Powerstrike 6Ilaria Montagnani
Year Released: 2010
Categories: Boxing/Kickboxing/Martial Arts , Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance
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Note: The full title of this workout as it appears on the DVD cover is Powerstrike Kickboxing, Vol. 6.
Iím reviewing this workout after doing it twice.
General workout breakdown: With Ilariaís introduction and quick overview of the basic punches, kicks, and blocks (just over 4 min.), this kickboxing and karate video runs just under 53 min.; the workout itself is 47.5 min.
The warm-up (just over 4 min.) is typical of the Powerstrikes: youíll begin with some deep breaths and shoulder rolls, then punches, before moving into knee chambers and a few basic, slow kicks. The warm-up closes with mostly static stretches, most of which are for the lower body, and a set or two of push-ups.
Youíll next do punching drills (almost 8 min.). Ilaria immediately launches into a big combination of jabs, crosses, hooks, and upper cuts that will be repeated on both sides. After that come a series of kicking drills (13.5 min.). Here youíll run through the individual kicks Ė front push, roundhouse, side kick, crescent, and back kick (new to Ilariaís Powerstrikes) Ė individually, and a few will be combined together in short combos repeated on both sides.
The two combinations form the rest of the workout (20.5 min.). Youíll learn both combos on the left side, then repeat the whole process on the right. In addition to the punches and kicks reviewed in the warm-up and drills youíll add in some karate punches and blocks, which mostly appear in the second block. Although the final combos are probably fairly balanced between kicks and punches, I feel like thereís a good emphasis on kicks here, which should please those who prefer kicking to punching.
The workout ends with a few brief moves, like a slow front push, to cool down followed by some short stretches, mostly for the upper body (just over 2 min.). I know I definitely need to do a good stretch after this, especially for all of the muscles around the hips (including the hip flexors and glutes).
A few more notes about this workout: Ilaria teaches everything add-on style, adding on new moves to what youíve already learned and repeating the combination from the top several times before adding on the next new moves. Once youíve learned the full thing you spend 2 minutes doing just that full combo or drill. I donít mind the relatively high level of repetition, especially as Iím still new to the routine, because it helps me focus on executing form. As Ilaria says, this workout is definitely about endurance and stamina.
Although you repeat things on the other side, you never add combos together, and there is no full TIFTing (taking it from the top); once youíre done with the punching combo, you never see it again, for example, and combos 1 and 2 are at no time added together, nor do you ever do combo 1 on the right and left back to back.
Ilaria does a good job of varying the moves so although youíre doing high reps of each combo or drill youíre not repeating the same set of moves throughout the whole workout. For example, Ilaria divies up the kicks; the first combo gets roundhouses and side kicks while youíll be doing front, back, and crescent kicks in the second.
In addition to the punches and blocks plus chambers and kicks, youíll also slip and duck. The workout is primarily low impact, but there are some small hops to get yourself into position for the next kick, jogging, and jumping jacks. No modifications are shown, although itís easy enough to march in place for the jogs and just step into position rather than do the jack. You may need the small hop if youíre on carpet, however, to keep your foot from catching; if you canít hop or turn and donít want to risk torquing your knee, you may want to skip the change in direction instead.
The pace of this workout is measured but not exactly slow. Thereís a number of double time or quick punches, but everything is done in a controlled manner. Thereís little down time between segments or between parts of a combo or drill.
Level: Iíd recommend this to intermediate to int. / adv. exercisers comfortable with basic kickboxing moves. Int. / adv. to low adv. exercisers comfortable with weighted gloves (1-2 lbs. or so) can use them to boost the intensity to an appropriate level of challenge for them.
I consider myself an int./adv. exerciser, although Iím probably more of an int. + when it comes to kickboxing because I have no martial arts training, Iíve done kickboxing almost exclusively at home with videos, and I donít do kickboxing regularly (I tend to revisit this style for a month or two a few times a year). I get a good workout in the low to mid-moderate range when I do this without my weighted gloves, and I get a great workout in the mid- to high moderate level of intensity when I do it with them. I prefer kickboxing routines that offer intensity through focus on technique over those that throw punches and kicks while jumping all over the place, and this falls firmly into the former category. (In fact, the Powerstrikes are my main example of the former category.) One of the reasons I like to revisit the Powerstrikes, including this one, every once in a while is to refresh my form, and as a result I get more out of all of the kickboxing workouts I do.
Class: 1 man and 4 women join Ilaria, who instructs live as she does the routine. If you have Powerstrikes 4 and 5 youíll recognize the crew of Powerstrike instructors. No one shows modifications, however.
