Nostalgic for the days before exercise got cluttered with bosu, tae-bo, and other exotic paraphernalia? Appellate Judge Amanda DeWees recommends this solid back-to-basics step aerobic workout.
Get in shape and feel great with celebrity trainer Kathy Kaehler's back-to-basics approach to health and fitness.
Kathy Kaehler, an experienced fitness instructor who keeps celebrities like Michelle Pfeiffer, Julia Roberts, and Drew Barrymore looking their best, has put together a no-frills step workout for the home exerciser. This workout returns to the basic moves that formed the foundation of step aerobics, such as basic steps, V-steps, turn steps, knee lifts, lunges, over-the-tops, and repeaters. But just because the choreography isn't fancy doesn't meant that you won't get a workout: Kathy uses lots of vigorous arm movements to get your heart pumping, and she stays with each move long enough that you can really focus on form and on getting the most out of the movement. Consequently, home exercisers who are intimidated by complex, dancy choreography should find this workout refreshingly easy to follow while still being effective and even challenging. The intensity level makes this an ideal workout for the intermediate-level to advanced intermediate exerciser.
After an eight-minute workout, the aerobic portion of the workout lasts thirty minutes, followed by a combined toning and cooldown section that lasts ten minutes. Although this is designed as a step workout, which means that the exerciser uses a step bench (four to eight inches in height), Kathy points out that the entire workout can also be done on the floor, which may be advisable for those unaccustomed to using a step bench, or even those who find the workout too challenging with a step. Through most of the workout Kathy keeps the step parallel to the television (the standard position), but halfway through she pauses to turn the step perpendicular to the TV. (This is also a good opportunity to lower your step height or move the step out of the way altogether if you find that you are becoming overexerted by the workout.) Toward the end of the routine, she moves the step back into standard position. A brief toning routine (which targets the legs and upper body) following the aerobic workout is performed on the floor, using an exercise mat.
The set is a light and airy workout studio, and Kathy is joined by a group of her exercise students, who range from the svelte and super-fit to the curvily plump. The music is pretty standard synth-pop workout music, with a good beat to work to—although for the course of the first song, Kathy is not working off the downbeat, which made this segment more difficult for me to follow. Kathy also uses arm movements in opposition to the legs in this segment, which is an unusual choice and also creates a challenge. Another unusual choice is the incorporation of balance-testing moves in the warmup. These variations on the usual aerobic template incorporate some refreshing variety into the workout and keep it from becoming dull.
Kathy is a good coach, with a friendly, nonintimidating manner; she isn't super-bubbly like some fitness gurus (such as Denise Austin) but warmly encouraging. It's also heartening to see her perspiring and breathing hard as she works out; she isn't just breezing through the workout. Her cueing is good, although she almost never calls a move by its name—you won't hear her announcing basic steps, turn steps, or repeaters; instead, she is more descriptive in her cueing. I suspect she is eschewing jargon in order to make the workout more accessible to novice steppers, but sometimes this less precise form of cueing made her a bit more difficult to follow.
Audiovisual quality for this release is solid. The full-frame picture is clean and bright, and effective framing and editing mean that you are almost never left wondering what your feet should be doing at a given moment. The music comes through boldly, with bright highs and respectable bass; the use of relaxing classical music during the warmup and cooldown is a nice touch, and again the fidelity of the music is very good in these segments.
A slender but relevant assortment of extras accompanies the workout. A selection of text "Health-E-Tips" divided into three sections offers solid general advice on fitness, healthy eating, and all-around lifestyle. (Those who have purchased her other recent workout DVD, Kathy Kaehler Basics: Total Fitness Workout, won't be bored with the same tips, however, since this disc offers a different selection.) The text biography on Kathy highlights her extensive fitness credentials, and there is a preview of Total Fitness Workout as well as an ad for her book, which discloses the moves that keep her celebrity clients fit.
Home exercisers who dislike fancy choreography but still want a solid aerobic workout should be extremely pleased with this DVD. It uses accessible, easy-to-learn moves but never slows down the pace, so as steppers become more fit they won't have to put up with the usual half-time teaching segments that slow down many step workouts aimed at new steppers. Since the routine is designed around a step, even exercisers who choose to perform it on the floor will find that they don't need a lot of floor space—which makes this a good routine for those with smaller living rooms. This is a solid investment for the home exerciser.
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Scales of Justice
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