PK Step

Petra Kolber
Year Released: 2006

Categories: Step Aerobics

I’m reviewing this workout after doing it 2-3 times.

General workout breakdown: I heartily agree with Kathy, Diane, and dmlarue1 that this approximately 56-min. video contains a great steady state, minimal impact, moderately complex step aerobics workout. I’ll also add that there are not a lot of tricky rhythms or twisty turns; additionally, the routine as a whole comes together smoothly, with enough variety between the combos that you’re not overly bored or confused.
Here’s a little more breakdown of how the workout is structured:
- Warmup (13 min.): Petra teaches you a combination here, and some of the pieces will reappear during the main workout in different combinations. She also includes a few dynamic stretches, primarily for the lower body, near the end.
- Workout (36 min.): Here Petra will teach you four total combinations. She’ll layer on from very basic moves; before you know it you’ll be doing rock steps into cha chas, Elvis, box step, over for 5s, reverse mambos, and more. Petra’s combos are symmetrical; she not only teaches them on both sides, but she spends the same amount of time building them up on each side. Also, her transitions from one side to the other are tapless. She’ll TIFT (take it from the top) after each combo, and after you’ve learned all four combos and done one TIFT she weaves the combos (meaning she’ll do combo 1 on the right, combo 2 on the left, combo 3 on the right, and so on).
- Cool Down (7.5 min.): Petra leads you through some very basic moves, primarily on the floor, before having you pause for some deep breaths and then do some yoga-inspired stretches, including half sun salutes, revolved side angle, and downward dog. You’ll end with several more deep breaths.

Level: I’d recommend this to intermediate through int. / adv. exercisers comfortable with at least moderately complex step choreography. Lower intermediates could do this on just the platform and follow the less complex modifications, while low advanced could add an extra pair of risers and put some oomph and air into moves to boost the intensity.
I consider myself an int. / adv. exerciser, although I feel like more of an int. plus when it comes to step, not because I can’t handle choreography – quite the opposite, in fact – but because I still find step an intense activity even after several years of doing it. Doing this on 6” gives me a moderately challenging steady state-type of workout that gets my heart pumping and my feet moving without threatening to do me in.

Class: 2 women, one of whom will stick with the previous less complicated variation for a few moves and the other of whom is Abbie Appel, join Petra, who instructs live.

Music: upbeat pop-style songs, some of which have occasional vocals. It’s pleasant and complements rather than plays a major role in the workout.

Set: interior studio with blue panels in between reddish strips lined with lights. You can see the black curtain on the back wall in a number of shots, which if you don’t look closely will make you think this is short in some sort of weird widescreen format in a few places.

Production: clear picture and sound, with Petra’s voice just audible over the music. The camera angles are primarily helpful, but they will sometimes cut away to Petra when she’s mentioning the modification or show the modifier at the beginning of a run through when you might want to see Petra.

Equipment: Petra and her crew all use full-sized club steps with one set of risers and sneakers.

Space Requirements: You’ll need as much space in front of the step as you will behind it. You should be able to step off the step and tap or step out with your outside leg in all directions. That said, I had little trouble fitting this in a space that’s about 8’ long by 5’ deep even with my full-sized step and my 5’8” frame.

DVD Notes: Your main menu options are Petra Introduction, Play Complete Workout, Step Warmup, Step Workout, and Step Cool Down. There are no chapters within these segments.

Step Select vs. PK Step vs. Step Moves, New Grooves: PK Step is the longest of the three, although it’s not worth making a big deal out of the fact it has a few more minutes, especially since they’re spent in the warm-up and cool-down. I found PKS easier to pick up than Step Select, because Petra builds up smaller pieces with a bit more time in PK Step, and the overall choreography seems more straightforward, with fewer turns and moves where you’re with your back to the TV for any length of time. I also found PKS easier to pick up than SMNG, which felt like it taught more choreography than PKS. For me PKS took up the most room of the three, although it’s certainly not a space hog at all. While in all three moves from the warm-up reappear in the main workout, this is the only one where Petra borrows whole phrases several times.
After doing all three this week, there is a lot of overlap in terms of Petra’s repertoire of step moves. The warm-ups in particular felt very similar, although Petra manages to combine the moves differently so that each has 3-4 distinct combos within the main body of the workout. I personally am happy to have all three, as I love Petra and really enjoy having step workouts of this kind, with minimal impact, minimal fussiness with funky arms or tricky rhythms or too fast changes in elevation, moderately challenging steady state workouts, interesting choreography that’s nowhere near being complex for the pure sake of being complex. However, if you crave more variety, you may be perfectly fine with just one Petra. None in particular stands out to me as a clear favorite; each has a few minor minuses but many more pluses, and I’m not being picky enough to choose between them on that basis alone. I’d say PKS is worth a look if you need a longer warm-up, if you prefer to do a video all the way through all the time (meaning you’re not a mix and match kind of person or at least don’t care as much about chapters or are looking for a video that’s pretty much 55 min. long), if you’d like a little simpler choreography, fewer directional changes, and almost no impact, and if you like yoga-inspired stretches.

Instructor Comments:
Petra’s cuing and on screen presence really help to make this workout so enjoyable. Petra is a solidly good cuer, with helpful mirror and other directional cues (like “step up with the television leg” or “outside leg moves toward us”) when you need them. And I appreciate her message of making the workout your own depending upon your needs and interests for the day. Petra wants you to enjoy working out and reaping all of its benefits, especially its ability to make you happy and healthy.