CIA 9901: Step, Low and Tone

Andre Houle
Year Released: 1999

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

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This review covers only the step portion of this tape. I received this in a trade, and am pretty happy with it. For some background on me, I regularly work out with Christi, and am able to catch on to her choreography on the first try. For this reason, the pace of Andre's teaching in 9901 seems a little slow to me. He breaks down the combos a little too much, and marches in place quite often, but I just repeat the combo or portion of the combo while he does this. It is worth it for the final combos all strung together, which remind me a little of Franny, Kristin Kagen and others--very fun with good flow. The first section is about 30 minutes, the second is only about 18. I rewind the last five minutes (the portion where Andre puts all the combos from the first and second section together) and do it over again, but that still makes the 2nd step section only about 25minutes...really too short to use these as half hour cardios. Some of the moves in this workout include a 2 knee repeater into a walk around the step, then a triple-stomp-push over into a walk the plank, into a reverse rocking horse type thing. Really fun when the whole thing is put together! I think the thing about CIA videos is that they are fun the first time you do them because you are just learning them. I find that doing them the second time is already a little too easy, because there is often so much breakdown and repetition. However, this is a good excuse to stock up on LOTS of videos, so that when you pull it out it has been so long since you've done it that it is like doing it again for the first time!

Instructor Comments:
Andre is enrgetic and fun to work out with. He isn't the best cuer; nor is he the worst. He calls a repeater a "basic 3", and has other odd terms for familiar moves. He says "easy" alot of times when he should be cuing, but the choreography isn't complex enough that it really matters that much. He is motivating and nice!



I got this on the exchange and didn't expect anything great simply because I'd never heard of Andre Houle before. But I'd have to say this is one of my favorite non-Cathe step tapes. The choreography is fun and interesting, the cueing is very well thought-out, and - thankfully! - he divides the choreography into two sections instead of taking it from the top twenty times like many other CIAs.

I haven't done the second section, but the step section alone makes this one of my favorite tapes these days.

I was mildly disappointed to see that Andre wasn't quite as good looking as he was on the cover (CIA covers always make everyone look different), but quickly stopped caring when I saw how well he cued and how likable he was.

Jen Blaske


I will begin this review by saying that I really want to like this tape. Although I enjoy it in a degree, I donít like it enough to keep the tape. It must be something very personal, because I canít pinpoint anything wrong with it. I have done the step section 3 times by now. The best I can say is that it always leave me with some unfulfilled feeling I canít explain, both choreography-wise and cardio-wise. I am an intermediate exerciser. I can give you a gauge of my level by saying that CIA 9701 is the proper level for me. While Andre is teaching the move, the intensity is lower than 9701. When he puts it all together at the end, the workout can be low advanced. But it is all too short. It would be better if the workout is longer than this. Nevertheless, the uneven intensity is not a big flaw. It can be compensated for by adding some propulsion moves and give it full range of motion, or even add some sections of another tape at the end. There are many other tapes that I keep despite its low intensity. Maybe what dissatisfies me is the choreography, but I canít make out what it is.

The second thing I donít like is the warm-up. I donít like to do shuffle the step when my muscles are cold. But this is also a minor flaw of this tape.

I have done the low impact floor only once. It is o.k., but not my style. While I like complex choreography that is fun to work out with, I donít like "funny" choreography. I hope this makes sense. By funny choreography, I mean the moves like monkey see monkey do (Iím sorry if I make out the name wrongly) or the bus-stop. I can include the pony repeater in step section into this category too. But most of the "funny" moves exist only in the floor section. I hope this does not offend anyone. Thereís nothing wrong with these moves, just not my style.

I never do the toning section with tubing. Thereís obvious reason: there is no tubing available in my country.

Instructor Comments:
How I like him! Heís charming in American style at its peak. Very encouraging, very likable.



As I did the step section of CIA 9901 last night, I kept thinking to myself, "I love this tape!" It's been a long time since I felt that way right off the bat. The choregraphy is so inventive and Andre's personality is so great, that I enjoyed every minute.

