With Every Step

Charlene Prickett
Year Released: 2004

Categories: Step Aerobics

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I’m reviewing this workout after doing both workouts once.

General workout breakdown: This DVD contains two steady state step workouts. Carolyn has already described the DVD well, so I’ll just provide some nitty gritty details.
Workout 1 (33.5 min.) starts right in with a few basic steps Charlene puts together into a basic combo (4 min.). After that Charlene builds up about 5 total combos, which she loops or takes from the top (or, in VFer terminology, TIFT / TIFTT) after learning each combo. She never weaves combos, so you always do #1 on the right and left, #2 on the right and left, and so on. The main cardio portion is about 19 min., after which you’ll spend 3 min. cooling down, followed by 7 min. of stretches for the lower body (hamstrings, calves, quadriceps, and hip flexors, with some balance work for the ankle).
Workout 2 (37 min.) has the same basic format. I think this one has one fewer combo because Charlene spends more time teaching choreography and layering the steps. She actually TIFTs a little less here, too. The combos are more complex, but only a bit. You’ll spend a little more time with your back or side to the TV and even do a turn on the step. The warm-up is shorter here (just over 2 min.), but the cardio portion is a little longer (just over 25 min.), with a cool-down (just under 3 min.) and stretch (7 min.) of similar lengths and formats.
Charlene draws from basic step aerobics moves: basic, knee up, knee repeaters, hamstring curls, straddle, lunge, kick, etc. She instructs some of the standard step exercises: straddle, rocking horse, tick tock. Her combos are never very long, only two to three 8-counts, and with maybe 4-6 moves. Most of them are tapless (I think there’s only one warm-up combo that uses a tap switch to switch leads), and they’re all symmetrical (meaning they’re done on both the right and left), although Charlene might not spend as much time building up the moves on the other side.

Level: I’d recommend this to mainly beginner / intermediate through intermediate / advanced exercisers. Prior stepping experience helps, but prior experience with aerobics (either floor and/or step) choreography is likely more important. I agree that thanks to the interesting but not maddeningly complex choreography and the ability to choose one’s step height this is a very versatile DVD: those who are more beginner could use just the step or even do this on the floor, while those hovering around that crossover between intermediate and advanced can use 8” or even 10” and add some oomph. I agree that those who are truly advanced steppers might find this on the easy side even on 10” and with modifications up; this won’t likely appeal to true intensity junkies or choreography hounds.
I consider myself an int./adv. exerciser, although because of some health issues I’m at an int. level these days, especially when it comes to step. I did these both on 6” and got a good, moderately challenging steady state workout both times. I pick up choreography easily, provided it makes sense and is taught and cued decently, which is certainly true here. I felt comfortable with both routines after one run-through, although I’d like to clean up a spot or two in my next run-through. Even though I love choreography, I’m finding that my interest in complexity for complexity’s sake has waned over the past few years, especially as I seem to be able to tolerate less twirling and spinning in my aerobics workouts. So even though this is on the easy side for me in terms of choreography, I still see a real place for this in my collection, especially during times when my brain is otherwise being taxed and I don’t want to have to think too hard while working out.

Class: 2 women, one of whom is Charlene’s daughter, join Charlene, who does the full routine. Although Charlene sometimes mentions that you can leave out the next layer or the turn, no one shows any variations. Both background exercisers wear mikes, but they don’t contribute a lot; sometimes they’ll help Charlene count down on the repeater knees, add in a comment like, “I like this move,” or every great once in a while whoo.

Music: upbeat pretty standard exercise video stuff with a bit of a Spanish guitar theme here and there, as Carolyn mentions. It’s better than the soundtracks she used for Be Some Body and Tie One On, but an even better soundtrack wouldn’t have hurt.

Set: You know, I’m indifferent to the all-white set. I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it, and it doesn’t keep me from enjoying the workout. I didn’t find the set as disorientating as I thought I’d might as long as the camera stayed still, but when it started panning up or down or shot from an unexpected angle (you know, kind of off to the side and low) I experienced some spatial confusion. I’d rather have too little than too much going on in a set, although is extreme minimalism, and if I had to choose, I’d rather have bright than dark, not that I have any real objections to the Evolution “black abyss” set or Leslie Sansone’s so-called “bat cave.” (Despite my comment on sets in my reviews, I usually could care less. I can count on one hand the number of times a set has been a contributing factor – but never the main reason – I’ve gotten rid of a workout.)

Production: clear picture and sound. Most of the video is filmed in a straightforward manner, but as I mentioned above there are a few artsy angles and close-ups that I found more distracting than helpful, especially on a set without minimal spatial reference points (although at least this one had steps – Charlene’s hi/lo workouts on the all-white set, where there’s nothing on the floors or walls, have nothing to use as reference).

Equipment: Charlene and crew use a full-sized club step with 3(!!) pairs of risers, or 10 inches. I admittedly haven’t been stepping a lot recently and am not quite as in shape cardio-wise as I would like, but 1 pair of risers, or 6”, was good for me this week, although I agree with Carolyn that I could see myself using 2 pairs of risers, or 8”, on a really strong day, and quite frankly I could also see myself on low energy days just doing this on the platform.
I used my full-sized step, but this one would work very well with the smaller steps available (like the Cathe home step kit)
Oh, supportive sneakers are a must, and it’s best if they won’t catch on your step or carpet.

Space Requirements: This is decently compact as far as step workouts go. You should be able to move around behind your step and ideally lunge back on the floor, but you just need to be able to step down with one foot to the sides and front of the step.

DVD Notes: After a very quick intro, a main menu pops up with these options for both Workout 1 and Workout 2: Warm Up, Cardio Component, Cool Down, and Stretch.

Instructor Comments:
Charlene cues well and a lot, almost (but not quite) too much in a few spots. She mirror cues, but more of her directional cues are visual (as in pointing) rather than verbal. She’s focused on the workout and professional, but she’s very comfortable on camera and has a more conversational approach to cuing, so it feels more like you’re taking a class with her than watching a very produced, super rehearsed video. She and her crew keep the conversation on the workout, but there is some give and take, especially between Charlene and her daughter, which I found enjoyable, but I know after the 89th time, when I know the comments are coming, I’ll probably find them less endearing.



this dvd (or vhs tape) contains two intermediate step workouts, both are 30 mins long plus there is a standing stretch for the legs at the end of each workout. i did both workouts for a total of 60 mins or so and i LOVED both of them!

they are really fun workouts that have just enough choreography to keep them interesting but they are both also quite easy to learn. it is so nice to do a step workout for the first time and to not be stumbling around or just standing there saying 'huh?'

also i am always happy to see charlene and her background exercisers because they are normal people and not fashion models. also charlene uses some instrumental spanish music which was nice. she also uses the white background in these workouts and while it is plain and perhaps boring for some people, i think that it really helps to make the workouts quite do-able because one is able to see everyone's legs and feet quite well. also charlene's cues are good and her daughter cues a few of the moves as well.

i felt so awesome today, doing this workout! it made me feel really successful because it wasnt easy-peasy but was a really pleasant intermediate steady-state cardio workout, which are my favourite kinds of cardio workouts to do. i do think that i could use an 8" step with these workouts but since i dont have one, i settle for 6" and add some impact to up the cardio factor.

this dvd might be too easy for those who are more advanced in the cardio department than i am, but if you increase the step height to 8" (or even to 10" as charlene and friends do) and add in the suggested medium impact jumps, hops, flys, etc. then i think that you could get a great workout.

this is definitely a good workout for those of us who do not like highly choreographed step workouts.

Instructor Comments:

Carolyn Visser