Advanced Step ChallengeAmy Bento
Year Released: 2006
Categories: Step Aerobics
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Iím reviewing this workout after doing it twice.
General workout breakdown: This has already been described well in previous reviews, so Iíll just add a few more details here and there.
The workout runs 40 min. total (without the power-up) and 46.5 min. total (with the power-ups), with 5 min. for the warm-up, 21.5 min. for the main cardio portion, and 3.5 min. for the cool-down / stretch; the power-up section runs 6.5 min.
Amy builds up the combo on the right, then on the left, and then does 1, maybe 2, run-throughs back to back alternating sides. She doesnít really layer, with the exception of an added turn here or there; pretty much what you see is what you get, although sheíll cut out filler moves and cut down on repetitions in the final product. I would have liked a little more repetition, if not break down, of a few tricky parts, like one big chunk of combo #1 that gets thrown out at once before you repeat somewhat easier moves a number of times. I guess the flip side is the moves that get a lot of repetition are a little more intense, so they keep your heartrate up more. Amy doesnít always run through everything evenly; it feels like the second side gets shortchanged a few times. For example, I think itís in the second combo where she doesnít run through the full left side a few times; she just goes straight into alternating the right and left of the full combos.
There is no TIFTing (taking it from the top). Once you learn a combo, youíre done with it. Thereís no running through all four combos together.
Another thing that makes this workout tricky to learn is that youíll spend a lot of time in front of your step and thus with your back to your TV quite a bit.
This has a lot of quick pivots and turns, including a number of ones on the step itself. I was able to take out some, for example by doing crazy shuffle as fast feet (that is, staying behind the step for all four toe taps on the step), but some are needed to transition from one move to another, so if your knees donít like torque it might be best to pass on this one.
Thereís also a good deal of impact, although none of it felt unreasonable to me (thereís something about Catheís high impact that bothers me, but I donít have problems with Amyís). You can take out some, for example by doing basic instead of run. Itíll take more creativity to modify the plyo jumps in the Power Up, but if youíre creative itís not too hard, plus you could always do this segment without a step.
The cool-down consists of a minute or two of basic steps to get the heartrate down (see, Cathe, Mindy, Petra, and others who havenít bothered to include cool-downs on recent releases, itís not that hard!) followed by a few quick (and I mean quick) stretches for the back of the leg. I definitely needed more, especially for the quads and hip flexors, although I definitely appreciated having the two different calf stretches.
Level: Iíd recommend this to experienced steppers at least at a high intermediate through mid-advanced level who are comfortable with moderate to fairly complex choreography and some impact.
I consider myself an intermediate / advanced exerciser whoís better than average at picking up choreography, provided itís taught and cued decently enough. I watched the preview segment and got most of this the first time through, although I took some modifications, as I noted above, to take out some of the quick spins and some of the impact moves. This is plenty of work for me on even 4Ē; when I do it on 6Ē itís a real advanced step challenge!
Class: 3 women join Amy, who instructs live. Sheís the main whooper; you canít really hear much from the others.
Music: upbeat mostly instrumentals with a beat. Amy is known for her great music, but in this, one of her first releases, she doesnít seem to have the money or connections yet. Still, this is better than your average generic workout music soundtrack.
Set: neutral-colored ďroomĒ with two windows and potted plants in the corner. Itís bright and airy. Personally I rather like it: Iíd rather have a bright, clean, plain set than the wacky ones out there; the fewer the distractions from the workout the better for me.
Production: clear picture and sound. Although Amyís voice is a little echo-y, it is clearly audible over the music. The camera angles are helpful. You know, there are people whoíve put out many more videos who do a poorer job with production issues than this, Amyís second series and done on her own.
Equipment: step (Amy and company use a full-sized club step with 1 pair of risers), sneakers thatíll turn easily on your platform and flooring, and a supportive jog bra.
