Stepping Zone

Christi Taylor
Year Released: 1999

Categories: Step Aerobics

Video Fitness reviews may not be copied, quoted, or posted elsewhere without the permission of the reviewer

Show oldest reviews first

I’m reviewing this workout after doing it once in its entirety, although I only watched the abs segment.

General workout breakdown: This 55.5-min. workout has 48 min. of stepping (there isn’t a separate warm-up, but you learn part of the first block and do some static and “rhythmic” or dynamic stretches for the first 6.5 min., give or take a minute; there is about 1.5 min. of cooldown with basic steps after the last TIFT) followed by 6 min. of abdominals and 2.5 min. of stretching (for the back of the legs and the upper body).

As mentioned, Christi does a lot of TIFTing and repeating. She runs through the blocks as she teaches new steps and layers, and she’ll do a full TIFT when you’re about halfway through learning a new block as well as a full TIFT at the end of the new block. Add to that the TIFT when you come back following the perceived exertion check (after the second block has been learned and everything TIFTed) plus the few TIFTs at the end. In addition, the warm-up becomes part of the first combo. This is within my realm of tolerance, fortunately, but I have a pretty high one, plus as mentioned Christi’s choreography requires so much concentration it’s harder to get bored with doing the same steps again, especially if you’re still relatively new to the workout.

The style of choreography here is closer to Christi’s oldest, CIA 5004 and 7002, than to CIA 9801 and later offerings, from Step Heaven onwards. In other words, the steps generally feel more athletic in nature, even if there are pivots and quick rhythm changes, cha chas and mambos, and Christi’s great sense of musicality and smooth transitions that keep this from being truly athletic step. Christi here leaves in simpler moves like basics, which in later videos she’d be much more likely to layer out, but considering that the combos climax with some pretty complex steps and/or spinning moves I was actually glad to come back to simple moves at the beginning of the next combo to let the room catch up and my brain regroup.

There isn’t all that much impact in this workout in the end, and it’s easy to modify most of it out, but there are A LOT of pivots, turns, and twists. In fact, this may have the most of any Christi workout. I won’t be entering the Stepping Zone all that often, as my knees, which can tolerate a decent amount of torque, were starting to raise some objections by the end (I work out on carpet). This will be a treat for me rather than a regular dish until I’m on better flooring.

Level: I’d recommend this to at least very solidly intermediate through (low, maybe mid-) advanced exercisers comfortable with complex choreography on the step.
I consider myself an intermediate / advanced who’s definitely better than average at picking up (although maybe not executing) choreography. I found the choreography surprisingly doable the first time through, but I need to clean up some spins, the transitions between blocks, and the rather large amount of arm movements. Again, keep in mind that I feel comfortable with complex choreo, especially Christi’s stuff, so YMMV. This workout gets me into that moderately high heart rate zone, although my heart rate was on the low end of the range I normally get for Christi workouts, with a definite rise once we got into the third combo.

Class: 4 women join Christi. No one really shows modifications, although one of them puts a little extra oomph into some of the moves for those who want a little more intensity.

Music: upbeat instrumental and few vocals. I can’t say I really recognized anything (this is one of the older videos I have, so I don’t have many other videos that would have been using this soundtrack), nor would I consider this particularly exciting, but it’s fine.

Set: bright interior set with kind of a Southwestern flair in its desert-colored walls, geometric designs, and large earthenware pots (although I’m not suer where the large green plant fits into that scheme).

Production: clear picture and sound (especially since this is a VHS transfer), camera angles that prove more helpful than not. I’m sad to report that the balance between Christi’s voice and music hasn’t been corrected; even on the DVD version the music is quiet in relation to Christi’s instruction.

Equipment: step (Christ and company use a full-sized club step with one set of risers, which is what I used) and sneakers that can pivot on your flooring. You may want a mat for the abs portion.

Space Requirements: You’ll need enough room to work comfortably all around your step, with maybe a little bit more room behind than to the side and in front. As long as you have room horizontally plus a little depth this shouldn’t hog too much space; at 5’8” I had no problems fitting this into my space, which is about 6’ deep by about 8’ long in terms of what’s usable for step workouts.

DVD Notes: This comes on the Terrific Trio DVD with Happy Hour High/Low and Strength, Balance & Flexibility.
You can skip the intro to get right to the main menu. Your choices for Stepping Zone are Introduction, Warm-up & Jumbo Combo #1, Jumbo Combo #2, Jumbo Combo #3, Cool-Down, Abdominals, Stretch, and Credits. (Additional options are to Contact Taylor’d Fitness and Christi Taylor’s Aerobic Instructor Training Program.)

Comments: You know, I have to agree that I like this one over Happy Hour Hi/Lo, too. I’m not sure this is going to make the cut for my “favorite Christi” step videos (vs. “almost favorite Christis” – I can’t say I dislike any of hers), but it’s going to be near that line, even if it is slightly different in style from the Christis with which I’m most familiar (those on Fantastic Four, the Totally and Solid Gold series, and her last few).

