Author: Danny Abramovitch ( email@example.com)
Created: May 1, 1999 ; Last Updated: October 30, 2001
|Disclaimer: The information on these pages relates to my professional and personal interests. While work such as the technical papers listed here may have been done while at Agilent/HP, the opinions listed here are my own and are statistically independent from those of my employer. In other words, don't get mad at Agilent if you something I say in here disagrees with you.|
What's a nice boy like me doing reviewing
tapes like this?
Well, after buying and trying a bunch of them, none of them comes close to being the workout that Jeff does for us. I mean, I am sweating within 5 minutes and keep sweating for the better part of an hour. I throw more kicks than I did in a week of TKD classes. It's fast, it's fun, etc. Why can't these tapes do the same?
Some are better than others. Anyway, here is my review. I will use Jeff's class as the gold standard for these. A 10 rating on many aspects. As such, the best of these comes up to about 8 in the sweat and movement comparison to Jeff's class. What I have figured out I will share with you. Fair enough?
Oh, the opinions are my own and independent of any commercial intent. They are also statistically independent from anything that my employer may or may not think about kickboxing fitness tapes. I'll review tapes as I get them. If you have a tape and wish to expedited the review process, you can send it to me and I will try it out. Send me email if that intests you. It will have no statistical effect on the review I give the tape, just when I get to it. -- DYA
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What Kickboxing Fitness Is and Is Not
(Actually, kickboxing fitness workouts are combinations of kickboxing techniques and aerobics techniques. They inherit charactistics of both. Depending upon the instructor's background and tastes, the workout may be closer to one parent or the other.)
Martial arts deal with offense and defense, striking and blocking. There is a lot of emphasis on correcting techniques before upping the pace. Kickboxing fitness workouts deal only with throwing offensive strikes in the air. Pace comes first as the primary goal is fitness and the secondary goal is technique practice.
If you are into the martial arts, these workouts are a great way to practice a few moves and stay fit and loose. If you are into aerobics, these workouts provide a small sampling of martial arts techniques.
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Equipment Needed for These Workouts
Several of the tapes, including ones by Keli Roberts and Janis Saffell make use of a jump rope. That's fine. I myself am partial to jumpropes. However, they do cause a problem when:
A few of the tapes have the participants using boxing gloves during part of the exercise. This gives the "boxing" feel to the tape and more importantly, adds about 1 pound extra weight per hand. As Billy Blanks suggests in the Kickology/TaeBo Jam tape, these can be replaced by 1 pound hand weights. (Make sure you hold onto them so you don't have flying metal in your living room. In fact, I have found that the neophrene rubber covered weights with wraps to go over the top of the hands -- such as the Heavy Hands brand -- are pretty useful here.)
Some of the tapes do some work on the floor. For these, it is useful to have an inexpensive padded floor mat so as to either
Some of these workouts make use of striking pads. This is okay if you have a partner to work out with. Without that, it is hard to have the pads stay still while you hit them. In such a workout you can either:
These items are typically not available to the home workout enthusiast.
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A relatively recent development has been the arrival on the scene of DVD versions of some of these workouts. Now, at first blush, it's not obvious why anyone would care. I mean, the cinematorgraphy in these tapes isn't that great to begin with. They are shot on video, so the resolution is not that high. They are unlikely to have DTS or any special encoding. Multilanguage features may be applicable, but are largely unused. So, what's the big deal?
I'll tell you. Many laptop computers have DVD ROMs in them. (Soon this will be all -- not counting the ultra-slim ones with external optical drives.) These laptops are equiped with software decoders to play back DVD videos. What this means, is that if your workout is on DVD, you can take it with you on the road, be it vacation or business trip, be it domestic or foreign travel. You can do your workout in your hotel room at 5 am or 10 pm without worrying about getting to the hotel's fitness room (if they have it). In and of itself, this justifies the purchase of DVD versions of these workouts.
