Crazy for Step

Charlene Prickett
Year Released: 2003

Categories: Step Aerobics



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I’m reviewing this workout after doing it once.

General workout breakdown: This 73-min. step aerobics workout has already been described well by the previous reviewers, but I’ll add some nitty gritty details, just for grins.
Charlene begins with simple moves that become the first combo of six (I think that’s what I counted). After each combo she TIFTs (takes it from the top, or does all combos in order), with three big TIFTs once you’ve learned all of them. Charlene keeps her combos as is, never weaving them (so you’ll always do combo #1 on both sides, then combo #2 on both sides, and so on, never combo #1 on one side, combo #2 on the other, etc.). After about 62.5 min. of cardio, the workout ends with a short cool-down (just under 3 min.) – if you call lunges on and off the step a cool-down! – and some lower body stretches (8 min.), focusing on the quadriceps, hip flexors, calves, and hamstrings, with some balance work for the ankles, too.
Charlene builds upon basic step aerobics moves like basic, knee up, knee repeaters, hamstring curls, straddle, lunge, L-step, and so on, which she may layer into something more interesting or may keep as is (at least one of the later combos is left relatively plain, in contrast to the intricacy of some of the earlier ones). It does have more of an “athletic” feel, although she does put a little cha cha with a shimmy in there (her background exercisers start leaving that out as soon as Charlene stops looking, which I thought was funny because I did the same!). Her combos are basically tapless (meaning she doesn’t do a tap switch to change leads), and they’re all symmetrical (meaning they’re done on both the right and left), although Charlene might not spend as much time building up the moves on the other side.
I went into this expecting it to be more low impact than it was, although you’re not exactly hopping around like a jumping bean here. It’s just that this is not a workout where one foot is on the ground at all time. “Mixed impact” is probably the way to go in describing this one. There are also some quick partial pivots here; you could leave them out, as they are almost all layers added onto the basic moves, but you’re on your own to remember to do that.
Although I appreciate Charlene’s relatively restricted repertoire reduces the learning curve and her ability to transform a simple step like a 3-knee repeater into a lot of different moves, I’m not the biggest fan of reusing chunks from combo to combo because it requires extra attention during the TIFTs to remember how many and what comes after this curl weave over since it appears in three separate combos (this could be one area where more proactive cuing could have helped). One other little picky thing: Charlene uses the terms “tick tock” and “pendulum” for two very different moves; since I’m used to the two being interchangeable – and used to different terms for what she calls a pendulum (I believe some other instructors call it names like “rebound” or “ricochet”) – this will be something I have to be mindful of. (I’m not blaming her, because for all I know the other instructors are the ones who have deviated from whatever attempts at standardization and consistency may have been made in the past, but the more step I do the more entries for specific terms and/or moves I have to annotate in my mental dictionary.)

Level: I’d recommend this to intermediate through low, maybe mid-, advanced exercisers comfortable with intermediate or so levels of choreography. Thanks to the interesting but not maddeningly complex choreography and the ability to choose one’s step height this is a versatile DVD: those who are on the low side of intermediate could use just the step or even do this on the floor, while those more advanced can use 8” or even 10” (I also think you have to be crazy to do that!), with maybe a little more oomph. I agree that those who are truly super advanced steppers might find this doesn’t appeal to true intensity junkies or choreography hounds even on 10”.
I consider myself an int./adv. exerciser, although because of some health issues I’m at an int. level these days, especially when it comes to step. 6” is more than enough for me to get a heart-pumping steady state cardio workout from this one. I pick up choreography easily, provided it makes sense and is taught and cued decently, which is true here. I am glad I watched the tutorial beforehand, though. I felt comfortable with the full routine after one run-through, although I need to clean up some things, especially the transitions between the combos in the TIFTs, in my next run-through. Even though I love choreography, I’m finding that my interest in complexity for complexity’s sake has waned over the past few years, especially as I seem to be able to tolerate less twirling and spinning in my aerobics workouts. Something like this, which keeps my brain engaged just enough but doesn’t overtax it, definitely has a lot of appeal for me.

Class: 2 women, both of whom regularly work out with Charlene, join her; at the time of filming, one was 38 and the other 59(!), yet they and Charlene have the energy (and apparently joints!) of people half to a third of their ages. Although Charlene sometimes mentions that you can leave out layers, no one shows any variations or modifications or substitutions. Both background exercisers wear mikes, but they don’t contribute a lot; sometimes they’ll help Charlene count down on the repeater knees, add in a comment like, “I like this move,” and things like that.

Music: upbeat pretty standard exercise video stuff, some of which sounds familiar (perhaps because some of it’s also on With Every Step). It’s kind of on the quiet sound. A more rockin’ soundtrack in both tune selection and volume would make this workout even more fun, but it works well enough.

