CIA 2901: Kickbox Surge and Core Training

Amy Bento
Year Released: 2009

Categories: Boxing/Kickboxing/Martial Arts

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I’m reviewing this workout after doing it 2-3 times (although I’m not sure I’ve done more than preview the core training segment).

General workout breakdown: Acescholar has already described the workout and intervals well; I’ll just add times and a few other notes.
Total workout time = ~73.25 min.
Warm-up = ~9 min. For the warm-up, you’ll jump right into a combo, which you’ll repeat a fair number of times. After dynamic hip stretches, you’ll run through the basic kicks (front, back, side, roundhouse). You’ll end with a quick held shoulder stretch, bob & weave & fake, and dynamic low back stretches.
Kickbox Workout = ~48.25 min. (Combo 1 = 4.5 min., Surge 1 = 2.5 min., Combo 2 = 8.75 min., Surge 2 = 1.5 min., Combo 3 = 8.25 min., Surge 3 = 3 min., Combo 4 = 8 min., Surge 4 = 2 min., Combo 5 = 8.5 min., Surge 5 = 1.75 min.) Amy builds up things evenly on both sides, although sometimes the second side might get one or two less run-throughs. The pace is fast but controlled, allowing you to punch and kick with intention and attention to form.
Cool-Down = ~1.75 min. For the cool-down you’ll do some standing stretches for the upper body and low back, with a few basic moves like bob & weave in there.
Core Refining = ~9 min.
Stretch = ~5.25 min. Here you’ll begin standing with moves to stretch the hips and shoulders, then move to the floor for stretches for the hips, inner thighs, chest, and hamstrings (calves, too, if you’re flexible enough). (I added in more for the hip flexors, quadriceps, and calves.)

Level: I’d recommend this to int./adv. to low advanced exercisers familiar with basic kickboxing moves. Experienced high intermediates could find ways to make this work for them, for example, by working up to the full routine and following Uchenna, while mid-advanced exercisers can add weighted gloves (if they’re used to working with them), go right to the more intense version of moves, etc.
I consider myself an int./adv. exerciser, although I’m probably more of an int. + when it comes to kickboxing because I have no martial arts training, I’ve done kickboxing almost exclusively at home with videos, and I don’t do kickboxing regularly (I tend to revisit this style for a month or two a few times a year). This provided me with a good challenge, as I had to follow the modifier in a few spots, but overall I could keep up and got quite the intense long cardio session. I prefer kickboxing routines that offer intensity through focus on technique (e.g. Powerstrikes) over those that throw punches and kicks while jumping around; this one is a nice balance between the two, actually.

Class: 2 women (Uchenna and Angela) join Amy, who instructs live. Uchenna shows some modifications, mainly to limit the impact; she does not really offer alternatives for the few pivots, unfortunately.

Music: upbeat remixes of top 40 hits (I recognize many of them - my gym must have the same CD(s) - but can only name Britney Spears’ “Piece of Me,” Madonna & Justin Timberlake’s “4 Minutes,” and Natasha Bedingfield’s “Pocket Full of Sunshine”). Amy matches up moves well to music, as always, and she also is very aware of the music, for example, joking “If you want a piece of me, you’ll have to come get it,” when the Britney song starts, for example.
You can hear Amy’s voice over the music, but the music’s definitely loud enough that you don’t have to crank up the volume to hear it.

Set: the 2009 CIA set with yellowish walls and red and blue accents plus, as per usual, a few knickknacks, pieces of furniture, and potted plants neatly arranged around. It’s one of the more visually appealing CIA sets, IMHO, because it’s relatively uncluttered and harmonious in its color choices.

Production: clear picture and sound, helpful camera angles – the usual CIA production stuff.

Equipment: supportive sneakers, maybe light weighted gloves if you’re used to using them and need the intensity boost. You may want a mat (depending upon your flooring) for the core and stretch segments, and you’ll want a medicine ball (or equivalent; I believe Amy and crew use 8 lbs.) for the core training.

Space Requirements: Ideally you’ll have space for this one, at least enough to take a big step or two and kick front and back plus take a few steps to each side before you kick. I don’t have quite that luxury right now. I did manage to fit this into a space that’s maybe 6’ or so front and back and 7-8’ feet or so side to side (I’m 5’8”) by minimizing some of the traveling, changing some of the directions to use my space better, etc.

DVD Notes: After the CIA intro (which by now is so dated it’s cheese-tastic), your main menu options are Introduction, Warm-up to workout, Workout Segments, Kickbox Surge Mixes (Quick Surge One, 53 min.; Quick Surge Two, 56 min.; Combo Surge, 62 min.; Surge Mix, 33 min.; and Surge Challenge, 32 min.; unlike many of Amy’s other offerings, here the combos and surges are not mixed and matched so much, but I appreciate that this one also lists out what’s included in each premix), and Credits.
In a very nitpicky note, I’d like to say that while I don’t mind at all the lack of fancy design along the case’s spine (or even on the DVD itself), I find the white-on-white lettering difficult to read from any distance of greater than a few feet (and that’s with my glasses on / contacts in). Luckily I only have one of the CIA 2900 series (for now), so I don’t have to lean into my shelves to distinguish one from the other.

