Solid Gold CardioChristi Taylor
Year Released: 2003
Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance
I’m reviewing this workout after doing it a few dozen times, although I’ve probably only done some of the bonus segments once each.
General workout breakdown: This 45-min. hi/lo or floor aerobics workout (25 minutes for the first half, 20 for the second) is followed by a 5 min. cooldown plus has the option of an extra 3-min. warm up (which consists of basic moves plus some dynamic, or as Christi calls it “rhythmic,” stretching) and a 5.5 min. stretch (which begins seated but ends standing and covers most of the lower body as well as the lower back and some upper body). Note that the bonus warm-up, cool-down, and bonus stretch also appear on Solid Gold Step.
Christi combines standard hi/lo aerobics moves with a bit of a dancey flair. Moves like v-steps, knee lifts (be prepared to do a lot of these), hamstring curls (and be prepared to do even more of these), grapevines, alternating heels, kicks, pivots, shuffles, and marches get jazzed up as the routine progresses. Although this isn’t straight up dance, even with the mambos, cha chas, and sambas, Christi’s ability to match moves to music and make them flow together in a sequence will make you feel almost like you’re dancing.
Christi’s teaching method: Christi begins with basic steps but quickly layers them, either transforming the moves, changing the order and/or rhythm, or cutting down the number of repetitions. She’ll 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 and lay the next base layer for the rest of the combo, repeat, and then run through all of the parts of that combo several times. Once she’s done that you’ll TIFT (take it from the top). She often uses the “watch me” method, although here she and her two “flippers” will launch right into the final variation with just a warning that a move change is coming up. I appreciate that when alterating the base moves Christi only changes one thing at a time and almost always gives you at least one chance to see and then do it on each side before adding any other changes.
Christi teaches things symmetrically, and she balances out run throughs on both sides, more or less. Christi never weaves, or slices and dices, combos; she’ll always do combo #1 on the right (or whatever side she does first), combo #1 on the left, combo #2 on the right, and then combo #2 on the left, and so on.
In addition to the main step workout, this DVD contains 45 minutes of strength add-ons taught by members of Christi’s classes on the Solid Gold series who are solid instructors in their own right. These add-ons also appear on Solid Gold Step.
- Julie’s Abs (5.5 min.) has two women, one of which modifies; Julie begins coaching but joins them for basic crunch (with several arm variations shown), oblique crunch, crunch w/ legs in tabletop, crunch w/ reverse crunch, crunch w/ reverse cruch / leg push-up, oblique crunch w/ ankle over knee into 4-part series (adding in reverse crunch / lift), and tempo pulses reaching towards legs.
- Nate’s Squats & Push-ups (9.5 min.) has two women, one of which modifies; Nate usually joins them but once or twice stops to coach during squats, push-ups, static lunges, triceps / narrow push-ups, wider / plie squats, push-ups w/ 1 leg slightly raised, and finishing with one more round of regular squats, triceps push-ups, and wide squats. You change the tempo as the set proceeds (e.g. 2 and 2 or 3 and 1).
- Michele’s Core Ball Workout (10 min.) coaches one woman through wall squats with the stability ball, adding in small balls (suggested substitute: pillows) between the feet and knees, push-ups against stability ball at wall, push-ups against stability ball on the floor (Michele demonstrates a full plank option, adding in 1-leg lift, too), crunches over the stability ball, and pikes on the ball.
- Michelle’s Back & Behind (8.5 min.) has a man and woman showing different variations as Michelle joins them for “dips” (e.g. bridge, either on the floor or w/ shoulders on a step, w/ or w/o weights; Michelle does straight up and down as well as side to side), side-lying leg lifts up & down (either on the floor or with torso on stability ball, w/ or w/o weights), and quadruped leg lifts & lowers and bird dogs w/ opposite arm & leg extended (either on floor or draped over stability ball). Michelle does regular tempo, pulses, and holds.
