Funktional FitnessChristi Taylor
Year Released: 2004
Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance , Lower Body Strength
Video Fitness reviews may not be copied, quoted, or posted elsewhere without the permission of the reviewer
Hmmmmmm. I donít quite know what to say about this workout. Itís not your typical Christi fare. The first 40 minutes is high/low which I believe is supposed to incorporate functional fitness, although I canít say whether it does or not. The high/low consists of several short combos. You do one combo, and then you never do it again. I admit Iím really glad Christi chose this style for this workout, because, frankly, I donít think it would be much fun if the combos had to be repeated. Theyíre not that much fun even one time Ė but theyíre not bad either. All of the combos are really easy to pick up because Christi uses basic/intermediate athletic moves. There are ďFazesĒ 1 and 2 to the high/low. At the beginning of Faze 2, Christi starts out with some arm exercises at the beginning of the first combo. I could only stand there in horror wondering where the real Christi went. She does eventually add in the aerobics, but it still wasnít fun. Later in Faze 2, ďI Dream of JeannieĒ starts playing, and thatís when I lost it. I was so distracted that I donít even know whether I was following Christi or doing something entirely different. Now that I know what to expect from the workout, however, itís not so bad. Iíll be keeping it, but Iíd be lying if I said I ever want Christi to do another like it.
Iím reviewing this workout after doing the warm-up, cardio phazes, and cool-down at least a dozen times and the toning portion once or twice.
General workout breakdown: This 65-min. workout combines hi/lo, strength, and stretching.
- The hi/lo portion (40 min.) is divided into two Funk Phazes, with Phaze I just over 21 min. and Phaze II just under 19 min. The first combo or two of Phaze I start out a little slower and include some moves that are similar to the dynamic, er, ďrhythmicĒ stretches Christi often does in the warm-ups. There is no warm-up to start Phaze II, although the last combo could serve as a cool-down.
In some ways this is one of Christiís danciest videos, with more moves drawn from dance (ball change, mambo, cha cha, samba, hip rocks, snaky arms) than straight up aerobics (you wonít see as many grapevines and knee lifts as you might be used to in Christi routines, but hamstring curls are definitely present). Yet at the same time there are a lot more decidedly non-dancy moves than Christi normally includes, with several combos based around lunges and squats (and these are generally my least favorite combos). I gather that these moves are meant to prefatigue the legs before getting into the strength portion.
There are a few higher impact moves, many of which you can modify out with a little creativity. There are also some pivots, but as Christi usually introduces them later in the combo you can just stick with the base moves.
Christiís 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. Sheíll then add on another set of base moves, repeat, and then run through all of the parts of that. She often uses the ďwatch meĒ method, demonstrating the next layer as you stay with what youíve just learned; although she doesnít often verbally cue what sheís doing until she teaches it to you, she is very clear about alerting you to the fact that sheís introducing a change. Not all of the combos are symmetrical (taught on the right, then on identically on the left), although she more or less does things evenly (so if she does a grapevine to the right, at some point youíll probably grapevine back to the left). There are a few taps to switch sides or transition to the next element in a few places, although these are usually eliminated as the combo progresses.
- The strength portion (about 19 min.) is done with body weight only. You do long series of moves based around pulsing plie squats (adding in heel raises, chest press, back press, varying arm positions to work the shoulders, and a lower stance), push-up (including pulses and plank w/ knee lowers, crunches (both straight up and to each side, w/ legs straight up, crunches w/ 1 knee slightly bent, and then rolling up into a forward bend in butterfly), triceps dips (adding in leg raises), and back extension (with leg flutters / toe taps, either holding the torso up or lifting & lowering, and with some arm variations). Many of these series are repeated two to three times. There are some stretches (down dog, butterfly w/ forward bend, childís pose) at the end of some series.
- The stretch (6 min.) is done almost entirely seated on the floor and is meant to be kind of dancey / flowy, especially during the dancing arms in straddle position. The emphasis is on the inner thighs, outer hips, low back, hamstrings, obliques, chest, and quadriceps. Similar to the strength segment Christi does series of quick repetitions (rather than long holds). I prefer to do my own stretch, especially since this has a lot of focus on the hamstrings, while my calves (even when I donít do that strength segment) and hip flexors needs a little more attention.