I must issue a whooper alert, although itís fortunately just occasional. Even Ilaria rolls her eyes in an amused sort of way at a particularly enthusiastic outburst from Omar (I forget if thatís in response to his ď°Azķcar!Ē or another unusual whoop).
Music: Itís kind of hard to describe other than to say that it has a strong beat. Itís not quite the live drumming of Atletica, but itís kind of the closest thing, except that there are distinct songs. There are some vocals, especially at the end of the workout, but most of them are indistinct (ooh ahs) rather than words.
Set: This was filmed in a downtown NYC Equinox in a studio classroom with windows facing the outside. Itís a rainy, windy day, and you can see people scurrying along outside, some crossing the bridge between the two buildings behind and some struggling with umbrellas on the sidewalk. The dreary day matched the weather outside my own window the first time I tried this and my mood the second; Iíll have to see how I handle doing this on a sunny, happy day. :-p
Production: clear picture and sound, although I wouldnít be surprised if some find the music a tad loud in relation to Ilariaís voice (I think the fact that her accent requires a little more concentration to understand, at least at first, makes this more of an issue than it might be otherwise, at least for me.)
The dominant camera angle is straight on, encompassing the whole class. However, this being a Powerstrike production youíll get your share of funky close-ups; be prepared to see some sweaty muscles up close.
Equipment: Ilaria and her crew just have sneakers.
Space Requirements: You need to be able to step and kick to the front and to the sides.
DVD Notes: Your menu options are Introduction, Warm up, Punches, Kicks, Combo One Ė Left Side, Combo Two Ė Left Side, Combo One ĖRight Side, and Combo Two ĖRight Side.
Comments: Itís hard for me to say which Ilaria-only Powerstrike I like best, especially since I like all three that I have, but right now this is my current favorite. #4 is solid but more basic, and #5 is fun but unusual with the asymmetrical combos. So #6 with its variety of moves and balanced combos has a bit of that Goldilocks ďjust rightĒ feel for me.
Iíd say Powerstrike #6 definitely feels like the next step in a progression that begins with Powerstrike #4. Itís not just that Ilaria teaches you another kick and another karate move; itís also the complexity of the combinations and the length of time which she asks you do to the moves. For someone new to the Powerstrikes (as well as to kickboxing) Iíd recommend #4 first, as youíll get used to Ilariaís method as well as her style of cuing (or not cuing). Although I see the progression from 4 to 5 to 6, I donít think you have to have 5 in order to get 6, so if just the idea of the asymmetrical combos in 5 leaves you feeling unbalanced go ahead and go straight to 6.
If you like the idea of two minutes devoted to each combination but find the build-up and/or drills way too long, you might be interested in Kelly Coffey-Meyerís 30 Minutes to Fitness: Kickboxing, where every two minutes she switches combos. Her combos are shorter, but her build-up is much less. And she, like Ilaria, doesnít spend a lot of time cuing individual moves.
I didnít discover Powerstrike until #3, and I only have #3-6. So I canít speak to how this compares to the early Powerstrikes, which are by many accounts more intense than these (and if one could obtain them with any sort of ease Iíd consider buying a VHS just to see what Iím missing!). And I only have #3, so although I agree that she and Ilaria worked well as a tag team on camera I donít miss Patricia Moreno as much as others. I like the newer Powerstrikes (#4-6) and am happy to have them in my collection.
I like Ilariaís business-like and professional manner, especially since thereís still warmth and a sense of humor there.
Ilaria tends to introduce the move(s), repeat them several times, and then add on the next set of moves. Sheíll cue the first time or two through, but then sheíll stop cuing the individual moves to instruct on form or remind you of proper form. I think this is the reason some people feel sheís a poor cuer, because after the initial introduction of the moves she wonít give you more than a general occasional reminder of what youíre supposed to be doing, something that seems to be a conscious choice because she catches herself cuing a second go-round and says she wonít repeat that mistake. No, please do repeat this non-mistake! She is a good instructor, however, because she demonstrates excellent form and constantly both reminds you to keep form and tells you how to do so. Iíve never really had a problem with following her, perhaps because as someone whoís not naturally gifted when it comes to coordination Iíve developed the habit of telling myself the punches and kicks as Iím doing them over and over until I finally get them down (No comment on how long that can take. Or the looks I got when I tried a live kickboxing class and was muttering under my breath in the back corner). Ilaria does mirror cue, however (meaning when she says ďcrescent right,Ē she means the viewer should do the kick with the right leg while she does it with her left). There is one point, though, where she turns her back to you and does the moves as you are, cuing again for the viewer.