Still Steppin'

Christi Taylor
Year Released: 2001

Categories: Step Aerobics

I’m reviewing this workout after doing it once in its entirety.

General workout breakdown: This 60-min. step aerobics workout begins with an almost 5.5-min. warm-up (done with the step horizontal), 47.5 minutes of stepping (first half: 26 min. with the step horizontal, second half: 20.5 min. with the step vertical), and 7 min. of cool-down / stretch (done with the step vertical).

Christi combines standard step aerobics moves with a bit of a dancey flair. Few instructors are as in tune with their music selection as Christi, which also helps you feel like you’re dancing rather than just stepping. You’ll start with basics, v steps, mambos, hamstring curls, knees, and other moves which get jazzed up as the routine progresses into boom booms, pivots, end to ends, hopscotch, and a “mystery move.”

Christi’s teaching method: Christi always 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. 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 (TIFT), usually twice. Two TIFTs of all three or four combos close out each half, but the seven combos are never added all together anywhere. Christi teaches things symmetrically, and she balances out break downs on both sides, more or less. She often uses the “watch me” method to show you what’s changing in the basic routine, although for the final flourishes she often teaches these as she and her flippers do them. I appreciate that, with a few exceptions, Christi only changes one thing at a time rather than throwing out whole chunks at once, although she might teach a few of the basic steps together as she’s doing them the very first run through.
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.

The warm-up begins with a short combo of basic steps, ending with mostly dynamic (or, as Christi calls them, rhythmic) stretches for the lower body plus some static stretches for the upper body done at the same time (e.g. a held chest expansion stretch, with arms clasped together behind the back, while legs pulse in a lunge to warm up the hip flexors).
Because I did this workout in halves, when I played this segment immediately before the second half, I was able to do this with my step vertical by just turning my body. Not seeing my TV wasn’t that big of a deal since I was already familiar with this from my previous run through.

The cool-down / stretch has another short very basic combo, with mostly static stretches inserted in between, before a final stretch or two done seated on the floor. Christi focuses on the lower body, with a little for the inner thighs but more for the hip flexors, quadriceps, calves, and hamstrings.
Because I did this workout in halves, when I played this segment immediately after the first half, I was able to do this with my step horizontal by just turning my body; the moves are simple enough that once I figured out what Christi was doing not facing my TV wasn’t an issue.

It is easy, thanks to the modifiers, to keep this workout low (or at least lower in) impact and relatively pivot-free. You can borrow some of the full arm movements and adapt some of the full routine to boost the intensity a little, too, however.

Level: I’d recommend this to experienced steppers at the solidly intermediate through (low, maybe up to mid-) advanced level who are comfortable with complex choreography. Christi’s choreography is not mind-numbingly complex, but you do have to enjoy choreography. That said, this can work for someone working her/his way up to more complex choreography because of the inclusion of the modifiers (who are also found in Christi’s Totally Cool Step, Solid Gold Step, Stepsational, and Step Heaven). And if you’re new(ish) to complexity and or Christi, definitely follow the modifiers the first time through before tackling the flourishes.
I consider myself an intermediate / advanced in cardio, although sometimes I still feel like an intermediate + in step since I haven’t been stepping as long as I’ve been doing complex hi/lo. I pick choreography up pretty quickly if it’s broken down and cued well, which is very true here. After one run through I felt reasonably confident in the full set of moves, although I could stand to clean a few things up and add back in a few arm movements, although I refuse to fan myself, just like I refused to wring my hands in Cathe’s Low Impact Circuit. (Again, keep in mind I consider myself better than average at picking up – although not necessarily executing – complex choreography, so my experience may not be typical.) According to my heart rate monitor I got a solid steady state workout that had me solidly within that “cardio training zone.” I didn’t mind that

Class: 6 women join Christi. The four in the back rows, wearing yellow, stick with the lower impact / less pivot-heavy version of the routine, while Christi and the two in the second row show the full shebang.

Music: a mix of upbeat instrumentals and (remade) vocals, mostly contemporary pop, including “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas (wow, there’s a song I haven’t heard in a while), “…Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears, “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys, “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye,” and, yes, “Volare.” Yeah, the music isn’t quite my taste, either (and it’s the type of stuff that gets snarky comments from the peanut gallery downstairs); even by the time this workout came out these songs were probably on the “so last year” and/or overexposed side, but now, about nine years later, they’re dated in kind of an amusing, “That’s a blast from the recent past” kind of way. In any case, they suit the light, fun atmosphere of the workout well enough.

Set: the 2001 CIA set with red walls, wooden barn doors, window onto what looks like a dead branch, and yellow and baby blue balloons. It’ll wake your eyeballs up first thing in the morning: it’s the visual equivalent of strong coffee…

Production: clear picture and sound. The camerawork is generally fine, except I could do without the preponderance of side angles (perhaps because there are so many folks on set someone kept feeling the need to cut over to the side?), at least one of which seems to be slightly off the color settings of the other cameras.
Yes, the Mini Me inset showing a quick cool-down and stretch option (same one from Still Jumpin’) that plays for the first few minutes of the second half is a holdover from the VHS days. It was a great idea for the VHS, but with the DVD it’s just as easy to skip to the full cool-down and stretch.

Equipment: Christi and crew use a step with one set of risers (6”), which is what I used, too. Make sure your sneakers can pivot on your surface if you intend to do the full version of the routine.

Space Requirements: For the warm-up and horizontal portion you should be able to move comfortably around your step, being able to work around the platform (enough room for a foot or two to the sides and front) plus have some horizontal space behind. For the vertical portion and cool-down, you should also be able to move comfortably with both feet all along the long sides of the step plus have some room in front as well as a decent amount of space in back. This is easy enough to shorten up to fit in a decent-sized room if you don’t have a studio, but the more room to play the better.

DVD Notes: This comes on a DVD with Step Heaven; it is packaged together with a DVD of Still Jumpin’ and Hi-Low Heaven. By the way, this Fantastic 4 DVD is a must have for any Christi fan and is a great bargain, with 4 great workouts of an hour or more for the price of one, really.
The chapter menu pops right up – love this! Your options are Introduction, Warm-Up, 1st Half – Combo #1 / Combo #2 / Combo #3 / Combo #4, 2nd Half - Combo #5 / Combo #6 / Combo #7, Cooldown & Strech, Bloopers, and Credits.

Instructor Comments:
I can’t add much about Christi as an instructor that hasn’t been said already. Christi is definitely having a good time here, but she never loses sight of the fact that she’s instructing a workout, and it’s a credit to her preparation beforehand that she’s able to lead so well while having fun. Personally I’ve never been bothered by her singing of cues, and I’ve done a lot of her workouts, some of them many, many times; her oft-repeated “Pace yourself” is more likely to bug me, although she doesn’t overuse that phrase here, fortunately.
I’ve described Christi’s teaching methods under “General workout breakdown,” but I’ll just add here that as always she cues ahead of the movement and mirror cues; although she doesn’t include tons of directional cues, she does provide some helpful ones here and there, such as during turns.