Note that not every workout is available on DVD, and not all are suited to the small confines of a hotel room. I will list the one's I've seen here:
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|Billy Blanks TaeBo Basic||Y||Y||Y||Y||N||N||N||N||Y||Y||N||4*|
|Stephanie Steele Kickboxing||Y||Y||Y||Y||N||N||N||N||N||N||N||5|
|Billy Blanks Kickology - TaeBo Jam||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||N||N||N||N||Y|
|Kathy Smith Kickboxing||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||N||Y||Y||N||N||4|
|Billy Blanks TaeBo Instructional|
|Billy Blanks TaeBo Advanced Workout||Y||Y||Y||Y||N||N||N||N||Y||Y||N||4*|
|Billy Blanks TaeBo 8-minute Workout|
|Janis Saffell's Kickin' It Workout (Crunch)||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|Keli Roberts' Crunch Punch Workout (Crunch)||Y||Y||Y||Y||N||Y||Y||N|
|Denise Austin Power Kickboxing Workout||Y||Y||Y||Y||N||N||N||N||Y||Y||N||4|
|All New Kickbox Express Workout with Janis Saffell||Y||Y||Y||Y||N||N||N||N||Y||Y||N||8|
|Khi Bae Intermediate Aerobic Kickboxing Workout with Silk Manning||Y||Y||N (**)||N (**)||N||N||N||N||Y||Y||N||2|
|Cardio Athletic Kickboxing with Eversley Forte||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y!||N||N||N||Y||N||N||N|
|Aaron Lankford Power Kicks||Y||Y||N||N||N||N||N||N||Y||N||N||4|
(*) The punch combination in question is a rather simplistic 3 jabs & 1 cross compbination, rather than something requiring more coordination. The most complicated punch sequence in the workout is a jab, cross, hook combination.
(**) Shown in short instructional section, but not in workout.
(!) Actually a downward elbow strike.
|Billy Blanks TaeBo Basic||Y||Y||Y||Y||N||N||N||N||3||2|
|Stephanie Steele Kickboxing||Y||Y (@)||N||N||N||N||N||N||3||5||3|
|Billy Blanks Kickology - TaeBo Jam||Y||Y||Y||Y||N||N||N||N||3||4 (***)|
|Kathy Smith Kickboxing||Y||Y||Y||Y||N||N||N||N||3||5||7|
|Billy Blanks TaeBo Instructional|
|Billy Blanks TaeBo Advanced Workout||Y||Y||Y||Y||N||N||N||N||3||4 (***)||4|
|Billy Blanks TaeBo 8-minute Workout|
|Janis Saffell's Kickin' It Workout (Crunch)||Y||N||Y||N|
|Keli Roberts' Crunch Punch Workout (Crunch)||Y||N||Y||Y||N||N||N||N||N||2||6|
|Denise Austin Power Kickboxing Workout||Y||Y||N||Y||N||N||N||N||N||2||6|
|All New Kickbox Express Workout with Janis Saffell||Y||Y||Y||Y||N||N||N||Y (@@)||5||5||8|
|Khi Bae Intermediate Aerobic Kickboxing Workout with Silk Manning||Y||Y||Y||N||N||N||N||N (@@@)||4||4||9|
|Cardio Athletic Kickboxing with Eversley Forte||Y||N||Y||N||N||N||N||N||2||2||6|
|Aaron Lankford Power Kicks||Y||Y||Y||Y||N||N||N||N||4||5||8|
(***) The punch kick combinations in the TaeBo tapes tend to be simpler than those in other tapes. Nevertheless, they seem to be fun and athletically challenging, if not overly sophisticated.
(@) Stephanie Steele's tape is unique in that she does both lead and rear leg roundhouse kicks. Most of the others only do front leg roundhouse kicks.
(@@) There is only one spinning kick and that is a turning back kick in a combination, but it's a start.
(@@@) No spinning kicks, but a spinning sweep. Back to table of contents ...
