CIA 9902: Kickbutt Combat

Keli Roberts
Year Released: 1999

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

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Probably everyone is familiar with this tape by now, but I thought I'd review it because I've come to appreciate it in new ways. In brief, this tape is a keeper. You can come back to it over time, and it works beautifully in combination with some other favorite tapes. (Also, Keli's form is excellent -- put the tape on fast forward, and you can see how she moves through planes. I am a big Keli R fan. She's on my topmost shelf of god athletes along with Franny, Joyner Kersey and a few other track and field folks)

This is one of the best intros to using kicks, punches and jump rope segments in a cardio. If you are already an advanced kickboxer, then while she's building moves, you can simply start the real sequence or do more elaborate sequences. The cardio segment is a bit longer than stated -- about 43 minutes, and if you work at your own level, this is still a good w/o even two years after the fact.

Over the long term, though, the real beauty of the tape is in conditioning and stretch. The body conditioning is 20+ minutes with resistence tubing, and it is superb! I bought three strengths of spri tubes, which are quite inexpensive, and when the green spri became too easy, I went to the blue. Again, a w/o to grow with. Finally, I use the stretch once a week, whatever tape I start with.

This past summer, I kept 9902 cued to the start of the conditioning. I'd run or do a tape (Jump & Jab or PowerKicks works well for me) and then finish with CIA 9902 conditioning and stretch. Great combo.

Brava, Keli.

Beth Simon


Okay. I got the tapes from the post office, and I tried Keli's tape first within the hour when I got home. I wasn't disappointed.

On account of this review being written after the first try, I'll just say general comments about the setup and what I liked and disliked.

The warmup consisted of side to side touches while warming up the arms in boxing moves to prepare you for what's coming up, including stretches for the legs. The cardio section's first part has you boxing and skipping rope alternatively, and towards the end she has you kickboxing with the legs. You'll need either boxing gloves or light wrist weights. I used my 2.5 lb ankle weights and they worked just fine. The body conditioning section was done with various tubing bands that I don't have at home. I was able to make do with my Dyna-Bands for the upper body. The lower body work used a tube around your ankles that came with attachments (velcro?)so the tubing wouldn't slip. My Dyna-Bands slipped off, so I used ankle weights. In doing this I lost the effectiveness of this workout section. I felt sufficiently worked out everywhere but the abs (as a specific toning segment- you stabilize your abs throughout the workout for good body alignment). The stretching segment at the end used bands (your skipping rope, towel, etc.) to help stretch your legs. I was disappointed that she didn't stretch all the arm muscles (just some shoulder/back stretches).

As an int/adv exerciser, I felt challenged enough, although this was my first kickboxing tape (I've only done Kathy's Aerobox). I took it easy, since it was my first time. I wanted to be sure to use good form. Keli doesn't spend time teaching the correct form for each boxing move; it is assumed you know the terminology. She'll do the move slowly for you to get the choreography, and then up to tempo. Looks can be deceiving - this tape is one for me to grow on if I give the effort to go out and kick butt!

The music kept me pumping, and the set was bright . Overall I really enjoyed it. I learned lots of new toning moves, didn't get bored, and got turned on to kickboxing. Some of the background exercisers made mistakes (even Keli once lost balance on a toning move), and it always makes me smile to know no one is perfect!

Grade: A

Instructor Comments:
It's a more serious Keli here with yet again a new look. On the cover she's blond, on tape a redhead! As always, Keli is a professional,and givesexcellent cueing. I LOVE to work out with her.

Jennifer van der Hooevn


I just got this video off the exchange, and I consider that to be a GREAT exchange! The other reviewers have already broken down the workout sufficiently, so I won't go into that; instead I'll just give my impressions/opinions about the workout in general.