Space Requirements: Youíll need approximately an equal amount of space to the back, front, and sides of your step. I put mine smack dab in the middle of my workout space, which is about 6í deep by 8í wide, and that gave me enough room as long as I stayed in place rather than doing the step out pivot turn to the side in combo 2 or 3. For the main step workout the step is horizontal, but itís vertical during the power up segment. (I kept the step in place and changed my position.)
DVD Notes: I have a pressed DVD, but I believe the very first edition appeared on DVD-R. This has also been rereleased with a different cover, but I donít know of any notable differences besides the artwork.
Comments: How does the original ASC compared to ASC 2 and ASC 3? Itís the shortest of the three, thatís for sure (although ASC4 might only be a little bit longer than ASC 1). I feel this original one is the most intense, perhaps because no modifications are shown, so the impact and pivots are nearly unavoidable unless you preview it and devise your own. Amy seems to have kept a similar format for her later ASCs, with the Power Ups in a separate chapter, although at least ASC3 has a premix throwing the Power Ups into the mix. Here youíll have to be pretty handy with your remote if you want to do the Power-Up within the main workout. Oh, and ASC 1 is the only one with whooping, as Amy listened to feedback and has worked to removed that from her later releases.
Amy is upbeat, positive, and cheery, without being too much so; itís just the right level of enthusiasm for me. She has almost a goofy or quirky kind of sense of humor, which I like, as it adds to the sense that sheís really being herself. Amy has great camera presence; itís hard to believe this is just her second filmed series.
Amy cues for someone already familiar with the routine; she is not cuing to teach the routine. While this means her cuing will stand up better with repeat viewings, it leaves the burden of learning the routine on the user. Oh, and donít listen to her when she says ďX moreĒ or ďlast one,Ē because she invariably ends up doing more than that.
I just finished trying this one out for the first time and WOW...it may be shorter than I'd like but the intensity is WAY up there. I think this one is just as intense all the way through as one of Cathe's challenges. The whooping can be a bit much if that bothers you, but I found myself getting into it just as much as Amy was. I thought it would bug me, but it didn't. This one's a keeper, and I look forward to trying more of Amy's workouts.
The first time I did this video, I was very frustrated by the complexity of the moves. I would advise definitely to study the instructional portion of the tape before starting. The 1st combo was the hardest one to get for me. I still haven't mastered the "crazy shuffle" yet. I usually get choreography fairly fast, but with this one, I had to preview it with a 4 inch step just to get the moves. Even then I was sweating!
I suspect for most people, it will take a little work to get the combos down...but once you do the workout in itself is very good. My legs were shaking just as much as if I had done Cathe's IMAX2. (Haven't done IMAX3 yet...) The Power Up section is a good one. I would suggest to do Power Up between the first two combos and the last two combos and then again at the end if you want to boost up the cardio of the workout, although it is not necessary.
The music was nothing special, but the moves were fun. So far, I have enjoyed all of Amy Bento's DVDs.
Amy has an energetic gusto that really inspires while you do her workouts.
The first time I did this video I swore and said some very bad things to Amy on the TV screen. But that's because I hadn't previewed the four most complex moves! I found that the preview chapter was essential for doing the workout, because she does not teach them or break them down at that point.
Once I did that and tried this video for the second time, I fell in love! This is the best advanced step workout to come out in a long time. My only complaint at the end is that it was only about 30 minutes, minus the 10-minute power bonus section (which was fabulous in and of itself!).
She does teach the first part of the first combo a little fast, but I was able to pick it up, armed with the previewed knowledge. Crazy shuffle is sort of like a jump aruond the world. YOu also do hamstring curls around the step, a fast shuffle on both sides of the step and a jump about-face which isn't really hard to learn. Alot of the moves are done in front of the step but if you get used to that it's no big deal.