General Class Info
|Billy Blanks TaeBo Basic||5||2||25 min.||4||Y||2||
|Rachael Hunter||3||2||45 min||2||N||4||
|Stephanie Steele Kickboxing||2||3||45 min.||3||N||4||
|Billy Blanks Kickology - TaeBo Jam||5||3||45 min.||5||Y||2||
|Kathy Smith Kickboxing||1||5||50 min.||2||Y||4||
|Billy Blanks TaeBo Instructional||1||40 min.||Y||5||
|Billy Blanks TaeBo Advanced Workout||5||5||57 min.||4||Y||2||
|Billy Blanks TaeBo 8-minute Workout||5||4||13 min.||4||Y||1||
|Janis Saffell's Kickin' It Workout (Crunch)||5||3||22.5 min.||5||Y||1||
|Keli Roberts' Crunch Punch Workout (Crunch)||3||3||22.5 min.||2||Y||1||
|Denise Austin Power Kickboxing Workout||2||2||48 min.||2||Y||1||
|All New Kickbox Express Workout with Janis Saffell||5||5||93 min.||5||Y||1||
|Khi Bae Intermediate Aerobic Kickboxing Workout with Silk Manning||4||3||22 min (@@@@)||4||Y||2||N||2||3||4|
|Cardio Athletic Kickboxing with Eversley Forte||5||2||52 min !!||3||Y||3||
|Dawei||2 (!!!)||4||44 min||2||N||NA||
|Aaron Lankford Power Kicks||5||5||62 min||5||Y||4||
(***) Most of the scales are a 5 point scale, but the sweat rating is on a 10 point scale where 10 is the sweat level in one of Jeff's classes.
(@@@@) Tape runs 32 minutes, but 3 minutes is Silk kicking air at the lead in, 4 minutes are instruction, and 3 minutes are the cool down.
(!!) Tape runs 52 minutes, but 7 minutes are instruction, 7 1/2 minutes are warm up, there is a 25 1/2 minute workout and an 11 1/2 minute cool down (including abs).
(!!!) The music itself is not bad, but it is not synchronized with the instructor's movements, which makes it infuriating. Furthermore, the music lacks a strong back beat which makes it hard to synchronize up to. However, it is nice for general listening purposes.
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Commentary on the different tapes and tables
This feature is typical of a lot of the workout shows and tapes. For example, the Crunch Fitness shows on ESPN2 and The Firm all tend to display incredibly fit people in incredibly tight outfits. Not something you'd expect in something martial arts related, with the exception of a Van Damme flick. However, it is clear from some of these tapes that Eye Candy is a major consideration for some.
The Billy Blanks tapes get top ratings here and this seems to be something they are pushing. The women in the TaeBo tapes all are amazingly fit and seem unable to find outfits that cover their ultra-flat, six pack abs. Billy is pretty ripped himself and he also has trouble finding loose clothing. He seems to have donated it all to the few guys that make it into one of his tapes. Even the Kickology-TaeBo Jam tape features the same hardbodies, including a gal who looks like a very fit version of Monica Lewinski.
Note that all the Crunch Fitness workouts rank fairly high here. This seems to be part of their design.
By comparison to these folks, all the other tapes tend to run a bit lean. Stephanie Steele is in amazing shape, but it is only her. (She is very fit. Sort of the buff version of one of the CNN Headline News anchorwoman, Lynne Russell. Now, if she was working out with a buff version of CNN Headline News anchorwoman, Linda Stouffer, the tape would get a 5. :-) ) I expected the Rachael Hunter tape to be mostly fluff, but she is not in perfect supermodel shape and in fact her co-star looks much more fit than she does. Everyone in the Kathy Smith tape is fit, but they are dressed to work out, not show off. (For some reason, Kathy Smith herself seems to resemble Keri Russell's (Felicity) Amazon (and I don't mean the bookstore) older sister.)
