PowerFit Harmony: Cardio Power UpStephanie Huckabee
Year Released: 2010
Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance
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Note: This is disc #5 in the PowerFit Harmony set.
I’m reviewing this workout after doing it three times.
General workout breakdown: Lindsey and especially Cardiomama have already described and broken this down well, so I’ll just add a few notes.
I agree that the choreography is fairly basic and simple, although if you aren’t used to anything with choreography and/or have two left feet even this could trip you up. I rarely have trouble with choreography (it has to be extremely complicated and/or very poorly cued), and I found this easy to pick up. This was the first cardio workout by Stephanie I had ever done, so there were a few hiccups as I got used to her cuing, but I was very comfortable with this after just one run-through.
This is low impact, for real, and it’s also joint-friendly because Stephanie doesn’t make any quick or jerky moves. Still, if your knees are very sensitive to squats you may want to approach the PF cardio workouts with caution.
This is different from the other two cardio workouts in the PowerFit Harmony set, Move It and Speed Burn, in that Stephanie doesn’t use hold the band during any of the segments, as Cardiomama mentioned. Stephanie also includes a touch the foot in the front, back, and front move and a Charleston series in the “step on the floor” series, which aren’t found in the other PF workouts and are rather fun. Like Move It the combos are on the long side, especially the “step” section, but for some reason the choreography, at least in the step on the floor segment, is a little more interesting to me in Power Up than in Move It. So this isn’t my favorite of the PFH cardio workouts, but it’s not my least favorite; it’s right in between for me.
I have to say that the cardio workouts are my favorite parts out of the PowerFit sets. I foresee myself using those as add-ons even when I’m not using the rest of the workouts. I definitely have space on my shelves for short, low impact cardio workouts that aren’t too complicated but are a step up from walking workouts.
Level: I’d agree with those who say that done as shown these workouts are beginner / intermediate. I’m not sure I’d recommend this to someone who had never exercised before, as Stephanie assumes familiarity with basic aerobics terms. But this is great for someone who may not be an absolute beginner but who’s still working out at a beginner level for whatever reason: those who’ve graduated from “this is how you do a grapevine” videos but need something to bridge the gap into intermediate workouts, those who are restarting, and those who have dialed things down for health, pregnancy or post-pregnancy, or other reasons. This would also work well for a travel workout, especially if you know you’ll be wiped out and won’t have the time, room, or energy to do much but still want to get something in to maintain your fitness. All that said, with some creativity, as many have said, an intermediate could make these work, not just on light days but perhaps even on moderate days.
I knew going in that these would be on the easy side for me at my usual fitness level, intermediate / advanced. But I’m not at my usual fitness level right now. After starting and stopping due to, well, life over the past year and a half I needed something easy – and short – to ease myself back into working out regularly so I could work back up to my regular level of working out. (I suspect if I had gotten this earlier on I may not have gone through such long spurts of not working out…) These fit the bill.
Class: 2 women join Stephanie, who instructs live as she does the whole routine. No one shows modifications, not that they’re really needed.
Music: standard-issue exercise video stuff; it’s nothing offensive, but it’s certainly not memorable.
Set: open interior space with “wood” laminate floors, gray walls, and a big “window” looking onto a brick-looking wall; fitness equipment is neatly organized off to the sides on shelves, and there’s some IKEA-style furniture tastefully arranged along the back and sides, too. The set is brightly lit, though, so it feels like you’re meeting Stephanie at a boutique studio type of place.
Production: clear picture and sound, professionally done camera angles that were predominantly helpful (there were maybe a few times I wanted to see Stephanie instead of a background exerciser or her legs instead of her face, but I had little trouble following this workout while watching it).
