Cardio Toolbox

Mindy Mylrea
Year Released: 2005

Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance , Step Aerobics

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Iím reviewing this workout after doing each part about 3 times.

General workout breakdown: This DVD contains 1 warm-up, 4 cardio segments (3 on the step, 1 on the floor), and 1 stretch.
Note: the times I have here are often slightly different than whatís listed on the main menu; Iím listing what Iím reading off of my player.

- Warm-up (6.5 min.): Here Mindy teaches you a fairly simple combo, broken into about 3 chunks. Youíll do a mix of dancy moves with more athletic ones; many of them will show up later in the main workout segments. The warm-up ends with rocking back and forth on your feet to warm up your calves a little more; thatís about it for stretches.

- Sporty Step (14.45 min.): This segment alternates 3 combos with 3 power bursts. These types of sports-inspired moves are truly Mindyís niche, IMHO. Youíll do moves like a soccer kick corner to corner, dribble (fast feet), jump on/off the step, shuffle around the bench, jog, basketball shoot jump, straddle, lunge, knees (including repeaters), speedskater jump, ski (alternating lunge jumps on the step), across the top, and a block.

- Kickbox Step (13.5 min.): This segment builds up one long combo of kickboxing moves done on and around the step (about 10 min.) and ends with a lower body blast (about 3 min.), with squats into squat jumps. Youíll do moves like a squat - side kick, over the top, forward & back, jump rope, bob & weave, punch, shuffle; the power lower body phase has squats into squat jumps on & off the bench and in different directions as well as a knee up into a running straddle and a jump up onto the bench. I wanted to like this part but we got off on a bad foot, so to speak, since this requires the most space as shown. This is pretty much just kickboxing and related moves on the step, unlike something like Kelly Coffey-Meyerís Step-Boxing, which combines step aerobics with kickboxing.

- All Out Intervals (16.25 min.): Mindy does 8 approximately 1-min. intervals followed by about 45 seconds of recovery. The intervals consist of basic combos of simple, usually more athletic moves (run, lunge, squat jump, over the top, high knee hop, straddle, basketball hop, scoop, ďpeg leg,Ē and stick). For the recovery you march it out, then preview the upcoming interval combo. Mindy starts with the step vertical, then changes it to horizontal about halfway through; I kept the step the same and change my position.

- Power Hi/low (16.75 min.): This segment, done without the step, also alternate 3 combos with 3 power bursts. At the end of the segment youíll do a TIFT (take it from the top) of all three combos, done twice, and then a TIFT of all three power bursts, done twice. Mindy takes conventional hi/low moves, but this is far from a dancey style of hi/low. Hi/low moves include mambo, shuffle, tap out, jump w/ side leg lift, double knee, jump rope, scoop, jog, hopscotch, 1-leg hop, ďlateral side to side,Ē side lunge, heel dig, cross walk, stick (looks like what others call a pendulum), low front kick, and back leg stick; power moves include power jack, scissor jack, heel clicks, jog, high knees (a few variations), heel / butt kicks, and side lunges. If you like this segment, youíll probably like Amy Bentoís style of hi/lo, too (as opposed to Christi Taylorís or the Evolution crewís).

As shown these segments all have a lot of impact; I have to agree with Collage that the hi/low segment is more high than low. The modifier shows some low impact modifications, fortunately, although she struggles with how to modify the intervals. There are some quick pivots, step overs, and that sort of thing, so if you have cranky knees or consider yourself a big klutz itís be worth approaching this with some caution or choosing a lower step height.

Note: there is no cool-down; Mindy tells you to go do that on your own and come back to do the stretch. I wouldnít have minded a short segment (just a few minutes) of basic moves on the step and/or on the floor to serve as a cool-down; I definitely need a little time to bring my heartrate down after these.

- Stretch (6.25 min.): This yoga-inspired stretch takes you through a sumo version of lightning bolt, a standing glute / hip stretch with foot over opposite knee into same thing with arms behind for chest stretch, upper back / shoulder stretch (pressing one forward while legs in squat), chest stretch with legs in standing split, warrior 3, runnerís lunge into twist, lateral lunge inner thigh stretch, standing calf stretch with arms in front, and ends with breathing and shaking it out.

