Vertical Step PartyKatina Hunter
Year Released: 2007
Categories: Step Aerobics
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I’m reviewing this workout after previewing and doing it once.
General workout breakdown: This approximately 41.5-min. vertical step workout mixes typical step aerobics moves (tap up & tap down, basic, over the top, hamstring curl, leg side lift, repeater) with more athletic ones (kick, knee up, a hop like you’re firing off a basketball shot).
The warm-up (8 min.) has three parts: aerobics on the floor (walk up and back, grapevine, tap out with changing upper body moves), aerobics on the step (a tweaked version of the previous combo), and dynamic stretches for the calf, hip flexor, hamstring, and lower back plus a couple of squats. After that Katina teaches the first and then the second combo; these are combined together for a TIFT (take it from the top) twice (11 min.). After a quick water break / perceived exertion check, Katina teaches the third and then fourth combos, which are combined once (10 min.). Finally, after another quick water break / perceived exertion check, the “Vertical Step Power Party” runs through all four combos together once, then slices and dices / weaves them together (e.g. combo 1 on one side, combo 2 on the other, and so on), adding in a short run through of all of the “power party” moves in between each side; this is done twice (8 min.). After that comes the cool-down and stretch (5 min.), which is basically a repetition of the floor combo introduced in the warm-up followed by standing stretches for the inner thigh, calf, hip flexor, hamstring, and lower back, plus a few stretches for the upper body and some shoulder rolls. She spends a decent amount of time in each stretch.
In general, when Katina teaches a combo, she begins with a basic side to side step, then adds one or two more. You run through these few steps a few times, and then she changes one into something slightly more complex. After you’ve learned the basic patterns and the more complex variations, she announces the “power party” move, which is usually a slightly higher impact version of one of the moves already learned. She has you repeat these 8 times or so, just as she has you repeat the other moves a few times, before running through the building combo again. She builds up each side evenly.
I felt there was just about the right amount of repetition – enough to learn each move and combo and then enough TIFTing to make me feel justified in the effort I spent to learn the choreography. (Another TIFT in the final section, however, would be too much even for me.) Katina is also constantly moving, with only a few taps or kicks side to side between combos. In other words, there’s no slowing down to learn moves.
Level: I’d recommend this to an intermediate exerciser who has had some previous experience with step. I’d rate it intermediate in intensity and choreography. A high intermediate through perhaps low advanced exerciser could increase the step height and intensity, especially by adding in some impact, to make this workout more appropriate for them. There’s not a lot of choreography; once you’ve mastered the warm-up and the four combos, you’re set for the rest of the workout. I had never done a vertical step workout before and found this fairly easy to pick up once I got used to the orientation and vertical step-specific language. (I tend to pick up choreography fairly quickly, however.)
Class: 4 women, one of whom shows some lower impact / less complex modifications, join Katina. All are fit but relatively “normal” (i.e. non-fitness models).
Music: alternating vocal and instrumental. It suits the workout well enough. I’ve heard about 1/3 to 1/2 of the songs before, however.
Set: brightly lit interior space with mostly neutral colors and some Asian-themed decorations sparsely scattered around.
Production: clear picture and sound. The music is a little soft in comparison to Katina’s voice, however. The camera angles for the most part are helpful, but there is some zooming in on feet or faces and somewhat frequent cutting to side angles, including one that’s almost right on from the side, that might be disorienting to some folks. The camerawork proved to be more distracting during preview than during the workout itself.
Equipment: step (Katina uses a normal club-sized step) with 1-2 sets of risers. If you’re doing the Vertical Step & Pump Party Mix, you’ll also want a couple of pairs of dumbbells (medium to light, depending upon your strength, goals, or preference; Katina uses 5s for most exercises), but you can keep your step right where it is (i.e. vertical). You may also want a mat if you plan to do the push-ups on your knees.
Space Requirements: You’ll need enough space to walk comfortably up and down beside your step plus enough room to do a full grapevine and tap out behind it and to take a step in front of it. For me at 5’8” that translates into about a 6’ by 6’ space, with some wriggle room around the sides for my flailing limbs.
DVD Notes: There’s a skippable promo for Katina’s latest series at the beginning. The main menu allows you to choose from these options: Introduction, Play Program, Plan Your Own Party / Chapters (Warm-up, Combo 1: Rock Don’t Stop, Combo 2: Funky Repeater, Combo 3: Basketball Hop, Combo 4: Step-Kick-Box, Vertical Step Power Party, Cooldown), Party Mix (Vertical Step & Pump Party Mix, 55 min., with Warm-up, Rock Don’t Stop, Squat Kick,* Funky Repeater, Scoop Chest Press,* Basketball Hop, Front Lunge & Row Kickback,* Step-Kick-Box, and Cooldown; and Vertical Step Power Party Mix, 30 min., with Warm-up, 2 Power Parties, and Cooldown), and Credits. Note that on the premixes there are no chapters, so you can’t skip around. Also, the Pump Party segments are not available for the Plan Your Own Party feature.
*Here’s a breakdown of the Pump Party exercises:
- Squat Kick (7 min.): squat with one arm straight up and the other straight down, come back into side kick with same arm extended to the side; overhead press, crossover biceps curls; repeat squat kick compound exercise
- Scoop Chest Press (7.5 min.): scoop up to shoulder level & open out arms (bent at 90 degrees), then close back in & lower, with calf raise; calf raises (with tempo variations); front raise with hand facing in; push-ups w/ hands on step; repeat scoop chest press w/ calf raise; stretch for hamstring / calf & chest
- Front Lunge & Row Kickback (7.5 min.): front lunge with bent over row into kickback which becomes a straight arm pulse; alternating front lunge (without or with pulses); bent over straight arm triceps press back; overhead triceps extension; repeat front lunge & row into kickback
This circuit is probably best for maintenance rather than strength or endurance gains. There are not a ton of reps, but the tempo is pretty fast. Overall it’s heavy on shoulder work and very light on abs / core and back. Katina’s form is all right, but it could be better given her background as a medical professional.
Comments: This workout is primarily low impact, but there are some quarter turns that could prove problematic for sensitive knees. Be sure to unload your knee before turning rather than just twisting your body.
Katina cues well, announcing moves a little ahead. She mirror cues, but sometimes she says “inside” or “outside” instead of left or right. She has a pleasantly encouraging and low key on screen persona. She’s slightly more comfortable on camera here than in Interval Party. She sticks to cueing the workout without lecturing, gushing over how many calories you’re burning, cracking jokes (although she does say things like, “My crew loves Power Parties!”), etc. One habit to note: Katina snaps to announce a move change or keep the beat. (Sorry, but lots of snapping bothers me for some odd reason.)
Steady state step workout done vertically. Intermediate choregraphy and pleasant music. This is an intermediate/low advanced workout. Clocks in around 40mins. Includes a premiix whick includes sections from Pump Party. Liked this as it give you a step and circuit to choose from. There are a few other premixes. Again enjoyable tape.