CIA 9908: Two Workouts in One

Jennifer Mills Palmer
Year Released: 1999

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

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As the little girl from Poltergeist 2 would say, "she's Ba-ack!" Mine is probably not going to be the most objective review here--I love Jennifer and think she's just about the greatest thing since sliced bread. Inside this 40-something woman is a little girl who took piano lessons and excelled in music only because dance lessons were not available where she lived. Tapes like this make me believe that even though I'll probably never dance on Broadway, I can certainly have a ball in my own living room. Greg Twombley knows how to capture her great personality and creativity like no one else can--but I would love to see her break out and be a real star the way Kathy Smith is. She calls her assistants Laverne and Shirley even though their names are Hilary and Tracy. At times they're as funny as she is--though not on purpose, I'm sure. Of course, that makes it even funnier! I catch myself saying, "wrong way, girls" when they get confused and face left instead of right. My family gets in on the act, too. I often do one of these routines on Sunday morning in the family room while my husband reads the paper at the kitchen table. "Oh, no--not Laverne and Shirley again!" I can hear him giggle when Jennifer starts growling for the "Cats" move. If I ask my 4-year-old, "what does Jennifer say?" her answers are "Pow, pow!" and of course, "Uh-oh!" And how about those pink outfits that Laverne and Shirley--oops, I mean Hilary and Tracy--wear in the hi/lo routine? I must say this is the first time I've ever seen an Ace bandage colored neon pink and used as bosom coverage. Please don't say this is a trend or I'll definitely be a "fashion don't" this season:) Fortunately, they've opted for more tasteful attire for the step routine--like Jennifer, they're bedecked in dancewear that's a lovely shade of "millenium blue." Jennifer's has a star on the front--I guess because she's the star of the tape, right?

And that wraps up the fashion report for now. On to the workouts. Both these routines make me feel like a hot-and-sexy lead dancer in a Broadway musical. The hi/lo really works well on those days during and before *that* time of the month to get me moving without overtaxing either my brain or my muscles. It's also a good choice for the day after PowerMax or Stepfit. Move your furniture, kids, and small pets out of the room because you will sashay, kick, spin, grapevine, and cross-step to beat the band. I'm smiling about it even as I sit here typing! I agree with Lisa C and Jen B that this routine was padded with too much repetition and taking it from the top. The last two combos are fun--oh, how I love the samba-hustle move!--but they are not the most intricate ones presented and it would have been wonderful to have a whole new set following them rather than just repeating the entire workouts SIX times in 10 minutes. People who like variety in their routines--and I think most VFers do--might get bored using this more than once every couple of weeks. The Chatanooga Choo-Choo cool-down is fun--Jennifer just can't quite stop the party, and that's OK by me:)

The fun and intensity only get stronger in the step workout. This one also features slinky, snaky moves, but if I put in the power moves and use my floor space well, this one can get me almost as sweaty/slimy as PowerMax does. To me, that's an unbeatable combination:) Even more incredible--I've picked up the choreography much more quickly than I did Jennifer's work in CIA 8003. Go figure. The step routine seemed tighter and more well-thought-out than did the hi/lo--not as much needless repetition. And I love how she uses not just the step, but also the floor around it, so it becomes a real accessory, if not a partner, in her routine. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if her next step tape includes her dancing with it the way Fred Astaire did with a hat rack.

This one is for folks who like complex choreography that doesn't take months to master and want to have fun doing it. Or maybe if you never got to experience dance as a kid, Jennifer just may reach you the way she did me with this one and help you see that it's never too late to learn new tricks. And that, in my book, is worth the price of the tape + shipping from CIA:)

Grade: A+

Instructor Comments:
Her look is very different in CIA 9908 from what it was in CIA 8003--but there's no mistaking that voice, those "Uh-ohs", and our gal's beautiful smile. Welcome back, Jennifer!

Melissa Cooper


I have mixed feelings about this tape. The main thing it has going for it is Jennifer's personality and that "fun" feel that 8003 has.

However, I found this video disappointing in a few ways. I usually don't care about these things, but the outfits in the hi-lo section are awful! The background exercisers are wearing these little hot pink things that MIGHT look okay on a fifteen year old girl. Jennifer's outfit, which looks like she's wearing her husband's winter underwear, isn't much better. I also don't like Jennifer's haircut. Overall, 8003 was just more enjoyable to watch.