Level: Iíd recommend this to at least high intermediate through advanced exercisers, although solidly intermediate exercisers could figure out ways to make these segments work for them. If you breeze through all four segments on an 8Ē step, youíre probably also the type who does all three of Catheís HiiT segments back to back and wonder why some of us say one at a time is enough. For the rest of us mere mortals, these pack a real punch in a short amount of time.
I consider myself an intermediate / advanced exerciser, and I find these plenty challenging, as I can make my way through about two at a time before Iím toast. Iím not a big high impact person - I tend towards mixed impact workouts that have more low than high (for example, I much prefer Christi Taylorís step workouts to Cathe Friedrichís) - so I appreciate the modifier. Actually, Iíll often mix and match, borrowing some moves from Sharon and sticking with Mindy for others, depending how hard I want to work out on a particular day. (Iím not at the level of Maria yet, thatís for sure!) I tend to pick up choreography easily if it makes sense and is cued at least decently, which is somewhat true here. I think Iíd have fewer issues, including with Mindyís cuing, if the steps flowed together better for me. I guess Iím much more used to a left Ė right Ė left Ė right (or vice versa) footfall; Mindy tends to do quick transitions, even some taps, staying on the same foot as things keep going. In other words, I often found myself on the wrong foot because I expected the next move or part of the combo to start with the opposite foot, not keep going with the foot on which I just finished.

Class: 2 women (one of whom is Sharon Money Twombly) join Mindy, who instructs live. Sharon will show some less intense modifications while Maria bumps things up a notch. Maria is a real firecracker; I want what she and Mindy had for breakfast (or maybe not!).

Music: pretty standard and not particularly exciting instrumental with a beat exercise video tunes. Iíve heard a few songs before.

Set: the 2005 CIA set with light brown walls on which hang backlit circles with mountain shapes and shelves with various trinkets off; there are also a pair of wicker chairs, which, if youíre like me, youíll be eying longingly as a place to collapse by the end of even just one segment.

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

Equipment: Youíll need a step (Mindy and crew use a full-sized club step with one set of risers) for the warm-up, sports, kickboxing, and step portions; the hi/lo and stretch are done on the floor.

Space Requirements: Youíll need some space to do this one as shown. The warm-up is compact, needing only room off to the side and behind the step. The sports segment has you moving around the step and later on doing a lot of stuff several steps behind the platform; you can shorten things up a little if room is tight by not moving around the step. I found the kickbox step needs the most room; Mindy assumes you can kick to the outside while standing next to your step plus have plenty of room behind your step plus a little in front, too. (I donít, so I have to turn my kicks to the back.) For the intervals you should have enough room to work all around your step when itís vertical and then when itís horizontal (or you can do what I do, keeping the step in place but moving my body around). The hi/low needs enough space to take a few big steps in each direction; youíll need more lateral space than forward and back room. Iím 5í8Ē and have probably a space thatís about 6í deep by 8-9í wide; this pushed up against those limits in part. I didnít remember having space issues before, but then I remembered I was using my smaller step, which definitely shortens things up.

DVD Notes: The main menu options are Intro to Workout (which plays through the whole workout), Cardio Toolbox Options (where you can pick your segment), Bio and Content, and Credits.

Comments: I canít believe there arenít any reviews of this one. When I got it a few years ago, it seemed like a number of folks had it and at least some used it with some regularity. I suspect many people have moved on to the latest and greatest since then, so Iím not surprised there hasnít been much chatter about it recently.

Instructor Comments:
Mindy is nothing if not enthusiastic and energetic; she is the human equivalent of the Energizer Bunny. I am in total awe of her fitness - and energy - level. I donít think she breaks a sweat (well, she might get a little moist from the heat of the lights) or gets out of breath once during this entire workout.
Contrary to some reports Iíve read, Mindyís cuing isnít absent or terribly awful, but if you need cuing thatís precise, specific, and consistent, this workout may not be ideal for you. (If you struggle with Amy Bento or Kelly Coffey-Meyerís cuing for cardio, you may find Mindyís cuing in this video similarly frustrating.) For example, sheíll sometimes announce move changes in advance but sometimes right as they happen, sometimes sheíll say ďlast oneĒ and mean last one on each side but sometimes itís the last one period. She includes some but not a lot of directional cues, although she tends to include a few more visual rather than verbal directional cues; that said, if youíre on a different foot during many of the power drills itís not a big deal. There are moments when she doesnít cue so much as encourage you along, so youíll hear something like, ďNow go, go, go. Jump it, jump it. 4, 3, 2, 1. Wow!Ē Iím really nitpicking here, and in some ways it doesnít seem fair to harp on this video since Mindy has worked to improve her cuing, to her great credit. Itís honestly not *that* bad here, and in many cases the steps are straight-forward enough that I donít notice or care about the cuing; for me the trickiest parts are the ones with more choreography, where I just need more guidance on which foot Iím using. If I were to do this more regularly and/or do more Mindy workouts the cuing would become a non-issue, really.