This was one of the harder workouts, and originally, it was second only to the TaeBo Advanced in sweat level. Since then, I have seen others such as those by Janis Saffell and Aaron Lankford. Still, given the intensity and the low price of this tape from the online services, it may be the bargain of the bunch. Kathy Smith is a fitness instructor by trade, rather than a kickboxing instructor, but she has obviously made good use of her extra instructors to teach her how to run such a video. The workout is well put together and is the most complete of all the workouts listed here. Her approach is no nonsense. She is part of a class of 6 people doing this. To her left is Keith Cooke, who is also featured on the box cover. To her right is Keli Roberts. They seem to be the ones who taught her the material. An interesting note here is that both on the box and in the workout they state that Keith Cooke is a member of the Black Belt Hall of Fame. My curiousity about his style took me to the Black Belt Magazine Web Page where I checked for Keith Cooke under the Hall of Fame links. They have everything up through 1997 listed and there is no mention of Keith Cooke. I was pretty confused by this. However, on March 22, 2000, I was lucky enough to receive an email from Marco Reicke in Germany ( WUSHUTEAMREICKE@aol.com) who pointed out:
The co-star in the Kathy Smith Fitness video "Keith Cooke " goes by the name of Keith Hirabayashi and was the Black Belt Hall of Fame member in 1985 as competitor of the year.
Back in the days he was one of the most talented competitors in Chinese martial arts Wu Shu.
The workout is very well thought out. Lots of sections on different aspects with a lot of useful instruction interspersed from Keith Cooke. There are probably more individual techniques in this one than in any other. Furthermore, the slow sections at the end should be quite helpful in developing folks' kicking ability. The pace for the rest is great. Hard and fast. Of the set reviewed so far, it is by far the hardest physical workout.
Kathy Smith obviously worked hard to get good at this stuff. She is quite fit and limber. However, you can tell from the way her hands open up when she punches and from her right leg side kick that she really isn't fully comfortable with the martial arts side of this. Also, her "boxer's shuffle" is somewhat annoying to watch. Pay attention instead to how Keith Cooke does the technique.
With all of that, what is missing? It just doesn't seem as fun as some of the others. I'm not sure why. I know that I did not like the music in this one. It was like a poor man's version of John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China music, but without the fun. I'm not sure why, but something seemed off there. Recently, I have tried the Keli Roberts Crunch Punch Workout and I now believe that a large part of the problem in this tape may be due to the influence of Keli Roberts.
Based soley on these tapes, were I to pick one instructor to get me in shape for the kickboxing ring, it would likely be Stephanie Steele. It isn't that her workout is the best work out. It is not. However, all the combinations that she teaches are natural and applicable to the ring. Techniques flow freely from one another and are not modified to make the cardio portion harder. This is an extremely pure workout from that perspective and as such is very low impact. Furthermore, her punch combinations are the best of the pack. Also, she is unique among these tapes in teaching both lead and rear leg roundhouses. One point of contention is that she only teaches front and roundhouse kicks, not any others. Also, she tells us to keep the pivot (support) leg straight and locked, a departure from what everyone else says.
For those that have never seen her, Stephanie Steele is a professional kickboxer. Apparently, she was the instructor on the Ally McBeal episodes where Ally, Georgia, and Renee took up kickboxing. She also lists a fair amount of movie work.
This workout started out to look pretty lame with the first set of warmups. Sort of the most inconsequential aerobics class you could think of. It is good that I stuck with it, though, because by the end of the workout, I could not keep up with her hand speed.
The workout is simply to follow Stephanie Steele as she alternates teaching (slow) and then workout (fast) sections. The music is low key and not particularly synched to her, but that doesn't seem to matter much. She is standing in a mock boxing ring to do this. The interval type workout seems to work okay as the techniques rachet up. The main thing she does is add new techniques to existing combinations and push the pace as the tape goes along. By the end of the tape, it is very clear from watching her punch speed that she is good at this stuff.
So much for the compliements. What did I not like about it? I found the hard portion too short for my liking. I would have liked to have sweat more. Also, the single instructor, low key music format is okay, but there is something more enjoyable about the class full of folks working out to a good beat.
I bought the 2 tape package at Costco (a.k.a. the Price
Club) which included the instructional tape and the
basic workout. I think the only non-hype thing about
the basic workout is when they tell you it is basic,
which it is. Essentially 25 minutes of a fun workout,
but way too short for my tastes. The music is good,
the moves fine, the people on it fit, but this tape leaves
what happened to the main part of the workout. There is plenty
of hype as Billy Blanks tells us that he will get us through
it, but it is too much of a walk in the park to take this seriously.