Comments: For those looking to try one of Amy’s kickboxing workouts, I’d recommend this one first. I feel it corrects some of the issues I had with Kickbox Xtreme and In the Ring: the choreography flows the smoothest (even if there are still a few instances where I prefer to tweak things to make them more comfortable for me to execute), Amy’s cuing is the most present and most descriptive, Amy’s form is the best (still of the kickboxing group fitness instructor than hardcore martial artist variety, but that’s fine because she is the former), this seems easiest to fit into a room in one’s house or apartment where one’s cleared a large open space (keep in mind that’s a relative statement – this is still not the easiest thing to fit into a small space), the music is the best (even for someone who’s not into the latest pop hits), and what downtime there is doesn’t drop in intensity, as Amy usually fills in those spots with jumping jacks. Also, the moves are varied and creative (although be forewarned some people find this one way too creative for its own good), kind of in that “just right” middle zone for me compared to Kickbox Xtreme (which was too creative in terms of its approach to how to incorporate kickboxing moves into a workout and almost too varied in the upper body but with too many of the same lower body moves over and over) and In the Ring (which had a hair too many jab – cross – jab type of combos and approaches my limit on the number of repetitions).
Kickbox Surge is more similar in feel and choreography to In the Ring but brings a little more of the energy and impact from Kickbox Xtreme. I find Kickbox Xtreme and Kickbox Surge very close in intensity, with In the Ring a half notch below.
Right now I’m not sure which of the three is my favorite, because for me, at least, each has pros and cons. With Kickbox Surge the cons are relatively minor, however – quibbles with a few moves, not being a big fan of dropping to the floor (but at least here that one move is in the first surge, when my heart rate isn’t too elevated), that nitpick over the lettering – and yet that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll end up loving this one most, although the music could perhaps overrule the cons more quickly here.

Instructor Comments:
Amy cues pretty well here, actually. As always she still cues ahead of the move and introduces a chunk of moves at a time (she doesn’t do a lot of layering; what you see the first time through is pretty much what you’ll get for the rest of the run-throughs), but I feel like she’s more forthcoming and descriptive with her cues here, which helps reduce that learning curve immensely. Still, I wouldn’t say that she’s talking so much I’ll find her cuing tedious after many more run-throughs. She does include directional cues, mirror cuing for her verbal ones, but she also does a lot of pointing instead of simply saying “right” or “left.”
I agree that Amy brings a good amount of energy to this one, and her fun personality adds a little extra spark, too.



Amy Bento Kickbox Surge

I’ve had this workout for several months, and it still reigns as my favorite kickboxing workout. It’s probably considered kickboxing/hi-lo, but there really are a lot of great kickboxing moves. The music rocks (if you like rock music, which I do!). The combos are really fun; the surges are intense; the workout is pretty consistently advanced!

KBS has five rounds, in each round Amy builds up to a combo and then concludes with an intensity surge. Unlike others of Amy’s workouts, KBS does not combine combos – you do a combo and you leave it behind. The combos are somewhat complicated, but not as complex as Amy’s KB Extreme. It is well worth it to preview the workout and practice the more complex moves ahead of time. It took me a few times to really get all the moves down so that I could focus on intensity.

The warm up is pretty straight forward, and the workout starts off right away with motivating music. I won’t go through every move in each combo, but here are some pointers and high lights.

Combo 1: This combo has punches, elbows, and a fun kick sequence. The kick sequence starts with a side jump kick, then switches legs for a low/high roundhouse and finishes with a back kick. It’s confusing at first to remember which side to start the jump on. Hint: you always start off with same leg as the arm you started the punch sequence with!

 SURGE: front kick to lunge to push up, great move to get your heart rate up. Tough, but fun: you really feel the core working on this one.

Combo 2: This combo has a triangle shuffle pattern with straight up elbow strikes and hooks that make you feel very tough!

 SURGE: rotating jump side-kicks with a tuck jump. Not my favorite, but it keeps the heart rate up.

Combo 3: This combo has fun crescent and axe kicks; the crescent kick moves fast, so it’s important to keep the crescent kick in a fairly narrow arch. The combo also contains a self-defense move that makes you feel very tough!

 SURGE: a fast-moving, butt-kicking sequence: front jump kick, 3 alternate side-kicks, plyo with touch done. VERY FUN!

Combo 4: This combo has a rope-rope-double rope (=tuck jump). Although I usually do this version, Uchenna does plyo jumps that are a little less impact and actually work the legs very well.

 SURGE: a move Amy calls “going Ninja” – power side kicks side to side

Combo 5: Lots of punches in this one, including moving hooks and elbows. The combo ends with switch kicks. I often substitute jump kicks, which actually allows me to get a little more power in the kicks. I keep the same time as Amy’s switch kicks.

 a series of fast punches with hook, crescent and back kick; this is the most complex but least intense of the surges.

I use 1 lb. weighted gloves when I do KBS, and I think this adds to the workout.

The workout ends with a “refining core” section done with a med ball. I didn’t like this section the first time I did it (so I substituted Amy’s second ab workout from Abs and Stretch, also a good core workout) --- but I gave it another chance and now I love this section! It is inspired by kettlebell moves and functional fitness. The first move is a squat, roll back, roll up – Amy keeps saying “use the ball to get up.” It took a few tries for me to get the motion – it’s important to keep the feed spread wide so that your knees don’t go past your toes. This is a great move, but it can be hard on the knees if not done carefully. There are curtsey lunges with core twist, planks with ball rolls, and a really fun moves where you place your toes on the ball and “swizzle” just a little to engage the obliques.

Bottom line: I love this workout, and I do it often! I also frequently do Cathe's Kick, Punch and Crunch; Tony's Kenpo X+; Powerstrike 1 and 2; and Tae Bo Ripped Advanced. I love all of these workouts as well, but I think Kickbox Surge keeps the heart rate up the highest of all of these and is the most intense.

Instructor Comments:
Amy’s presence and energy is great in this workout. She is joined by Angie and Uchenna, and Uchenna does some low impact modifications.