CIA 9701: The CIA Step Workout

Donna Read
Year Released: 1997

Categories: Step Aerobics

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This video is intermediate/low advanced in intensity, and intermediate in terms of choreography. There is an 8 minute warmup, 42 minutes of stepping, and a 10 minute stretch (maybe a bit too long?). Her style is a mix of athletic and dancy--probably on the level of Cathes' choreography, maybe StepFit level. She keeps saying "beautiful" and tugging up her shorts, but it didn't seem distracting. I enjoyed this for a not-too complicated step routine. The beat is slower than what I'm used to (Christi and Cathe), but that was nice for a change, too, and lets you concentrate on going deep into the moves. You may want to add some power to get the intensity up. Fun workout :)

Instructor Comments:
Donna Read is a capable, energetic instructor, pretty sweet, mild and calm sounding throughout the workout. She teaches in an add-on style, and cues relatively well.



I really enjoy this tape -- it's a solid step workout that keeps me interested, gets my heart rate up, and gives me a great workout without stressing my knees or totally wiping me out. Although the speed is a bit slower at the beginning, most of the tape is done at 127 bpm (thank you Wendy for making that bpm counter available!), close to the top of the Step Reebok "safe" range. I prefer this preferable to faster speeds - it allows for full extensions and a more complete range of motion, which gives my thighs and glutes a better workout and gets me into my aerobic range without bothering my joints.

I thought Donna's cueing was quite good -- although some of the combinations are complicated, I was able to get all of them the first time through the tape (not always the first time through the combination, but she repeats each segment enough that I was always able to catch on before she moved on to the next). There were a few times where her description of a step made it sound more complicated than it turned out to be, and so it could have been a little easier, but for the most part I think she did a great job. I appreciate that she continues to cue each step within a combination all the way through the tape -- it really irks me when instructors teach 5 or 6 complicated combinations and when they do all their TIFTs they tell you the first move in a 16 or 32-count block and you're supposed to remember all the rest!

I liked the power intervals -- but you do have to pay attention to the fact that the hamstring curls on the step aren't just curls, you should be bending your knees and shifting your weight to get those thighs and glutes working, and then they become intense!

I'm looking forward to getting Donna's CIA 2K06 -- I like her style!

Randy Pollack


I was very hesitant about buying this tape because it wasn't cheap-but I'm very glad I did. Donna is such a friendly, down-to earth person that you can't help but have a great time when you workout with this tape.

I liked that the workout starts off right away-Donna launches right into the first routine with none of the usual basic steps that everyone seems to start with. In addition, when you've mastered a combo and your head is spinning from all of the moves, she throws in a simple power move-which gives you a chance to collect your thoughts before you speed off to the next combo.

The music in this CIA tape is standard, but you can hear it-which is a nice change from some other CIA tapes where you can hardly hear the music at all.

This tape is not a Cathe intensity workout, but it is great for those lighter days when I just want to relax and have a really fun workout. An excellent tape!

Instructor Comments:
I really like Donna. She's really having a good time during the workout and it shows! She has created some interesting combos for this tape, and she manages to add some flair to standard step moves (i.e. a straddle becomes a straddle with a cha-cha)I hope she makes more tapes.



This has become one of my favorite CIA videos. First, I really like the format. It's an hour-long workout, with a warmup, about 45 minutes of stepping (nice and long!), and a cooldown. Though I like a lot of the longer CIAs, I get tired of fast-forwarding and rewinding through parts I don't use. I'd rather have a solid hour of quality.

Others have described the workout itself quite well. I would say it has intermediate intensity and intermediate to advanced choreography. That fits me perfectly - I can do most Cathe Friedrich videos on a 6" step and do most of the power moves, but I like to use this video on days when I don't want the constant intensity of Cathe. The music tempo is a little slower, and you can decide for yourself where to put power moves and where to keep it low impact. I find myself in the lower part of my target heart range, but it's nice to be able to focus on the complex choreography and just having fun.

Even if you are pretty good at picking up fancy choreography, it will probably take you a few times to get the moves down. Donna isn't quite as clear with her cuing as some instructors (Christi Taylor comes to mind), and she doesn't break down the moves as much. Plus, there are a few times she teaches a new move when your back is to the TV. Aagh! That was a little frustrating, but it was worth it to rewind and practice, because now the whole routine just flows along and I really have a great time.

I love the music in this video - it's not the same old same old - it's instrumental and makes you want to add a little danciness to your stepping.

Another thing to note is that the stretching is more thorough than in other CIAs. Donna holds the stretches for a nice long time, plus she has a good amount of stretching for the upper body.

All in all, an excellent workout. A+!

Instructor Comments:
Donna Read is a very friendly, likeable instructor. I especially like it that she's very fit, but she's not all "buff" and lean, so she represents a look I feel is attainable for me. She enjoys herself and is a good dancer, so it's fun to watch her.

