately energetic, positive, and encouraging, for my tastes at least. She’s a little more serious than the bopping her head, singing the cues Christi who appears a little later on, although she’s still the same Christi. Considering this must have been her first (at least widely distributed) video Christi does a great job both in front of the camera and leading the workout.