Cardio Sweatfest

Tracey Staehle
Year Released: 2007

Categories: Boxing/Kickboxing/Martial Arts , Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance

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Iím reviewing this workout after doing the kickboxing portion several times and the hi/lo portion twice.

General workout breakdown: Beth and Scotland have already described this workout so well. Iím just going to add a few thoughts here.

My overall impression of this workout is that it could have been great, but a few things keep it from reaching that.

- Kickbox Sweatfest
The great part about this workout is that you donít need a lot of room, you donít need to do a lot of impact, and you donít have to learn a bunch of fancy combos to get, well, sweaty. Thereís minimal down time here, but itís not so relentless that you donít have time to shake out your arms before the next combo. I agree with Beth that this is a drill-style kickboxing routine, so itís a good one for working on endurance, especially if like me thatís not something that comes easily to you. For the most part the combos are interesting enough but straightforward and make sense to do; the exception is that Combo 7, which is a tongue twister for your arms (and hereís where sharper form from Tracey and the gang would have helped, as the blocks and elbows and punches start to blend together). I wish the workoutís underlying organization was easier to pick up or made more sense (or existed?), however. Tracey approaches each combo and the subsequent repetitions and related drills a little differently, which does keep things interesting, especially if you like variety, but it also makes this feel a little less like a polished routine. I would have preferred to have clearer patterns, although maybe my problem is more with the cues (or lack thereof) during transitions. The most frustrating part was when Tracey introduced slightly different moves to drill after teaching the combo, often without warning. All that said, thereís nothing that prevents me from getting this routine down with a few more run-throughs in a shorter period of time (say, less than a few years), and perhaps I wonít notice or care about a lot of these things any more. And nothing kept me from working up a sweat as I was learning it; because itís drill style, you can just jump back in once you figure out what youíre doing.
The warm-up and cool-down felt a little short to me. I would have preferred to do some chambers before launching into kicks in the warm-up, for example, and Iím still scratching my head over instructors like Tracey who think push-ups are cool-down moves. Um, not for me! I needed to add on some additional lower and upper body stretches to the ones Tracey rushes through here.
This is similar in style to Ilaria Montagnaniís Powerstrikes and Kelly Coffee-Meyerís 30 Minutes to Fitness: Kickboxing, where you focus on higher numbers of repetitions for more of a drill feel. Ilariaís and Kellyís are meticulously organized, which is why I tend to reach for them instead of this, although both Ilaria and Kelly can be accused of cuing on the sparse side, not unlike Tracey.

- Hi-Lo Sweatfest
Someone else (I believe Donna) choreographed this, and Tracey never seems fully comfortable with executing and cuing it. Iím not saying she canít, just that itís obvious sheís a little out of her comfort zone, unlike in the kickbox portion. When Donna takes the lead for the cool-down, this suddenly becomes a whole different workout, and I canít help but wonder how differently I would feel about this portion if she had led the entire time. Itís not that I dislike Tracey as a lead; itís just that Donna clearly has more vested interest in and more energy left during this bit to cue more clearly and profusely.
You know, the choreography here just doesnít do it for me. The workout canít decide if wants to be a Latin-flavored dance number, a hi/lo add-on, or a decently intense more athletic workout; it also isnít quite an interval workout, but because of the attempts to spike the heart rate itís not steady state, either. I wouldnít have minded the intensity burst in the middle if it seemed less like Tracey or someone else said, ďHey, I have an idea! Letís do a bunch of jumping jacks in the middle somewhere so we can get their heart rates up.Ē Thereís a lot of choreography thrown out in a short amount of time here, which would be fine if Tracey cued the moves better the first time through. For example, she says ďmambo pivotĒ for a move thatís a mambo into a cha cha and then pivot turn on the other foot from the get go; I would be fine with that cue once I had learned the moves, but when she said ďmambo pivotĒ I did a mambo pivot and found myself going in the wrong direction on the wrong foot with Tracey only halfway through the combo. The large amount of choreography keeps things interesting, and the lack of breakdown certainly keeps things moving. That said, thereís also a lot of repetition, with the warm-up and cool-down using moves also used in the workout, especially since the warm-up combo becomes the first combo with minimal modification. Was there really a need to repeat that roll up and down through the low back with shoulder rolls in the first combo, done every time there was a TIFT? I was more than good with all of the reps of that in the warm-up, and even there it felt a little awkward. Also, I found some transitions between steps werenít particularly smooth.

