PowerFit Plus: Cardio KickStephanie Huckabee
Year Released: 2010
Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance
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Note: This is one of two discs in the PowerFit Plus set.
I’m reviewing this workout after doing it three times.
General workout breakdown: Cardiomama has already described and broken down this workout well, so I’ll just add a few thoughts.
The three segments here have a clear focus, which I like. I’ll just add to Cardiomama’s description that the final side-to-side segment also has an alternate high/low emphasis: for example, you’ll focus on the upward reach of the arms in the grapevine move, then focus on going low in the shuffles, and then it’s back to an “up” emphasis with the overhead pull down move paired with the step touch, and so on. This kept me so much more engaged than many of the other segments on other PowerFit cardio workouts.
Level: I’d agree with those who say that done as shown these workouts are beginner / intermediate, although this one in particular creeps closer toward that low intermediate level. I’m not sure I’d recommend this to someone who had never exercised before, as Stephanie assumes familiarity with basic aerobics and kickboxing 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.
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.) Likewise, if you want to boost the intensity of the kickboxing portion you could use weighted gloves or hold a dumbbell (about ½ to 1 lb. would be sufficient), if you’re used to working with them.
Space Requirements: This workout is fairly compact, although done as is it’s the biggest space hog of all of the PowerFits. At 5’8” I easily fit the workout within nine 2’x2’ puzzle mats, or in an area 6’ wide by 6’ deep. If your space is more limited, you can turn 90 degrees to do the vertical step, and that way you could fit the whole workout in a space of about 6’ by 4’.
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.
This comes in a regular plastic DVD case with the other PowerFit Plus disc, Total Express. Each disc rests on its own little plastic holder, one on top of another, so at least they’re separate, although they still overlap, and one of mine was slightly damaged in all of the shipping it has had to endure, so I have to be careful as I close the case.
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.
This is easily my favorite of all of the PF cardio workouts, including the original cardio workout from the original PowerFit set and the three cardio workouts – Move It, Power Up, and Speed Burn – from the PowerFit Harmony set. The other four tend to blend together in my mind (“Wait, is this the one where she keeps the step touch from the warm-up in the first combo or introduces it in the first combo or does it with a different arm movement in the warm-up and in the first combo?”). The different moves in this one, specifically the kickboxing moves and the vertical rather than horizontal “step on the floor,” make this one clearly stand out from the rest of the pack, and I like that very much about it, especially since I enjoy kickboxing and vertical step. So that’s why it’s my fav. In fact, it’s my favorite workout out of the entire PowerFit set of workouts.
This and the original PF set’s cardio workout are slightly more intense than the PF Harmony cardio workouts because Stephanie includes a few moves with slight impact, like jumping rope, football runs, and side to side hops. These types of moves are easier to boost in intensity, if so desired, too, so these are easier to bump up to an intermediate level.
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. This is actually a problem for me because my copy is pixelating after only three plays (NO!! Not my favorite workout of the entire PowerFits! Why?!?!), and the vendor from whom I purchased this has run out of copies, so I can’t get a replacement from them. Bah.
Stephanie cues well and provides a decent amount of form tips and instruction, although I still maintain the amount better suits someone already a little familiar with basic cardio choreography and strength training rather than a newbie to exercise. She mirror cues, meaning when she says “right” she means the viewer’s, not hers.
Stephanie’s more of a supportive mom type of instructor; you can tell 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 “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 in addition to just sticking with the “visualize the body you want and I’ll help you get there” ones.
PowerFit Plus “Cardio Kick” is 20 min. low impact athletic cardio workout led by Stephanie Huckabee, and there are 3 segments sequenced in it (w/ different focuses). This workout is part of the PowerFit Plus set that includes the "Total Express" workout (on separate discs). One segment is focused on kickboxing, one has movements that uses a band (travel up & down the band, or step over it), and the last is just floor aerobics (lateral movements). There are two background exercisers, both demo excellent form. This workout is the most intensive of the PF cardio workouts (Harmony, Plus & original) because it just jumps right into the workout w/ upper & lower body movements (other PF cardio generally start w/ movements for lower or upper, then add in the other, at a slower pace), and there are more exercises w/ hops, explosiveness (lateral skaters, calf pumps), fast feet (shuffles, chasse) & powerful arms (fast movement w/ large range of motion). It still would count for a low intermediate- high beginner workout, but is a solid cardio workout (for a short time frame & no equipment). Stephanie cues well & provides clear instruction w/ encouragement.
Music: canned, instrumental
Set: airy space w/ wood floor, greyish walls w/ various fitness equipment in the space.
Equipment: flat resistance band is used as a marker to travel over or around
Overhead arms w/ inhalation, reverse motion> step touch w/ arms to side> add alternating arm circles> grapevine> squat w/ overhead arms> spinal rolls> marches (wide stance)> narrow stance> alternating V-step w/ arms> alternating step knee> alternating knee repeater> lift & lower w/ split leg stance (one in rear, one in front) w/ arm sweep to front> hamstring stretch (lower & lift, w/ flexed foot/straight leg in front, leg bends & straightens in rear)> alternating knee lifts> alternating front kicks w/ punches to front> repeat entire sequence (work through other side)> repeat sequence on both sides (reduce reps for each exercise, minus the split leg & hamstring stretch).
Step touch (right) w/ small torso twist (arms in guard position)> add jab, cross (turn to face side w/ punches)> bob & weave, (bent over) low position of upper body> upright position of upper body> chasse (3 alternating fast steps, on balls of feet, then cross foot in back of other)> marches> jump rope> repeat sequence on other side.
Jab, cross> add knee lift> add knee repeater> bob & weave> chasse> marches> jump rope> repeat on other side.
Vertical band (band used as marker to travel over or forward/backward)
Marches> alternating V-step> alternating step hamstring curls> travel forward & back w/ movement> alternating step touch (side) w/ press down arms (bicep curls w/ bigger range of motion)> travel forward & back w/ movement> alternate two exercises: travel forward w/ hamstring curl, travel backward w/ step touch> alternating step straddle (knee lift, one step w/ each foot)> knee repeater (right)> repeat sequence on other side.
After knee repeater> add Samba (right), 7> alternating step glute (lift to rear) w/ punches forward> glute repeater> repeat on other side> repeat sequence (start from V-step), samba reps reduce to 3.
Grapevine w/ overhead arm reach & pull-down> shuffles (to side)> step touch w/ overhead arm reach & pull-down> step hop (lateral skater) w/ row arms> low jack (step tap) w/ single arm reach overhead> side lunges w/ press (punches down)> calf pumps w/ overhead reach & pull-down> repeat sequence.
Overhead arms w/ inhalation, reverse motion> calf/heel stretch (straight back leg, bent front leg)> add overhead arms> hip flexor stretch (back & front legs bent w/ pelvic tuck), repeat on other side> quad stretch, both sides> overheads arms w/ inhalation, reverse motion.