Star Trainers: CardioGay Gasper, Violet Zaki, Rob Glick, Kimberly Spreen, Kendell Hogan
Year Released: 2007
Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance
Video Fitness reviews may not be copied, quoted, or posted elsewhere without the permission of the reviewer
Iím going to preface this by saying that I have been exercising with mostly videos for almost 20 years, There was a time when I would have considered myself low advanced, thyroid problems derailed my exercise train but now on proper medication Iíve been working my way through all I own and decluttering along the way. So after 18 months or more of little to no exercise, I made myself a challenge to workout daily, Iím probably an intermediate now, may a low intermediate at that.
I did this workout over 5 days time each in it's own day, so I will review each of the workouts separately below:
Cardio Party - Rob Glick leads this one and for me the choreography was a bit too complicated for 5:00 AM. He slowly builds a pattern, repeats it on the opposite side, then builds a new pattern, once three segments have been built and gone through, he strings them all together. Then the obligatory propel water break, followed by a fourth segment built slowly like the others. There is a modifier and someone wearing a calorie counter. The impact varies, but the modifier is there to help you if necessary. For me this wasnít my favorite.
Cardio Espresso Ė Gay Gasper leads this one and for me it was easy to follow (unlike above). She follows the same process of building a pattern, repeating the opposite side and moving on to a new pattern before stringing three together and a propel water break. There is a modifier and a calorie burn monitor. Again there was some impact, but the modifier kept things low and was easy to spot when needed. I thought it was pretty fun.
Cardio Kick Butt Ė Violet Zaki leads this one, and is not my favorite. I generally love a good kickboxing workout, and Iíve tried them with Violet before and I just donít click with her at all. I also felt a bit hornswoggled on this as this is billed as a cardio DVD, but there were seemingly endless squats and lunges in this. There was not a single punch thrown and very few kicks. At one point she says ďstop smiling.Ē I think sheís joking, but all the same, it rubbed me the wrong way. She follows the previous instructors pattern of building a pattern, repeating on both sides and moving on to the next pattern before stringing three together and then the propel water break. Modifier and calorie counter are front and center.
Peak Performance Cardio Ė Kendall Hogan lead this one and heís a joy. Energetic and upbeat without being too over the top. He also had the best music on the DVD, which is to say that I noticed the music and how well paired it was with the movements. I donít usually notice music at all, so this was something. This one was a little heavy on the squats and lunges as well, but unlike the Violet Zaki workout they had a more cardio feel to them if that makes sense. Same pattern of building each segment to the propel water break, modifier and calorie counter were there as well.
Last but not least Power Within Ė Kimberly Spreen leads this one and while I like her generally, I donít seem to click with any of her workouts and this one was no exception. Again a lot of squats and lunges here, but this one was built almost like a circuit with cardio intervals of higher intensity (not sure I would go so far as to say HiiT) built in between the squat and lunge combos. It didnít follow the same template that all the others followed as far as building patterns, but they made sure to get their propel break. At this point I feel as though this ought to have been free with a case of propel. The modifier in this one didnít modify much but the calorie counter was right on target.
Over all this one felt a bit like an ExerciseTV commercial wrapped around a bottle of Propel. The set was bright but had huge pictures of the ďStarĒ Trainers blown up in the background and the intro to each workout seemed to go on a touch too long. I really liked some of the trainers, but didnít connect with their workouts.
All of the instructors cued beautifully. I liked Kendall the most and am surprised he hasn't made more workouts on his own.
Iím reviewing this workout after doing each workout once.
Note: CC has already described the whole Star Trainers series (which also includes a Strength video and an Abs video); Iím just describing the cardio one here and may repeat what sheís already said in parts.
General workout breakdown: This DVD contains 5 separate ~30 min. cardio workouts, each with their own brief warm-up and cool-down. Each workout has a slightly different feel due to the style of the lead instructor.
*Rob Glickís Cardio Party (32 min.) begins with basic hi/lo aerobics moves (v-step, step w/ knee lift, box step, hamstring curls) that build up into a short combo; after that Rob just keeps going, teaching two more combos in TIFT style (take it from the top, or combine combos together into one big routine); also, he slices and dices (or weaves) the three parts of the last combo, but never does that with all three combos. The workout ends with a quick cool-down / stretch (~3 min.). Rob continues the slightly dancy-type hi/lo aerobics theme throughout his whole routine; although those of us who have tried some of Robís other workouts will find this less complex (and certainly less turn-intensive) than usual for Rob, this is the most complex and danciest workout and thus has the steepest learning curve of all of the segments on this DVD.
*Gay Gasperís Cardio Espresso (31.5 min.) begins with basic hi/lo aerobic moves (v-step, stomp out, hamstring curl) and some dynamic / range of motion stretches (~5 min.) before teaching four combos, which are thrown away (i.e. not added together and repeated) after finished. This session also ends with a short (but more thorough than on other segments) stretch focusing primarily on the lower body and back (~3 min.). Gay also teaches hi/lo; sheís more athletic / less dancy than Rob but slightly dancier than Kendell.