For starters, I like Keli's kickboxing "style" much better than Janis Saffell's. I had both 9702 and 9809 and traded them away because I don't care for the heavily choreographed kickboxing that Janis seems to favor. To me, getting a good workout from kickboxing requires that you be "on" all the time, giving it your all, and with Janis pausing to break down all that choreography, my heartrate just plummeted. However, with Keli's style, my heartrate stayed in my zone the entire time; at times, during some of the more intense kicking sections, it even went anearobic and I had to take it down a notch. Now, granted, I am not a cardio queen, but I can hold my own through any of Cathe's tapes, including MIC and Interval Max. Keli also gave great form pointers on the kicks unlike those in other videos (I haven't tried PK or Tae-Bo, so I can't speak for those)--for example, Keli tells you to raise your leg up to the side and put your foot up near your butt for a side kick, which really seemed to help me get the proper positioning for that kick, something I've had trouble with in the past.

On to the toning. I must say that I was a bit skeptical about this section, because I primarily work out with Cathe's or Firm strength tapes, and even throw in trips to the gym occasionally for strength work. I didn't think the tubing would be effective. I was wrong! What a nice change of pace! Now, I'm not saying that tubing is as intense as a heavy weight workout or that I'll start doing tubing exclusively, but it is definitely a great crosstraining option. And I really felt the tubing work, too. It creates more of an endurance burn rather than muscular failure, as with weights. I did notice that the strength work was not evenly balanced throughout all the muscle groups, i.e. shoulders were worked very thoroughly, but biceps only got 1 set of curls. And the lower body work was not as intense as the upper body work. But personally, I have been looking for a workout like this because I think it will make a nice complement to all those heavy-duty weights tapes; it seems to be more the shaping and toning type of workout rather than muscle building. I also tend to overwork my biceps (show-off muscles!!) and I have noticed lately that my shoulders are in a sad state compared to the rest of my arm. So I can definitely use the extra shoulder work and the endurance style workout.

If you are looking for a well-balanced, heavy-duty strength workout, you won't find it on this tape. But if you're like me and looking to improve certain areas of your body as well as crosstrain, then I think you'll find this tape a nice change of pace. And if you are frustrated with 9809 because of the choreography, cueing, and trouble keeping your heart "in the zone," then you will most likely really enjoy Keli's kickboxing style much more.

Renae Brock


I did this video for the first time after reading Angela's description on the forum of working out live with Keli Roberts. I did all 90+ minutes of it in one workout. I came away from the workout thouroughly pleased with myself, the workout, and Keli. The 40-minute cardio portion is a lot of fun - it intersperses high intensity jump rope work with kick and punch combos. My form was starting to suffer towards the end, so I don't think I could have done any more cardio than that. I thought the jump roping work made it a pretty intense interval training workout. There is some toning with resistance bands (she uses Spri brand, but I got mine at Target - Prospirit brand and they worked fine). I thought the use of the step platform as a balance (standing it on its narrow end and then leaning on it to practice kick stances) was very unique and effective. The toning definitely focused on improving your legs for kicks, your arms for punches, and your lower back (also for kicks). As others point out, there is no abs section, but there were some exercises targeting the lower back (I hurt my back awhile ago and I appreciate lower back work much more than abs - but more on that later). There is a LONG, and IMHO, very nice stretch section that lasts about 15 minutes. Every stretch is held for a nice long time and gives you time to calm down from the aggressive stance you have to adopt for the workout (I have been known to come into the room throwing punches after some kickboxing workouts).

After I did the workout, I read the reviews for this tape. And as much I really enjoyed the workout, I could see where some of the negative reviews were coming from. One criticism was that the workout was not intense enough. The impact and intensity was not ultra-high a la Tae Bo (which I can't stand - sorry), which is one reason I liked it - I never felt I had to sacrifice form for speed. I had just been on the forum and read about a conversation that Keli Roberts and VFer Angela McLean had. Apparently Keli Roberts thought that Energy Sprint was Karen Voight's best tape. 9902 is alot like Energy Sprint - intervals (albeit much more intense), not too complicated choreography, long warmup, long stretches. Another criticism was that there was no ab section on the tape. In the same exchange with Angela McLean, Keli also described a back injury she had and said something to the effect that "though she could crunch until the cows came home, she had no stability through her core", which is what the lower back exercises develop. As one who used to do crunches until the cows came home and recently developed a lower back injury, I totally agree with Keli. So, I actually prefer the lower back work. It's not something that's stressed in a lot of videos and it will help with your kickboxing form.

