Cardio Kick Step-Boxing

Kelly Coffey-Meyer
Year Released: 2008

Categories: Boxing/Kickboxing/Martial Arts , Step Aerobics , Foam Roller

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I’m reviewing this workout after doing it 3-4 times (or maybe more, although I haven’t always done the core portion).
N.B. The name of this workout as it appears on the first issue DVDs is Cardio Kick Step-Boxing; however, this is commonly known around VF as Step-Boxing 2 so as not to confuse it with Kelly’s original Step-Boxing.

General workout breakdown: This 70-min. cardio workout combines step aerobics and kickboxing; it also contains a short core workout that’s different than the usual.
As with the first Step-Boxing workout, there is little down time in this DVD; you’re always on the go. The music has a fast tempo, too, so once you get moving you really get moving.
*Warm-up (5 min.) begins with the step in the vertical position. Kelly teaches a a quick step aerobics combo, runs through some quick dynamic stretches before introducing some basic punches (corner punches, hooks, and upper cuts) and a duck, and then runs through some more dynamic stretches (lunges, squats, and a knee circle, or a crescent kick chamber); she then goes through one final combo that starts to combine step and kickboxing and one final dynamic stretch for the hamstring.
*Routines (53 min.) combine 45 min. of step with 8 min. of floor aerobics. Kelly teaches you a combo at a time, building up both sides evenly. You then do a 60 second drill using moves drawn from that combo (except for the two floor routines, which don’t have these drills). After that, you move onto the next routine. There is no TIFTing (no taking it from the top); the combos are “thrown away” after you learn them. Kelly includes a good amount of repetition: enough to learn the moves and get them down, enough run throughs of the whole combo to justify the time spent learning it, but never enough that I get sick of the combo, especially after doing the workout several times.
Four of the combos are done with the step vertical, three with the step horizontal, and two on the floor (without the step); the last two combos serve as cool downs, more or less, and are more punch-focused than the other combos.
Kelly combines aerobics and kickboxing, but she doesn’t fully meld the two, so you’re not punching while doing a grapevine, for example. Some of the moves are done with one foot on the step, but some are done just on the floor, as per usual. The kickboxing moves are jab, cross (which Kelly often calls just “punches,” although she also calls them jabs at one point), hook, upper cut, low punch, hammer punch, thrust, elbow strike, high block, side block, wood chop, front kick, side kick, back kick, knee strike, duck, (boxer’s) shuffle, twist, and bob & weave. Step aerobics moves include straddle, lunge, Charleston kick, basic, triple knee, L-step, over the top, stomp, knee walk back, turn step, travel w/ hamstring curl, up jack, power squat, rebound, rock off the step, hamstring over, jump rope, pivot, v-step, and knee twist. Floor aerobics moves include grapevines, jumping jack, hop, squat, wide jog, shuffle, plyo plie squat, v-step, and step in (a step touch). The only moves that feel out of place are the pivot into the twist; normally I wouldn’t call these moves so “dancy,” but they feel that way here after so many athletic moves.
*Kneeling Core (8 min.) is just that. Kelly runs through jabs, crosses, and upper cuts, focusing on just one or combining them into simple combos; she also does side crunches and twists with hands in guard. These are all done with one knee on the floor; you also do one side first, then the other.
*Stretch (4 min.) has stretches for the low back, side torso / obliques, neck, inner thigh (and maybe also calf), upper back, chest & front of shoulder, back of shoulder, and hamstrings. (Personally I needed to add on more lower body stretches afterwards, especially for the hip flexors and outer hips.)

Level: I’d recommend this to someone at least at the very solidly intermediate through low adv. level who feels comfortable with both moderately complex step aerobics and kickboxing. You need to know what you’re doing here because there’s no form instruction and few, if any, form tips and reminders. That said, the moves themselves aren’t overly complex, although the fast pace and cuing style make it a little trickier to pick things up. Plus, because Kelly includes a tutorial she spends little to no time breaking down pieces of the combos or explaining what she means by a few of her combo names (e.g. double down); that said, the tutorial is there to help you learn tricky parts before you do the workout. There are some high impact moves, although I don’t find them brutal (I generally don’t care for high impact, and these were within my range of tolerance), and there are a few half pivots, although you’re never really with your back to the TV.
I consider myself int./adv. when it comes to cardio videos, although I’m more of an int.+ with step since I’m still a relative newbie to that piece of equipment. That said, Kelly always gives me a good challenge that pushes me to my limits but is never in danger of finishing me off completely. This workout is no exception!

