Step Pro

Marcus Irwin
Year Released: 2006

Categories: Step Aerobics

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Iím reviewing this workout after doing it twice.

General workout breakdown: Acey has already given a good description of this step workout. Iíll add a few more details and thoughts.
There is no formal warm-up. The first block you learn becomes the first part of the first combo for the full routine. That said, this starts out with pretty basic steps, so by the time Marcus really gets going with the choreography Iím sufficiently warm. Marcus does include a cool-down, which is more of a decent enough stretch that focuses on the lower body but with some for the lower back and torso, too. This runs about 3.5 min., bringing the total workout time to just over 54 min.
There are a lot of filler moves in here. Marcus prefers to introduce one small layer at a time, so heíll add in marches or basics to fill out the counts until heís ready to build up the next step. In addition, there are plenty of step tap corner to corner and similar moves in between run-throughs.
When Marcus starts combining things, first heíll do the blocks or combos back to back, then heíll cut in half (or weave or slice & dice). His blocks and combos are all symmetrical (meaning youíll learn them on both the right and left lead), but he may not spend an equal amount of time building each one up on each side.
Although Marcus introduces this as a tool for group fitness instructors to learn new choreography to teach in class, he does acknowledge that some will use it as a workout. As a home exerciser who has no ambitions to teach step classes, I find this works perfectly well as a workout, although itís more for days when I feel like having fun than when I feel like having an intensity fest.

Level: Iíd recommend this to at least intermediate exercisers who are experienced steppers comfortable with at least moderately complex choreography. If youíre looking for intensity, look elsewhere. This is for the choreography lovers.
I consider myself an int./adv. exerciser, although I feel more like an intermediate plus when it comes to step, not because I find choreography tricky Ė in fact, I consider myself a big choreo hound, able to pick up choreography thatís taught at least halfway decently with relative ease Ė but because I just donít have the cardio endurance on the step that others do. Thatís not really an issue here, thanks to the down time between run-throughs, however. This is a fun, doable workout thatís almost moderately challenging in terms of intensity and moderately challenging in terms of choreography.

Class: 2 women join Marcus, who instructs live. Both background exercisers wear mikes but contribute little of value to the conversation.

Music: I agree with Acey that this is pretty non-memorable upbeat mostly instrumental but with some vocal tunes stuff (more dance club than radio cuts). If you have more than a handful of recent Evolutions youíve already heard it.

Set: This is the more recent industrial warehouse, only Marcus has kept the ďblack abyssĒ feel with no lights on the back wall. As someone who loves red as her favorite color, I like the red accent lights, the red e on the screens, and the red shirts.

Production: clear picture and sound. Unlike the earlier Evolutions, you wonít have to crank the volume way up for this one; the sound is at a more normal level. The camera angles get a little funky at times, with some oblique close-ups, sometimes just when you donít want them, and a bizarre overhead shot thatís off to the side with slightly different color contrast and focus levels. Still, I can follow along easily enough. And the black screen with the rotation e pops up from time to time, usually before TIFTs but sometimes between blocks or other run-throughs.

Equipment: Marcus and crew appear to be just using the platform of a regular club-sized step. I tucked a pair of risers under mine. Unless you have tiny feet, Iíd advise using a full-sized step because there are some moves where both feet come together on top of the step while youíre facing the side.

Space Requirements: Youíll need to be able to move comfortably all around your step. I had little trouble in my workout space (8í wide by 6í deep), but I wouldnít want to try to squeeze it in a significantly smaller space.

DVD Notes: This is chaptered by block. In case you thought Acey was kidding about the number of mambos, cha chas, stomps, and ball changes, here are the chapter titles: wide ball change, kick ball change, cha cha mambo, 6 point mambo, 2 stomp ball change, stomp switch, mambo ball change, mambo cha cha, from the top, and cool down.
In addition, there are previews for Evolution and Free2Be videos.

4x4 Step vs. Step Fusion vs. Step Pro vs. Step Tools
Step Pro is the shortest by just a hair of the 4 Marcus Irwin step titles currently available on DVD (well, 5 including Topless Blocks, which is half step, half hi/lo). In terms of complexity, itís supposed to be in between the two older ones, 4x4 and Fusion, and its contemporary, Tools, but I donít think itís significantly more challenging than the older ones. The last two, Pro and Tools, represent a bit of a departure from Marcusí usually more straightforward choreography, but I feel Pro only has a few more rhythm and direction changes and slightly trickier footwork than usual.
Like 4x4, Pro has a lot of downtime. I certainly didnít mind that when I was working my way up to more complex step choreography, but now Iím feeling it may be too much, especially compared to Fusion and Tools. That lowers the intensity and increases the wandering mind factor.
If I had to choose between Pro and Tools, Tools is the easy winner for me. Tools is definitely more complex, with a lot more choreography, and more intense, which is why I like it. Unlike on Pro, the set on Tools tends toward crowded, and thereís some wooing from the background exercisers, but thatís not going to stop me from enjoying it.

Instructor Comments:
I agree with Aceyís assessment of Marcus.
Marcus is one of the better cuers out there. He breaks down everything and cues descriptively enough that I can dust this video off after too long of a break from it and have little trouble following it. Marcus mirror cues, but he tends to provide directional cues somewhat sparingly, waiting until just when you need them, and he also provides some additional directional guidance like telling you to turn to the outside or to use the leg thatís closest to the television. Sometimes he relies on gestures (pointing, grabbing his pants on the leg youíre starting on) rather than verbal cues, not just for direction but also for the name of combos, but since he frequently uses the ďwatch meĒ method to show the next layer youíll want to watch him closely anyway.
I love Marcusí personality, with his giggle, his concern for and joking with his back-up crew, and his self-deprecating humor. Heís so natural on camera you feel like youíre right there with him, and yet he never loses sight of the fact that heís an instructor filming a video.



One of Marcus's new workouts, it's standard vintage Marcus, with the exception that he actually TIFTTs. You learn three combinations and at the end do them all together. He and two women work out in the typically dark noirish Evolution-type setting, on what looked to me like an unfinished floor of an unfinished house. I guess they were going for some raw industrial-type look. ;)

I can't remember the breakdowns exactly, I just recall that there are a whole lot of mambo chachachas (and a "tango" which is like a pair of mambos in different directions. Stomps galore and a few straddles, not a whole lot of "power" moves. But the way he combines the moves is, as always, fun. I can't really remember anything about the music, so I guess it was your standard-issue instrumental aerobic music with a good beat.

Instructor Comments:
The same as ever--funny, wry, competent and cute. Those already in love with his previous step workouts will find little different here. If you wanted less breakdown of moves, however, you won't find it here. As always, he starts off with very basic moves that he builds on (while having you perform the same basic moves for a bit longer while he shows you the advanced version). This style keeps the workout high-intermediate as opposed to advanced, though the run-throughs themselves are pretty sweat-inducing.