CIA 5004: Step, Hi/Lo, Slide

Christi Taylor, Deborah Silvers, Terri Klinghoffer, Debbie David
Year Released: 1994

Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance , Sliding, Step Aerobics

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What a great tape. This 1994 CIA tape begins with a 7 minutes warm-up followed by 20 minutes of fun step, 20 minutes of floor aerobics and cool down/stretch led by Christi Taylor - total workout is 60 minutes (there is a slide/step segment at the end which I am not including). If you enjoy Two the Max (Kari Anderson) or Step N Low (Candace Copeland), you will enjoy Christi's workout. The music is the same as Step N Low, which I think is absolutely great. I had so much fun doing this workout. The step patterns are easy to learn and you can add power whenever you like to make it more intense. There is a three count horse (like Cathe), pivots, cross overs, L-steps. The floor section is so much fun - turns, pivots, kicks (similar to Kari). I highly recommend this CIA tape and look forward to receiving 8003.

maryann parker


This is an older tape but no less innovative in terms of choreography! Christi begins with yet another unique warm-up (I was first introduced to Christi in CIA 7002 and purchased 5004 shortly thereafter.) with lots of dancy, fun moves, including a unique shuffle interspersed with rhythmic limbering and static stretching. Christi's warmups feel like part of the aerobics. She just sucks you in from the get-go.

The step segment is first in this video, and it's only 22 minutes long. She begins it by introducing 3 count turn steps and keeps adding on from there: over the tops, reverse t-steps, hamstring curl straddles with a hop turn, L-steps, kicks, mambos and pivots, all sequenced into a fun, dancy routine and cued impeccably well.

Section two is hi/lo - my favorite part of the video! Christi has the very best hi/lo choreography I've ever seen in all my years of doing and teaching aerobics. Although her choreography is very complex, she concentrates on what I feel are the two most important components of a successful class (apart from good cuing): challenging both the mind and the legs while keeping the arm movements simple, but not boring. There is nothing more discouraging than learning a complex move, finally getting the legs, and then having to add in an equally complex arm sequence. Heart rates drop and frustration levels rise. Not with Christi! She puts the fun back into hi/lo aerobics.

The cooldown is funky and although it's fun, I am usually way too tired to do it all the way through (10 minutes) so cooldown on my own.

The final two segments is a slide/resistance workout which I won't review because I don't have a slide, and a "stylized" step section with Debbie David. This is the most bizarre step aerobics I have ever seen. Debbie could use a major cuing clue, and her rhythm is sometimes off-phrase. She also has a few completely ridiculous arm movements like "t-cup" and "wash your face". I only watched part of this segment but did not participate which is a good thing because it's probably very hard to step and laugh hysterically at the same time. At one point Debbie tells us to "unwind", and I told her I was going to rewind instead, and promptly did so.

Despite Debbie's segment, buy this tape! Christi's presence makes it worth every penny you spend.

Instructor Comments:
Awesome, Awesome, Awesome!!! This is my second "commentary" about Christi. Need I say more?

Roberta Kagno


Greg Twombly starts this 2-hour workout with a warmup and then 22 minutes of high/low. I really like his routine. The music is excellent, and the choreography goes very well with it. I especially like the "fast heels" move.

Second, P.J. O'Clair takes over with step for 30 minutes. She's wonderful, too, and the music continues to be good. Her choreography just seems to flow.

Then there is Franny Benedetto with more high/low for another 30 minutes. The music in this part doesn't appeal to me as much as the first two sections. Her routine is good, but I think the high/low she does in 7005 is a lot more fun. Don't get me wrong, though, I still like this one. Finally, the fourth section is Franny again with sculpting (30 minutes). This is "okay" for a light sculpting day, or as an extended cooldown.

I like to do all 2 hours of this tape at once on my "long" days when I have extra time. It's a lot of fun and the time flies by. I definitely rank this one as an A.