- Maria’s Pilates (11 min.) coaches two women in Pilates breathing on back, the hundred, footwork-type series (extend legs out at 45 degrees, adding in pointing & flexing), half rollback, single leg circles, single leg stretch, double leg stretch, double straight leg stretch, criss cross (aka bicycle or obliques), spine stretch forward, swimming, double leg kick (upper body part only – so no leg kick!), child’s pose / shell stretch / little piece of heaven, and ending standing for breathing.
Level: I’d recommend this to experienced exercisers at the intermediate through low advanced level who are comfortable with complex choreography. Christi’s choreography is not the most mind-numbingly complex out there, but you do have to enjoy choreography. Even though this has modifiers, if you’re new(ish) to complexity and/or Christi I’d recommend Christi’s Still Jumpin’ and/or Totally Hot Cardio first (or, if you’re a real newbie, Mission: Possible, CIA 5004, Funktional Fitness, or Cardio Collectibles).
This was my second Christi and my second complex aerobics video (my first being her Totally Hot Cardio). I followed the modifiers for a long time until I felt confident with that. Then I slowly added in bits and pieces of the full routine as I felt able, until one day I was doing the full thing. I found this trickier to pick up than Totally Hot Cardio because Christi cues the full version only, whizzes through four combos without a lot of breakdown in parts where you seem to need it most, doesn’t TIFT from the top as often which makes it easier to forget earlier combos, and includes a lot of pivots and direction changes without a lot of cues on which way to go (I can still find myself going the wrong way if I don’t play close attention). This can still give my heart a good workout: this past time I wore my heartrate monitor, which showed me in my moderate to moderately high zone, although I felt like I was working harder than that, as I didn’t even have the energy for all of the higher impact moves.
Class: 6 women join Christi, who instructs live, for the hi/lo. The four in the back row, wearing all black, stick with the lower impact / less pivot-heavy version of the routine, while Christi, Julie, and Theresa (here with the three flopping small pigtails on top of her head as her crowning glory), wearing blue shirts with their black pants, show the full shebang. Having four modifiers makes the set a little busy but improves the odds that one of them is likely to be visible for those who need it.
For the cool-down 10 women and 1 man join Christi (in their “normal colors,” although some of them seem to have amped up their wardrobe – I know I would if someone asked me to wear my usual workout outfit to a filming, although I personally would have left the bandana and midriff-baring top under the denim jacket or hoodie at home). They’re all bunched up, so if the regular workout inspired thoughts of claustrophobia you may want to do your own cool-down…
Christi is alone for the bonus warm-up and stretch portions (as well as for the MoveMaster).
Music: a mix of upbeat instrumentals and (remade) vocals, including “We Are Family,” “Bye Bye Bye,” “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” “Larger than Life,” and “Rock Your Body.” Yeah, the late 90s - very early 00s boy band tunes were on their way to “dated” by the time I picked this up not that long after its release. But, hey, The New Kids on the Block made a comeback recently, so perhaps someday these songs will be retro cool again and the peanut gallery downstairs won’t feel as compelled to make fun of me for having them blare out from the TV (eh, most likely not on the latter).
As mentioned the cool-down and stretch song, with more of a hip hop / rap feel to it, is done by Christi’s son, and it’s not bad at all (if you can get past the proud mama’s constant mentions of how great it is during the cool-down).
Set: the 2003 CIA set with neutral walls and kind of an Asian flair, with what looks like rice paper screens and vases with branches. Out of all of the CIA sets this may be one of my favorites, as it’s uncluttered, not distracting, and actually a kind of space I’d like to spend time in during real life.
Production: clear picture and sound, with Christi’s voice clearly audible over the music. The camera angles are the usual CIA and thus mostly helpful. There’s a few odd shots and edits in the cooldown, or maybe I’m just paying too much attention to that stuff because there’s not much else to do during the cool-down...
