PowerFit Harmony: Cardio Move ItStephanie Huckabee
Year Released: 2010
Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance
Video Fitness reviews may not be copied, quoted, or posted elsewhere without the permission of the reviewer
Note: This is disc #1 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 of my own.
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. Another thing that could be confusing for those who aren’t real choreo hounds is that Stephanie changes the number of times she does a move when she runs through the routine a second time. For example, she does a V-step on the right, then on the left, then on the right, then on the left, and then a three-knee repeater when you’re learning the move, but when you repeat suddenly you just do the v-step on the right and left before doing the repeater, without Stephanie giving you any warning that you’ve cut out the extra reps. 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, but I did have to watch Stephanie closely the first time through because she lures you into thinking she’ll cue everything by cueing each direction change, but she forgets to cue some transitions and some cutting down on reps.
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.
Honestly, this isn’t my favorite of the three PFH cardio workouts because the “combos” are rather over long. The warm-up, which isn’t particularly interesting, becomes part of the first combo, and then you do a long series of basics and knee-ups in the step in the floor portion, and then finally it’s the segment with the band.
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 any are 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). As mentioned, Stephanie in one section holds the 4’ PowerFit resistance band, folded in half, during arm movements; if you don’t want to use the band for whatever reason (maybe you and latex don’t get along), a hand towel will do the trick. She also puts the band 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 strong you are” comments rather than just sticking with the “visualize the body you want and I’ll help you get there” ones. Stephanie talks about the joy of movement a good bit here as well, and she also talks about having fun with your workout, usually during a particularly boring move, almost like she’s trying to talk you into having fun when she knows your mind is threatening to wander off.
PowerFit Harmony “Move It” is a 20 min. cardio workout led by Stephanie Huckabee (that follows the low impact, athletic feel of the other PF cardio workouts). A resistance band is used as a marker for step exercises, and held in hands (folded in half) to increase intensity for the arm movements (this short band section is not in PF Power Up cardio workout). I’m using this workout as an add-on and like it, it’s sequenced to use the short time frame effectively (nice flow, not too much choreography to learn) and would also work well for a light day workout or one early in the morning. And it would be easy to modify up to increase the intensity, like the recommendations in Lindsey’s review or weighted gloves or light dumbbells could be held for some/all segments.
Stephanie does speak during most of the workout w/ form pointers & encouraging comments (although minor complaint, she does say “Listen Up” often to cue the next exercise or patterns). If users are familiar w/ Stephanie’s workouts as a Firm Lead, then many of the exercises will feel familiar (but minus the bulky gadgets/equipment). I like that these PF workouts don’t need any or much equipment, don’t require a lot of space, and I can do this workout barefoot.
Overhead arms w/ inhalation, reverse motion
Alternate step taps to side (hands on hips)> alternate step taps to front> step tap side w/ open arms to side> step tap front w/ arm sweep> squat w/ overhead arms> spinal roll> knee lifts> alternating front kicks (low)> knee lifts w/ biceps curl arms> kicks w/ punches to front> marches> grounded calf/heel pumps (elevate heels, slow pace)> repeat sequence again (work through other side).
Side lunge/shift in plie/sumo position> arm sweep & pivot to face side w/ back w/ straight leg, front leg w/ bent knee> heel lift (back foot) w/ arm reach to front> hamstring stretch w/ front foot flexed & bicep curl arms (alternate lift & lower)> static hold in lowered position> spinal roll to standing position> Plie squats then repeat sequence on other side.
Marches> step taps to side> step taps to front> knee lifts w/ bicep curls> kicks w/ punches> Marches> heel/calf pumps> repeat sequence on other side (work through other side).
Step Touch w/ hands on hips> grapevine> step touch w/ open arms to side> grapevine w/ Starburst arms (reach overhead then open to sides of body)> side lunges w/ hands on hips> add alternating single arm punch to side> heel taps to front> add downward arm push (bicep curl motion w/ hands coming near to shoulders w/ lift)> marches> jump rope (can add power)> repeat sequence (work through other side)> repeat entire sequence (starting w/ step taps to side), both sides.
Step on floor w/ band as marker
Marches> alternating basic step> alternating step knee> knee repeater (right)> repeat sequence (left)> repeat sequence on both sides> alternate pivot step knee> alternate pivot kick w/ front punches> alternate pivot leg abduction> alternate pivot hamstring curl> repeat sequence starting w/ basic step> slow V-step> fast pace w/ open arms to side> step hamstring curl> hamstring curl repeater> repeat sequence from V-step> repeat entire sequence (from basic step), multiple times.
Use folded band held in both hands
Samba w/ arm sweep to front> add arm sweep overhead> alternate step knee w/ arm sweep to front (w/ knee lift) then push down to floor (lower knee)> alternating hamstring curl w/ row> alternating side squat w/ arm sweep to front> add arm sweep to side (lowered position of squat) then overhead circle w/ lift of exercise> repeat sequence on other side (starting w/ Samba)> marches.
Marches> overhead arms w/ inhalation, reverse motion> Calf/heel stretch (straight back leg, bent front leg), both sides> hamstring stretch> quad stretch, both sides> hamstring stretch (right)> calf/heel stretch (right)> Squat w/ overhead arms> spinal rolls> overhead arms w/ inhalation, reverse motion.
This is a entirely low impact 20 minute cardio workout led by Stephanie with 2 background exercisers. The set is awesome-open and inviting. There is a warmup & cooldown included in the 20 minutes but besides that it is nonstop cardio! I would say a similar intensity to Cardio Pure Power. I would rate this a high beginner cardio w/o. You will only need a band for this w/o.
After an active warmup and stretch Stephanie moves into floor aerobics-hamstring pulls, side steps, mock jumproping (low impact), grapevines and other easy to follow athletic type cardio moves. This w/o adapted nicely to the step. After the floor aerobics she moves into a mock step routine using the band on the floor. She includes basic step, v step, knee ups, hamstring curls, and knee repeaters. Again easy to use your step with if you want to up the intensity. Adding the step and weighted gloves really made this a solid intermediate w/o!