Dance the Step

Caroline Mervielde
Year Released: 2006

Categories: Step Aerobics

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I’m reviewing this workout after doing it once.

General workout breakdown: This 48.5-min. DVD contains one step aerobics workout (40 min. of stepping, followed by 8.5 min. of stretching).
There is no warm-up. Caroline launches right into the first of four asymmetrical combos (meaning they are only taught on one side, not both). Caroline teaches small chunks at a time. She always begins with basic steps – travel knee, basic, march in place, repeater – and morphs them into something more creative; she might switch the order or even the rhythm of the steps before the segment is completed. The basic chunks and then whole combos are first learned with transitional or filler moves like traveling knees that are removed to allow the combos to flow together. Caroline TIFTs a good deal, but I never felt like it was too much.
Caroline doesn’t layer on the flavor, so to speak. Her moves are relatively straightforward, basic step aerobics standards arranged in innovative ways. She likes her spins and pivots, and she adds some dramatic but strong arms and the “Easter bunny” (tail shaking) move, yet I wouldn’t really call her her style dancey.
The cool-down is more of a stretch. In between lots of arm movements and torso stretches Caroline stretches the inner thighs, hip flexors, hamstrings, calves, quads, triceps (no, I’m not sure where that came from either, quite frankly), and lower back.

Level: I’d recommend this to at least intermediate exercisers comfortable with at least moderately complex step 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. I felt pretty confident with my grasp of the choreography after just one run through (again, be aware I think I’m better than average at picking up – although probably not exactly executing – choreography), although I cut out a few of the pivots in the last combo. My heartrate stayed pretty steady in a moderate to moderately high zone, although as you’d expect dropping slightly when there were more filler moves and rising when doing the full combos.

Class: 2 women join Caroline, who instructs live. The two back-ups wear mics, too, but don’t contribute much more than “yes” to Caroline’s questions if they’re OK or “woo.”

Music: upbeat instrumental that’s fine but nothing spectacular. Caroline a few times gets excited about a few songs, so I wonder if there’s a different soundtrack with vocals out there (a non-North American release?).

Set: the kind of bare bones warehouse setting of the past few Evolution filmings, with screens and TV monitors with the spinning E along the back wall and green lights highlighting the back wall.

Production: clear picture and sound, with Caroline’s voice clearly audible over the music. The camera angles get pretty funky here and there: the close-ups get awfully close, while there’s a far and away shot from overhead in the corner that’s rather fuzzy. For the most part, however, they don’t distract from the routine.

Equipment: step (Caroline and crew use just the platform; I used my full-sized club step with one set of risers and regretted not having my smaller step out because I’m not coordinated enough to chasse that quickly over the top or around the step) and sneakers.

Space Requirements: You definitely need space for this one. You should be able to take a step off the step and kick to each side, have sufficient space to move around with both feet on the floor in front, and have plenty of room to move and twirl around behind the step.

DVD Notes: The main menu offers you these choices: Play All, Introduction, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Cooldown, Evolution Previews, and Free2Be Previews.

Comments: Except for the lack of a warm-up and a cardio cool-down, this works well as an at home workout because Caroline breaks things down sufficiently and repeats them enough times.

Instructor Comments:
There are quite a few pivots here, so be careful if your knees are sensitive to a lot of torque. I found this one sort of tricky to do on my carpeted space with my cross-trainers on. Caroline, from Belgium, cues all in English, and she’s one of the more prolific non-native English-speaking Evolution cuers, with plenty of advance warning (and a few times almost too much). She complements her verbal cuing with arm movements like touching her head to indicate from the top or pointing to the direction in which you’re going. (Expect snarky comments from passers-by about whether she’s trying to land airplanes or teach a step class.) She uses the “watch me” method to demonstrate the upcoming movement changes while you stick with the version you’ve just learned. She cues her right and left during the stretch, but I didn’t notice her verbal directional cues during the workout itself, perhaps because she relies heavily on visual cuing for this. One thing to note is that her terms for common steps may be not what the average American stepper like myself is used to: she says “six step (?)” for a stomp, says “box step” for a move that seems to have a hundred other names, like "sweep" or “walk the corner / curb” or “tire track” (OK, there hers makes more sense), and the “Easter bunny” for what is often called a pump or chest pop / tail shake. Caroline sometimes steps out of the routine to check in with her back-ups or to watch them do it one time through; a few times I followed her instead until I realized what she was doing. She does woo and has a few other sound effects but nothing particularly annoying. She comes off as professional and sincere, with just the right amount of fun and good humor.