The first combo of the bonus power section gives me great hope for her future kickboxing workouts! Knee-kick mambo into two jump kicks--so much fun it hardly hurt! She goes on to do vintage Cathe-style plyo leaps, jumps over the step and other more traditional power moves. The only problem with this workout for me right now is that I have a grouchy downstairs neighbor! It's high-impact, sweat-producing and tons of fun!
Amy DOES remind of Cathe in an abstract,very positive way--fit, no-nonsense yet friendly, talkative but not chatty. The whoo factor is not too bad in this workout--probably because who has extra breath?
The setting is warm and inviting with pale yellow walls, good lighting, hardwood flooring and several windows. (Amy stated her husband designed the set for her)
The dvd is broken down as follows:
Intro, Preview, Play Program, Chapters, Credits. The chapters are warm up, combo 1, combo 2, combo 3, combo 4, and the cool down.
Preview: In the preview section, Amy breaks down the 4 main combinations that make up the "meat" of the workout. She demonstrates this at a slow tempo, showing modifications that can be used as well. It's just her and you, no music, just straight forward instruction.
1st: Crazy Shuffle-3 repeater, shuffle repeater, turning into the step 360 degrees with knee at end.
2nd: Scoop Around Step-starts from the top of the step, scoop side to side, then two scoops at front of the step, cross back over, two back then repeater.
3rd: Flip Flop-this also starts from top of the step. 2 shuffles, knee & pivot, this turns from front to back then front again ending with jack on floor.
4th: About Face-this move starts from a straddle on floor and you literally jump up onto the bench facing the opposite direction as where you started.
Marches, step touch, 2 knees, hamstring curls to top, scoop around (not starting from the top) to two repeaters on floor. Then you grapevine, turn out and in, arabesque straddle, v-step then go into stretches. She then does 8 jacks and repeats stretches to other side.
Basic rt 4, hamstring curls on top, then to floor, bounce repeat the corners (3 times), shuffles, knee & a rock repeater, knee/kick, straddle arabesque, heel on bench, heel on floor, pivot, chasse back to step. Then CRAZY SHUFFLE around, knee up, diagonal twice, turn step, two knees on top, go home.
Runs on top, knee off side, step touch, back to step with knee , 6 count mambo. Then 2 repeater, v-step, forward off front of bench mambo, 2 repeater spin, jack on top of bench, SCOOP AROUND THE STEP, then 3 repeaters, scissor rock, over twice. Go home, repeat other side.
Combo 3: Walk over right, turn, knee straddle, tap to front, reverse, mambo back, straddle, ABOUT FACE, toe tap exit, right knee up, single knees side to side then repeater knees. Squat for 2 counts, then 2 lunges facing side of step, 7 arabesque, then basic left. Repeat combo to left.
Combo 4: Knee off side, squat, jog, knee up with a hold onto top of step, lunge back off step, 3 lunges then jacks on top of step. FLIP FLOP is introduced in this combo after the jacks on top of step. Jack on floor. Then run on left to repeat to that side. Next 2 kick spin to end, across the tops, knee to bring it home.
Very basic, just a few step touches and deep breaths. Amy does stretches for back, shoulders, hamstrings and calves.
Wardrobe: Amy and the A-Team are all wearing matching tops and pants. The background girls followed along beautifully!
For you complex choreography step hounds, this may be the ticket!! Lots of twists and turns at non stop stepping speed! For those that may want to try to master it, the review section is very helpful. She breaks down the choreography slowly and deliberately, then she shows what the move looks like at tempo. www.nrgfitness.net is Amy's website.
Amy has lots of energy and loves to whoop. (in case you don't like that) I'd compare her to Chalene Johnson, that's who she reminded me of.
I did a walk thru of the preview section where Amy breaks down the harder moves. She said she does this rather than break the moves down in the workout - keeps the pace more advanced. The moves are nicely brokedown and at a slow pace so you can get it. One is like Cathe's fast feet, but you are moving in a 360 over the step. There is a straddle with a 180 jump up onto the step - I would recommend practicing this first ;) There were a few others, but those 2 stood out.