Although I don't always have the patience to do this, I previewed most of the step section first and I'm really glad I did. I think that I would have been frustrated otherwise, since Andre moves pretty quickly through the steps. However, as other reviewers have mentioned, his cuing really is excellent. I think I'd compare his choreography to Kari Anderson's. Lots of turns and a large variety of movements. It is not really powerful like Cathe's, but I still had a good sweat going and felt like I got a good workout without a lot of really high impact. I haven't tried the low impact or toning part of the tape, but the step alone makes this a definite keeper.

Personality-wise, I think I'd compare Andre to Patrick Goudeau (although his cuing is much better -- Sorry, Patrick!). He is very relaxed and friendly and the camera seems to love him! I will definitely be interested in buying any of his future step tapes.

Instructor Comments:
Although I've only done 9901 once so far, I LOVE this man! He is motivating, warm, has a great smile (not to mention a great body!) and I'm already looking forward to working out with him again!

Amy Brier


This video has 2 workouts, Step & hi/lo; and ech has its own warm-up & cool down. The step portion is really a blast. The choreography is complex, but Andre breaks down everything so well, that even the most people who are "afraid" on complex moves, can follow him. He really packs the moves into40 minutes. You never stop. Fun, fun,fun.

The hi/lo has no "hi" to it. It's alot of fun, but the intensity in quite intermediate. But again, he packs in alot of choreography. I will be doing this workout on days when my body needs something at a slower pace. But if you're wanting to try more advanced choreography, this is the video for you. Grade:A

Instructor Comments:
Andre is ABSOLUTELY CHARMING. He has great cueing, teaches the moves very well and is funny. He talks alot to Maria and Heather Day, encouraging them(and you) throughout the workout.



The step section of this workout is so much fun -- I can't believe how the time flies! The choreography is high-intermediate to advanced, but he teaches it so well that I think intermediates could enjoy this as a "stepping-stone" to learning complicated choreography. The intensity is also high-intermediate to advanced. When I did the step the first time, I thought it was more intermediate. However, upon doing it a couple more times, I found the intensity to be higher than I thought. Once you learn the moves, you can be more energetic and put more into it.

I only did the low-impact section once. It was fun, but the intensity wasn't where I wanted to be. It's more intermediate. However, I will reach for this on days when I need an extra push to get moving because it was quite fun.

The toning is done with tubes, which is not really my style.

Even though I'm not real gung-ho on the last two sections, the step section alone makes this tape worth the money for me. Grade A++++.

Instructor Comments:
I have to admit, I've never been a fan of Andre Houle's. But if he keeps making more tapes like this, I might become his number one fan!

Annie S.


I agree with Pilar's review completely. This is a great tape.

The step routine is a lot of fun. I think the choreography is pretty complex, but you don't realize it until you are done because it is taught so well. Although some may say it is intermediate in intensity, I would say it is low advanced. It felt similar in intensity to a lot of CIA step workouts, but not as intense as Cathe. The second time around this workout was definitely more intense, because I knew what I was doing and could put some power into the moves, and give it my "all".

I love the low-impact workout, although I may not do it that much since it really is intermediate in intensity, and I am really trying to increase my fitness level. However, it will be the first tape I reach for when I am sick or tired but still want to work out (like today after being sick and not working out for a week.) The workout consists of 4 combos. The first 2 are more athletic, and the last 2 are more dancy. I think of this workout as "9001-lite". For some reason the choreography (the second half anyways) reminds me of 9001's hi/lo, but it is much, much easier to learn. It all goes really well with the music and I just feel like smiling the whole time I am doing it. NOTE: you do need space for this workout, and there are lot of pivots and shuffling, so it might not be too much fun on carpet.