Set: You know, I’m indifferent to the all-white set. I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it, and it doesn’t keep me from enjoying the workout, either. I didn’t find the set as disorientating as I thought I’d might as long as the camera stayed still, but when it started panning up or down I experienced some spatial confusion. (Despite my comment on sets in my reviews, I usually could care less. I can count on one hand the number of times a set has been a contributing factor – but never the main reason – I’ve gotten rid of a workout.)

Production: clear picture and sound. Most of the video is filmed in a straightforward manner, but as I mentioned above there are some artsy angles and close-ups that I found more distracting than helpful, especially on a set without minimal spatial reference, and even some times when I would have preferred to see all of Charlene or whomever first before the close-up shot.

Equipment: As mentioned, Charlene and crew use a full-sized club step with 3(!!) pairs of risers, or 10 inches. I admittedly haven’t been stepping a lot recently and am not quite as in shape cardio-wise as I would like, so for my first run-through I just did this on the platform, and I have to say it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park on 4”. As I mentioned, I definitely see myself getting a moderately challenging workout from 1 pair of risers, or 6”, and it’d have to be a really strong day for me to consider using 2 pairs of risers, or 8”.
I used my full-sized step, but this one would work well with a smaller step (like the Cathe home step kit)
Oh, supportive sneakers are a must, and it’s best if they won’t catch on your step or carpet.

Space Requirements: You should be able to move around behind your step and ideally lunge back on the floor, but you just need to be able to step down with one foot to the sides and front of the step and kick in both of those directions while on your step.

DVD Notes: Your only main menu options are Step Workout and Tutorial. The only chapter point is the one for the tutorial; there are no chapters within the workout itself.
I suppose it’s worth noting that like my copy of With Every Step, this came in one of those slim cases.
A funny note: on my disc, the dark background swallows up the “for” of the title, so when I open my case a quick glance tells me I’m about to do “Crazy Step,” which, as everyone says, is the perfect title for this one!

Comments: The only other Charlene step workout I have is With Every Step, which has two shorter workouts (about half an hour each) of slightly less complexity, intensity, and impact. Charlene says Crazy for Step is the most complex step workout that she’s released, and even from my limited experience with her cardio (I also have Stand Up & Be Some Body and Tie One On) I can see that.
If you read a lot of my reviews, you’ll see that I’ve been on a Petra Kolber step kick somewhat recently. Petra’s choreography is of similar complexity, with perhaps a few more turns and dancy flairs. But the intensity of hers doesn’t match Charlene’s here, even when you do both routines on the same step height. Anyway, that’s just a quick comparison that came to my mind, FWIW.

Instructor Comments:
Charlene cues pretty well, but I agree that her timing isn’t always great and/or consistent, with some cues a little early even for someone like me who prefers cuing before rather than on the move. While I appreciate the tutorial, I have to wonder why she didn’t just break down the moves verbally better in the actual workout (while at the same time I appreciate that she didn’t stop the workout to teach moves). She mirror cues, but more of her directional cues are visual (as in pointing) rather than verbal. She’s focused on the workout and professional, but she’s very comfortable on camera and has a more conversational approach to cuing, so it feels more like you joined her and her friends for their weekly casual session at Charlene’s house (if only they had also filmed this on the patio they supposedly work out on!) than watching a slickly rehearsed and produced video. She and her crew keep the conversation on the workout, but there is some give and take.

KathAL79

09/22/2011

this step workout is suitable for intermediate/advanced exercisers. 60 mins long plus stretching and a tutorial.

While charlene and her friends use a much higher step, i used 6" inches and changed some of the 'leap-overs' and other
miscellaneous jumping to low impact moves.

i liked the music in the workout even though it seemed a bit
repetitive. all instrumental music, but quite upbeat.

also there were lots of unique moves that i really enjoyed learning and doing.
this workout is a TIFT though, where she teaches a combination,
then another, and then strings them together (she refers to each combo as a pearl on a necklace). i dont mind that but some people dont like TIFT as it gets to be repetitive i think.

i thought that her background
exercisers were right on the money ...no flubs at all and had lots of energy and did not annoy me in the slightest. i was amazed
at their athletic ability because, frankly, they were no spring
chickens...lol.

also i did not mind that charlene and friends workout against a pure white background -- their outfits were colourful and i do think that the background makes it alot easier to see their legs and feet
and therefore it is easier to catch onto the moves.

at the end, charlene does some lunges off of the step to cool down, then does some balancing moves and then stretches for the quads and hamstrings.

also there is a tutorial on the dvd that teaches some of the
moves if you need help with that.

a really good step workout all the way around.

Instructor Comments:
Charlene's workouts carry a low dread factor. she is always a pleasant workout partner and a real pro at cueing properly.
i liked her teaching style of
starting out easy and then changing the easy moves to harder ones.

Carolyn Visser

01/16/2005

This is my favorite video by far right now and that is saying a lot with my collection. The intensity is fabulous. The choreography is challenging but not confusing. I am always looking for a video with high intensity but inetrmediate choreography and this fits the bill perfectly. By the end of this 60 minutes of full on step I am dripping and feeling great! I am also a runner and this is one of the only videos I have that rivals running in intensity.

