Step Moves, New Grooves

Petra Kolber
Year Released: 2008

Categories: Step Aerobics

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I’m reviewing this workout after doing it 2-3 times.

General workout breakdown: Corie has already described this workout so well. I agree with her pros and cons: I like the moderately complex (and not too crazy with the rhythms or turns or elevation changes), minimal impact, steady state workout, with a good but not excessive amount of breakdown or TIFTing. But I don’t really like the cool-down that doesn’t really do much to cool you down, and although the stretches included are held decently long there aren’t as many as I’d like (although that’s not a real issue for me since I often follow my main workout with yoga).
A few notes: Actually, Petra weaves the combos from the get go when TIFTing; as soon as you learn combo 2, you’ll do combo 1 and combo 2 on one side, then both combos on the other, and so on. Additionally, Petra’s combinations are symmetrical; she not only does them on both sides but spends the same amount of time building them up on both sides. The transitions between sides or combos are tapless; in fact, Petra is pretty creative here, so while you might have to do some knees or single single doubles to change sides while building up combos, once you get to the full routine the choreography naturally flows from one combo right into the next. Overall the choreography flows together well and makes sense.
Total workout time = just over 52 min.; warm up = just over 10.5 min.; workout (combos 1-4 and take it from the top) = just over 37.5 min.; cool down = almost 4 min.

Level: I’d recommend this to intermediate through int. / adv. exercisers comfortable with at least moderately complex step choreography. Lower intermediates could do this on just the platform and follow the less complex modifications, while low advanced could add an extra pair of risers and put some oomph and air into moves to boost the intensity.
I consider myself an int. / adv. exerciser, although I feel like more of an int. plus when it comes to step, not because I can’t handle choreography – quite the opposite, in fact – but because I still find step an intense activity even after several years of doing it. Doing this on 6” gives me a moderately challenging steady state-type of workout that gets my heart pumping and my feet moving without threatening to do me in.

Class: 2 women, one of whom will stick with the previous less complicated variation for a few moves, join Petra, who instructs live.

Music: upbeat pop-style songs, some of which have occasional vocals. It’s pleasant and complements rather than plays a major role in the workout.

Set: bright interior space with potted plants and a “door” in which sit some vases (including one reticulated one that looks like it’s made from mini step risers or something).

Production: clear picture and sound, with Petra’s voice just audible over the music. The camera angles are primarily helpful except for the fact that the main head on shot just barely includes the two background exercisers, who move out of frame the second they step off the outside edge of their step; if this were filmed in widescreen that wouldn’t be an issue, but now that I think about it my older TV, with its default full-screen setting, is the one to blame and not the DVD, which may very well be in widescreen format. That said, there’s a split screen that shows Petra and the modifier at the beginning of most run-throughs, at least the first time through.

Equipment: Petra and her crew all use full-sized club steps with one set of risers and sneakers.

Space Requirements: You’ll need enough room to work on the floor all around your step; you should be able to step off the platform and take a rock step to the front, sides, and back. Like Corie my usable space is around 8’ wide by 5’ deep, and at 5’8” on a full-sized club step I easily fit it in.

DVD Notes: Your main menu options are Introduction, Play All, Warm Up, Combination 1, Combination 2, Combination 3, Combination 4, From the Top, and Cool Down.

Step Select vs. PK Step vs. Step Moves, New Grooves: SMNG is the only one with chapters within the main body of the workout, although SS does have the bonus combination. SMNG feels like it has the most choreography overall. While the choreography wasn’t particularly tricky and was taught in a manner identical to that in PKS, which I found made it easy to learn, your brain may start to get tired by the time you get to the fourth combo. Additionally, SMNG has fewer breaks in between combos; unlike SS and even PKS you won’t do single knee hops or running basics in between combos but will more likely move right ahead.
After doing all three this week, there is a lot of overlap in terms of Petra’s repertoire of step moves. The warm-ups in particular felt very similar. That said, Petra manages to combine the moves differently so that each has 3-4 distinct combos within the main body of the workout. I personally am happy to have all three, as I love Petra and really enjoy having step workouts of this kind, with minimal impact, minimal fussiness with funky arms or tricky rhythms or too fast changes in elevation, moderately challenging steady state workouts, and interesting choreography that’s nowhere near being complex for the pure sake of being complex. However, if you crave more variety, you may be perfectly fine with just one of these Petra step workouts. None in particular stands out to me as a clear favorite, as I like them all about the same amount; each has a few minor minuses but many more pluses, and I’m not being picky enough to choose between them on that basis alone. I’d say SMNG is worth a look if you must have chaptering to shorten your workout as needed or help you learn the routine, if you like learning choreography, and don’t want too much TIFTing or breaks between combos.

Instructor Comments:
Petra’s cuing and on screen presence really help to make this workout so enjoyable. I agree that Petra is a solidly good cuer, with helpful mirror and other directional cues (like “the television leg” or “the foot that’s on the step”) when you need them. And I appreciate her message of making the workout your own depending upon your needs and interests for the day. Petra wants you to enjoy working out and reaping all of its benefits, especially its ability to make you happy and healthy.



This is my first and only Petra step workout. I have done the workout 5 times since I purchased the DVD last year (2007).

About me - complex choreography doesn’t come naturally to me, but I find that I can usually catch on after a preview and a bit of practice. I’m able to master Cathe choreo after a couple of tries (I learned the step routines in Cathe’s 4 Day Split fairly easily) but I have never attempted Patrick, Season, or Christi’s step. I understand that Petra’s choreography is considered less advanced than those instructors, and I find she’s about the perfect level of complexity for me at this stage, as I’m just starting to experiment with more complex routines.

The workout starts off with a fairly long warm-up (about 10 minutes) and Petra does include a few moves that pop up again later in the routine. The warm-up also includes dynamic calf/leg stretches before moving on to the first combo.

There are 4 combos in total, and I think that Petra provides just the right amount of breakdown and TTIF. Personally, I need a bit of repetition to remember and master this routine. There are a lot of box steps, stomps, revolving doors and ball changes, and each combo is taught add-on style. In between combos, the standard move is usually hamstring curls… I like to use this time to grab a sip of water and orient myself before starting the next block of choreo. After all the combos are taught, Petra runs through the entire routine twice. There is no weaving the combos together… they are always done first on one side, and then the other. The routine also includes a few turns, but there is a modifier that demonstrates the moves without turning. It’s almost entirely low impact and doesn’t require a lot of room - it works very well in my exercise space, which is about 5’x8’.

The cool down is not my favorite… as it starts at almost a standstill. It’s only for a few deep breaths, but I don’t like to go straight from the cardio portion of a workout to standing still without moving my feet a bit first to get my heart rate lower. (My heart rate is never anaerobic during this workout, but I still prefer to pause the DVD for a few minutes and walk around before I start the cool-down.) I also wish there was a bit more stretching, as the ones included here aren’t held long enough for my tastes.

But those are minor issues. Overall, I really like this workout! My heart rate is always solidly in the middle of my target HR zone (I consider myself high intermediate for cardio) and I really like Petra’s personality and the way she puts the moves together.

Instructor Comments:
Petra’s cueing is awesome! I only get to this workout once every 2-3 months, and I’m always able to keep up with just a few minor flubs, even though I don’t remember much of the routine from one time to the next. I think she does a great job of taking standard step moves and putting them together in fun & interesting combos.

Corie (booklover)