Intro flows well - you get nicely warmed up with just a little bit of stretching on warmed muscles. Side steps, knee ups, few jumping jacks which can be modified to low-jacks, grapevine - nothing too cardio-challenged.
Combo#1: Wow - talk about energy :) This one will need to be preview and walked thru for sure. There is really no breakdown, she just goes into it, but I have a feeling it will be worth the work. Music isn't anything special - just kind of beat music. This combo has the crazy shuffle.
Combo#2: There is a 6 count mambo in there - love those. There are also forward mambos - love those, too! There's a reverse step similar to Cathes where you reverse over your shoulder around the step (I totally can't explain it, but I love it.) Amy calls is a scissor rock. Hmmm .. I'm thinking this combo looks fantastic! Again - it will take some work. There are also half mambos,then the about-face Amy brokedown in the preview section.
Combo#3: drop squats, jacks on the board, stepping down into a 3 step fast shuffle, pivot, 3 step fast shuffle .. it's fast and high impact.
Power-up section: step is perpendicular. Lots of high impact jumping on and off the step. Looks tough.
Overall, my initial impressions are positive. I walked thru some of the moves tonight (getting over bronchitis, so didn't want to do too much.) It seems fun, but I'll try it Tues or so hoping I can breath enough. Amy sweat it out - there isn't any phantom edits to non-sweat clothes and makeup fixes, which bugs me to no end. Come on - sweat with me! If I'm gonna be drenched at the end of the workout, I want the people on the video to look as bad as I do ;)
Liked her :) She is tough but encouraging.
Impressions on Preview:
Preview-(Very short instruction on 4 of the hardest moves in the workout)
Combo 1-looked tough to learn because it is done off of the front of the step
Combo 3-probably the least intense of all the combos
CD very short with a couple of standing and hamstring stretches
Powerups- 3 longish intervals with short breaks-very plyoish and very tough looking
Just to give you some backround, for stepping I use mostly Cathe, a few Christi's, a Season tape (RSS) and Kristen Kagen's 2 tapes. I have a couple of CIA's as well but I rarely use them.
This workout is completely different than any workout I own. There is almost NO breakdown of combos which makes it seem to me that once you know the moves, the intensity almost never lets up. I'll know for sure when I do it tomorrow, but the intensity throughout the entire workout looks to be on par with the challenge part of Cathe's Step Blast.
What really makes it look different is the amount of complexity COMBINED with the level of intensity. There are lots of turns, combined with jumps in new and interesting ways. The combos are short, but are repeated a bunch of times, and she puts some plyo moves right in the middle of combos to get your HR up even more.
The music is loud and good (IMO...funky). She has a TON of energy and does whoop it up quite a bit, but as I was watching I was thinking that I would appreciate that kind of encouragement to get through the workout. This is seriously fast stepping with plenty of intensity.
The set is light and bright, and I think it looks great for a first effort.
Impressions after doing workout:
The feel is so different than other workouts because the combos are so short and repeated so often, but the complexity makes the combos so fun. As soon as you have had enough of one combo it's time to move on to the next. Time flew by.
I think if there were 5 combos instead of 4 I would have voted this the all-time perfect step workout. Without the Powerup section which is an add-on of about 5 minutes, the body of the workout is shorter (40min or so??) than what I'm used to doing when I step.
Next time I do this, I'm going to do the Powerup section after each combo. I think that would make it about an hour and probably give someone all the intensity they would ever want from a step workout.
Her terminology is different than other instructors', but once you understand what she is asking for, her cues are enough to get you through, and the repetition is enough to give you plenty of chances to learn it.
I have to give this workout a solid A. It would be an A+ if it was just a little longer.
BTW-The whooping didn't bother me at all, although my 8yr old daughter who has watched me do lots of workouts was watching and said, "I think she talks too much." I didn't notice at all when I was doing the workout itself.
Full of energy, good cueing, whoops more than other instructors