This tape is not nearly as good a Billy Blanks workout as the
Kickology/TaeBo Jam one. To
be honest, I got a much better workout from the
Stephanie Steele Knockout Kickboxing workout tape,
despite the fact that this tape has worse music,
a far more low key approach, and is not produced
nearly as well.
Interesting story. I first caught wind of this tape on the TaeBo web site. They were going on about how this was not a real TaeBo tape. However, it was available on line and was cheap so I got it. It turns out to be one of my favorites of these tapes.
My suspicion is that the workouts were broadcast before the whole TaeBo infomercial push and were not tapes that Billy Blanks' organization had control over. Translation: he doesn't make as much when one of these tapes gets sold. Don't let that fool you. Apart from the TaeBo Advanced workout, it is the best Billy Blanks led workout tape I have done so far.
The tape is a compilation of 2 Crunch Fitness workouts lead by Billy Blanks: Kickology and TaeBo Jam. The Kickology one seems to be an earlier incantation: less music, less rythm. They do part of it with boxing gloves on to add extra weight to the arms. The second workout is called TaeBo Jam and this seems to contain many more of the TaeBo style moves that you see in the infomercial than there are in the TaeBo Basic workout.
One thing thought: the instruction doesn't keep place with the workout. Keep your eyes on the workout and not on Billy Blanks for much of this and you'll do okay.
"I'm hardly sweating," says guest instructor Ed Monoghan part way through the tape. My thoughts exactly. Don't get me wrong: I enjoyed this tape and it's got some moves that none of the rest of them have. However, if breaking into a sweat is one of your objectives, this is not the tape to do that for you.
That being said, this is probably the surprise tape of the bunch. There is very little fluff here. Supermodel Rachael Hunter is standing in front of the ocean taking instruction from Ed Monoghan who has a background in Savate and Muay Thai.
This tape is probably the least intense of the bunch, although it goes on for 45 minutes (8 minutes basic instruction, 37 minutes workout). It does have some pretty neat footwork drills that none of the other tapes does. It also has some neat combinations that include elbow strikes with kicks and punches. For the price (under $10 on the net) it is a good occasional tape.
After my disappointment with the first 3 tapes, I was hesitant to send more money to the TaeBo center without sampling the goods. A friend lent me the TaeBo Advanced tape and thus I was able to try it out. My impression:
Finally, a TaeBo tape that lives up to the talk. A good hard workout. Fast, fun. Everything that the Basic workout had that was good about it, but with the intensity cranked up by a factor of 5. A fun workorut. Lots of simple techniques. Good music. Lots of fit people. There is still plenty of hype as Billy Blanks tells us that he is watching us through the TV (a physical impossibility that may have a strong effect on the weak minded). Still he is an experienced and perceptive instructor who knows about when a typical bad tendancy will kick in. Thus, it seems as if he can anticipate some of what the video audience may be doing.
Of the tapes reviewed here, this is the most intense one and the one that most closely approximates the sweat level of Jeff's class.
Not a bad workout. It will get your heart pumping. It actually runs 13 minutes if you count warm up and cool down, but it's not as if the time is actually in the tape title. Doooo ...
I saw this workout on a Crunch
Fitness workout show. A short workout (22.5 minutes with commercials
cut out, 30 minutes if you keep working through commercial breaks).
At first glance, it looked fun. Then I actually did it. Not fun.
At least I finally started to understand what I didn't like in the
Kathy Smith Kickboxing tape and that
is the influence of Keli Roberts. I'm not sure when this workout
was filmed, but her technique is terrible. It is so bad that it
makes doing the tape painful (mentally), and makes her choreography
seem rediculous. She makes all the mistakes that white belts in
Tae Kwon Do get yelled at for doing and must correct before
progressing to yellow belt:
Why is focus important? In the striking arts,
focus refers to serveral things including:
Perhaps the only way to enjoy this one is to look at someone other than Keli Roberts and turn the sound down. The combinations are thrown together in a way that seems to say, ``Look how many of these I can do!'' rather than having any natural or logical flow (very much unlike those in the Stephanie Steele Kickboxing workout). Lots of energy and the music isn't terrible, but it is all slapped together and poorly applied. This workout ends up being a poster child for what kickboxing fitness should not be.