I could stand this, however. The worst part is that Jennifer takes about 20 minutes worth of choreography and stretches it into a 40 minute workout. Doesn't she have any more moves than this, that she has to keep doing the same ones over and over?? The warm-up, which is fine but not amazing, is used over and over and over through the whole workout. If this is a trend (see my review for 9801), it is one I do NOT care for.

Any time Jennifer adds ANYTHING, even something as simple as a mambo cha-cha or some knee lifts ... it's back to the warm-up! One time I tried to count how many times she does the warm-up routine once it's learned, but I honestly can't make it through this section of the tape. My guess is that it's around 15-20, which is WAY to many times to do any one routine, even if it's fabulous (which it isn't).

The step section is not bad - still repetitive, but better than the hi-lo section. I almost feel cheated by this tape - instead of getting two full workouts, I got one so-so workout (step) and a few simple routines done over and over and over. The only way I can even do the hi-lo routine is if I do about 10-15 minutes of it tacked onto another tape. That is about all I can take before I start yelling at the TV. Which is really a shame, because Jennifer is very likeable.

Instructor Comments:
Her choreography and cuing are not bad, but her personality is definitely the factor that makes me like her. I also like the fact that she always introduces her background exercisers and jokes with them throughout the workout.

Jen Blaske


I really like both workouts on this video - especially the step, however I know I can never put this video into heavy rotation. This is because of the way she teaches. Like most CIA videos there is a lot of taking it from the top (hereafter called TIFT so I don't have to keep typing it), but Jennifer takes this idea to the extreme. She did the same thing in her earlier video 8003. If you liked 8003 and were not bothered by her TIFTing then just skip the next paragraph because you might think I am really strange and a bit obsessive!

Instead of teaching a combo and then TIFTing, she TIFTS after teaching almost each and every move. After doing both routines once I felt it was more irritating in the hi/lo than the step. It seemed like in the step she taught a few moves together before TIFT. The next time I did the routines I tested my theory and counted the TIFTs. I might have missed some (I was working out at the time) but I think I got most. There were 13 and 1/2 TIFTs in the hi/low (and one TIFT means once on the left and once on the right) and 11 in the step routine. So, yes it happens a bit less in the step routine, and I think there might be a little bit more choreography in that routine than the hi/low.

Besides this fact (which obviously irritates me) I think both routines are good. The hi/low is a nice routine which is pretty easy to learn. It is sort of dancy, but it doesn't have to be. Jennifer just has a lot of flair when she does the routine. She seems like a Broadway dancer to me when she is doing the hi/low. Unfortunately the best part of the routine (IMO) is towards the end, so you don't do it as much as the earlier part with all that TIFTing! I like the samba and the side-kick grapevines. Overall, I think the routine is less intense than her hi/low in 8003. In my mind I am placing the hi/low routine in the category of routines that I like to do when my body is sore, because it is not super-high impact but still can be a low advanced routine intensity wise if I want to make it so. (This group includes, 9801 hi/low, 9807, 9005, and 9802 hi/low).

And while I like the hi/low routine, I love the step routine. It is great fun and like I said earlier, it does not contain as many TIFTs. I think this step routine is a lot more fun than 8003, with a lot more creative choreography, but it was still easy to learn. One move I never really like is lunging off the step, but in this workout she makes it fun.

Overall, this tape is a keeper for me, but I know I cannot do it too often. If I do I will tire of it because of all the TIFT. This is what happened to me with 8003 and I don't want that to happen with this tape, which really is good. I plan on doing the step maybe once a month and the hi/low maybe every two months. I think that way it will stay fresh and new to me.

When I think about Jennifer, I think of the word goofy - but I don't mean it in a negative way. She likes to act silly and has a lot of fun. Working out with her is fun. She is a pretty good instructor and fairly easy to follow. I like her choreography, I just wish she would change her take-it-from the top philosophy.

Lisa C


Oh, this workout is fun! I've only done the step section so far, but I really love it. The combination of steel drum music and Jennifer's personality make you feel like you are partying down through the whole workout.

Jennifer's warm-up uses a lot of mambos and has you spinning your way around the step in no time. When it was time to stop and stretch, I didn't WANT to stop. (But I did, I did.)