Instructor Comments:
All three instructors are excellent in this workout.

(Warmup 8 min; Step 22 min; Hi/Lo 20 min; Funk Cooldown 10 min; Slide 30 min; Step 30 min)

If you're only buying one tape from the 5000 series, get either this or 5005. It begins with a 60-minute "complete workout" including step and hi-lo segments. The step section, similar to parts of Step Max, is rather complex, but instructor Christi Taylor does very thorough cueing and instructing. She teaches it in three parts - 3-count turnsteps, T steps and hopturns, L steps and various kicks and straddles are included - then she puts the parts together and runs through the entire combo not once but THREE times! Whew! The hi-lo half is exceptional, as fun as anything I've seen from Kari Anderson. The beginning feels almost like a cooldown after the intense stepping, but fast jumping and twirling moves toward the end will bring up the heartrate once again. (The hi-lo requires lots of space for moves like double grapevines and box grapevines; I just do regular grapevines instead.) The cooldown, a funk combo, goes on a little too long in my opinion. But all in all this is my favorite total workout of the 5000 series, and Christi my favorite instructor.

The next segment is a slide workout taught by two instructors, which I couldn't review because I don't have a slide. The final step segment, taught by Debbie David, uses some interesting ballet-like moves, but her cueing could use improvement - she rarely says "left" or "right" - and sometimes her rhythm is a little weird. Overall, this tape is worth buying just for Christi Taylor's workout, which is dancy, challenging and very enjoyable.

Sue B


There is 60 minutes of Christi Taylor on this tape, and that's great, because that's the only good part of it. Christi does 22 minutes of step and 20 minutes of high/low, plus a warmup and cooldown. So you get a complete 60-minute workout right up front. With most multi-instructor CIA tapes, you have to go through all the instructors to get to the cooldown. But with this one, I can just do Christi's part and then do the cooldown without fast-forwarding. I have absolutely no desire to do the other sections of this tape. Christi gets an A here. I think this is better than her CIA 7002 workout.

After Christi are Deborah Silvers and Terri Klinghoffer with slide. I do not do slide, so you can take my opinions with a grain of salt. It looks to me like it's *extremely* monotonous -- mostly keeping your legs the same and just changing your arms. The two instructors seem loud-mouthed and brash. Even if I did do slide, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't like this workout or the instructors.

Finally, there is Debbie David with step. She has a really irritating habit of not starting combos on the 32-count phrase. Often, you are expecting to stay with what you're doing (that's how the music "feels" to you), but she switches to something else with no warning. Another annoying habit she seems to have is changing the pattern when you come to the putting-it-all-together part. For example, she'll show a pattern where you lead with your right foot, and then when you're doing it for real, she changes your lead foot (and doesn't tell you). It does get better as you go along, but the first half or so turns me off too much, and I won't do it again.

I am keeping this tape only for Christi's section. It's a full hour, and I only paid $6 for it, so I feel like I got a bargain even if the rest of it stinks.

Instructor Comments:
Christi is my favorite on this tape. She instantly strikes you as a very sweet person, someone you'd love to have as an instructor. Deborah and Terri would drive me nuts if I were in a class with them. Debbie David would be completely frustrating, because she has a problem with not starting on the phrase.

Annie S.


I just love this video! Partly because the section with Christy is a complete workout (unusual with CIA) with warm-up, step & floor aerobics, cooldown & stretch.

Christy just shines! The 1st work out is about 20 min of step & 20 min of Hi/Lo. I have so much fun when I do this work out & time just flies by. She keeps the arm movements simple, but fun, so you are not constantly trying to combined unnatural arm movements with complex choreography and the cueing is great.

My only wish is that she had ended the work out with a less dancy cool down & a longer stretch, but other than that, it's a great workout!

I was under the mis-conception that I couldn't do dancy videos. But what I have learned is that it just took me awhile to be able to work up to the complex movements (it didn't come naturally for me).