Level: Iíd recommend this to experienced exercisers at the low intermediate through intermediate / advanced level who are comfortable with a moderate level of choreography.
I consider myself an intermediate / advanced in cardio. I pick choreography up pretty quickly if itís broken down and cued well, which is true here. When I first got this I was still relatively new to complex choreography and it took me a few spins to get all of the steps down, although now I pretty much sail through. When I did the two hi/lo portions the other week they gave me a solid steady state workout that had me in my moderately low zone, according to my heart rate monitor.
Class: 2 women (Tamara, who is raring to go on the final versions of moves, and Theresa, who as usual is hamming it up for the camera) join Christi, who instructs live.
Music: a mix of instrumentals with a beat and remade vocals (including ďOye Como VaĒ and the ďI Dream of JeannieĒ theme song that Annie mentioned) for the hi/lo. Christiís teenaged son, Justin, drums live for the strength and stretch sections.
Set: interior studio with parquet floors and blue walls with windows onto some plants in the back, with red and blue 3-D geometric shapes in the corners. Justinís drum set occupies the position of honor in the center along that back side.
Iíve read comments about this set feeling dark. If people hadnít commented on the shadows that project forward because of the lights in the back I might not have noticed them, actually. I think the fact that Christi and crew wear almost all black contributes to that feeling of darkness.
Production: clear (but not crisp) picture and sound, with the music clearly audible while Christi is speaking. The main camera angle from the front works fine, but thereís one thatís from kind of overhead and to the side thatís a bit disconcerting (at least, if youíre not used to that sort of view).
This and Stepsational were Christiís first efforts producing her own videos. Thankfully sheís decluttered and brightened up the set as well as simplified the camera angles since then.
Equipment: shoes (preferably some that can pivot, especially if youíre on carpet). You may want a mat for the strength and/or stretch segment, depending upon your floor.
Space Requirements: For the aerobics you should be able to grapevine side to side plus take a big step back and kick forwards; thereís only one combo in Phaze II that has a lot of forward and back movement, and you could easily stick with the original side to side version or shorten the amount of space you travel forward and back. Itís fairly compact as a Christi aerobics workout goes. For the strength and stretch youíll only need to be able to lie down with arms and legs extended.
DVD Notes: Julie introduces the workout and goes over some guidelines, but fortunately you can hit the main menu to get there sooner. Your options are Funk Phaze I, Funk Phaze II, Strength, Stretch, MoveMaster, More Christi DVDs, and Credits. These are also your chapters (so you canít skip around by combo or series of moves in the strength portion).
Comments: I seem to be one of few people who likes Ė not loves, mind you Ė this DVD. I know thatís kind of sacrilegious for someone who considers herself a serious Christi fan to give this anything resembling a thumbs up, but I came to her after the Solid Gold series, right as she was releasing this and Stepsational. That said, I can see that if I had been with her from the beginning I would be much more startled by this departure from her previous efforts and wonder what had caused Christi to start jumping that shark. I concede that the set is kind of dark, the camera angles are a bit funky at times, the repetitive drumming is something you have to be in the mood for, and of course that the choreography isnít Christiís usual. I skip the toning segment, as itís just not what Iím into these days. But I have often enjoyed having two shorter Christi cardio segments that I can pull out when I need cardio add-ons, and these two work decently well for that purpose, especially if Iím not in the mood to think too much about choreography.
I have been known to recommend this with Mission: Possible (and perhaps also CIA 5004) to people looking to master Christi hi/lo. Because Christi doesnít TIFT you can work on figuring out her breakdown and cuing style for individual combos, which will help you when she puts together more complex combos for TIFTing in her other videos.
Christi cues well, focusing on announcing steps a little bit ahead of them. She mirror cues, although she doesnít provide many directional cues, especially for footfalls. For more about her method of teaching see my general workout breakdown comments. Christi is a bit more serious in this workout compared to some of her others, so she doesnít sing that many cues.