Instructor Comments:
As mentioned, Christi is a great instructor and cuer, at least once you get used to her style. As always, she cues ahead of the movement, she mirror cues (including a good number of directional cues, both of the “right” / “left” and “inside” / “outside” variety), and she cues consistently throughout the workout (although she will abbreviate cues – she’ll say “basic(s)” rather than call out each one separately, for example). She has a good deal of fun (she gets a little too into the high kick, which she keeps doing as the workout goes on), yet she never forgets that she’s instructing a step class, which is where her focus always stays.



Others have done a great job of reviewing this tape, so I will add my comments to help get this one into the Hall of Fame! This workout is on par with 9801; I like it even better than Happy Hour Hi/Lo. The choreography rocks; it is complex, but I got most of it on the first time through. I know this is partially due to experience (mastering 9801, Kari, Franny, etc.), but Christi’s teaching method of breaking down the moves and creating smooth transitions really deserves the credit.

I enjoyed all of the combinations; the turns, pivots, leaps, skips, and mambos make me feel like a dancer, even though I know better! For some reason, I had a difficult time with the footwork on the first combo used in the warmup, but rewinding a few times solved that problem. My initial thoughts were, “Great, I cannot even do the warmup!” I am sure glad I stuck with it. This is going to be a favorite for a long time. I found the workout to be less repetitive (with less TIFTs) than some of Christi’s others.

The intensity is great, too. This can definitely be modified for low or high impact. Finally, the abs section is basic, but effective.

My only complaint is that the music is too quiet. I have a difficult time keeping count on some of the footwork, like mambos, cha cha chas, when I cannot hear the beat.

Instructor Comments:
Christy is enthusiastic and motivating as always! She is one of the best teachers of complex choreography.

Jennifer H


I've only had this video for 10 days -- and I've already done it 5 times! So that should tell you something about the workout. They ought to slap a message from the Surgeon General on this video: Warning -- Choreography May Be Addictive. Put on your sports bra before previewing, cause you'll HAVE to jump right in.

There is a LOT of choreography in this video, but it shouldn't intimidate anyone who's been doing step for a while. Christi includes 3 long combos in the video and the warm-up includes a good chunk of the first combo. There are a lot of cha-cha's, shuffles and spins, but Christi layers her teaching so well that if you're not comfortable with the more complex move, there's always a simpler option to get you through. I'm not going to go into detail about the combos themselves -- other reviewers have already done a thorough job of that. All right, I lied. I do have to say that I love the three knee repeater into a turning hopover, squat, cha-cha. And the shuffle straddle. And the turning skips around and over the step. It is the closing thing to recess that I've experienced since the 6th grade! I know I'm working out, because I'm flinging sweat droplets all over the room, but it just feels like play, play, play.

This tape is less complex than Christi's CIA 9801 step workout (hey, even Einstein's theory of relativity is less complex than 9801.) This music is good, but not as "rockin'" as her 9801 tunes.

I have no criticisms of this tape. It is a wonderful, advanced choreography step workout. I'll pre-order anything Christi puts out.

Instructor Comments:
Christi has this incredible gift for teaching choreography. I am not the most coordinated VFer in cyberspace, but when Christi is coaching me, hold onto your sweatbands, ladies, I am a pivoting, mamboing, cha-chaing tornado. On top of that, Christi has this natural beauty and joy that shines through her workout. You get the feeling that there's nothing else she'd rather be doing than shuffle-straddling with you at that moment. What a smile, what a workout, what a teacher!

Daphne M


This is a definate keeper video! Christi Taylor is one of my favorite instructors because she is a master of choreography and very fun. This video does not disappoint. I feel like I am dancing on air at the U turn continue spinning turn - that is probably my favorite move on the tape! It has been well broken down by now so I will just give a 2 thumbs up.

Cinnamon Conrad


I was probably among first in line to order Christi's three new videos, and as a hi-lo enthusiast, I expected Happy Hour to become worn out the fastest. But while all three videos are terrific, Stepping Zone has become my newest dancing addiction. I think it's because, while Christi's amazing gift for floor choreography was evident even in 5004, her step choreography has made the greatest strides - from the relatively basic 5004, to the mind-boggling moves of 9801 and Stepping Zone.

But enough of the art critic talk - Stepping Zone ROCKS! I love each and every combo, but my favorite is where you skip across the step diagonally, do a mambo, cha-cha turn and another mambo. It's like gliding on air. The warmup combo is used throughout the workout, which is great because it gives my mind a much-needed break. Having to remember everything at the end stretches my brain to its limit! If you love to turn, you can be a whirling dervish throughout this workout as Christi adds spins to everything. Or you can leave the turns out till you get the basic steps down (though it would help if one exerciser was non-spinning, like on Franny's videos). One small word of warning, if you have carpet, some of the turns may be risky, especially the one at the very end where you turn-step, spin around and immediately jump up onto the step. I could feel an ankle twist waiting to happen, so I leave out that spin. Just listen to your instinct and do what feels right.

I was able to pick this up much faster than 9801's step, but I don't know if that's because it's actually easier or I'm just so in harmony with Christi after doing her videos for 3 years. One thing's for sure, this is NOT a zone-out workout; it requires a high level of concentration. And like usual, you have to keep an eye on Christi as she does her "Did you see what I did?" antics. IMO the intensity is a tad higher than 9801; it's not Interval Max, but that's not the purpose here. Another Hall of Famer from DC's Dancing Queen!