I was at first turned off by the slide instructors. They have really big hair & their accents sound really strange to my Midwestern ear. But I gave them a chance & I am glad I did. The slide workout is really intense, at times I found my heart rate getting up past 85% of max. I am working to hard to notice how the instructors talk! The instructors each teach about 15 min of slide. The first section has simpler arm movements than the 2nd.

I can really feel my thighs the day after doing this workout, especially inner. Much more fun than leg lifts plus you get a great cardio workout. I am glad I gave this section a shot.

I haven't ever done the last section so I won't comments on it.

A+ for Christi Taylor !
B+ for the slide (it will never be as much fun as the part with Chirsty and slide can be kind of boring).

Instructor Comments:
What can I say? Christy is the best in my book.

Tonya Bednarick


I am a die hard VF fan, but I gotta say, the enthusiasm around this tape baffles me. I agree with most of the reviews that Christi's section is the only one worth doing. (To be fair, I can't do the slide section because I don't have the equipment.) I just don't find it that challenging! Christi's cueing is impeccable, and she is extraordinarily likeable, so this is a great workout for intermediate exercisers. I wish I had this tape about five years ago!

Perhaps Cathe F. has ruined me for all other instructors, but I get really bored doing this one. The step section is pretty basic, and only has a few propulsion moves. I keep waiting for Christi to take us into a super-challenging combo, but it never happens! I suppose I could just add the propulsion myself . . .

The hi-lo section is a little more interesting, and does get my heart rate going a bit more. If this section were a little longer, perhaps I would like video more.

And as for Debbie's section, well, I was raised to believe that if you can't say anything nice about something, don't say anything at all.

I really, really wanted to like this video. Sigh.

Carolyn Sproule


My review limits only to the workout of Christi Taylor. I agree with Carolynís review above. I will summarize it like this: If you are advance, there is no intensity you seek for in this tape. The level is intermediate unless you put in your own power moves. If you are intermediate and familiar with newer CIA tapes or any complicated choreography, this tape might not challenge you as you expect. Although the hi/lo is much better than the step part. This workout is in the older CIA series, and the step section does not survive the time. The choreography is simple compared to recent tapes. The hi/lo can get your intention, it has some intricate moves yet doable. But you have to go through the step section before getting the fun of hi/lo. I myself have no problem with this but mind you if you are easily bored. If you are intermediate and want to be introduced to the style of CIA or want to learn some complex moves, this may be a good introduction. Since each section is only about 20 minutes, you donít have to remember much choreography, thus it lower the confusion or frustration.

Instructor Comments:
Like everyone said, Christi is very likable. And she gets 10 extra points in the end of the workout, when she holds hand with the background exercisers and thank us. That is really neat.



I believe this was Christi Taylor's first video, or at least her first CIA video. It is a little less complex than her later tapes but still a good workout. The tape has step, hi/lo, and slide. I have only done the step and the hi/lo.

Step: This is a 22-minute step routine with a separate 8-minute warmup. It is a mixed impact, intermediate level workout with moderately complex choreography. I enjoyed the step and was able to learn it fairly thoroughly after one or two times (unlike Christi's other step videos which took me a number of times to learn). There are only a few high impact or plyo moves in the routine, something that is easier for a beginner or intermediate exerciser. I would have liked a little more intensity. Christi does use all sides of the step in an interesting and fun way and you will keep moving throughout the routine. As in the hi/lo portion, this segment is good to add as a warmup to a more intense video.

Hi/Lo: The hi/lo comes immediately after the step routine without a separate warmup. It is about 20 minutes long. I really, really liked this portion of the tape. Although it is geared more to intermediate exercisers than advanced, it is a great routine. It is much, much easier to learn than Christi's other hi/lo's and a great introduction to her teaching style. Most of the routine is low to moderate impact but fast moving with lots of turns. The last combo has some fun but high impact moves which can be easily modified. I enjoy this hi/lo segment so much that I frequently add it to the end of some of my longer and more advanced videos on those days when I want a longer routine.

