Step Select

Petra Kolber
Year Released: 2005

Categories: Step Aerobics

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

General workout breakdown: Jodi, Kathy, and Sundari have already described this step aerobics cardio workout well, but I’ll just give a little more breakdown.
The warm-up (just over 8.5 min.) leads you through two blocks which Petra weaves into one combo. The choreography eases you onto the step, as it starts out on the floor, then gradually layers and adds on moves done on the step, and in parts Petra does throw a decent amount of choreography at you first thing, especially if your brain also needs to warm up like your feet. During the TIFT (take it from the top) of the full combo, she inserts some dynamic stretches, focusing on the lower body.
The main body of the workout (just under 32 min.) teaches you three combinations, although Petra will often break them into 2-3 blocks, so it feels like a little more choreography than just 3 blocks. Petra’s combinations are symmetrical; not only does she do them on both sides, but she spends the same amount of time on each side. Also, her transitions are tapless. Petra begins with somewhat simple steps and layers, but she doesn’t change things radically, nor does she come up with anything too wild and crazy. I definitely agree with the other reviewers that the choreography is interesting without being overwhelmingly so. In between each combo Petra includes single knee hops or running basics to give you a mental break as you boost your heartrate a little, and then you’ll do a few TIFTs. I have to say the amount of repetition while building up the blocks and combos and during the TIFTing felt about right, especially for someone learning the routine. Petra does weave or slice and dice during the final TIFT or two (meaning you do combo 1 on one side, combo 2 on the other, and combo 3 back on the first side, then vice versa), which makes helps there, too. I found combo 2 the trickiest to pick up and then the trickiest to remember how to do, because you have to remind yourself which way you’re turning over the step and into hitchhiker, but it certainly wasn’t impossible to figure out. And I really appreciate that Petra kept the last combo a little simpler. I don’t particular care for instructors who leave the hardest, most complicated bit for the very end, when I’m both mentally and physically fatigued; I’d rather have those types of segments in the middle or near the end, just not at the end.
The bonus combination segment (7.5 min.) just teaches you one combination. You never combine this with any of the previous combos, so there’s no TIFTing other than running through the whole combo a few times.
The cooldown and stretch (6 min.) leads you through a few simple moves like tapping the step and step tapping on the floor before doing a pretty thorough lower body stretch, where Petra holds stretches for a decently long time.

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. Petra will demonstrate some lower impact versions, but she doesn’t always stick with them.

Set: interior space with “windows” along the back wall, which is sponge painted blue. It’s not exciting, but at least it’s not distracting.

Production: clear picture and sound, with Petra’s voice just audible over the music (which does have some vocals). The camera angles are primarily helpful, but they will sometimes cut away to Petra when she’s mentioning the modification or show the modifier at the beginning of a run through when you might want to see Petra.

Equipment: step (Petra uses a Reebok step, while her background exercisers use a full-sized club step with 1 pair of risers) and sneakers.

Space Requirements: You’ll need enough room to work on the floor all around your step, but Petra doesn’t do a lot way off to the side or even far behind the step. I’d say if you can walk comfortably around the platform with both feet firmly on the floor, you’re fine.

DVD Notes: Your main menu options are Play Program, Introduction, Warm Up and Step Workout, Bonus Combination, Cooldown, and Credits. There are no chapters within these segments, which is really annoying when your cranky old DVD player suddenly decides to stop playing the disc near the end of the workout with no warning and your heart rate drops while you’re standing there fast forwarding and fast forwarding and fast forwarding.

Step Select vs. PK Step vs. Step Moves, New Grooves: Step Select is the only one of the three that stops the TIFTing after three combos and then has the separate fourth combo. Of the three, I found SS’s choreography the trickiest because you do a lot more turns and directional changes, including many where you’re facing the rear of your space and thus away from the TV. That said, I felt SMNG had more choreography in total, but maybe that’s – at least in part – because the fourth combination is worked into the full routine rather than done separately as in SS. SS may be the most compact, but none of them are real space hogs.
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, although 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, 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 Petra. None in particular stands out to me as a clear favorite; 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 SS would be worth a look if you’d like to have the flexibility to make this workout just over 45 min. or closer to 54 min., if you like workouts with a lot of directional changes, including spending time with your back to the front, and if you’d prefer a bit of a cool-down with a decently thorough set of athletic stretches at the end.

Instructor Comments:
I agree that Petra’s cuing and on screen presence really help to make this workout so enjoyable. Petra is a solidly good cuer, with helpful mirror and other directional cues (like “tap up with the television leg” or “turn outside”) 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.



The specifics of this workout have already been given. I will just give my impressions.

The set was bright and colorful. The two exercisers and Petra were not annoying. One exerciser did advanced versions and one modified. Petra did a little of both. The music went very well with the choreography. And it was loud enough to hear and get into.

This workout was fun and easy to follow. Do not be mislead by the so called "complex choreography". This is not a complex Christi choreography. This is doable and learnable without frustration. Petra and the music added to the fun factor. She is very motivating and cued well. This workout has enough choreography to keep things interesting without it overwhelming you. No boredom here. The time will fly by without you noticing.

This DVD is chaptered well in that you even get a bonus section if you have more time to exercise.

I found that after doing the regular workout I wanted to continue and do the bonus section. I only do this if I really am enjoying the workout. All the choreography flowed really well together. There was a lot of variety that made the time just fly by. Even with me doing the bonus section.


I really enjoyed this workout. Everything flowed really smoothly. The music & Petra kept my spirits going. I will reach for this workout often. This is a keeper.

Instructor Comments:
Petra is very cheerful and energetic. She cues very well in this workout.



I was very pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this one because I haven't really liked any of her other step videos. The choreography is interesting without being super complex. The music is pretty good by exercise video standards and haven't heard it in any other videos. The warmup (10 minutes)has some challenging choreography that is not repeated in the body of the workout. The main workout consists of two choreography blocks with power moves inserted here and there (about 30 to 35 minutes). There is a bonus choreography block that lasts for about 5 minutes, then a cooldown and stretch (10 minutes). The stretch is wonderful.

Pros: Petra, music, choreography, modifications shown throughout, nice stretch at end

Cons: Breakdown of the choreography during the main workout is slow at times, but this would be helpful for someone trying to learn more complex step choreography.

If you are a fan of Gay Gasper, Rob Glick, Donna Read or Marcus Irwin's step routines, you might like this one. If Seasun is your cup of tea, you might not be challenged enough.

Instructor Comments:
Very likeable, upbeat and encouraging. Excellent cuing.



I loved this workout. I wasn't actually expecting to, because I think I had tried something by her quite a while ago.

The workout flows quite well, and there isn't a ton of tifting. There are two big blocks of choreography.

I enjoyed the music - it was kind of techno, but quite upbeat, so it gave some energy to the workout.

I also find that there are lots of options within the workout. For those who can't do very complex choreography, there are some simplifications. There is also the option (which I used) to add some extra impact (running up for the basics, etc.). She also did some simple power moves in between choreography blocks to get the heart rate up (they were very basic though). I found with these and adding some extra impact, I got a decent workout.

I'd classify it as a low-high moderate workout.

I found the choreography fun. After the two big blocks, there is an optional extra block of choreography you can do, or you can skip to the cooldown.

I really enjoyed the stretch at the end - I may actually use this with other workouts sometimes because it had a nice flow.

Total time clocked in at about 56 minutes.

I can say I was pleasantly surprised and will be doing this one again on days when I don't want an extreme workout.

Instructor Comments:
She was very friendly, upbeat and encouraging in this workout - very pleasant personality

Jodi (Punky3333)