Sue B


When I first attempted this workout, I was getting a bit frustrated, especially with that first combo, but when Christi teaches, your brain just listens to her voice and your feet follow her every syllable and before you know it, you can close your eyes and not miss a step. She is brilliant in her cueing on every workout and Stepping Zone is a winner. I love her spins and turns on her hi/lo videos and she does a great spin over the step with a pivot, mambo (such a great "flying" feeling). Going from the top numerous times isn't a problem with her workouts because the patterns are so intricate that boredom doesn't have a chance to enter your mind. It's about the same intensity and learning curve as 9801 step. Deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

maryann parker


Have you ever had a blast while exercising that you forgot it's exercise? This is what this video is all about. By far the best complex step video out this year of 99'. Christi has outdone herself again in a superb step workout. I found myself laughing and hooting I was having so much fun. The warm-up is part of the step choreography. So you pretty much know it by heart by the end of the workout. Christi doesn't mess around talking about the move. She jumps right into it by saying, "you stay there, I will be right back" or "Are you watching?". She sneaks more choreography with each 8 count. Her cueing is top notch. Her personality is contagious. I love her "Pray" move and love it when she says,"Were still praying" after a tough combo! She does this incredible step move called "Double hop-Double hop- mambo chacha move. You are just flying. Even more than Flying Angel move. It is a reverse hop over the step and then you hop again turning it into a mambo to get you back in front of the step as you chacha. Confused? You've got to try it to understand it. Some of the moves are complex. Lot's of turns and pivots. Christi starts it off slow though. This is an advanced workout. Most of the workout is low impact with some high impact on turns and to unload the knee for pivots. I like the mixture of both high impact and low impact for stepping. The workout ends with a fun around the world move which consists of mamboing around the step. Then there is abs in which Christi coaches. A quick stretch follows the workout. It is the CIA setting and CIA instrumental music. Christi is a wonderful instructor and I highly recommend this tape to the experienced stepper.

Mandy Lee


Christy said on her web site that she took more time to break down the moves and teaching them than she did in CIA 9801, but if she did, I'm not sure where. It seems to move pretty quickly to me! :-) That said, I had a lot of fun with this video! Christy is her usual, bubbly self. There are tons of fun new moves and turns and variations on familiar moves. There is a really fun shuffle-turn/straddle move that really flows great! And then there are the skip turns, the backwards T-step into a repeater that is a lot like Cathe's in-and-out repeater, into another turn. I'm going to have to do this a few times before I really have the whole thing down. ( Major understatement! :-) ) Even with Christi's taking from the top several times throughout the video, there were still things I couldn't quite remember when we would put it together, and some moves I never did quite get. But this is fun! This is going to be a great addition to my rotation once I really get it down. It is definitely not for a brain-dead day, though. It was worth the wait! :-) There is a short abs section at the end, which helps me stay motivated with the abs training that I hate so much! :-) The music for the abs was funny. It's from 9801, and the main thing I remember is that over and over in the song are the words "can't stop!" Which is, of course, what I always want to do when it comes to abs!

For those who are "on the fence" about this video: If you didn't like CIA 9801, you probably won't like this one either. If you did, though, GO FOR IT! IMO this is VERY similar in both style and intensity. Go, Christy! :-) As a fan of complex choreography, I give it an A+!

Instructor Comments:
Christi is fantastic! Her creative choreography and her enthusiasm guarantee that you will never get bored!



Here goes – my first ever review (actually a mini-review) of a tape. I’ve only done Stepping Zone twice and the first time included lots of rewinds. Then I previewed it concentrating on the steps I didn’t get and then did again the next day, much more successfully. I think it’s easier to learn than 9801 but I’m used to Christi’s style and also knew many moves from Cathe’s tapes. Very fun tape. She does take it from the top, actually from the warmup all the way through but there is a long second section part to learn and repeat, before she takes it from the top a few times to finish up. Fun moves include a turning shuffle ball-change, 2 turning skips and a turning skip over the step in one direction, then the turning skips and turning skip over the step in the other direction so both sides are not equal. Then there is a repeater hop back and forth over step, back over turning, squat reverse turning chacha in back of the step. I do not have enough room in back of my step to do this correctly but even scrunched together, it is fun. In the second section is a T-step, backwards T-step into a repeater touch front heel back toe (ala Cathe) , then a straddle shuffle step, sort of like a shuffle turn step only you straddle, not turn. One move I haven’t gotten yet is the chacha lunge step. I just did regular lunges – I’ll have to work on those. I don’t know if I can move my feet fast enough. I thought this tape moved really fast and got my heartrate way up there. The cool down is very simple to give your brain a rest. Then comes a very simple basic abs section and then a stretch sitting on the step. All in all a very fun creative tape but I’m not sure it will replace 9801 as my all time favorite step tape.

Instructor Comments:
Great as always especially if you are used to her style. A lot of her cuing is "Watch me, then you do it the next time". There is no trying to learn steps while your back is to the TV in this one, an improvement over 9801.