Then she gets into the routine. Although there are plenty of tricky moves, she introduces them so well that I nailed almost every move on the first time through. Some of my favorite moves:
(1) A repeater while you are snaking around the board that segues into a samba on the side of the board, facing front, then facing back;
(2) Side-to-side lunges around the world that finish up with a repeater, pivot off the board;
(3) A chassee around the board into a hamstring curl, three knee-ups on the step, straddle down, jump twice and mambo forward;
(4) Lunges over the top that are similar to all those uneven lunges Cathe F does in the step section of MIC, but these are slower-paced and Jennifer introduces variations, including tap dancing over the board into the lunge.
(5) There are even power scissors! I haven't decided if this is a good thing or not :-).)
Oh, this workout was fun!

There was one move I never could get. It's a six-count turn-step and on counts 7 and 8 you keep turning on the floor, come back to the step and do a two-knee repeater and THEN you pony around in a circle. I cannot pony in a circle to save my life and even when I try to substitute another move, I end up on the wrong foot at the end of the disaster. Oh, well.

The workout ends with a short, fun cooldown and stretch and then Jennifer does 7 minutes of abs lying on the step. This is an excellent ab routine and tough.

I love this workout and will be buying the tape as soon as I can. (Thanks to Erin F for loaning it to me.) Can't wait to try the hi/lo, but the step and the abs are worth the price of admission.

Jennifer is a top-notch instructor. She jokes with you throughout the workout, so that you feel like you're actually in the same room as her. She keeps things moving all the time, even her "filler" moves are fun, fun, fun. And throughout the workout, she keeps reminding you to stand tall, engage your abs and use good form. When she throws a little attitude into a move, she has a way of grinning at you that makes you feel like you're not working at all, it is pure play time.

Daphne M


I love this video, but it's not without its flaws. The high/low is great. However, Jennifer's cueing/teaching is so bad that I get the impression she's making up the routine as she goes along. Fortunately, the moves are relatively easy to pick up, so you don't have to rely on her too much. Once you get going, it's a blast! The step is fun, too, and here Jennifer seems to be better prepared. Even though she cues better in this one, I still prefer the high/low. Not that the step is not worth doing -- by any means! -- I just have more fun with the high/low. This one is definitely a keeper. Grade A.

Annie S.


Jennifer's hi/lo is 38 minutes of a fun routine with more high knees and larger movements than 8003. It is pretty continuous with very little marching in place. She does go from the top quite a bit, but the movements are fast and the patterns are small enough to enjoy the workout at an advanced level (not killer like Interval Max or Body Max). The moves were easy to pick up the first time - pivots, mambos, grapevines with the usual Jennifer twist, sashays, spins, etc., and Jennifer makes it easy by building each pattern by adding different twists giving you the option to remain at the first level. After the cool-down came the warm-up for the step routine, which was fun for the first 30 minutes. I was soon getting frustrated from all the "taking it from the top." It seemed like it never ended, especially when she added the "across the step" intervals. I don't know if I was "pooped" from doing the hi/lo first, or the repetition was just too much.

I would prefer a format similar to 8003 - 30 minutes of hi/lo followed by 30 minutes of step as one workout - I believe this takes out the monotony of "taking it from the top" because each workout is shorter. I will definitely do the video and maybe combine the hi/lo from 8003 with this hi/lo as one workout, and do the step workout with a shorter CIA step workout.

About Instructor: Jennifer looks great with her new hairdo and has the same enthusiasm as she does in 8003. She is an excellent instructor and cuer.

maryann parker


This is the video I have been hoping for a couple of YEARS that Jennifer would make ( ever since I got 8003 )! I just hope she doesn't stop with this one, because I would LOVE to do a lot more working out with Jennifer! I tried to just preview this video the first time since I had already done a pretty intense workout earlier in the day, but I couldn't do it! Jennifer makes you just want to get up and play! I haven't done the hi-lo yet, because floor aerobics really aren't my thing, and the step section is so amazing! With all of those great kicks and turns though, the floor section looks like a ton of fun for the hi/lo fan. I like the step section so much that it's the only step workout I've done since it landed on my doorstep! :-)

Jennifer has obviously been doing doing a lot of kickboxing since we saw her last in 8003. The influence is unmistakable. Lots of great kicks in both the hi/lo and the step. In her occasional, just-to-be-goofy punches, you could tell she knew what she was doing. I love the kicking L-step into an over the top and chasse' around the bench! She is still as fun and goofy as ever. Even her background exercisers were cracking up or shaking their heads now and then.

If you've done 8003, you know how much she loves to turn. She does lots of it in this also, even more creatively than before. At one point when she's showing a turn, she suddenly throws in a couple of step-knees. (At least it looked semi-unplanned to me. ) She says that these are because she got dizzy, then says,"I go though my whole day like that. You'd think I'd be used to it!" You've got to love a woman who can laugh at herself!

