Super StepRebecca Small
Categories: Step Aerobics
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I’m reviewing this workout after doing it once.
General workout breakdown: Kathy has already provided a good overview of this video, so I’ll just add some more specifics.
This workout is divided into three parts, with three combos in the first two sections and two in the third, for eight total, even though it feels like a lot more somehow. (If you told me, “No, there are actually 10 or 12 combos,” I’d totally believe you.) There is a slight increase in difficulty as you move from one section to the next, with the second section having perhaps the most intensity and bumping up the complexity by adding in more direction changes, while third section’s combos are perhaps the most challenging in terms of complexity thanks to rhythm changes and quick moves over and around the step. All combos are symmetrical and tapless. As Kathy mentioned, there’s no warm-up and no cool-down, but the workout ends with one TIFT of the final three combos, here woven together from the start, which makes for a real mental challenge to finish it off!
Rebecca’s style takes basic, standard step aerobics moves and combines them in surprisingly fresh and interesting ways; you will hardly believe she gets the final combos out of such simple starting steps. Filler steps in between run throughs, especially if there are some direction changes, or as place markers while building up combos include marching, step touch, basics, heel lift / leg curl, and repeater knee; you’ll do mambos, v-steps, cha chas, stomps, and straddles; and the final variations include stepping over the step, sweeps around the corners, playing with rhythm, reverse turns, and lots of pivots. There are a few higher impact moves, which are easy to keep low, but those whose knees complain if there’s too much torque may want to be careful because there are a good number of twists, pivots, and turns, both on the step and on the floor.
Rebecca’s choreography skills are amazing. Although you need to concentrate, believe it or not overthinking is counterproductive, because there is a natural-feeling flow to the way she puts her moves together. Of course, her superior cuing helps there; she knows just what’s going to give you trouble, such as telling you to use the same foot that you started on to do the new move. Any time I found myself thinking that a transition between steps felt almost awkward she promptly announced that she was layering on something that suddenly made much more sense.
The teaching method Rebecca uses begins always with simple base moves that are layered and tweaked until the final combo emerges. This may mean doing a later part of the combo first, especially if that’s the more complicated part or if that’s the part that changes leads. You’ll see many of the same base moves from combo to combo, but Rebecca combines them differently so each final product has its own personality. (I’m with Kathy that the amount of choreography here is astounding.) Rebecca mentions that she hasn’t spent as much time with the breakdown / build-up as she would do in a class. That means there’s a learning curve, as you don’t often have as much of a chance to repeat things before moving on. Even so, because Rebecca only adds on a bit at a time, clearly giving you a heads up that a change is coming and then using the “watch me” method, to which she adds a clear verbal breakdown, before asking you to do the new or changed move, you may be surprised at how quickly you pick up these combinations, although don’t be surprised if you find the final flourishes tricky.
Level: I’d recommend this to at least intermediate – high intermediate to intermediate / advanced sounds about right – exercisers comfortable with complex step choreography. This is not for those who want to sweat while their minds take a break; you must be willing to sacrifice some intensity for increasingly interesting choreography, and, boy, will you be rewarded.
I’m an intermediate / advanced exerciser who loves choreography (another Marcus Irwin fan here, and I’d agree Marcus’ intensity and even complexity is a little less than Rebecca’s, especially here). I generally pick up choreography easily if it’s broken down and cued well, which is true here; I felt fairly confident in the combos after the first run through but need to clean up usually the final bits and pieces of the last 5 blocks with another run through. (My brain was definitely struggling by the end more than my body; perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to do this after an afternoon reading German scholarship…)
Class: 1 woman and Marcus Irwin serve as “back-up babes.” Note that there are a few mess-ups, including one or two from Rebecca; Evolution is known for running straight through such things. Marcus messes up more than you’d think given his great skills, but then he was filming step workouts at the same time using pretty much the same soundtrack plus was directing the whole production and only had a few days to learn the choreography, so I’ll cut him some slack.
Music: upbeat instrumentals and vocals. I think Kathy’s description of club-type music is a good one (not that you’d hear this in the hottest clubs but that it’s got that type of strong beat). I like it all right, but I’ve heard many of the same tunes on other Evolutions; fortunately as the workout went on a few songs I hadn’t heard to death appeared.
Set: the “black abyss” Evolution set, which is an all black studio with monitors along the back featuring a revolving E (the Evolution logo).
Production: clear picture and sound, the usual Evolution mix of mostly helpful camera angles with a few close-ups, often at times when you’d rather see the whole person. Oh, and only a few cutaways to the black screen with revolving E!
