Year Released: 1993
Categories: Step Aerobics
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I'm coming out of the closet on this one. Benchmark has received, at best, lukewarm reviews -- but I really, really like it! (However, bear in mind that I only do step aerobics once a week and this obviously affects my perspective. It's not as though I'm doing this step workout every other day. I probably do it 8x a year, at best.)
If you're an upper intermediate/advanced exerciser who prefers basic athletic I/A step workouts like Keli Robert's Ultimate Step, Candice Copeland's Step Ahead, Gilad, early Friedrich, or Kathy Smith's Fat Burning Breakthrough, then you might want to consider adding Benchmark to your rotation, too. It's a notch above most of those workouts in intensity, but the choreography is just as simple. Avoid Benchmark if you enjoy lots of complexity in your step workouts, though. Charlene Prickett isn't known for fancy footwork on the step. Here, she uses simple-but-intense movements on the step. It will definitely get your heartrate as high as most Cathe Friedrich videos!
Benchmark is a lower-impact step workout. I recommend it to those anxious about protecting their feet or knees, yet not willing to compromise on their workout intensity. Eight years of intense step aerobics have made me very prone to achilles tendonitis, so I have to be careful, now. I haven't experienced any problems with Benchmark.
Just because Benchmark is lower impact doesn't mean it's a sissy workout, though. It's advanced, maybe even killer, depending on your step height. Charlene proves in Benchmark that you don't have to be operate at breakneck speeds to get an advanced workout. I'm 5'1" and use an 8" bench risers for this workout and my heart is thumping just as hard as it is with a Friedrich workout on 6" risers. (Charlene uses a 10" risers and isn't even breathing very hard, even though she's talking to you the whole time. She's in her 50's, too. You can't appreciate how remarkable this is until you finish this workout!)
I'm fussy about production quality, and this isn't bad. The studio is light-filled. The music is cheerful but kinda bland. Still, I don't find the music to be irritating the way many CIA soundtracks can be. There are friendly background exercisers who talk with Charlene as she leads them through this workout, but their chatting never bothers me. (I will admit that one of the exercisers routinely annoys me -- and perhaps even annoys Charlene? -- but she performs the moves well, so all is forgiven.)
Incidentally, I've owned 8 Charlene Prickett videos. I used her videos most when I was recovering from a nasty case of plantar facisitis last summer. Charlene's videos worked very well for me during that time. "Benchmark" and "Homestretch" have turned out to be my all-time favorite Charlene Prickett workouts. I've traded the others away (only to weed down my huge video collection), but "Benchmark" and "Homestretch" aren't going anywhere, anytime soon!
I have all of Charlene's tapes. Some of them I like better than others, but only because I have done them so much that I just like some of the routines better, and I have some favorite people in the videos who have been with Charlene a long time. Her routines are so complete and easy to follow. She has a lot of great tapes.
I think one of the reasons Charlene is so unique is the fact that she is so intelligent and does more through the videos than just count or constantly say "You're doing great" over and over. Charlene gives so much medical and nutritional information that your mind is on what she is saying, and I also like some repetion in step tapes, it is so much easier to stay with, much easier than all that dancing and constant changing movements, you catch on to one and it is time to change. It is mentally draining as well as physical. I also like the fact that Charlene is in her 50's and is in great shape, something to work toward. GREAT TAPES CHARLENE!!!
I will start out by saying that I hated this tape. It was a semi-decent workout, but that's about it. The choreography was very basic; no creativity at all. The arm movements stay the same throughout the entire tape, up and down, up and down. The music is dumb. She calls a hamstring curl a "bum kick". Gimme a break. She constantly chats, as do the others on the tape. I have two tapes by Charlene Prickett, and I will never again purchase one of her workouts.
As usual, this step workout by Charlene is a pumper. One thing about her is that she's not afraid to work you hard.
While I like the intensity of this one, I don't like having my side to the TV (in straddle position) for so long. I didn't time it, but I think half or more of the workout is done straddling the step. Maybe it's just me, but I find it harder to follow when you're facing sideways. Plus, it's difficult to tell which leg you're supposed to be using sometimes. If you do get lost, though, she repeats the movement often enough that you can get back on track before she moves on to the next one.
I like Charlene and I like the results from doing her workouts, but this one is a little on the boring side. I would have to give it a B+.11/30/-0001