Class: 4 women join Kelly, who instructs live. 1 of the women shows a few lower impact modifications, which aren’t cued.

Music: upbeat mostly instrumental music (although there are some vocals, especially during the latter portion of the workout). It’s definitely, at least to me, better than average and serves as a good, motivating backdrop to this workout. (The only song that bugs me is the one that plays during the first combo, which sounds like it might have been remixed for a chicken farmers’ dance party.)

Set: the 2007 CIA set with large “windows” along the back wall and patio furniture off to the side. It’s one of the cleaner (as in most uncluttered) CIA sets.

Production: crisp picture and sound, nothing too crazy in terms of camera angles or quick shifts or too many close-ups or whatever. It’s what you’d expect from CIA. Kelly’s voice is just a bit louder than the music, which is cranked up a little more than usual here.

Equipment: step with your choice of risers (or not) – Kelly & co. use 2 sets for 8”. Kelly and her crew also use a full-sized club step, which I’d recommend, at least to my fellow taller at home exercisers. I did all right with my shorter step, but with my long legs and big feet I had to make sure not to get too enthusiastic with the jack up – power squat combo.
The core section uses what appears to be about a foot-long section of a foam roller, cut in half. If you don’t have that (and I don’t), you can try using your favorite padding under your knee, or you can try for some extra balance challenge with something like a balance disc. I tried this section on my Bosu, and the angles of my lower body got a little awkward. Of course, you could just do this whole bit standing.

Space Requirements: You need a good deal of lateral space for this workout: enough to do a full grapevine off of the step when it’s vertical and a step into a side kick when it’s horizontal. You should be able to take one step off the front of your board when it’s positioned vertically and be able to step and do a forward kick on it when it’s horizontal; you should also have enough space (about 2 medium-sized steps’ worth) behind it in both positions. For me at 5’8” that translates to quite a bit space, especially side to side, and I don’t even have a full-sized step; I’ve been known to change side kicks into forward or back kicks to shorten it up a little.

DVD Notes: You can skip the intro that plays before the menu loads. The main menu offers these options: Introduction, Start Workout, Step-Boxing Mixes (Vertical Mix = Warm-up, Vertical Step, Core & Stretch, 39.5 min.; Horizontal Mix – Warm-up, Horizontal Step, Combo 8 & 9, Core & Stretch, 37.5 min.; Core Mix = Kneeling Core & Stretch, 12.5 min.), Step-Boxing Mix & Match (Warm-up, Routine one, Routine two, Routine three, Routine four, Routine five, Routine six, Routine seven, Routine eight & nine, Kneeling core, Stretch, Tutorial), Tutorial, and Contact & Credits.

Comments: The idea of combining step aerobics and kickboxing isn’t unique to Kelly, since Cathe includes a step-boxing portion on Step, Jump & Pump and several other instructors add elements of kickboxing (like jabs and punches) into their step routines, but Kelly may be the first to offer not one but two workouts with the two disciplines fully intertwined. She certainly does it well! This is also different from Kimberly Spreen’s Cardio Camp Workout or Amy Bento’s All Cardio Hi-Low Knockout, which combine hi/lo or floor aerobics and kickboxing; in those two CIA workouts, the combos alternate between aerobics and kickboxing, so the two disciplines remain pretty much separate.

Step-Boxing vs. Cardio Kick Step-Boxing (aka Step-Boxing 2): If I had to choose just one (and please don’t make me do that!), it’d be SB2 for these reasons: longer cardio portion, slightly less fast pace, greater variety (with the horizontal step portion, vertical step portion, and floor portion). SB1 is a bit more compact (and perhaps also intense), however. Even though both use similar moves, I don’t feel like SB2 is SB1 remade at all; Kelly manages to give both of them their own personality.