Level: Iíd recommend this to solidly intermediate through int./adv., maybe even into low adv., exercisers with a good foundation in kickboxing basics and some comfort with basic hi/lo and dance steps. Even though thereís a segment to learn the moves, Tracey assumes you already know what youíre doing with a punch and a kick. If you are more advanced, you may be able to find ways to boost the intensity, but Iíd be careful with weighted gloves, especially if you donít use them often and/or donít have any light ones, as the tempo really speeds up in some of the upper body combos.
I consider myself an int./adv. exerciser in general, 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 prefer kickboxing routines that offer intensity through focus on technique over those that throw punches and kicks while jumping all over the place, like the Powerstrikes, and this is sort of in that category, although those double times go pretty darn fast (have I mentioned that yet?). Anyway, this gave me a solid workout, and I have some room to keep improving on form as I increase my familiarity with it. In terms of hi/lo, Iíll admit big fan of floor aerobics and a choreo hound who picks up anything cued decently with relative ease and whoís really picky about these types of workouts. I see why some people like this segment, but Iím not sure Iíll ever use it again. Most of it was on the moderately easy side for me in terms of intensity, but then came all of those jumping jacks, just when I was content with the way things were going. More importantly, I just have far too many other things I prefer.

Class: 2 women join Tracey, who instructs live (like Tracey, Donna, the instructor for the hi/lo cool-down, is in both parts). There is supposed to be a lower impact modifier, but a) the modifier doesnít always provide modifications where logical (for example, in the hi/lo portion she does all of the jumping jacks right with Tracey and Donna), b) the modifier is inconsistent in sticking with modifications, and c) the task of being the modifier seems to rotate through the crew, although Iím not sure this was on purpose. Also, besides telling you about the option of not jumping, Tracey doesnít talk much about the modifications.

Music: upbeat instrumental stuff. Iíve heard many of the tunes before on CIAs and other workouts from this time.

Set: the 2007 CIA set with the ďblue barn doorsĒ over to the side.

Production: clear enough picture and sound, the usually more helpful than not camera angles youíd expect out of the CIA, etc.

Equipment: Youíll just need sneakers.

Space Requirements: As I mentioned above, what I really like and appreciate about the kickboxing portion is how little space it needs; in fact, I did this workout on the morning of a move because it was one of few workouts I could fit into the narrow space I had left between all of the boxes. If you can kick forward and backward you have enough room. With the exception of the series or two of back kicks, all kicks are done to the front; however, even if you turn all of the back kicks into front kicks youíll still need room behind you for the big squats youíll take in other combos with side kicks. Tracey was criticized for the exorbitant amount of space needed for High Intensity Kickbox Challenge, and she took that criticism to heart, going to the opposite extreme and making one of the most space-conscious cardio workouts Iíve ever tried.
While the kickboxing workout is wonderfully compact, the hi/lo portion is less so. You could squeeze it into the same amount of forward and back space, but youíll need some more room to each side. While this can certainly eat up all of the space you can give it, itís not the space hog many other hi/lo workouts are, however.

Comments: The only other Tracey workout I have kept is Cardio Kickbox Challenge, which is also based on drills / short combos rather than, say, building up a big routine; although I found that one better organized and cued, it has serious production issues. Tracey has good ideas, but she hasnít yet quite been able to put everything - both how to design and present a workout for film AND how to shoot and edit an exercise video - together into a knockout success.

Instructor Comments:
Tracey cues all right, but I agree with Beth that her cuing is inconsistent, especially with regards to the timing - sometimes sheíd break down the whole combo verbally in advance, sometimes sheíd cue right before or right on the move change, and sometimes she wouldnít really tell you what youíre doing until after youíre well into the set - and not as descriptive as it could be, and I found that to be true for both the kickboxing and the hi/lo portion, if a bit more noticeable in the latter. She does include some directional cues, both verbal as well as visual. But as youíre learning this youíll definitely need to watch her to figure out whatís going on. To that end, itís a shame she and her crew are not able to keep their form consistently sharp throughout; they may have been ambitious with those fast tempos, and understandably after a long day of filming they all show some fatigue.



Cardio Sweatfest, led by relative fitness newcomer Tracey Staehle, is actually comprised of two workouts, a 60-minute kickboxing routine and a 36-minute Hi-Lo section. Either of the two workouts can be selected from the main menu; this will lead you to submenus which include several premixes for each workout.

