Powerstrike 5

Ilaria Montagnani
Year Released: 2008

Categories: Boxing/Kickboxing/Martial Arts

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I love kickboxing--in fact, it's one of the few forms of cardio that I truly enjoy. Unfortunately, I found this DVD to be disappointing. The moves themselves were fun and the combinations were mostly interesting, but I did not click at all with the teaching style of the instructor, Ilaria Montagnani. In this workout, Ilaria teaches very LONG combinations of punches and kicks. Although she teaches in an "add-on" style, starting with a few moves and then adding on new moves, each time she goes back to the beginning, she does NOT cue the moves! For example, she will simply say "let's start again," and then the reviewer is expected to recall all the moves up to that point WITHOUT Ilaria saying what they are. This is made even more difficult by the camera angles--e.g., sometimes the camera is focusing on Ilaria from the waist up only, so you can't see the kicks that she is doing.

If each combination was short and repeated many times, this might not be such an issue, but as noted above, the combos are quite lengthy. I have described each below. To make matters worse, the combinations are DIFFERENT on each side of the body--in her Introduction, Ilaria says that this does not matter, as you will be doing about the same number of punches and kicks, but it definitely felt uneven to me. All times listed are approximately.

WARM-UP (5 minutes)
Mostly alternating punches front, including jab, cross punch, hook, and upper cut. The front push kick is included as well, but no other kicks are practiced in the warm-up. I set of push-ups is performed at the end.

PUNCHES (7 minutes)
Here Ilaria introduces a long punch combination. The combination is performed for many sets (12-16?) on one side, then repeated on the second side. These are the punches (slashes denote where each piece is added on):
jab-jab-cross / hook-cross / upper-cross / fast 3 right-fast 3 left / jab-cross

KICKS (10.5 minutes)
This was more drills than combinations and was easier to follow. Ilaria begins with a front chamber/front kick. Next is a side chamber/roundhouse, building up to three roundhouse kicks. The third kick was the crescent, starting with alternating knees to the side and then adding in the crescent. Finally, the side kick was performed with a chamber/side kick, then moving on to a double knee/side kick/squat.

COMBINATION #1, LEFT SIDE (6.5 minutes)
knee-double front push kick / opposite knee crescent / walk around, opposite knee roundhouse / squat-roundhouse-knee / double roundhouse / jab-cross hook-cross upper-cross

jab-jab-cross / front push kick, 2x / opposite leg crescent / walk around, opposite leg roundhouse / squat, roundhouse x3

COMBINATION #3, face forward (10 minutes)
hi level block to side / mid level block to side / alternating sides with side kicks / karate punches

STRETCH (3 minutes)
This is a very brief segment that includes a low back release, a lunge for the hip flexors, a standing side stretch/backbend, and a standing triceps stretch. It did not feel adequate given the overall length of the workout (over 50 minutes).

I actually liked the moves in Combo #3 the most, but I also found this combination to be the MOST frustrating! Ilaria's cuing seemed almost totally random here, as I could never figure out which side she was going to next; I don't think she worked the sides evenly at all. It didn't help that the music sometimes would drown her out (and on top of that, I found her accent sometimes difficult to understand as well). I will say that Ilaria DID give excellent form pointers throughout the workout. Personally, however, I wish she would have spent more time actually cuing the moves themselves. Sure, maybe if I was using this DVD daily, I would learn the moves, but even my most-loved DVDs don't get used more than about once per month--I need an instructor who is willing to teach me, not one who expects me to learn on my own time.

Instructor Comments:
Ilaria is pleasant enough, and she does mirror cue. However, once she teaches the move initially, you are kind of on you own! This is just not the style I am used to. I much prefer someone like Kelly Coffey-Meyer, who will teach a short punch-kick combo and who will cue you through EVERY time. Ilaria's style is just not workout for me.

Beth C (aka toaster)


This is an update to my previous review. I studied and memorized the punches before trying the workout again. That really helped. It ended up being a GREAT workout! However, a lot of people don't want to have to study and review, they just want to put it in the player and do the workout. So it's a fantastic workout, *if* you're the type who's willing to learn it. I also love that it's a space saver and you're not moving all over the room.

Instructor Comments:
Professional demeanor, detailed instruction, soft-spoken



Iím reviewing this workout after doing it twice.

General workout breakdown: This has already been described well, so Iíll just add a few notes.
The total running time is about 51.5 min.; the workout itself is just over 47.5 min. The difference is the introduction (3.5 min.) in which Ilaria goes over stance, punches, kicks, and blocks to those new to Powerstrikes and explains the asymmetrical combos to those who are not.
The warm-up (just over 5 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. The punches run about 7.5 min., the kicks just over 10 min., and the combinations 22 min. Youíll get a few moves to cool-down and then a few quick stretches, primarily for the upper body (4 min.).
This is a low impact workout. Do be careful if youíre on thick carpet, however, so your feet donít catch as you do a quick partial pivot into a roundhouse, for example.

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: 2 men and 4 women join Ilaria, who instructs live as she does the routine. I must issue a whooper alert, although the whoops arenít too loud or frequent. (And theyíre from Omar, probably not your first suspect.)

Set: This was filmed in an Equinox studio in downtown NYC in a studio classroom with windows facing the outside. Itís a slightly overcast day, and you can see people scurrying along outside in the bridge between the two tall buildings behind.

Production: clear picture and sound, although Iím not surprised 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 close-ups. For those who are already struggling with Ilariaís sparse announcement of cues these wonít help.

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 Play All, Introduction, Warm-up and Punches, Kicks, and Combinations, and those are the only chapters in the workout.