Other points about the tape: 1) The step and low-impact workouts are self-contained, each have their own warm-ups, cool-downs and stretching, although the stretching at end of both workouts is minimal. 2) Both workouts are structured so that you put combos 1 & 2 together after learning the 2nd combo, then 3 & 4 together after learning 4th combo, and THEN you put the whole thing together, so you don't get sick of taking it from the top, but you get the fun of putting it all together. (However, I would have liked it if he put them together 2 times at the end.) 3) The workouts are a bit shorter than I would have liked. (The step workout is 50 min in total, the low is 38 min.)

Overall, I am really happy with this tape.

Instructor Comments:
This was my first Andre video, and now I am a huge fan. His cueing and teaching of the moves were terrific. Also, I think he is really cute - not necessarily his looks, more the way he encourages and seems like he is having a lot of fun.

Lisa C


The 37-minute step segment begins with a 9- minute warm-up followed by an intermediate workout with some different, innovative steps. Some moves: walking the bench, repeater pony, two taps straddle on both sides, a jump and squat going across the step followed by a knee-up, and a 3-count backward pogo.

After the heartrate check, he starts with new moves, including mambo/shuffle/march; tap around the world; back shuffle around the step, similar to Step Fit; a baseball move he calls 'safe'. He only does the entire combo from the top only one time - so it was not repetitive. I really enjoyed it and will do it again.

The 27-minute low impact was too low for me with lots of marches in place. It starts with a 7-minute warm-up and you need lots of space (count eight steps forward and you can get an idea). There are lots of marches and pivots, grapevines, step touches, and box steps - very basic and easy to learn. After the heartrate check, again, Andre does all new combos to keep it fresh. There is a fast rhythm grapevine, and a cute move called the 'bus stop.' Again, he puts it all together on both sides only once, followed by a 2-minute cooldown.

I enjoyed the toning with the tubing - he keeps your feet busy with squats and lunges using the step. Working chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps (dips, too), I got a good workout in 18 minutes for the upper body to do on an easy day. The ab work was only 4 minutes and the final stretch only 2 minutes.

I really like Andre and hope he makes more advanced workouts. Forgot to mention that Maria Latran (from some of Cathe's tapes) and Heather Day are the background exercisers. He mentioned that Maria had a baby eight months ago (maybe that's why she was missing on Cathe's tapes) and she certainly looks great. In a nutshell: the step workout is intermediate and the low impact, probably very low intermediate.

Instructor Comments:
I loved Andre's tough hi/lo segment on CIA 2002. He was also a semi-regular on Joannie Greggains' Morning Stretch in the early eighties. Great cueing, very likeable. He should make advanced videos.

maryann parker


I have done the step section and the low-impact section once, and I really have positive things to say about both. The step section already rates up there with CIA 9701 as my favorite step workout. There is nothing killer about it, but it is fun and well put together. Andre is incredibly easy to follow, and he has a great sense of rhythm. His choreography matches the music (which sounds Caribbean in parts) perfectly. It is dancy in terms of the "joy of movement," but not hard to do. I think that the perfection of Andre's cuing disguises how creative his choreography is. He has some power moves (jump-ups, lunges), but it was mostly low-impact step work. If you are looking for Cathe-style power stepping, you will not find it here. If you thought 9701 was boring, you will probably be bored by this as well. I absolutely thought it was wonderful, although I may go to an 8" step to up the intensity a bit. Even on a 6" step, I worked up a good sweat, and the time flew by. This one will become a personal favorite of mine.

The low-impact portion has convinced me that it is impossible to make a high-intensity low impact floor tape when you have limited space. This tape is solidly intermediate level for me, and my heart rate stayed at about 65%. If you have more room than I do, you could probably take the intensity up a notch. That said, I think that this is an excellent intermediate floor tape, and is better than even Donna-Mite in fun-factor. Andre makes it easy to follow his relatively complex steps, and he puts together his choreography very well with his music.

I did not do the toning section, but this tape is worth the money for the step and low-impact portions. I will pre-order anything else with Andre in it in the future. He is a gem.

Instructor Comments:
I really, really liked him. He was encouraging, but not obnoxious, and really seemed to enjoy his job. He would be easy to face in the wee hours of the morning.