I liked this workout MUCH better than Tae Bo (haven't done the live tapes). If you like Kathy Smith's Kickboxing and Aerobox videos, or are ready for a step up from Karen Voight's Energy Sprint, you will definitely enjoy this one.

Instructor Comments:
I thought she could NOT have done a finer job cuing or performing the workout. Her enthusiasm fired me up and inspired me to make it through those tough portions of the workout.

Jackie D


Kickbutt Combat is a very effective and fun video. In comparison to other kickboxing tapes I have done, I appreciate the safeness and technique stressed in this video. There is nothing radical or unsafe. I always enjoy seeing how Keli puts her whole heart into what she is doing. She obviously is very passionate about her kickboxing. I look forward to incorporating some of her moves into my own fitness class.

Instructor Comments:
Keli Roberts is absolutely my favorite instructor/educator. I appreciate her stress of safety and technique in her videos. She has been very instrumental in my fitness program. Her ability to motivate, and her incredible cueing, make her a joy to follow.

Tami Roberts


Let me start by saying, I never liked kickboxing, until recently. Well, actually, "never liked" was putting it mildly; I HATED kickboxing, until... Power kicks. Then I tried Tae Bo and...wham! Now I teach a kick boxing class at the gym and some of the moves I use come from this superb workout. This workout is more like an aerobics routine than PK and TB. Keli flows from move to move quite nicely; no abrupt stopping between moves. and she teaches each move nicely, starting with a basic move and turning that into the more difficult finished product. Very smooth. And the jump roping segment is fun and gets the heartrate very high! I would say the this is easy to follow, with an intermed/advanced intensity. You're going to sweat:) But it's still not a tough as PK or TB. Grade:A

Instructor Comments:
I've liked Keli's videos in the past, but I kinda' "out grew" them. She's good at instructing, motivating and putting together fun & creative workouts.



I guess I will be the lone dissenting opinion on this tape. Keep in mind that I only did it once, but will probably put it on the exchange so I may never do it again. Ordinarily I would probably do it one or two more times before I write a review. While I didn't hate the workout, I just didn't enjoy it all that much. As others have stated, the intensity wasn't really what I expected, but even that wasn't what disappointed me. I just found it boring. Too much jumping rope for my taste, too much focus on punches and not enough on kicks. By the time I actually felt like I was working pretty hard I was more than halfway through the workout (I am at the mid to high end of intermediate level in terms of cardio). Also, considering that this is a 90 minute (almost) total body workout, the missing ab work seems like a pretty glaring omission. I know that's a minor complaint, one I wouldn't care about if I hadn't found the workout uninspiring in the first place. I'm not big on tubing anyway, but thought I would use the cardio and stretch portion of the tape. Actually, the stretch was the only thing I really liked, but not enough to keep the tape. Just for frame of reference, I am in the Tae Bo camp, in spite of its flaws, and prefer it to Power Kicks, but still think Power Kicks is a lot better than Kickbutt Combat. As a matter of fact, I prefer Cory Everson's Kardio Kick to this tape.

Instructor Comments:
I am pretty neutral on Keli. For some reason she just doesn't motivate me all that much. While I'm not wild about her new look, I don't really find it distracting. Her cueing is pretty good, although she does assume that you have some basic kickboxing knowledge (like what a side kick or roundhouse is).

Dana Shepperd


This workout is fantastic! I have been a fan of Keli Roberts since I started working out in high school and I first got the Cherfitness step tape with Keli. 6 years later, I'm still working out to Keli's tapes... In addition to that Cherfitness tape (which I still do) I also now own her step workout, her circuit training workout, her Straight-up sculpt tape, and of course her phenomenal abs tape!

I started getting interested in kickboxing after I saw Keli teach a kickboxing class on the Crunch TV show on ESPN2, and was hoping she'd eventually come out with a video (I actually ended up taping her class on Crunch and worked out to that for a few months). When I learned that she was doing a CIA kickboxing tape, I immediately snapped it up!