Comments: I wouldnít recommend this as the first Powerstrike someone tried because it is the oddball with the asymmetrical combos. And it wouldnít be one Iíd recommend to kickboxing newbies, even though Ilaria does take time to go over the punches, kicks, and blocks, because Ilaria includes a lot of fast punches here (although they are at her patented controlled pace). To people who fell in either category - or both - Iíd recommend Powerstrike #4 (the one that just says Powerstrike on the cover without any numbers) instead. #5 definitely builds on #4 (and #6 in turn builds on #4 and 5). For example, Ilaria adds another kick to her repertoire here, the side kick.

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.

Instructor Comments:
I rather like Ilariaís business-like and professional manner, especially since thereís still a sense of humor there. Sheís definitely not the most exciting personality on camera, but most of the time Iím one who prefers a little too little personality than way too much.
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. 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).



This is my first Ilaria workout. I attempted to do this workout for the first time. Attempted and failed. There was no cueing at all! Have you ever played that game at school where you are supposed to remember a list of numbers and they keep adding on more numbers, and it gets to a point where it is impossible to remember any more numbers? That's what this was like, adding on more and more and more punches, and never reminding us about the sequence- we are just supposed to remember no matter how many punches or kicks she adds. I'm going to give it a chance, maybe if you do it often enough you memorize it eventually? I'm not too optimistic though. I don't know if i can stand to do it enough times till I remember the sequences.

It's a shame, because the pace and the style of the workout seems right up my alley.

Instructor Comments:
Ilaria is serious, down to business, but reserved, not drill instructor. It works well with the style of the workout, though. Really good form and form pointers. Just wish she'd learn to cue better!



Iíve done this workout twice, and Iím still trying to decide if itís going to be a regular in my kickbox rotation. My favorites are PS 1 and 2; Tae Bo Ripped Adv; Kenpo X+ and Cathe's Kick, Punch and Crunch. I wonít get rid of the workout, because I like a lot of the moves. But, it doesnít quite stand on its own for me. That's partly because it times in at about 45 minutes.

The workout has punch drills, kick drills, and 3 combinations.

I used 1 lb. gloves for the workout, and I found the opening punches to be challenging. The pace is fast. This part, as well as the combos, have a little bit of a learning curve. I found myself messing up on the punches the first time I did it. By the second time, I was a little more into the groove.

The kick drills are basic, except she uses a lot of crescent kicks. I donít find these kicks easy to do, so I feel the workout is challenging me here.

There are 3 combinations, the first two are very similar. Ilaria only does one side on each combo; she says the punches and kicks come out about even. But, this leaves me feeling that there are really only 1 Ĺ combos cardio wise. I think it would have been a better workout if sheíd done both sides on each combination.

Some interesting moves are high blocks, mid blocks, round house kicks with suspended knees (good for balance), and the previously mentioned crescent kicks.

Ilaria ends with some arm moves (Tai Chi I think) that I donít much like (partly because they donít go well with gloves) Ė but they do have a rhythm change that I may just need to get used to.

I like a lot of the music. Some of it reminds me of Powerstrike 1 and 2 -- with the sort of haunting vocals.

Powerstrike 5 by itself doesnít leave me feeling fully worked out. The first time I did the workout, I followed it with Ilariaís abs and push-ups.

The second time I did it, I repeated the three combination sequence and then I also added planks and core from Seasunís THE NEXT STEP. I must admit, Seasunís planks left my shoulders fried after all the punches. In fact, I liked this combination of workouts, and I think this may become the pattern for how I use Powerstrike 5.

I actually think this workout will get harder the more I do it. I still miss moves here and there because Iím not yet totally familiar with the choreography, and every missed move is a reduction in intensity!

Instructor Comments:
As always, itís inspiring to watch Ilariaís perfect form. I always feel I have better form from spending time with her.



My only problem with this workout: Time flew by so fast that when the 50 minutes was up, I was like, "Already? Is there more?"

No, it's not as intense as the first two. It's about on par with Powestrike 4 - you'll work up a good solid sweat but it's not non-stop hard-core wipe-you-out tough. But that's fine with me!

Ilaria leads a hip young group of New Yorkers (I'm pretty sure it's in the Equinox facility in NYC) in a bright, spare room with the standard warm brown wood floors and big glass walls. There are no pushups in the warmup this time.

The workout is divided into punches, kicks and combinations. First: You do a built-up series of punches, hooks, uppercuts and crosses. A whole combination: jab-jab-cross, hook, cross, upper, cross, jab-cross-jab, cross-jab-cross, jab cross (the subordinate arm depending on which stance you're in always does a cross...this is great in helping you remember the long sequences of punches, since the variety only occurs with one arm).

Then you do a series of kicks. Front pushes, roundhouses and side kicks with taps and then with squats, and crescent kicks. As is typical with Powerstrike, you build up from basic knee ups to longer kick combinations (but not nearly as long as in previous workouts).

The combinations surprised me. There are three, but you DON'T do one side and then later, the other side! They are structured pretty much so that you get an approximately equal amount of work for both sides. First combo: knee, two front kicks, step into roundhouse kick with other leg, then knee and crescent kick with first leg, squat, roundhouse (more or less; my memory sucks). Then you add on a short punching combo.

Second combo includes "karate punches" in horse stance, then stand straight, circle arms around, put hands together and "push" forward with them. The third combo is a series of blocks and punches, plus knee-roundhouses. These combos aren't nearly as intense as classic Powerstrike, but you certainly do martial arts moves not often seen in workout videos.

The music starts out with a sort of trance-tribal drumming and female (or children) voices. It's a steady pulsing beat yet rather soothing and hypnotic -- house, ambient, whatever they call it these days.

Instructor Comments:
Very similar to Powerstrike 4--low-key, pleasant, a little wry humor. Impeccable form as always, and solid cuing. Ripped as usual.