CIA 2403: Step, Power & Pump

Donna Read
Year Released: 2004

Categories: Circuit Training (cardio and weights) , Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance , Step Aerobics

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This review is ONLY on the step and core work only. I haven't done the strength segments at all. For background, I prefer intense, athletic style step (e.g. Cathe) and am a choreo klutz.

Now that I've finally mastered the choreography in some of the more difficult combos, I really enjoy the step in this workout. It's slightly dancy in spots, but Donna is a good teacher and breaks out the more difficult moves and repeats them. As I mentioned, I'm pretty klutzy but if I can do it, anyone can. The intensity level of each combo varies. 1 or 2 I would say are int/adv while the others are intermediate.

Instructor Comments:
Donna has a great personality. She's lots of fun, and I'm looking forward to trying another of her tapes.



Set: CIA 2004 incarnation features a glowing red circle on a green background. It is startling at first, but its alien-awaiting-the-mother-ship charm has grown on me.
Music: Instrumental exercise music. I think some of has been used in past CIA’s but it is so generic that I can’t swear to it.
Background Exercisers: Sharon Twombley and Maria Latran are very experienced and are excellent here. Donna Read is obviously comfortable with them and is very relaxed in this workout.
Equipment: Full size step, body bar, one set of dumbbells. It could be modified if you do not have a body bar.
DVD features: The DVD is chaptered. A menu allows you to select cardio only, strength only, or core.

CIA 2403 is a circuit workout, alternating step combos with strength segments. After a choreographed warm-up and brief stretch, there are six combos, and seven strength segments. I would characterize four of the combos as dancey. The other two feature sprints, or fast feet. The combos are taught quickly without a lot of repetition. The strength segments are:
1. Positioning body bar across the step, 24 wide arm push ups with hands on bar.
2. Narrow arm push ups with hands on step
3. Holding bar, side to side squats from step. One leg squat adductions
4. Using dumbbells, perform alternating side raises. Double arm bent over rows.
5. Holding body bar position one leg on step at 45 degree angle and lunge. Power lunges from step.
6. Using dumbbells, arm raises to side. Squat with front raises.
7. Open leg squats with bicep curls with body bar.

After a cool down and quick stretch, a yoga inspired core routine features planks, roll ups and boat pose variations. A final stretch concentrates on the hips and legs.

I enjoy this workout. While the combinations are not complex, they move quickly and do not slow down for teaching. The simple sprints give your brain a rest and allow you to ramp up the intensity. The strength work is serious enough to use as a secondary strength day for me, although I would not use these sections alone for a full body workout. The core section, at about 13 minutes, would make a nice add-on to other cardio workouts.

Instructor Comments:
The words I hear most often to describe Donna are “girl next door” and she does have a sunny, cheery manner. She is also knowledgeable, as is particularly evident in the core segment, and offers choreography that to me is interesting enough, intense enough, and fun enough to make her one of my favorite instructors.

Sharon T


The format of this workout is step, drills, and toning, with a too-long warmup. Most of the step combos are fun, but Donna cues new moves as she’s doing them, which is irritating to the max, especially since I know she can do better. I didn’t really care for the toning – it’s fast-and-light and there are too many reps – I get bored. The core work is great. It’s yoga/Pilates style. Even though it has some drawbacks, I’ll continue to do it, except I’ll only do the step and core work. Fortunately, with the chaptering options Greg put on this newest batch of DVDs, I can choose only step if I want to.

Annie S.