Sophie Hayford


Aerobically, I have progressed into the advanced arena, although I thoroughly enjoy and use my intermediate level workouts as well. Recently, Iíve gotten more into complex choreography and my favorite instructors include Christi Taylor, Kari Anderson, and Marcus Irwin.

I had tried the step portion of this workout before. I have the Humble Beginnings DVD and the step and hi/lo portions are on different DVDs. They, however, share the same warm up and cool down. Much of the rest of this review is similar to the step portion because much of the things about the workout (studio, background exercisers, etc.) are the same.

I donít remember much about the music. I noticed enjoying it somewhat during the workout, but it apparently didnít make much of an impression long term. There were two background exercisers who exercised along with her. The outfits looked rather dated to me, but the set was fairly plain and pleasant (looked like a workout studio). For those that care about those kinds of things, their hair looked bigger than it would today on the same women.

For a Christi Taylor workout, the combinations were simple. She built each combination with fairly simple moves. I had fun with them and enjoyed doing them individually and then combining them. As on the step portion, there are only two combinations. For those that are completely aerobically challenged, this workout is probably not for you. However, for those that are more beginner level, but want to progress and have the capacity and/or interest in more choreography, this workout is probably a good choice. For those that are advanced and looking for another Hi/Lo Heaven, forget about it! Christi uses her usual ďwatch meĒ style where she shows the move and then talks you through it.

I didnít enjoy this workout as much as the corresponding step workout, but am not sure why. I donít know if it was just not as enjoyable or if it just didnít click as well. However, I still enjoyed it and plan on keeping it as a good short aerobic workout.

Instructor Comments:
This is a young Christi Taylor. She is good in this workout though.

Laura S.


Iím reviewing this workout after doing it several times, although Iíve only done the step portion once (I think Ė I canít recall doing it before).

Please note: I am reviewing Christi Taylorís portion of this workout as it appears on her Humble Beginnings DVD; Iíve never done or even seen the slide or additional step portion on the original VHS. (I didnít know there was originally more to this workout until I looked through the reviews!)

General workout breakdown: This has already been described well, so Iíll just add a few more details about Christiís style here.

Christi will introduce basic steps and layer, although she doesnít add too many layers here. Her style of instruction is to begin with a few counts of basic moves, then layer it up, run through the new variations of the moves a few times, then put them together to take it from the top. Sheíll then add on another set of base moves, repeat, and then run through all of the parts of that combo before moving onto the next. After you learn both combos sheíll do a few TIFTs. Christi never weaves, or slices and dices, combos; sheíll always do combo #1 on the right, combo #1 on the left, combo #2 on the right, and then combo #2 on the left (or whatever side she does first).
Christi teaches things symmetrically, although sheíll sometimes have you do the layered variation on the second side without repeated all of the break down (or build up). If she spends a lot of time repeating the next version of a move on one side (usually these are lower body intensive moves), sheíll do the same on the second, even if she doesnít repeat the few steps she took to get that variation.
She does include some tap switches, primarily in the warm-up, but for the most part her combos are tapless.
There are a few parts where Christi feels rushed: at one point she reacts to being told from Greg or someone else off camera that she needs to hurry it up, and she asks if thereís time for another run through, while there are other parts where she runs through the base or recently updated moves quite a few times in a row.

Christi draws from what now feels like an old school style of aerobics, relying on simple, clean, classic moves like hamstring curl, grapevine, basic, over the top, ball change, v step, repeater knee, etc., adding a little flavor here and there by playing with the direction, or sometimes arms. This isnít quite ďathletic,Ē in that there are some lunges but not a lot of other moves like jumping jacks or basketball hops, but itís definitely not dancey, as you wonít find mambos, cha chas, and many other dance-inspired moves that become a standard part of aerobics, including Christiís, repertoire.