Mary Truscott


I expected to like 9701 more than I did, after all the good reviews. I really liked Donna's personality a lot, but I found this workout difficult to follow, even though I tend to catch on to CIA routines easily. Donna's cuing isn't as crystal clear as some other CIA instructors. Though that fact alone isn't an immediate turn-off for me--I'm willing to take the time to really learn a video if it looks fun, this just wasn't my type of workout and wasn't quite as intense as some of the other CIAs I know and love.

I believe my lukewarm opinion of this video is due only to personal preference, and I can't pinpoint any thing that I dislike. I think this is a good workout with interesting choreography, I guess it just wasn't my style.



I HATED this video. It was so dancy and stupid that I only followed the first 20 minutes or so. Then, to keep my heart rate up, I basically did my own thing. This video was impossible to keep up with as far as choreography. There weren't a lot of true power steps. I consider more intense, serious tapes more effective for me. Donna seemed down to earth, but her moves were SO unnatural.

Anne N.


Total Blast!!! Donna has done an awesome job of putting together a challenging, fun step workout that makes you feel great! The music is mostly instrumental, but very upbeat and motivating. Donna does some unusual moves, and everything flows together very well. I hope CIA makes some more videos with her. Grade A+!

Instructor Comments:
Donna Read has become one of my new favorites! I've nicknamed her the Queen of Step. That might be a little drastic, since this is the only step video (that I know of) that she's ever made, but after doing this one a few times, it would take a lot to convince me otherwise!

Annie S.


I absolutely love this step tape. From the warm-up to the step section to the cool down, the music is fantastic you just want to keep going. Donna is one of the best out there. It is an intermediate/advanced step tape that may take 2-3 times to master but it's worth it. She does straddles, reverse turns (that really blend so well you will have no problem), a unique tick-tock step, knee ups, hop kicks and walking around the step, across the top. Fun, fun, fun. If you are really advanced like I am, you can do this video and add Cathe's PowerMax sections 2 and 3 and really get a full hour of fun and intensity. I highly recommend this tape.

Instructor Comments:
Donna Read reminds me of Candace Copeland. She is a great instructor and I look forward to buying more of her videos in the future.

maryann parker


This video is so much fun, you never want it to end. It is entirely step and entirely new (almost Carribean style) music. A fresh change from the *step max* sound track. I would call the intensity intermed/adv. and the choreography moderate. I could follow her through most of the video and what I didn't get the first time around, I got it the second time. she does a couple of new *twists* to some standard moves. I found it a refreshing video and give it 2 thumbs up.

Instructor Comments:
CIA has found another fun instructor. She out to have a good time. She also cues well and keeps you motivated throughout the workout. I ordered her other CIA video 9005 because I like this video so much. She's very creative.



Donna is very energetic and the music is good. The tempo, however, is a little slower than I'm used to with Cathe Friedrich. The combinations are dancy and sort of complex. But just when you really get going, Donna throws in a very simple movement -- like a series of hamstring curls -- and this brings my heart rate down. Unlike Cathe, whose videos are intense no matter how simple the movements, this video is of medium intensity even though most of the movements are more complex. I feel this video is more intermediate, rather than advanced, because of the lower intensity. I'd give this a B.

Instructor Comments:
Sue Bryant's review gives a good description of Donna's teaching style. She reminds me a lot of Kari Anderson - from her body shape to her movements. If you like Kari, you'll probably like Donna.

Joni O


When I took a sneak peek at 9701 after receiving the four 9700 tapes, I couldn't shut it off!! This workout is made to order for the experienced, advanced stepper, who's been there and done that and gets sick and tired of being spoon-fed the same old stuff, or tapping and marching for ages while the instructor runs her mouth. Not Donna Read - she just dives right in and pumps out the jams, and it's up to you to keep up. The 45-minute aerobic section is divided into three segments, each with a long step combo, and following each combo is a sprint consisting of a power move done for a minute or two to get your heart rate up. At the end, you do the entire routine, the power sprints, and the routine again. The combos themselves are very creative and dancy, weaving over and all around the step until your head spins, and I like the fact that the moves are mostly low impact, with little strain on the knees. (But don't let that fool you - this WILL work you out!) The music, mainly instrumental, is new and invigorating also. I especially like the lively, Latino-like music that kicks off the aerobic section. Even the cooldown is a super-funky combo, which Donna swings right into until you're chilling out with the music. 9701 just keeps getting more fun the more I do it, and I know it will continue to challenge me for a long time. Grade: A+

Instructor Comments:
Donna Read has a personality like Candice Copeland's - friendly, fun and sincere. Her teaching style is somewhat different from other step instructors. Instead of building up a step slowly or little by little, she just does it at tempo and repeats it several times, to let you practice, before moving on. Even though you might find this frustrating at first if you have trouble learning dancy steps, I like it on a video because I won't have to constantly "learn" steps I already know, plus it helps me get better at learning dancy steps.

Sue B