Bouba's Awesome Step Workout

Boubaker Messaoud
Year Released: 2006

Categories: Step Aerobics

Video Fitness reviews may not be copied, quoted, or posted elsewhere without the permission of the reviewer

Show oldest reviews first

I’m reviewing this workout after doing all segments once or twice.

General workout breakdown: This step aerobics DVD runs for approximately 95 min. Laura has already described this video so well (I think her review is what inspired me to get it! :)), but I’ll add some more details because I too would like to see this one more widely known.
*Warm-up (12 min.) teaches you one combination that’s a tad less complicated than the ones you’ll learn in the full routine. It ends with some dynamic but mostly static stretches for the lower body (specifically the calves, hip flexors, and hamstrings) plus shoulders and low back.
*Cardio Step One (32 min.) introduces you to three combos. As with the warm-up and all subsequent combos, Bouba begins with basic steps, adding on and layering until you get the final product. The final versions make sense (I actually found many of the combos easier at that point than the in between versions), and the combos flow together well. He uses basics, traveling single knees or hamstring curls, and repeaters to change leads rather than tap switch steps. This portion ends with TIFTing (taking it from the top) all three combos. When Bouba TIFTs, he weaves the combos together (or slices and dices or however you want to call it; in other words, you do combo 1 on the one side, combo 2 on the other, combo 3 on the first, etc., rather than combo 1 on both sides, combo 2 on both sides…).
*Cardio Step Two (30 min.) teaches two more combos, these slightly more complex than the ones in the first part, if only because although initially taught entirely facing forward they all at some point flip over so your back is to the TV in the final product. Like the last combo in the first part, these are taught in segments, with basic filler moves in between parts that are eventually cut out. This part ends with running through both combos back to back, followed immediately by a big TIFT of all five combos.
*Cool-down & Stretch (8 min.) has a short, easy set of moves on the floor followed by the same stretches from the warm-up for the calves, hip flexors, and hamstrings plus shoulders and low back with an additional calf stretch. (Rather than do the shoulders and low back sequence yet again, the last time through I sub in a standing quadriceps stretch, since that’s a notoriously tight set of muscles for me.)
*Bonus (14 min.) has one TIFT of the 5 combos, one TIFT mixing the combos up in a different order (What a great idea! This keeps the TIFTing from getting so monotonous, even if it does make your brain work a little more), one TIFT of the warm-up combo plus the 5 combos in the normal order, and one TIFT of the 6 combos done on the floor (surprisingly confusing without the step for a reference point, although this makes for a good lead-in into the cool-down).

Level: Like Laura, I’d recommend this to at least intermediate exercisers comfortable with fairly complex choreography. I agree that this is more intermediate plus or perhaps intermediate / advanced if done all the way through; it’s not advanced in terms of choreography, like Patrick Goudeau or Seasun Ziegler, or intensity / impact, like Cathe Friedrich or Mindy Mylrea. Because this is done on a 6” step, doesn’t have as many filler moves (those that are used involve the step, like basics, traveling single knees or hamstring curls), and seems to be at a slightly faster beat, I’d say this is slightly more intense than the average Evolution step video if done as is, although it’s comparable in choreography.
I consider myself an intermediate / advanced in cardio, although I’m more of an intermediate plus when it comes to step, since I haven’t had mine that long and am still working my way through more complex step aerobics workouts. I pick choreography up pretty quickly if it’s broken down and cued well. This one challenged me and will need another time or two through before I get it fully, but I didn’t find it maddenly impossible the first time through (again, be aware I think I’m better than average at picking up – although probably not exactly executing – choreography). That said, I found Cardio Step Two particularly tricky and am still trying to polish up some of the steps, but to be fair it had been a few days since I had done Cardio Step One. When Bouba runs through the combos together it gets decently intense – enough to get my heartrate going but definitely nothing in danger of wiping me out.

Class: 1 woman and 1 man join Bouba. There are a few woos, but you have to listen hard to hear them.

Music: most of the workout uses a mostly instrumental mostly Latin soundtrack that also has the “It’s Party Time” song (Carlos Arias uses the same or at least nearly the same MusicFlex soundtrack on his 2008 CIA DVD), while the main menu and cool-down features more exotic instrumentals that evoke Bouba’s North African heritage.

Set: large open room with wooden shutters and curtains in front of which are large potted pots.

Production: clear picture (except for a few instances where a shot appears kind of washed out and others seem to be stuck in kind of slow mo). Bouba’s voice is a little quiet relative to the music, so I find myself turning the volume up some, which means when I get back to the main menu that theme music is a bit loud; there is also one point where Bouba’s mic seems to turn off briefly. The camera angles are overwhelmingly helpful, showing all of Bouba and his crew while each new move or layer is introduced, and only after that zooming in on Bouba’s lower body as he demonstrates the move again. They may be a hair too far away from the camera in the main front shot, but they’re still clearly visible on my medium-sized TV.