As has been mentioned, thereís a decent amount of impact here; Christi does show some modifications if youíd like to keep your feet closer to the ground. There are a number of pivots, so be careful if your sneakers like to catch on your step and/or carpet.

Level: Iíd recommend this to experienced exercisers at least at the solidly intermediate through low advanced level who are comfortable with at least moderate level of choreography.
I consider myself an intermediate / advanced in cardio, although Iím more of an intermediate plus when it comes to step, since Iím still working my way through more complex step aerobics workouts. I pick choreography up pretty quickly if itís broken down and cued well, which is very true here. I felt confident with the choreography after just one run through (again, know I think Iím better than average at picking up Ė although probably not exactly executing Ė choreography), although I did have a little trouble with the final version of a few steps in the second step combo until right at the very end when they clicked. This gave me a solid steady state workout that had me in a moderately high zone according to my heart rate monitor.

Class: 2 women join Christi, who instructs live. One bumps things up a little in intensity, although at one point Christi asks her to take things down to lower impact.

Music: kind of generic 90s-sounding exercise video music for a good portion, but suddenly a few recognizable vocal songs come in, like during the last part of the hi/lo, and it makes a difference to those last few TIFTs.

Set: the 1994 CIA set, an interior space with neutral-colored walls, ďwindowsĒ onto stylized cityscape scenes, and potted plants.

Production: clear picture and sound, especially considering this is a VHS transfer. The music is a little quiet in relation to Christiís voice.

Equipment: step (Christi and crew used a full-sized club step with 1 set of risers; I did likewise) and sneakers.

Space Requirements: The warm-up, step, and cool-down and stretch are compact. For the warm-up and cool-down you should be able to take a few small steps in each direction. For the step you should have enough room to move comfortably around and behind your step. As has already been mentioned, the hi/lo requires significantly more room; Christi has a double grapevine up and back (tricky when your workout space is at the top of the stairs) plus a grapevine box. If youíre really tight on space, make sure you can at least do a full grapevine in all directions.

DVD Notes: As mentioned, (Christiís part of) the workout is on the Humble Beginnings DVD, with the warm-up, hi/lo (divided into two combos), cool-down, and stretch on one DVD and the same warm-up, step (divided into two combos), same cool-down, and same stretch on another DVD inside a regular-sized case.

Comments: This is not my favorite Christi, although because of the repeated simple moves, some with some impact, I personally find it one of her more intense in terms of cardiovascular activity. I pull it out when I feel like running through my Christi collection. I agree with Laura and others who are looking at this after having experienced a good deal of Christiís full (and I really, really hope against hope not yet completed) catalogue: this is simpler and more straightforward in terms of choreography, and the hair and outfits are a bit dated (Iíve seen this referred to as the ďtriangle workoutĒ for the brightly colored thong-like things Christi and crew wear over their black bike shorts).
Mission: Possible is in some ways an updated version of CIA 5004, as itís meant for those who want less complexity. M:P is definitely less intense with less impact, however. 5004 remains a good introduction to Christi; for those looking to get into her, particularly if they are not that familiar with more complex choreography, 5004 and/or M:P as well as Ultimate Cardio Core, Fit to Dance, and Funktional Fitness are more approachable.

Instructor Comments:
I will echo everyone else on Christiís great cuing and on camera presence. She mirror cues (although she doesnít include a lot of directional cues), cues ahead of the move change, and often uses the ďwatch meĒ method. Her cues are usually clear and concise (but not too much so), although there are a few turns, over the top moves, and a transition where I could have used a little more explanation of footfalls the first time through. Christi is professional and appropriately energetic, positive, and encouraging, for my tastes at least. Sheís a little more serious than the bopping her head, singing the cues Christi who appears a little later on, although sheís still the same Christi. Considering this must have been her first (at least widely distributed) video Christi does a great job both in front of the camera and leading the workout.