There is a lot of emphasis on safety and on using your abs to stabilize you, which I liked a lot. The music was a great mix of Interval Max and Step Fit. I LOVED it! The abs are REALLY tough! This is in a good way. During one part of the abs section, I was feeling a part of my lower abs I've never felt in ANY abs work before. She also does quite a bit of standing abs stabilization work with kicks and knees during the workout itself, so you get a 2-for-1 benefit.

I actually thought this video was a little bit more intense than 8003. With all those kicks and turns and lunges, my heart rate really stayed up there! And most importantly, I was having a blast the whole time! This is one of those rare workouts during which I was GRINNING most of the time. This video is one of my favorites. A definte A+!

Instructor Comments:
Jennifer is one of the most fun and motivating instructors out there! Her enthusiasm and encouragement make you want to get up and MOVE!



I'm an old time VFer who has never, ever written a review until now. I have decided that I must share my utmost praise for this video. I love it. My background: I'm a former aerobics instructor myself (who plans to return to teaching soon), I've been exercising consistently for about nine years and I'm very advanced cardiovascularly. Oddly, I don't catch onto choreography all that quickly (it took about 3-4 tries to master my first Cathe tape- Powermax). Commenting on that aspect of this tape, I tried it for the 1st time last week and I had to rewind several times (esp. in the step section). Of course, I jumped right into it rather than preview (why do I ALWAYS do this?!). But, when I tried it the 2nd time, it was like night and day!

My recommendation: don't do all the turns the first few times through with your back to the TV. Some may call this video dancy, but it has a lot of kickboxing style kicks and some funky hips--none of which you HAVE to do (I'm the Queen of Modifying)- for instance, you can do a regular repeater while she does her 'funky' ones on the end of the step. Don't let this scare you: I don't think the choreography is all that difficult- it's pathetic how slowly I catch on considering I was an instructor myself. If you can do Cathe's choreography, you'll have no problem.

My heartrate did drop a little in some sections, but I'm just learning the choreography and I'm extremely advanced cardiovascularly. Normally with CIA, I FF through the warmup and stretch (I'll do it on my treadmill), but I actually enjoyed hers! I really liked the music- esp. the few Latin inspired songs! Arrrrriba! I'm quite picky and the only things I didn't love about the video were all the turns- for now. I know after doing the workout 10 times, I'll be loving them (just like w/8003). If you're an 8003 fan, you will love this video. Also, the abs at the end are fabulous- stabilization.

I almost forgot the important stuff: there are 2 workouts, the first being Hi/Lo (not as high as 8003) and the second Step w/abs. They are both about 40 minutes of cardio each (minus warmups and cooldowns)- sorry, I didn't time it! In fact, this is one of the few videos where I haven't checked the time on the VCR every 3 minutes- now THAT's amazing. If you hate 'taking it from the top' or you're not an 8003 fan, I'd still give this one a shot because Jennifer's enthusiam is contagious and the combinations are so diverse: a bit dancy, but still athletic. I haven't even tried the other 2 new CIAs I got because I've been addicted to this one! I can see this becoming my favorite video. A++

Instructor Comments:
She is one of my favorite instructors. As a former instructor myself, I'm in awe of her ability to go from powerful athletic kickboxing-style moves to very graceful dancer moves to funky hip-hop movements. I have never seen such a versatile instuctor. As for cueing, I'd give her a 9 out of 10 only because she doesn't cue 'right' or 'left', she says 'this leg' or 'this way' and points. I can totally understand why because she must normally teach live classes and probably isn't 100% comfortable with 'mirror' cueing (heck, I wouldn't be either!!). Her combos, enthusiasm and motivation inspire me to go back to teaching aerobics myself. She does 'take it from the top' a lot, but I don't mind at all because she'll add a few new turns or something. She's one of the best instructors out there- she has a great variety of choreography, she can cue, and she can motivate you so much that you feel like you're dancing or partying instead of working out.

Jennifer looks fabulous. I love both outfits- very hip. You can tell she's been working hard. I'm amazed at how pants can show the definition of her hamstrings and glutes like that. Her abs and arms are buff. Her hair is cute and matches her personality. And, I think the 'addition' to her top looks great and think it's no one else's business. I won't further comment on that aspect because with or without them, she looks gorgeous, and it really has no affect to the quality of her performance or the workout. She is wonderful.