Equipment: You really only need a supportive pair of sneakers (although if you’re a barefoot kind of gal or guy you can go without shoes). Stephanie does put the 4’ resistance band she uses in the other PowerFit workouts across the floor as a marker for the “step” portion, but since I was on puzzle mats I just used the line that was already there. As mentioned, to boost the intensity you can actually pull out a step for that portion; if you’re really creative, you could probably do the whole workout with the step. (The third time through I used my smaller step for the “step on the floor” portion, and it translated beautifully; it would have taken more effort to do the whole thing on the step, and quite honestly the reason I’m using this workouts is because I don’t want to engage too many brain cells.)
Space Requirements: This workout is nicely compact. At 5’8” I was able to do the entire workout on 6 2’x2’ puzzle mats, or in an area 6’ wide by 4’ deep.
DVD Notes: The DVD just has this workout. After the usual warning screen plays, a screen with the title and a picture of Stephanie pops up. You’ll have to hit enter or play or whatever on your remote, and then the workout will play. There are no chapters within the workout, which is too bad because it would be nice to skip the warm-up, for example, if you’re using this as an add-on.
It’s worth noting that the PowerFit Harmony set comes in a cardboard case with all 10 discs, 2 on each “leaf,” with one disc overlapping the other. While this makes things compact and keeps them all together, that means you can’t really entertain visions of splitting up this set for storage ( if, like me, you have separate shelves for cardio and strength DVDs) or for trading / selling off the ones you don’t want. Also, cases that store discs one over the other are one of my pet peeves, as I don’t like storage systems that I feel encourage potential damage to the discs they should be protecting. Those concerned about shelf space should know the whole thing takes up almost as much space as about 2 regular and 1 small plastic DVD cases together.
Comments: For the record, I’ve never done a FIRM workout, so I’m unfamiliar with Stephanie’s previous work and cannot compare what she’s doing now with what she did then. But I’m betting some of the cues that seemed different to me (e.g. using “dips” to refer to lunges and the cue of “full-form squat”) come out of her Firm experiences.
I have to admit that Stephanie’s hook of “just give me 20 minutes” is what reeled me in. OK, that and I found this set at a deeply discounted rate, which was probably the real reason I bit. I’m not quite the busy mom type of Stephanie’ main target audience, but I’ve recently assumed a few more responsibilities and find there are days when those 30-minute workouts are just a little too long (especially when “30 minutes” really means more like 35-45…), particularly after I ended up taking a longer than expected break from working out and needed to start back. Now that I’ve done these three times in a row, first singly and then doubling up the next two times through, I’m ready to move on, but I’m keeping these in case I find myself in a similar situation again.
I have all three PowerFit sets, the original PowerFit, PowerFit Harmony, and PowerFit Plus. If I were to rank them in order of intensity, according to my opinion, it would be Harmony as the easiest, then the original PF set, and the PF Plus as the hardest. But there isn’t a significant difference in intensity level between the three, so others may not find that there’s a real progression or may disagree with my ranking, but more importantly if you have one set you’ll be able to do the other sets.
Just as an FYI, Stephanie appears to be no longer producing PowerFit workouts. Although it will be increasingly difficult to find new copies, you’ll be able to find copies available secondhand.
Stephanie cues well and provides a decent amount of instruction, although I still maintain the amount better suits someone already a little familiar with basic cardio choreography rather than a newbie to exercise. She mirror cues, meaning when she says “right” she means the viewer’s, not hers.
I’m on record as not liking drill sergeant or perky cheerleader types, and Stephanie definitely isn’t one of those. She’s more of a supportive mom, but not so much so that you’ll find yourself subconsciously reaching for a juice box rather than a protein shake afterwards; it’s more that being a mother and wife is as an important part of Stephanie’s identity as being a fitness instructor and her target audience is the busy mom who needs reminding to take care of herself. That said, I can understand why some people have said they don’t feel like Stephanie gives them enough credit for their true capabilities as exercisers since she prefers the “I know it’s hard and you have a lot going on, but you can do it because there are only a few more reps and you just have to give me 20 minutes” spiel rather than “Embrace your inner athlete!” or something like that.