Instructor Comments:
Kelly is enthusiastic and encouraging while still keeping it low key and down to earth. She has such a pleasant, unassuming personality that I can’t help but want to work out with her. Her form isn’t super crisp, as she clearly comes to kickboxing as an aerobics instructor rather than as a martial artist. But her creativity and positive energy more than make up for that in my mind.
My biggest concern about enthusiastically recommending Kelly to everyone is her cuing. It’s not bad; it’s just sparse. She’s better here about cuing a beat or two in advance of the move, but her cues tend to be short and sweet without a lot of breakdown of individual components (e.g. she just says “jab” for a combo of four punches), and when she’s repeating moves several times in a row she’ll sometimes just cue the first run through and that’s it. She doesn’t use a lot of directional cues, but there are parts of this workout where she’ll point in the direction she’s heading. She has a couple of quick weight shifts (and her basics are almost always 1 basic right, then immediately into 1 basic left). All of this plus the presence of a tutorial, which takes away any motivation to include more breakdown during the workout proper, give the routines more of a learning curve than they could or should have. I don’t have much trouble picking up choreography, so I’m willing to overlook this, especially since I love working out with Kelly (have I mentioned that yet?).
Kelly mirror cues. She’ll throw in words of motivation, like telling you to push through rather than give up, and she tells you how much time left during the drills (at 30 seconds and usually also 10 and/or 5 seconds), but she’s not a chatterer.



Cardio Kick Step-Boxing is Kelly Coffey-Meyers' second workout combining kickboxing and step; in fact, it's often referred to as "Step-Boxing 2." I didn't tried the first workout, but many complained that Kelly moved too fast in that one. Cardio Kick Step-Boxing is energetic and upbeat as well, so you'll definitely need to have a head for complicated step moves to follow along with Kelly. You'll need a full vertical step for this workout, which would be difficult to modify without; one of the four background exercises does occasionally show low-impact modifications. The main menu of this DVD is as follows:

Start Workout
Step-Boxing Mixes (see below)
Step-Boxing Mix and Match (chapter breakdowns)
Contact & Credits

Kelly begins with the step in a vertical position (perpendicular to your TV) for a 6-minute, high-energy warm-up which includes a few hamstring stretches at the end. Continuing with the step in this position, she leads you 4 separate routines, each about 5.5 minutes in length (22 minutes total). After a pause for a heart rate check and to move to step to a horizontal position, Kelly continues with another 3 routines in this position, again for about 22 minutes total. The last 8 minutes of the cardio portion consist of 2 floor-only kickboxing routines. For all of the step cardio work, each routine ends with a "drill," which is about a 2-minute segment where Kelly does just one of moves repeatedly. The core segment of this workout is unique in that it is done from a kneeling position (one knee on 1/2 roller; 8 minutes total). Finally, Kelly finishes things off with a 4.5 minute cool-down which includes some yoga stretches.

The DVD also offers several premixes:
Vertical Mix, 29.5 mins (warm-up, vertical step, core, & stretch)
Horizontal Mix, 37.5 mins (warm-up, horizontal step, combos 8 & 9, core, & stretch)
Core Mix, 12.5 mins. (kneeling core & stretch)

During the cardio portion, Kelly jumps right into each sequence with little cueing. She seems to expect you to have already watched the tutorial and to have the moves down, and thus her cueing is pretty minimal, making the view responsible for remembering what comes next. Even with the tutorial, I was totally unable to keep up with Kelly's complicated combinations, and so I quickly became frustrated. You're never performing simple punch-kick combinations here; Kelly sequencing is unique and different, but as a result, it often felt awkward to me. Usually, I am able to handle a little bit of complexity after some repetition, but that was not the case here. Finally, this workout requires LOTS of room--you'll need plenty of space both in front of and to either side of your step.

For someone who enjoys complex choreography and is familiar with both step aerobics and kickboxing, I definitely see how this workout could be a lot of fun. Kelly herself has a great personality and is full of energy, and I really enjoy her strength workouts. However, anyone who has issues with learning complicated moves is likely to experience problems with Kelly's cardio as I did, and so I would not recommend this workout for those who prefer more basic choreography like myself.

Instructor Comments:
As I said above, I like Kelly a lot--she is energetic and upbeat but also no-nonsense and non-chatty. She frequently encourages you with statements like "stay until the end" or "finish!"

Beth C (aka toaster)