Super Chizel-ItCharles Harris
Year Released: 2003
Categories: Circuit Training (cardio and weights)
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Firstly, let me say I'm an advanced exerciser and only like workouts that make me scream b/c they're so hard. That being said, this workout wasn't so hard. It made me sweat, but definitely kept me in my aerobic zone (which isn't necessarily a bad thing.) Can you make it harder with a higher step and heavier weights? Absolutely. This workout was spurts of aerobic with spurts of weight training (that seems to be the trend lately) and a decent ab section at the end. The aerobic segments weren't torturous - nothing really new - they were o.k. The weight segments were compound, i.e., bicep curls with lunges and they were fine. Again, if you go heavier, you'll get more. Overall, I give this workout a B. If you're an advanced exerciser, I say, put your step up high and when he says use 3, 5 and 8 pounds, I say use 5, 8 and 10 pounds. If you're low to intermediate, keep it as is and you'll get a good workout.
Charles is friendly enough. He's loud. I didn't get much personality from this video. I guess you could say he's lightly encouraging and a bit fun, but again, his personality was not strong enough for me to really get a vibe from him.
I had Chizel-It and got rid of it but kept this one because Super Chizel-It is on DVD. They seem very similar to me. I think Chizel It had you stepping up and down more. There seems to be a bit more variety in Super Chizel-It, but it still seems sort of haphazard. I almost get the feeling that Charles is coming up with each move while he’s doing the previous one. I’d compare this to the newer, better-structured Jump Force or maybe Tae Bo Extreme (which I’ve only seen in the Collage preview).
I used a step and 3 and 5 lb. weights for this workout. Charles wants you to use “light” and “heavy” weights from 3 anywhere up to 10 lbs. I treat this as more of a cardio workout with a little upper body work or sort of a high-rep, light weight workout. I sweat buckets during this workout, but my upper body never really feels worked. I think there’s only one exercise for triceps and maybe one each for chest and back. Most of the upper body work is for biceps and shoulders.
The workout is very athletic, no dancy moves at all. It includes kickboxing moves on and off the step (few kicks, few punches, nothing fancy), basic steps, lunges off the step (slow and fast), a little cardio on the floor (jumprope, squats, and jumping jacks, mostly) and some weight work. There are some segments where you’re basically stepping side to side while working your arms with weights. Towards the end, you turn the step towards the TV, do quick lunges side to side, then turn it back to finish the workout. This is unnecessary; just leave it in place!
The cardio lasts about 40 minutes. Then you hit the floor for ab work. You start out with a side-to-side movement holding a dumbbell in your hands where you sit with your feet on the floor, knees bent, and then lean back slightly to pick your bent legs up off the floor. It’s similar to what Cathe Friedrich does with a stability ball, or Mindy Mylrea with a medicine ball. There are also some basic upper and lower crunches and oblique twists.
The music is pretty repetitive, but high-energy instrumental stuff. The background exercisers are all very fit women, and while I didn’t notice a whole lot of whooping, he does exhort them to count, and of course tell everyone “You can do it!”
So why have I kept this workout? It’s mindless, which I sometimes need. I like Charles’s energy, and I LOVE standing ab work, which he includes a bit of (my favorites, standing side crunches!). I HATE choppy workouts, but somehow, this one isn’t choppy because he never has you go down to the ground in the middle (like David Kirsch’s UNYBP or Tom Holland’s first workout). Also, all you need for this is a step and dumbbells, though I think you’d be fine without a step and with just one set of light dumbbells.
This is one of those workouts where you get out what you put into it. For me, it’s a great cardio challenge that doesn’t work my mind.
While his cuing does leave something to be desired, to me Charles seems like he’s really into his workout. He doesn’t show a whole lot of personality, other than saying “You can do it!” many times (albeit fewer times than in the original Chizel-It). I didn’t really love or hate him, but I found his enthusiasm encouraging.
Super Chizel It! was one of my favorite purchases for 2004. Mr. Harris releases one workout a year. His workouts seem to steadily improve with each passing year, too. This is his latest and, in my opinion, best workout. It's lower advanced level.
Who might enjoy this 54-minute 2004 release, or any work by Charles Harris?
1) Most intermediate-to-advanced exercisers who prefer simple athletic movements (e.g., Gilad, Tae Bo, the Firm, FitPrime, Gin Miller, Tom Holland); and
2) Most men would probably appreciate Charles Harris' easy-to-follow, meat-and-potatoes workouts. Although his background exercisers are uniformly women, I consider Charles Harris' workouts to have a strong masculine appeal.
Much of this workout involves Charles Harris doing various upper body toning segments while stepping on and off the step to repetitious-but-fun music. Oh! and ab work! Despite the girl background exercisers, Charles Harris is definitely a man's fitness instructor. He focuses almost exclusively on male trouble spots (upper body and abs) rather than female trouble spots (lower body). That doesn't bother me. It should appeal to men, though.
All of Charles Harris' workouts remind me of a much more fun version of Gilad's Step-and-Tone workout. Super Chizel It! is no exception. The set is rather nondescript (but fine). The music is sort of like a 2000 "hip" version of Gilad's music -- that is, repetitious but catchy and fun. The workout itself does not require much choreography skill and is usually easy on the feet or knees, but it will definitely have you soaked by the end. It's great for those days you want to go on automatic pilot but get a diverse and challenging workout in. It has both upper-body toning benefits while giving cardiovascular benefits.