*Violet Zakiís Cardio Kick Butt (31.5 min.) begins with martial arts arms (e.g. blocks, elbows, knife hands) and athletic moves (e.g. jumping jacks, jogging or marching, squats) before continuing with push-ups, mountain climbers, football runs, plie squats into crescent kick preps, skater hops, ginga / knee lifts, front kicks, jumping jacks, lunges, standing twists, jump rope, modified burpee, back kicks, and a few other athletic / martial arts / ďboot campĒ moves. A Tai Chi-inspired cool-down and very quick lower body & upper back stretch (~2.5 min.) closes the segment. This is the least purely cardio of the workouts, as there are some strength moves (which can still get or keep your heartrate up) intermixed. Exercises are done individually or in short series, with no choreography or combos to speak of.
*Kendell Hoganís Peak Performance Cardio (32 min.) begins with simple moves plus a few static stretches (~4 min.) before building up simple combos with basic hi/lo and athletic moves, with more of the latter than the former, including a few sports-inspired steps; he mixes in moves like squats and lunges, too (e.g. the first combo begins with a v-step into a squat into a run run). Kendellís combos are short and not really as choreographed as Robís or even Gayís, but he runs through all combos together at the end before the short cool-down with a few stretches, more for the upper body than lower, at least in comparison to the other instructors (~3.5 min.). For what itís worth, to me it feels like he has more filler steps (e.g. marching in place) than the other instructors.
*Kimberly Spreenís Power Within (33 min.) claims to be an interval-training workout. Simple steps and dynamic stretches serve as a quick warm-up (~3 min.). Kimberly uses moves like lunges, knee lifts, repeaters, jumping jacks, step touch / side to side hop, squats, chair pose on toes, front kicks, ski hops and other jumping rope variations, aisw leaps, side crunch, side leg lift, shuffle, hamstring curl, and other more athletic moves. The ďintervalsĒ are more short power bursts when Kimberly adds impact to the base moves; sheíll then provide a quick recovery, which may include a few filler steps (e.g. step side to side) before starting back up. The stretch (~4 min.) moves through dynamic and static stretches for the lower body, back, and torso. Like Violet she doesnít really build combos but moves through exercises, some of which form mini-series, one at a time.
Level: Iíd recommend this to intermediate exercisers, although some experienced beginner / intermediates and some intermediate / advanced exercisers may also like this with the appropriate modifications down or up. Each segment includes high impact (i.e. both feet off the floor at once) moves, although for the most part these moves arenít particularly jarring; Iím not a high impact junkie, and the moves here are within my realm of tolerance.
Class: Each instructor has four background exercisers, one of whom wears a heart rate monitor (and, yes, the numbers thrown out seem random and certainly should be taking with a grain of salt since theyíre not really given in proper context, like the wearerís weight, level of fitness, etc.), one of whom might show modifications to take out impact or pivots, and one of whom is male (if the lead instructor is female; if the instructor is male, all background exercisers are female). Surprisingly, only Kimberly pops up in one of the other instructorís workouts (sheís in Robís).
Music: mostly instrumentals, although there are some (remade) vocals, usually upbeat and better than average for fitness videos. Iíve heard some tunes before on other videos, however.
Set: bright interior studio with colored lights behind windows and curtains and black and white photos of each Star Trainer.
Production: clear picture and sound, with camera angles usually showing all to mostly all of the class, with surprisingly few close-ups.
Space Requirements: You should be able to take a few steps in each direction. These arenít the most compact workouts (especially Robís), but theyíre not huge space hogs.
DVD Notes: The main menu offers these options: Workouts, Custom (which allows you to select more than one workout to do at once), and Trailers (for Dancing with the Stars, Biggest Loser, Envy Girls, and Denise Austin workouts).
As noted, Propel fitness water is plugged at the beginning of each workout and during a water break about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way into each segment. (One method of dealing with this annoyance is asking oneself who seems least interested in fulfilling their plug obligations.) And while weíre on the subject of annoyances, each session begins with the same Star Trainers montage plus the instructor intro and meet the cast bit (~1.5 min.) which canít be skipped.
Comments: This offers a nice little variety of short cardio sessions that work well as add ons or for those who donít have lots of time. Because of the different styles, most likely not everyone will like every one of these. Personally, as a hi/lo fan Iím more partial to Robís and Gayís, although I enjoyed Kendellís, too, because of his personality. Actually, I like (but donít love) all except Violetís; that type of workout just isnít my cup of tea.
Each instructor has his/her own personality and style of instruction, but they all cue well, mirror cue (when they do mention direction Ė some are more thorough than others in this regard), and are encouraging and positive without being overbearing or obnoxious.