CIA 9804: All Star, All Step Workout

Dawn Pappas, Joan Pitt, Lori Saitta
Year Released: 1998

Categories: Step Aerobics

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What a pleasant surprise. I really like this video. I bought the 9800 series last March and here I am 9 months later finally trying 9804. I was too interested in the other tapes in the series to even try this until recently. This tape consists of 3 different stepping routines and I enjoyed each one of them, despite the fact that they contain flaws. Please forgive the length of this review, but each routine is different and hasn't been reviewed with detail yet.

Joan Pitt - Warm-up (8 minutes) and Advanced Stepping (33 minutes)
I love this routine. It is one of the few VERY complex routines which is still high intensity. I think the complexity of this routine is actually similar to a Patrick G or a Christi routine. The main problem with the routine is that there is almost no layering or building up of choreography. MaryAnn's comment about acting like we have rehearsed the routine already was absolutely correct. Even in the warm-up she goes into a hamstring move around the step and leaves you behind and confused. This happens numerous times in the step routine. So yes, if you don't preview this video and just jump right in, I can see how you could get disgusted with the tape and not try it again. If you like high intensity complex step routines, however, that might be a mistake, because it really is a lot of fun. If you want to try it though, take my advice and preview and practice the moves. Otherwise you will probably yank the tape out and throw it at the TV. Trust me on this.

The choreography is really interesting and it flows together well. There were a few moves which I found very difficult. One of these is when you are doing a repeater off the right side of the step and on the third knee up you have to go straight into an over the top. Then you do one abductor and do another over the top. It is very hard for me to get the momentum to go over the top either time when one foot is already on the step. With longer legs it might be easier. She also includes the lunges off the long side of step like in StepWorks which I have trouble doing, but I can modify if needed. Most of the other moves I was able to get fairly quickly (after the mandatory previewing of course.) The routine contains 3 combos and overall it was great fun for a choreography lover like myself. The intensity payoff after learning the routine was definitely higher than other complex stepping routines like those from Patrick G.

Dawn Pappas - Interval Stepping (31 minutes)
This routine is not quite as fun (for me) as the first routine, but overall I would have to say it is the best routine on the tape because in addition to being very intense it is fun and easy to follow. Although it is an interval routine, it is not structured like Interval Max or Intense Moves. The different intensity levels are all choreographed, but the choreography is not too complex. Basically you keep doing different combinations and some are more intense than others, or your intensity is lower when you first start learning a new combo. These combos include many of the intense moves that you would find in the two IM tapes, but you don't do them forever, they are mixed in with other moves. Some of these moves include jumping onto the step with both feet, plyo jacks (including on the step), and other power moves including doing squats with one leg on the step and then hopping and turning so that you end up in a squat with your other leg on the step (fun and tough!)

I wish this routine were a little longer. However, it can be used on those days I want intensity but don't have a lot of time. The cueing in this section is OK. It could be a little better, but the routines are simple and repeated enough so that it is not really a problem.

Laurie Siatta - Innovative Step (34 minutes)
The routine is also quite enjoyable. It is the lowest intensity of the 3 routines, and probably has the best cueing. I am surprised others had trouble following the routine because I found it fairly easy to follow. She uses some terms that are different like "back turn step" for reverse turn step, but you figure out her terminology quickly, because she cues every move. The routine is built with taking it from the top frequently, but because it is short and she inserts some intensity breaks it does not get too irritating.

I am having a hard time finding someone to compare her choreography with, which may be why I liked it - it was different and I love variety. Most of the choreography flowed very well. There was one very slow move called "Hard Rock" or something, which I did not like, but everything else was fun.

Dawn Pappas - Cool Down and Stretch
The cool down was simple but interesting enough and the stretch was short but OK.