Equipment: a step (Bouba and his crew use a full-sized club step with 1 set of risers – choose the appropriate height for you) and sneakers.

Space Requirements: You should be able to move comfortably all around your step. It’s best if you have a few feet in each direction, but you definitely don’t need a gigantic studio for this one. One potentially tricky thing: if you choose to do the last run through of the bonus on the floor, you’ll either have to put your step away quickly or find enough space behind the step to do it.

DVD Notes: The main menu offers you the choice of playing all or selecting a chapter (see general workout breakdown). I wish the bonus was not after the cool-down & stretch (and credits), so you have to skip ahead to it, then skip back to the cool-down & stretch.

Comments: Hooray, the art of breaking down and cuing complex choreography is still alive! And in a fun routine from a new to video instructor, to boot.

Laura compared Bouba’s style to Marcus Irwin, and I’ll also throw out Marcos Prolo as a comparison, although Marcos has a different approach to breakdown and is a bit more athletic / less dance-y than Bouba. Both Marcos and Bouba like to move all around the step, including with one’s back to the TV, and are committed to using the step, with lots of straddles and over the tops. (This is not a video where the step is there to work around; you definitely use the step itself.) These guys all take more old school step aerobics moves and make them into interesting combinations; you’ll see lots of familiar, comfortable moves presented in fresh, creative ways.

Those with sensitive knees should know there are a lot of pivots, including a number on the step, although there aren’t a lot of full spins.

Bouba several times makes suggestions to step teachers; except for that, this works just like any other step video aimed at the at home exerciser I have.

I hope Bouba releases more step videos in the future. A few more releases, and we may have ourselves a new star to help fill the void left by the tragically retired Christi Taylor, Marcus Irwin, and company. I’m also curious to see what he’d do in a kickboxing video, too, as he boasts of his martial arts skills on the back of the DVD cover.

Instructor Comments:
Boubaker, or Bouba for short, is positive and encouraging without having an over the top personality; you can tell he’s being himself and having fun without losing sight of the fact that he’s teaching. As Laura wrote, he teaches via the “watch me” method, having you repeat the moves as you just learned them while he shows the next progression; sometimes he even runs through the next layer twice. He cues clearly just ahead of the move, although he doesn’t cue every step or even every combo name in every run through, instead saying, “Uh huh,” “That’s it,” and things like that. As Laura mentioned, he tries to cue for the viewer’s right and left, but at least he corrects himself when he slips up and cues for his own. One quibble: he uses the same term (“skateboard”) for two different moves. On the flip side, I appreciate that he’s not fussy about arms; this helps me concentrate on the feet. Like Laura I found him easy to understand.



A little about me before plunging into what I think. I am a committed intermediate exerciser. Recently, life has been out of control, so I have had to deliberately try to do longer and/or more intense workouts (for me). If I manage a 30-minute workout, that's good. A 45-minute workout is MAJOR. I have arthritis and the worst joints in my body are my hands and wrists. This precludes many, if not all, moves which require me to support my body weight on my hands. Finally, I much prefer cardio workouts to strength usually. The complexity of choreography I prefer ranges from intermediate into advanced, but I donít enjoy the super advanced, like Patrick.

I felt like I had to write a review for this workout because every time I mention it, someone says, ďWhat workout is that? Where did you get it? Iíve never heard of it!Ē Since I enjoy it, I figure I should spread the word. I got it at, where there is a clip of the workout.

This DVD has two step routines on it. I would place it at the intermediate level, although there are times it might get into the advanced arena briefly. He builds the step workout slowly and you string combos together after you learn a segment (also known as TIFTing). He reminds me somewhat of Marcus Irwin in his style, although I donít think heí as good as Marcus. He has his own definite style, which includes humor and showing you what he wants you to do before having you join in. English is his second language, but I have no problem understanding or following him. He mirror cues except when he forgets (and then he corrects himself). The music has a Mediterranean flair, which is appropriate since he is from North Africa. For those to whom music is very important, know that the music repeats itself at a couple points in the workout. His two background exercisers apparently have taken classes from him and they seem to enjoy themselves.

Mostly, the reason I enjoy this workout, is that itís a laid-back step routine with enough complexity in the choreography and enough creativity in his combinations to keep me interested and wanting to come back for more. His combinations are definitely not "the same old stuff" and I enjoy the originality. Also, he makes me laugh periodically, which is always a bonus for me.

Instructor Comments:
He's enthusiastic about his workout and has a good presence in front of the camera. He clearly communicates what he wants me to do. He makes me laugh. He reminds me of Marcus Irwin a little. What's not to like?

Laura S.