Kickbox Sweatfest is a drill-style kickbox workout. For the most part, Tracey keeps the combinations quite simple, starting slow at first but kicking up the pace and intensity as you continue. Tracey uses some different terms for some of the moves--eg, back fist/reverse punch, which she also calls temple-sternum--but these are broken down in the "Kickbox Demo" segment featuring Jessica, a martial artist. The workout begins with a 3.5-minute warm-up which starts slow and then incorporates some of the punches and kicks to stretch. For the main body of the workout, there are 8 total combos, each about 6-7 minutes long; with the exception of a few jump kicks, the moves are mostly low-impact, with one of the background exercisers always showing modifications.

Here are some basic breakdowns:
Combo 1: jab-cross-jab-kick
Combo 2: jab-upper-jab-squat
Combo 3: jab-cross-jab-rib-squat-side kick
Combo 4: high block-cross-low block-elbow smash-knee smash-back kick
Combo 5: jab-cross-jab-touch foot-straight punch
Combo 6: step front kick-temple/chest-temple/chest
Combo 7: front kick-back kick-high block-elbow smash
Combo 8: step front kick-block sequence

Tracey mixes things up a bit, sometimes repeating just the kicks or punches at a faster tempo. Following the combinations, there is an additional 7 minutes of arm drills and 3.5 minutes of kicking drills--you definitely will be fried by the end of these! Tracey finishes with a 4-minute cool-down which includes push-ups and some brief stretching for the lower body. The premixes include Shoulder Shredder (19 minutes), Butt Blaster (19 minutes), and Short Sweat (35 minutes; features Combos 4-8).

The Hi-Lo Sweatfest workout has a *slight* Latin flavor but also includes more traditional hi-low moves such as grapevine and some kicks as well. There is a Hi-Lo Combos submenu which features at total of 9 combinations. Unlike in the kickboxing workout, however, these combinations are not stand-alone; rather Tracey teaches this workout in an add-on style with frequent instructions to "take it from the top" and repeat all of the moves. I found the choreography to be a bit trickier here (and Tracey's cueing to be less effective), but given the high number of repetitions, I was eventually able to at least approximate all of the moves. The 4-minute warm-up introduces the opening sequences and also includes some brief stretches. All of the exercises are done up to tempo from the first time around, so your heart rate definitely stays up. In addition, at about the 13-minute left mark, Tracey does a long (4 minutes) jumping jack sequence that is intended to get your heart rate up even further before running through the entire routine one last time. The 6-minute cool-down is led by one of the background exercisers, Donna; it features some of the same choreography as the workout plus some of the moving stretches from the warm-up. The premixes for the Hi-Lo workout include a 44-minute version which incorporates the kickbox drills and an 18-minute combos-only series (no breakdowns).

I'd give the kickboxing portion of this workout 5-stars; the simple choreography combined with intense drills was right up my alley, although those who enjoy more complex workouts may be bored here. I've never been a big fan of Hi-Lo, but the workout here was well-done and also intense, so I'd give it 4-stars. This DVD is a provides plenty of options and is a good deal for intermediate exercisers and above.

Instructor Comments:
This was my first experience with Tracey, and I liked her overall. I thought she cued the kickboxing segment pretty well; in general, she started off each combo at a slower tempo and then picked up the pace. I had trouble following only the very last drill, which incorporates a lot of varied blocks. Tracey does seem to assume you know many of the moves already, which is why watching the "Demo" segment first is probably a good idea. I didn't think she did as well leading the Hi-Lo portion. She does mirror-cue, but she seemed a little forgetful of this at times. Also, she wasn't consistent in how she performed the routine--ie, sometimes she'd show a higher impact version, sometimes a lower impact one, but she rarely cued this in advance.

Beth C (aka toaster)


The first workout on this tape is Kicboxing. It consisits of 7 drill/combos involving punches and kicks. The layering of each move builds the intensity. This is a low impact but very high intensity workout. It includes arm and leg drills throughout the workout. This is a total body workout as it conditions the aerobic and muscular systems in one hour. This tape works. May not be every one cup of tea but if you have went a workout that works but is body friendlt tis is it.
Hilo is a 30mins workout. It has a low impact modifier, music is a latin beat. Efficent workout for a quick workout.