This tape is not too bad, but it is far too short. The aerobic part of it is under 22 minutes and ends about the time you actually start sweating. This tape shows the Janis Saffell influence. (He was on her Kickbox Express Workout and you can tell that the pace and the style are very similar. He does the workout with 3 other people. The guy behind him is hard to see and is pretty innocuous. On each side of silk is a fairly attractive female who is nominally doing the workout but cannot execute the techniques. He looses a lot of brownie points for that.
This tape is part of a 2 tape set that I got at Target for under $10. The first tape has instruction and a beginning workout. I haven't tried them yet. I would say this tape is an inexpensive tape for a beginner to have. I would say that if Silk wanted to do an hour long workout tape it might be pretty good for a more experienced person. So far he hasn't done this.
I saw this workout on a Crunch Fitness workout show. A short workout (22.5 minutes with commercials cut out, 30 minutes if you keep working through commercial breaks), but fun nevertheless. Lots of energy and fun in this one. Good music. No roundhouse kicks, though.
If Janis Saffell gets paid $10 for every time she says awesome, she will soon be richer than Bill Gates. Okay, that's about all that I can say that's cynical or bad about this workout. The speed is not quite up there with the TaeBo Advanced, but the workout is full bore for a very long time. There is more movement and there are more kicks in this than in any workout I have seen. This tape is apparently only available on the CIA (Creative Aerobics Instructors) Web Site as tape number 9809.
Be aware, this is a difficult workout to do at home, not because of the intensity, but because it requires a lot of floor space I estimate about 15' by 15' to not have to make any adjustments to your movement. Thus, it is a little difficult to do in your average living room. Furthermore, there are two segments that use a jumprope: the 9 minute warmup and the 14 minute jumprope section. You can fake it on the first one, but the second one really requires the rope. This is difficult when one has low ceilings, ceiling fans, or hanging lights. Finally, she encourages the use of 1-2 pound hand weights to simulate the weight of gloves. I used my 3 pound heavy hands and found it gave my arms quite a ride.
There is more movement in this tape than any I have seen. The combinations are lengthy, but good. The class is clearly in great shape. Generally speaking, the individual segments are fun and the workout as a whole is amazing. Janis is very fit, which in and of itself is not surprising for a fitness professional. However, she also clearly has learned how to teach kickboxing techniques so she has plenty of focus and her combinations are logical. A quick look around this review page shows that this knowledge is relatively rare.
This tape is advertised as 2 20 minute fat busting workouts. My wife is particularly fond of Denise Austin's workout tapes, so we picked it up locally. It's advertised on Amazon, but delivery is slow. It seems to be readily available at discount stores such as Target. I finally got to try it, so here's a review.
The tape is divided into a brief (3 minute) instructional section where members of her class go over the basic punches (jab, cross, uppercut, hook) and kicks (front, roundhouse, side, and back). After this comes the Skills workout which is slightly longer than 20 minutes and is paced at sort of a beginners pace. In this workout, Denise and many of the crew wear typical aerobics outfits (shorts, tank tops, sport bras, etc.). The second workout, Drills is touted as a much more intensive workout. The big change is in the color scheme. Now, everyone is wearing long pants and black gloves. The intensity is slightly more than the first workout, but neither workout is anywhere near the intensity of the Kathy Smith Kickboxing workoout or the TaeBo Advanced or even the TaeBo Jam tapes. Still it's not bad, so if you're a Denise Austin fan, this tape might work for you.
On the other hand, I hope Billy Blanks has a sense of humor. My initial impression was that this tape is sort of what you get when you cross Billy Blanks with Mary Poppins. However, Mary Poppins was much less peppy than Denise Austin and it is unlikely that Denise will get any Academy Awards for Best Actress (as Julie Andrews did for Mary Poppins).