Equipment: You’ll want sneakers that won’t get caught on your carpet or floor surface (if relevant). The bonus segments require a mat (or equivalent), light dumbbells, a stability / Swiss ball, two small squishy balls (unweighted is probably fine, if not better; substitute = towels), and maybe a step.
Space Requirements: This requires a good deal of horizontal (side to side) space: ideally you should be able to do three or more grapevines across your space. The first half covers more vertical (front to back) space than the second: ideally you should be able to walk at least 5 or 6 steps from the back up to the front. If you cut down on the traveling you can make this work in a large living room rather than a studio, but no matter how much I try to keep myself at the back of my space during one combo in the first half I always find myself running out of room for the “serve it up” move. At a kind of uncoordinated 5’8” I need at least 5’ forward and back x 8’ side to side for this one.
DVD Notes: The main menu options are Aerobic Instructor Training promo, Introduction, Straight to Solid Gold Cardio, Solid Gold Cardio Combos (X-tra Quick Warm-Up, First Half beginning at combo #1 / #2 / #3 / #4, Second Half beginning at combo #5 / #6 / #7 / #8, Cool Down, X-tra Stretch), Cooldown, MoveMaster, Choreography 101, Bonus Beauties (Julie’s Abs, Nate’s Squats & Push-ups, Michele’s Core Ball Workout, Michelle’s Back & Behind, Maria’s Pilates, Christi’s X-tra Quick Warm-up, Christi’s X-tra Stretch), Combination Platters (Kwiki Plater #1 = Combos 1-4, Cooldown, Stretch; Kwiki Platter #2 = Warm-up, Combos 5-8, Cooldown, Stretch; Aerobic Platter = Combos 1-8, Cooldown, Stretch; Strength & Stretch Platter = Warm-up, Nate’s Squats & Push-ups, Michele’s Core Ball Workout, Julie’s Abs, Michelle’s Back & Behind, Maria’s Pilates, Stretch; and Everything Platter: Warm-up, Combos 1-8, Cool-down, Nate’s Squats & Push-ups, Michele’s Core Ball Workout, Julie’s Abs, Michelle’s Back & Behind, Maria’s Pilates, Stret), and Credits.
Comments: Honestly, this isn’t my favorite among Christi’s hi/lo offerings, mainly because just a few too many repetitions makes it drag on and gives me time to nitpick things I don’t love about the choreography. I have a high TIFT tolerance, especially if I love the routine, but Christi does 4 (count ‘em, 4!) TIFTs at the end of the first half, plus the warm-up becomes the first combo without a whole lot of modifications, so by the end you’ve stepped back with a knee and so on a lot. I would rather Christi have thrown out the warm-up combo to build up a new one or split up the TIFTing to do some in the middle of the combo, as she sometimes does, or something rather than just rack up the final TIFTs. Fortunately she only does two TIFTs at the end of the second half, although except for the third combo and its extended breakdown / build up I like this part of the workout better and wouldn’t mind another run through. I do agree that some of the parts that are broken down are the parts that don’t really need it, which doesn’t make this any easier to pick up or less tedious. And that cool-down is a lot of standing in one place swaying hips and arms, with Christi coming off as kind of bossy (“Don’t do it yet; you’ll ruin it”); it’s the type of thing that’s fun live once or twice, but with repeat viewings it feels uninspired.
Of course, pronouncing this “not my favorite Christi” is like saying white chocolate is “not my favorite kind of chocolate”: I still like it better than a lot of other things out there, and I’ll reach for it without too much persuasion when I want a little variety.
Christi cues well, although she just refers to the full version of the routine rather than watching out for those modifying. She cues ahead of each move, so be aware of that if you’re used to instructors cuing just before or on the move change. And she mirror cues, although she doesn’t often indicate turns or break down footfalls in terms of direction; I wish she would have included more of the “turn outside” type of cues at least. Yes, Christi sings some of the cues, which is all part of her great ability to match moves to music and part of the fun she exudes when both teaching and doing these routines.