Overall I find good in every routine. My biggest problem is the format of the tape. It offers flexibility in combining 2 of the 3 routines, but this will include fast-forwarding which I would prefer not doing. Another problem with the format is that the 3 routines all have a different feel to them and depending on my mood combining 2 on this tape may not be what I am looking for. I will have to look at combining with the shorter segments on other CIA tapes. But, for days when I am short on time, this video can fill my needs depending on what I am up for - a mental challenge or a physical challenge, and if I am not up to either I can go for the third routine.

I would recommend this tape to people who crave a lot of variety like I do, and have the patience to learn new moves. It is not without flaws but I am glad I got the entire 9800 series so I could try this tape.

Instructor Comments:
Joan Pitt - She does not teach or layer the moves very well, but her choreography is great. She is very energetic and fun to work out with.

Dawn Pappas - Her cueing is adequate for the simplicity of her routine. It was enjoyable working out with her.

Laurie Siatta - Good cueing, but her terminology was a little different at time. She seems like she is probably a very sweet person - she is very soft-spoken, but very encouraging throughout.

Lisa C


Blech. I hate it. This is an all-step tape, with 3 different 35-minute routines by 3 different instructors.

Joan Pitt starts, and I gave up after about 10 minutes. I had too much trouble following her, and I wasn't in the mood to force myself to try.

Dawn Pappas is next, with a very good, high- intensity routine that I actually liked. But -- I know this is going to sound childish -- she made such a bad impression on me with her Intense Step tape, that I have no desire to ever do anything with her again.

Finally, there is Lori Saitta, who seems very friendly and likeable. But I quit her routine about 10 minutes through, also. I thought she was difficult to follow, and after my disappointment with the earlier part of the tape, I just decided that it wasn't worth keeping. Grade D. (Except for Dawn's routine -- hers is a B+.)

Annie S.


Joan's section also consisted with the warm-up. I will not be coy, Joan's cueing is terrible and hard to follow; BUT I really like the workout. The choreography is alot of fun and fast paced. Mambas, over the tops, lunges lengthwise over the step, pendelum move and an *Irish jig*. She also threw in some jumps over the step, reverse turns and other fun moves. BUT if you can't get passed the lack of cueing, then this part is not for you.

Then Dawn comes in with interval stepping. The choreography is simple but this is a cardiovascular challenge. She doesn't use combos, she does a few moves over and over for the heartrate to go up and then simpler, recovery moves. But it's not so repetitious that you become bored.

Lori has the last segment and I like this as well. She is good at cueing and the routine easy to follow, but still lots of fun. It reminded me of Donna Read in 9701. She teaches a few combos and goes back and starts all over again. There are kicks, reverse turns(now everybody is doing them!) and lots of straddles at the end of turnsteps. You work off all sides of the step.

So, over all, I'm quite pleased with this tape. It was certainly worth the risk of ordering it before I knew who was in it. I give it an A

Instructor Comments:
Joan Pitt-I found to be very likeable personality and she is inspiring to me 'cuz she's (how do I say this without offending anyone) older than I am. I would guess about her mid-forties and still going strong!

Dawn Pappas-Although I'm familiar of Dawn, this is the first tape that I've seen of her. I found her likeable, encouraging without over doing it.

Lori Saitta-This is also the first time I've seen her and I liked her as well. Her cueing was good and she came across as really enjoying the workout.



You realize the talents of Cathe, Franny and Christi when you try to attempt to even follow Joan Pitt's step workout. The cueing is non-existent. She acts like we are part of a group that has rehearsed the routine numerous times. I just gave up after 10 minutes and moved on to Dawn Pappas. Dawn's interval step was quite challenging, with lots of reverse squats, and running up and down the step. She was easy to follow but the moves brought up the heartrate. I really like Dawn and would like to try her solo tapes. Lori Saitta's workout was pretty simple to follow in the beginning but I lost her toward the end, maybe because I was pooped from Dawn's interval blast. But her workout was intermediate and she cued very good. Dawn did the cooldown. I liked Dawn's routine the best, because it was aerobically challenging, and she cued the best.

maryann parker