Step 2 Success

Rebecca Small
Year Released: 2006

Categories: Step Aerobics

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I’m reviewing this workout after doing it once.

General workout breakdown: This DVD has an approximately 57.5-minute step aerobics workout. Although meant to serve as a demonstration of choreography (and its breakdown) for step instructors, this works well as a steady state workout for an at home exerciser who doesn’t intend to teach anyone.

There are 6 or 7 total combos, all done symmetrically, alternating between right and left without stopping or tapping to switch between sides. The first few are simpler, and Rebecca says she’d keep them at a level without too much layers for her Level 1 (i.e. least complex) classes or teach as is to her Level 2s (i.e. mid-level). The ones in the middle are definitely more complex; Rebecca seems to suggest she’d use them for Level 3s (i.e. most complex) or break up to alternate with less complex blocks for Level 2s. The final block returns back to Level 1+ to 2.
Most of the blocks are 32-counts, but there are two that are 16-count only. Rebecca teaches 16 counts at a time, so for the 32-count combos she works you all the way or almost all the way through the first half, then continues to run through that while adding in the base pattern, then building up the second half. She’ll then put any finishing touches on. The halves are never split or reworked, however (in other words, she won’t do something like take 8 counts from the first half, do the whole second half, then do the remaining 8 counts from the first half).
Rebecca teaches all blocks in a throw away style, meaning after you learn a combo it disappears. You might not even run through the final product more than once or twice. So needless to say there is no TIFTing (taking it from the top).

The teaching method Rebecca uses begins always with simple base moves that are layered and tweaked until the final combo emerges. You’ll see the same base move (e.g. a knee or hamstring curl repeater, basics) multiple times, but the final products each have their own personality. Rebecca builds things up slowly, changing only bits and pieces with subsequent run throughs, so if you don’t like a lot of breakdown this might not be for you, but because this is for instructors to learn choreography and breakdown Rebecca doesn’t run through as many times as you might expect, so things move a little swiftly for someone working through this the first or second time.

Rebecca uses mostly classic step moves, with a few dancey elements like a mambo cha cha, an Elvis, or a spin thrown in. She does have a more athletic flair than some of the other Evolution instructors, even if she says a few combos are bit dancier than she might normally do. I agree that Marcus Irwin is a good comparison in terms of type of choreography, although Rebecca might be a bit more complex, if for no other reason than she incorporates more rhythm changes (which Marcus added in his last two step releases).

Rebecca likes to move all around the step. She does pivots and spins both on and off the step, rebounds over the step, and lower body twists that could be problematic if your sneakers like to catch on your step or carpet or if you have knees that don’t like torque. There are a few higher impact moves (some jogging, a pendulum, some scoops), but this isn’t a workout with a lot of jumping or high impact.

There is no warm-up, which isn’t that big of a deal since the workout starts off simple, although it picks up pretty quickly. There is no cool-down or stretch, which is a bigger deal since you stop right after running through a combo one last time.

Level: I’d recommend this to experienced steppers. This is well suited for intermediates through maybe low advanced and is definitely more for those who like choreography over intensity.
I consider myself an intermediate / advanced in cardio, although I’m more of an intermediate plus when it comes to step, since I’m still working my way through more complex step aerobics workouts. I pick choreography up pretty quickly if it’s broken down and cued well, which is very true here. I felt confident with the choreography after just one run through (again, know I think I’m better than average at picking up – although probably not exactly executing – choreography), although my brain was starting to get a little tired by the end and I could clean up a few moves. This gave me a solid steady state workout that had me in a moderate zone according to my heart rate monitor.

Class: 2 women join Rebecca, who instructs live. All three wear mikes, but the background exercisers don’t contribute much except for some nervous giggles or “Yes” and “No.”

Music: upbeat songs, some of them with vocals. It suits the workout well and does not distract from Rebecca’s voice. But if you have many Evolutions you’ve probably heard much of it before.

Production: clear picture and sound. For the most part this does not have the extreme close-ups or too many funky camera angles characteristic of a number of the Evolution videos on this European warehouse set, but there are some times when I wish Rebecca’s feet had been included in the shot.

Equipment: step and sneakers. Rebecca and company use one set of risers (6”); I did likewise and felt this was appropriately challenging for me.

Space Requirements: You should have enough room to move comfortably all around your step, with enough space to work around the front, take a few steps off of the side, plus move around with both feet behind it. There is one combo that has quite a bit of lateral movement, and it’s best if you can take two big steps off to the side and just behind of your step. The other combos are more compact, however.

DVD Notes: The DVD is chaptered, with 14 in all, including a Play all option and an introduction. Bonus features include How to make an Evolution video? Part 1, Bloopers, Bonus Blocks (from Rebecca’s Step Mechanic and Step Formula plus Rob Glick’s Step Gone Wild, Robert Steinbacher’s Step Sensation, and Marcus Irwin’s Step Tools), Credits, and Evolution video previews.
Note that this DVD is dual-sided, with PAL (the video format used in Europe and Australia) on one side and NTSC (the video format used in the USA, Canada, and Asia) on the other.

Comments: At this point I’ve done three Rebecca Small videos – The Step Formula Workshop SymmFit Sytems, Step Mechanic, and now Step 2 Success – and I’d rank them in that order, from easiest to hardest, in terms of complexity, although Step Mechanic and Step 2 Success are pretty close. Actually, I found one or two combos in Step 2 Success tricky to pick up, which may be why I think it’s harder than Step Mechanic. In any case, I couldn’t possibly choose which I enjoyed more (Step Formula Workshop is a bit of a different animal since it’s simpler blocks and presented more as an instructor workshop, but it’s still fun, especially for a newbie to Rebecca Small and someone who’s still gaining her sea legs with complex choreo on the step). I’m so happy a number of Rebecca Small’s back catalogue has been converted to DVD and is now available, because I’d love to get my hands on some more of her stuff! So much fun, creative choreography that’s interesting but not hair-splittingly complex, presented by a superb instructor who truly knows how to break down and cue: what’s not to love?

Instructor Comments:
Rebecca’s superior cuing deserves all the praise it can get. Talk about someone who knows how it should be done! She mirror cues so smoothly. Also, she doesn’t just cue verbally, but she includes non-verbal cues, too, doing things like point, pull on her pant leg, etc. She uses the “watch me” method, but before she demonstrates the move while you stay with previous version she’ll give you a heads up what she is going to change. (Sometimes she demos the move change on both sides, but since time is short here she doesn’t always do that.) In other words, she gives you every opportunity to succeed at picking up the choreography. And she is able to take simple steps and make them feel fresh and interesting, even when she’s starting with the same base moves she’s used a hundred times.
I really enjoy Rebecca’s on screen personality. She keeps things professional yet still has a likeable presence and a good sense of humor.