To date I have only done the kickboxing part, but am planning on doing the sculpting and stretching part very soon (I did watch both the sculpt and stretch part just to see what they were like, and they seem very thorough, so I can't wait to try them). The kickboxing workout is exactly what I was hoping for. It is much longer and much more challending than the kickboxing segment she did on Crunch, but boasts many of the similar moves.

As described by the other reviewers, she starts with the warm-up, which consists of punching and stretching. Then she goes into the jump-rope intro which continues the warm-up (I skip this and the other two jump-rope parts of the tape , because it tends to hurt my knees, but with or without the jump-rope part, my heart is still pumping!).

She then goes into the actual workout, which is really fun. The choreography is not difficult to learn at all, but it is varied so that you don't get bored, for example you do punches and kicks in different directions, not just to the front. Also the final ten minutes you get to wear boxing gloves, which make you feel like a real boxer! She does a great job of keeping you from getting bored, and keeping you going.

I must admit I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get through a 52 minute kickboxing workout (the CIA website originally described it as a 30 minute workout with a 10 minute warm-up), but Keli makes it so much fun that you don't want to stop! I still can do only about 45 minutes of it, but I am trying to build up to doing the whole workout.

I have heard of people getting addicted to Tae-bo, and I think I'm addicted to Kickbutt Combat! I really look forward to the days when I do this tape. Keli says at the start of the tape not to do this workout on consecutive days, so I do it twice a week and alternate it with her step videos. I was happy she finally came out with another cardio workout to add to my rotation!

Instructor Comments:
I own pretty much all of Keli's videos, and just think she is an exceptional instructor. She is very motivating, and most of all has been tremendously helpful in teaching me good form. She is by far my favorite instructor, and I hope she keeps the tapes coming!



I was really looking forward to getting this video, and I was not disappointed! This is a no-nonsense kickboxing video that uses a jumprope (optional) during the cardio, and tubing for the conditioning segments (hand weights can be substituted for most of the moves). It's similar in style to Power Kicks, but I find this tape to be more enjoyable. To me, Power Kicks is a little more intense, but you can just make your moves more powerful and kick higher to increase your intensity. It's not heavily choreographed like Janis Saffel's kickboxing videos. Those of you who have Interval Max by Cathe Friedrich will recognize the set and the music. There are two background exercisers. Keli alternates boxing and kicking moves with jumprope intervals in the cardio section. She does mention at the beginning of the tape not to do this workout on consecutive days, and she also mentions throughout the cardio that "your HR is increasing," and, "Let your HR come down." I wore my HR monitor throughout, and although I got a good cardio workout I never got anaerobic. When Keli and co. put on boxing gloves during the end of the cardio, I used my 1-1/2 lb. wrist weights and it worked well for me (she mentions that you can use 1-2 lb. handweights if you want). During the body conditioning Keli uses three different kinds of tubing: an exertube with handles, a figure 8 exertube, and a loop tube with things to secure the tube on your ankles. I used my exertube and my loop dynaband. I had to modify some of the exercises and experiment with the proper resistance to use. That will get easier. For the lower body using the loop band, my dynaband kept slipping. I had to position my dynaband under the arch of my standing leg to secure it. I may have to check the price of the specific tubing that she uses (I'm sure that's one of the reasons she uses it). I really liked the pushups where you start out in a plank position on your toes, lower your chest near the floor, lower your knees to the floor, and complete the push up on your knees. I think that may be the key to being able to do more pushups on my toes! I like the way Keli says, "Trust me!" during this part! I do wish she had included an abs section, but you do use your abs to stabilize yourself throughout the workout. Keli doesn't spend a lot of time breaking down the moves--she assumes that you have had prior kickboxing experience. All in all, a fun, 90 minute, total body workout (although I am still trying out modifications for some of the conditioning moves so I can try to avoid buying more equipment). I would recommend this to intermediate to advanced exercisers who like kickboxing and are open to using tubing for crosstraining purposes.