One odd thing is that in the middle of the grapevine combo there’s an obvious splicing moment, and Rebecca leads an entire runthrough without saying a word, which makes me think there was a big enough reason to stop one take and splice in another, only there was some miscommunication about where to start the new go-round. Fortunately you know the steps well enough at this point that this isn’t a huge issue, but since Rebecca cues so meticulously throughout the rest of the video it’s so odd to hear nothing from her for that long.
Equipment: step (Rebecca and company use those Reebok steps; my club step worked well, although I’m glad I pulled out my full-sized one as there’s one moment when you’re facing the side with both feet together on the step) and sneakers that can pivot on your workout room flooring.
Space Requirements: You’ll be doing moves all around the step, so make sure you have enough space to move comfortably along each side, especially behind and in front of your step, where you’ll have both feet down doing spins and v-steps and that sort of thing. There is one combination with an option of moving far to the side, but you can stay on the step if you don’t have that much space in your back corners.
DVD Notes: After the Evolution intro (which you can skip), the main menu options are Play All (which plays through the Evolution intro again), Zap to a Block (this shows 8 blocks – the TIFTing part at the very end is not chaptered separately), and Evolution DVD previews.
Comments: Like many Evolution productions, this was made for step instructors to learn new combos to teach to their class as well as ways to break down and teach choreography. However, this works perfectly fine for an at home exerciser, including one who doesn’t intend to teach aerobics. Rebecca does say things like, “When you’re teaching this to your students…”, and she points out several times that she’s teaching things rather quickly in an effort to include as much choreography as possible on the tape. This actually kind of works to the home exerciser’s advantage because it means that she’s very conscious of cuing and spends most of her time running through the routine rather than marching about.
I’m so happy this has recently (OK, within the past year or two) been released onto DVD so those of us without VHS players can satisfy our desire – no, need – for more Rebecca Small workouts. There are no signs this is a VHS transfer other than Rebecca telling you to rewind the tape as needed; it looks exactly the same in terms of picture and may even have slightly better sound quality than contemporary Evolutions released as DVDs at that time. Oh, and you can find this at places like Fitness Organica (formerly known as New Idea Fitness).
I had tried Rebecca’s Symmetrical Step Solutions the week before, and I have to say I find Super Step a hair more intense and a full notch more complex. I’m glad I had a few other Rebeccas under my belt before tackling this one, so I wouldn’t recommend this as someone’s first Rebecca unless she/he is an absolute choreography queen/king. A few more times and I’ll have things down pat, yet the choreography will still feel interesting and exciting without being unnecessarily complex, which is what I’m loving about Rebecca Small’s step offerings.
I agree: Rebecca’s cuing is so easy to follow. She proves there’s no reason to settle for mediocre cuing and no breakdown on a DVD that contains lots of choreography in little time, and the amount of preparation she does, thinking through not only the choreography, how it flows together and works with the music, but also the cuing, how best to cue current moves and how to prepare for upcoming ones, makes such a difference. She uses a lot of visual directional cues (pointing, tugging on her pant leg) rather than verbal, but when she does mention right or left she mirror cues (although she messes this up once or twice). Rebecca’s Australian accent is easy to understand, although she uses one or two different terms for common moves than what one normally hears in American productions, but the terms make sense and so aren’t an issue once you realize what she means. I just love her personality: professional and focused while being pleasant and positive, upbeat without being hyper and low key without being snooze-inducing - she’s pretty much my ideal fitness instructor personality type.
This video was produced by Marcus Irwin's company (Evolution Video). It is 68 minutes long without a warmup or cooldown. The set is rather dark and stark, but an improvement over past Marcus Irwin productions. The choreography starts out with simple moves and quickly builds in complexity. She teaches one combo and then moves on to the next. The last 3 combos on the video are put together at the very end but you never see the combos done at the start of the video after you have finished them. Usually I like to run through all of the combos at the end, but she had covered so much ground that I don't think I could have remembered all the choreography anyway. I am not sure how many combos there are all together (perhaps 8, I lost track), but I am sure that this is the most step choreography I have ever seen in one video. The music is club type. I was so engaged with learning the choreography that I didn't pay all that much attention to it. The intensity was higher than Marcus Irwin's recent step dvds. I would rate it as upper intermediate for intensity and consider Marcus to be more low intermediate. Marcus is one of the two backgrounders. This is a great choice for step lovers who really love complex choreography or instructors who need ideas for advanced step classes. This video is available in the US from www.newideafitness.com. I don't regret breaking my 'no more vhs' rule to purchase this, but I hope that Marcus Irwin produces her work on dvd in the future. I can't wait to try some of the other European instructors in the Evolution videos.
One of the best step instructors I have ever seen on video. I found it very easy to follow her cuing even though the choreogaphy is complex. She reminds me a little bit of Keli Roberts; very confident and professional yet not at all intimidating.