Most of the moves and combinations appear to be lifted straight from Billy's tapes. Some of the combinations are tweaked, but that tends to make them worse, not better. For example, the 3 jab and cross combination becomes a 3 jab and hook combination which just feels very unnatural. Finally, although her focus is far better than Keli Roberts', it appears that she has never made contact with anything. I think some work on a heavy bag would fix up most of Denise's technique. Until then, she has problems with a weak jab and a terrible hook. Furthermore, her roundhouse kicks are unfocused and she doesn't chamber the leg well. Finally, although she nominally teaches a side kick, she never actually does any in her workout. (Although she calls the roundhouse a side-roundhouse kick.)
Eversley's motto is "Let's Play Hard, but Let's Play Safe". As such, you can expect that the tape has a lot of safety tips on how not to get injured doing cardio kickboxing workouts. They do a fair amount of technique modification to achieve their goal of safety. There are always low impact opions for every move which is a plus.
However, my main problem with this tape is that I have never broken a good sweat while doing it. Since that is my primary goal in one of these workouts, this is discouraging. A perusal of the technique summary reveals that there just aren't enough kicks to keep the sweat going. Furthermore, if one isolates out only the cardio section of the workout, it is only 25 1/2 minutes long. Such a short cardio section would have to be far more intense to get folks into a full sweat.
One more gotcha on this tape is that the folks demonstrating with him are not consistent with the safety instructions. For instance, when they do a shuffle jab, the back foot disappears behind the first one (which is a no-no according to the instruction). Furthermore, everyone on the tape is wearing hand wraps. This is a pet peeve of mine since the main purpose of hand wraps is to protect your hand bones when you hit someithing hard. As there is no contact in any of these tapes, this just looks silly to me. (If it looks silly when a kickboxing champion like Billy Blanks does it, imagine how silly it looks when folks with minimal martial arts experience do it.)
One more thing that peeves me is the FAQ on the web site. In the FAQ (at least the last time I looked), one of the questions about the tape is:
Is Cardio Athletic Kickbox like Tae Bo®?
There is nothing wrong with the question per se, but the answer provided has nothing to do with the question, which calls for a yes, no, or comparison answer. If we dislike it when politicians duck their own questions, why should we be happy about it when individuals do so?
This would be a good tape for individuals who have no kickboxing experience and want to try it at home with a minimum amount of risk. On top of that, the music is pretty good. However, I don't think the tape will be much of a challenge for someone who has been working out for a while. I would not mind seeing another tape from this group with a substantially longer cardio section that included far more kicks and punches. Oh yeah, loose the hand wraps.
I did this workout 3 times before writing this review, just so that I could separate the issues properly. This tape makes me sigh with disappointment: not for what it is, but for what it should have been. If one simply looks at the punch/kick combinations, it is the best tape on the market. Seriously, this guy, Dewey Yung, does more and better combinations in the main half hour of this 45 minute workout than any other tape by far. The tape is definitely in the advanced category with the moves coming at a brisk 148 beats per minute.
The problem is not in the music (which isn't bad), but in the use of the music (which is terrible). First of all, the music lacks the thumping base beat common in a lot of workout music. While this might have some sort of artistic appeal, it makes it harder for a moving person to lock onto the rythm of the music to follow it with their motions. However, this is small potatoes compared to the main issue with the music which is that Dewey's movements are not synchronized to it (no matter what the box tells you). The music might be at 148 beats per minute and Dewey might be working out at 148 beats per minute, but he isn't working out to the music (which seems to have been added later), and that creates a drift between the music and the movements that is very distracting, especially when they do one of the artistic scene cuts. Note, this is not a simple time shift between music and movement, but a continual random drift which is extremely difficult to lock on to.
I was so perplexed by this that I asked a friend of mine who is in a kickboxing fitness class with me to try the tape out. He noted the same effect did not want to finish the workout.I would recommend this tape for advanced users or instructors who want to add some new combinations to their routines. In that respect it would be excellent. It would also be good for folks who are not overly concerned about the music matching the visual cues. However, I found this workout difficult to do on a regular basis because of the drift between the music and the motions. I would very much like to see this same workout on a tape where Dewey is working out to the music. I think that would be outstanding.