Instructor Comments:
This is not the same Keli that we know from Ultimate Step, Circuit Training and Abs & More. Her form and cuing are excellent as usual, but she seems to have taken her role in a kickboxing video very seriously. She looks tough! It was hard for me at first to get past her new look, but as I got into the workout it wasn't an issue anymore. Keli seems to be really enjoying herself during this workout!

Kristin Aziz


Not a big Keli Roberts fan, I was pleasantly surprised with this workout. After a 12 minute warm-up consisting of numerous arm punches and different types of stretches, Keli goes into an exciting 40-minute kickboxing workout which includes two short jump rope segments (about three minutes each), followed by a lot of punches, high kicks, roundhouse kicks, side and back kicks. She shows the movements slow at first, then speeds it up, similar to Aaron in Power Kicks.

In my opinion, CIA 9809 is less intense (except for the jump rope - it's much longer) because Janis pauses too much between teaching a move. Keli and her crew put on real boxing gloves for the final ten minutes, and I used 2 lb. handweights. I felt a little awkward with those moves, but I'll catch on eventually.

The toning section was 30 minutes (the box noted 20 minutes) and consisted of different kinds of tubing. Luckily, I have them all, but never knew how to use them. Keli used the green ulta-toner (looks like "figure eight"), the regular green tubing with the two handles and the round tubing. My tubings are red, which are more advanced, so I really felt the arm work (lat rows, bicep curls, lateral raises).

Since I like doing arm work every day, this is great for me to do in between Cathe's strength tapes. The standing leg work holding the step (in a standing position) is similar to Aaron's leg work in Power Kicks, but Keli does a lot less repetitions. She follows with the tubing around the ankles doing dips and side squats. There is no ab work on the tape and the stretch, using a stretch strap, is about ten minutes.

This workout can be intense if you "give it your all" as in all kickboxing tapes. I realize that watching a kickboxing tape is no indication of its intensity. You get what you put into it. It looks easy, but those fast arm moves really get the heartrate up, even if your legs are not moving. It's a great new way to cross-train, and Keli makes it easy with her great cueing.

Instructor Comments:
I didn't recognize Keli in this tape. She has a very short haircut and seemed much larger than in her other videos. She did an excellent job with her cueing and made the workout fun.

maryann parker


This is a fun, interesting video, but like many other VFers I am disappointed with the pace and intensity. If you counted the number of punches and kicks, especially kicks, I bet it would be less than even the 30 minute kickbox section of 9702. Even using a jump rope, I didn't feel as though I was working as hard as I usually do when kickboxing. I think the reason for this is there is just not enough kicking or combo work.

I'm all for tapes that focus on upper body since so many focus mainly on lower body, but I felt this tape was lopsided in the toning. Just as claimed, Keli just focused on building muscles for kickboxing, lots of shoulder focus, where I prefer my wt work to be more well rounded, more biceps, chest and triceps would have made this section work better for me.

What I thought was different and good about this tape - Keli stays on one side through several series of moves which helps build up endurance in those arm muscles. The sculpting was very interesting, but I did it with weights. The wts would be good for increasing endurance. The reaction to this tape seems pretty varied, so its hard to target the audience I think would love it. However, if you are doing power kicks and advanced tae bo, I think this tape might be too easy for you.

This is a tape I put on the exchange, however, its one of those that you'd only trade for a great deal. If I don't trade it, I won't be unhappy to keep it.

My kickboxing ratings for reference: Power Kicks, CIA 9809, CIA 9702, CIA 9902, Kick Butt with Badrino, Stephanie Steel. Frannie's new tape is right behind Power Kicks but is a Hi/lo tape NOT a kickboxing tape.

Instructor Comments:
Keli is very good on this video. I've tried several of her videos and have not cared for them, since they seemed to be more of the "celebrity/supermodel" type workout. I didn't get that feeling from this tape. This woman also can move in an unbelievable way, when she's doing her boxer shuffle, she reminds me of a cartoon depiction of a catburglar, how they move in quick but quiet tiptoey way. (I hope that make some sense).