Stephanie is a talker, but not chatterer, if that makes sense. Much of the time she’s cuing, but the rest of the time she’s motivating. I’d prefer to go without her fairly constant reminders to make the most of my 20 minutes and to focus on how great I’ll look now that I’m taking care of myself (appearance just doesn’t motivate me in the way it does others), but at least I don’t have to listen to cutesy talk about body parts or whatever. I do like that she includes “feel how powerful you are” comments rather than just sticking with the “visualize the body you want and I’ll help you get there” ones.
PowerFit Harmony “Power Up” is a 20 min. low impact, athletic cardio workout led by Stephanie Huckabee. The last ten minutes has step exercises that are performed over a resistance band (used as a marker). Stephanie cues & explains the form for exercises well, although the exercises are all basic choreography & repetitive so not difficult for most to learn. I think this workout makes for a good light day or short workout (or early morning workout where one does not need to think too much to move), or add-on to others (but may be enough of a workout for beginners or those who have been inactive for some time). I am using it as an add-on to my primary workout, and like it (not intense but does warm-up the body nicely & no equipment needed or even shoes). Stephanie was one of the former Firm instructors that I liked (fit, good form, pleasant personality), and she is similar in this workout (encouraging & no sexy body talk, just focused on movement & better health in her comments).
Overhead arms w/ inhalation, reverse motion
Hamstring curls w/ hands on hips> add row (both arms reach forward & pull back w/ bent arms)
Step touch w/ hands on hips> add low row (almost straight arms)> repeat both exercises
Marches> single leg march forward & back> add arm overhead arm reach> place traveling foot in back w/ straight leg, front leg has bent knee> heel lift (back foot) w/ overhead reach w/ arms> hamstring stretch w/ front foot flexed & bicep curl arms> knee lifts> add reverse row arms (both arms punch down & reverse motion).
Repeat entire sequence (start w/ hamstring curls, work through other leg).
Step touch> add side arm reach > add alternating single arm overhead reach> hamstring curls w/ low row> add high arms (arms pull down from overhead)> Grapevine> Samba (right)> add overhead arms> alternating step knee> knee repeater, both sides> Repeat sequence again (start w/ step touch, work through left side)> step knee> repeat sequence multiple times w/ less reps for each exercise> marches
Step on floor w/ band as marker
Basic step (right), step over band> basic step (left)> basic right & travel to left> step knee, right> knee repeater> repeat sequence on left side> repeat again for both sides> alternate V-step (start w/ right)> alternate step tap> alternate pivot step tap> alternate heel touch> alternate front, back, front heel touch> repeat sequence starting w/ left> basic right> travel to left> 7 count knee repeater> repeat on left side> repeat sequence starting w/ V-step> alternate pivot step knee.
Charleston, left side (step, kick front, step, other leg rear tap)> w/ more intensity/power> alternating pivot step knee> repeat on left side.
Repeat entire sequence (from basic step), both sides> alternate step tap> marches> overhead arms w/ inhalation reverse motion.
Squat w/ overhead arms> spinal rolls> alternating side shift/lunge in plie/sumo position> static hold on each side> calf/heel stretch (straight back leg, bent front leg), both sides> hip flexor stretch (back & front legs bent w/ pelvic tuck)> overheads arms w/ inhalation, reverse motion.
This is an entirely low impact floor cardio routine. The first half you will see a lot of traditional easy to follow moves such as grapevine, hamstring curls, step touches, and she utilizes the band as a prop in some of the moves. As always, Stephanie's cueing is spot on and you always know what to do next.
The second 1/2 is a mock step routine using the band as your step. I pulled out the 8" portion of my TF and used that to make it a bit more challening. My heartrate got up there nicely and I worked up a nice sweat. There is no tricky choreo in this-its all straightforward atheltic type moves and is not hard to follow. Some of the moves include basic step, V step, heel touch, toe tap, and a charleston move that really got my heartrate up using the step! Fun routines and the time went by quickly.