Instructor Comments:
I do nto have a strong opinion about her personality but she does know how to challenge!

Naomi

12/21/2004

When someone said this should be called "Insane for Step", they were right. This tape totally kicked my butt, but in a good way. The moves were interesting, but not so difficult that I won't be able to get them after a few tries (i'm a klutz, it takes me longer than most to learn choreography). It was alot of fun, and I enjoyed the music. The stark white set was maddening as was one of her background exercisers who kept trying to take over. She was counting over Charlene, and interuppting during the cues, which was really annoying. All in all, an excellent workout though.

Instructor Comments:
Charlene is very warm and friendly. It's a nice break from the rehearsed feeling you get from most instructors. She also has alot of good tips about form. I am less than half her age, and can only dream of becoming as fit as Charlene. She is an inspiration.

Marianne

06/10/2004

This tape should be renamed Insane for Step because you have to be out of your mind to do it! In my quest to find challenging, low impact, high intesity workouts, this one is a true fit but there are some things about this step workout that did drive me crazy and not in a good way.

This workout is tough and the choreography is not basic like it is in most of her other videos. I consider myself an advanced exerciser and with only one riser added to my step, I was having a hard time breathing. Charlene and crew (two backround exercisers who have been in her previous workouts) had 3 risers added and I'm still in awe that they could make it through this workout without anyone going into cardic arrest - crazy!

This workout is a total of over 60 minutes in length. Collage has it timed for about 73 minutes which is probably right when you add in warm up, cool down and stretch. The moves are athletic but get more difficult when extreme repeaters and a move that is similar to a rocking horse (but a bit more difficult) are thrown in. I got the DVD version and there is a tutorial section that gives more instructions on how to perform these moves. I prefer more athletic moves since I'm not very good at catching on to dancy choreography but I only got lost in a few places and will probably be able to master the moves the more I do the workout.

I've also figured out other reasons why this workout is called Crazy for Step. About the set- I must say that usually a workout's setting does not bother me as long as the workout is good. This is a good cardio workout but the set really bothered me. It is a plain white background (white walls, white floor) with the only color being the steps and the not too attractive workout clothes Charlene and crew are wearing. Those things drove me crazy! Also, I got the DVD from Collage in a clear DVD case and not a case with the picutre of Charlene as shown in Collage. I thought that was a bit deceiving and crazy. The music was, well, unmemorable. I think it is something I've heard used in other workout videos. Maybe the same music used in Urban Rebounder workouts. Sometimes Charlene kept going though the combinations, over, and over, and over, and over again which was absolutely crazy and annoying to me.

The workout ends with a relaxing, longer than usual stretch which I have found is missing in many new workouts today so Charlene gets an A+ for this. Could also be that the stretch felt really good because this is one tough tape.

So would I buy this video again? I'm 50/50 on it. I'm leaning towards yes because if you want a low impact, high intensity step workout with a little challenging choreography this is an excellent workout but the crazy set, clothes and uninspiring music unfortunately kind of cancels out some of the good parts.

Instructor Comments:
When I grow up, I want to be Charlene. At 57 years old, this woman is in fantastic shape and a true inspiration to all. Charlene is a real professional. I'd have to say her queing was just ok and I had some difficulty following some of the moves but I think this was more because of the choreography. These are not the simple/basic moves that are in most of Charlene's workouts.

Tiffanee

03/14/2004

Well, I have to agree with the previous reviewer who called this "Insane for Step". If you follow along with Charlene and use a 10" step, you are insane. The only way I could accomplish that is if I was hooked up to some oxygen. The first couple of times I did this workout I used my usual (non-later Cathe) 8" step. It kicked my butt! Now I use a six inch step and the workout is much more doable.

The only other Charlene workout I have is High Intensity/Low Impact which is a floor aerobic workout. It is very basic. Crazy for Step is definitely more complex. Charlene teaches a combo and then takes it from the top. At the very end she takes it from the top about three or four times which is probably a couple times too many. I enjoyed all the combinations and the workout realy does not seem as long as it is (it is 103 minutes with cool down, but not stretch!). The only other pure cardio workout I have that is comparable in length is Max Intensity Cardio, and Crazy for... seems to go by more quickly for me.

You never stray far from your step, so you do not need that much room. Charlenes favorite move seems to be a "curl weave" which is kind of like an up and back but you unload both legs on the floor when you go over the step. (Hope that makes sense.) I have the workout down after doing it three times, and for the most part it flows well and I don't have to think about what I am doing, but Charlene can cue too early some times. The impact is mostly low, but htere are some high impact moves and no modifications are shown or mentioned. The set is all white, which I don't love, but find preferable to oh, say, sets with cow skulls, olive green trellises, or multiple ficus plants. The music is instrumental and kind of generic.

Instructor Comments:
how does a 57 year old complete this workut on a 10" step?

Roz

(no date)