Despite its simple movements, I'm never bored with Super Chizel It. Mr. Harris' work is similar to the Firm and Billy Blanks in that he moves from one section to another fairly quickly. Perfect for those who enjoy simple bootcamp-style or aerobic weight training workouts.
I am glad I purchased this. There are certain instructors with whom I know I'll be happy with most purchases - Tae Bo, Firm, FitPrime, Tom Holland. Charles Harris is one of those. I look forward to his future releases. (My only wish is that he diversify his movements a bit with more kickboxing and bootcamp-style movements.)
I think of Charles Harris as being a Billy Blanks-meets-Gilad instructor. Like Billy and Gilad, Charles Harris is motivating, and he favors simple, athletic movements. Although Charles shouts out cues, his personality is much more understated compared to Billy or Gilad. His sets aren't as beautiful as Gilad's beach sets and his music is not as cool as Tae Bo, but that doesn't bother me.
Charles Harris is a particularly appealing instructor for men -- especially when you consider how woefully lacking the fitness market is in male-oriented workouts.
Super Chizel-It? Super disappointed!!!
I really like his first Chizel-It workout, but hate this one! His cueing is nowhere near as good as it was. I know I'm in trouble when I can't follow a warm-up! The sound is out of sync. The music is blah. I only made it about 14 minutes. This is a let down.
Don't assume that, because you like his first workout, you will like this one.
Bad cueing. Not as motivating and charming as in his first workout.
I wanted to try this video because it was billed as “Firm-style” weight training. What perhaps should have occurred to me is that the Firm has earned this eponymous category by being the best of its kind—carefully planned, balanced, and complete. Instead of the Firm’s smooth progression of exercises deliberately selected to work specific muscles, Super Chizel-It (SCI) seemed to consist of a hodgepodge of compound strength exercises that were easy to throw together. This meant bicep curls in nearly every weight segment (maybe another reviewer will be curious enough to actually count the total number of reps!), lots of military presses, and all kinds of delt lifts/raises peppered throughout the workout, since they pair easily with stepping up and down. But even in Firm workouts, there’s much more variety in the lower-body movements during their four-limbed aerobics. The bicep curls also were the exact same exercise every single time here, without even a hammer curl, a supinated curl, or a curl using different timing.
Probably my main complaint is that SCI overworked exactly those muscle groups that I don’t like to work that much: biceps, deltoids, and quadriceps. There was very little opportunity to work the triceps, back, and hamstrings (except for some much-appreciated one-legged deadlifts), and essentially no work for the chest, never mind the leg adductors and abductors—all my “favorite” or “most important” areas to strengthen. However, the best part of SCI was the 8-minute ab work, with a very strong emphasis on the obliques and lower abs, which I need more than the upper abs. In this regard SCI excels.
The tempo of the exercises (~140 bpm) was a little too fast for me to concentrate on using good form, so I used my own pace to avoid injury. I was also mildly irritated that the music was loud and had a strong beat, but the exercisers weren’t well synchronized with it. Nor does Charles move in sync to his own cues (“Up! Up! Up!”) and constant counting. The set-up of each exercise was a bit too slow, in contrast, with Charles explaining and demonstrating what to do while you sit/stand and wait. This kept my heart rate low rather than providing a helpful rest period. The moves are so easy to follow (such as side steps, step-ups, and knee lifts) that I don’t think they warrant this much explanation. There is a small quantity of kickboxing-influenced cardio, which I always enjoy, but the exercisers are somewhat lackluster in throwing their kicks and punches, and their form isn’t great.
Although Charles demonstrates a low-impact variation for one exercise (jumping in and out of a plank position), there are plenty of unmodified high-impact moves elsewhere in the workout. In the same segment in which he describes the low-impact variation, there are 30 seconds of scissor jacks, with no discussion of modifications. There is also a segment near the end that contains 2 minutes of jump-roping, jogging, and jumping jacks.
Some pluses of this being a non-Firm workout are that there was comparatively little equipment-changing, and there are no forward lunges or tall-box presses. Charles also speaks extemporaneously rather than from a script, but this makes more of a difference for instructors who offer lots of helpful form pointers and motivating encouragement. I much preferred the silly cartwheels and tuck jumps that concluded the Firm Classics over the extremely cheesy “inspirational” speech Charles gives at the end, which I have to cut short so I don’t hear it while putting my equipment away.
Overall, I would rate this as an intermediate-level workout, rather than advanced. I think it would be best for people who like very straightforward and simple choreography; who enjoy working the biceps, delts, and quads (but who aren’t expecting to build lots of bulk here, since the reps are too fast to use heavy weights); who are looking for four-limbed aerobics other than the Firm, but aren’t expecting the Firm’s production standards; or who want an oblique-focused ab workout. I don’t think it’s a standout along any of those dimensions except for the last category. In my case, I was glad to have traded it so quickly; what with the muscle imbalances, the poor flow, the inability to keep time, the inconsistencies about impact, and the painfully hackneyed closing speech, this workout had too many dealbreakers for me to tolerate it.
WOW! Collage said this was advanced, but this one really kicked my butt. I (and some of the background exercisers)was sweating by the end of the warm up. I know alot of VFers like tough choreography, but for those of us who love intensity without dancing or spending hours learning complex steps, this is a MUST have. Works your whole body in about an hour. Definitely time well spent.
Charles is very motivating, and I love his style. He is very friendly and helpful. I emailed him asking the difference between his videos and he wrote back immediately with his suggestions.