This tape is advertised on Amazon, but they say it is not available.
A new favorite, this tape has absolutely great kicks. It is fast paced and the music is pretty good. There is little hype. True to his Tae Kwon Do heritage, I found that the hand combinations were too simple relative to the rest of the tape. Aaron does put in back fists, which few other tapes do. The cardio section is 40 minutes long. After that he does some standing static techniques which require the use of a chair to hang on to. There is an abdominal workout. One complaint: the two women in the background tend to let their technique drop off during the tape. There is no reason for this. This one area where the TaeBo Advanced workout excells. However, I would say the kicking portion of this workout has the TaeBo Advanced tape beaten pretty handily.
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Denise Austin, like Kathy Smith is a fitness tape franchise. A professional aerobics/fitness instructor who does lots of different tapes for different markets or interests. She has a kickboxing tape advertised on Amazon which has 2 workouts that are slightly longer than 20 minutes long.
Billy Blanks appears to be a Tae Kwon Do instructor by original training. However, he is totally buff and into extending the Tae Kwon Do techniques into the aerobics world. He certainly deserves credit for popularizing the whole kickboxing as exercise movement. That being said, there is a lot of hype involved in the whole TaeBo thing. I didn't find a workout that really made me sweat until a friend loaned me a copy of the TaeBo Advanced workout; however, that was the hardest commercial one that I've done so far. I also found the TaeBo Jam workout to be relatively fun. As an instructor, he seems pretty good, as long as you disconnect your mind when he tells you that he is watching you through the TV.
As time goes on however, I realize that more and more of these instructors are immitating moves that I think he originated. A trademark move in TaeBo is the squat-kick-squat-kick sequence. Note that this is not really a practical fighting maneuver, unless you are engaged in stand up combat inside an accordion. However, it does really work the legs and butt. Anyway, this seems to be traceable to TaeBo and has several variants: front kick-squat, side kick squat, etc. Another trademark TaeBo type move is the front kick-back kick combination. This may appear in certain martial arts combinations, but it is still mostly something to help get your lower body in shape. Anyway, it appears that several of the later tapes such as Denise Austin Power Kickboxing, Keli Roberts Crunch Punch, Kathy Smith Kickboxing have all lifted some of these moves from Billy's tapes. Hopefully, he sees it as a form of flattery.
Keith Cooke appears to be a legitimate martial artist. He appears on the Kathy Smith Kickboxing Tape. He's obviously the most knowledgable martial artist on that tape. He also looks pretty ripped under the loose T-shirt.
It turns out that he is a member of the Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame, but under the name of Keith Hirabayashi. He was inducted in 1985 as competitor of the year. A native of Seattle, Washington, he is a Wushu stylist. Black Belt has a .
The instructor on the Dawei tape. He is from San Francisco, apparently a Chinese martial arts stylist, but there is very little information about him besides this tape.
Eversley is a fitness instructor with a martial arts background (Kenpo Karate). He certifies instructors in what he calls Cardio Athletic Kickboxing.
Aaron Lankford seems to be a well know Tae Kwon Doist and his tape Aaron Lankford Power Kicks is one of the best tapes of this type out there. It is available from a variety of sources, including off of his web site and at Amazon.com. The tape has also been well reviewed in the Fitness Online web site.
He's got a shaved head, he's totally buff, and he's got a kickboxing fitness video. Move over Billy, it's Silk. Okay, you don't have to move over. Still his tape isn't too bad for what it is, but what it is is too short.
Silk has been on Janis Saffell's Kickbox Express Workout, he's been a "Mister Fitness Champion" and the box says he has trained in Kung Fo [sic]. More importantly, he would rule the "Mr. Clean Look Alike Contest".
Ed does most of the teaching on the Rachael Hunter Power Kickboxing tape. His skills seem to be in Savate and Muay Thai. He seems pretty reasonable at the stuff and in relatively good shape.
Chuck's the real deal. A consumate martial artist and a bad actor. Of course, he should have a Kickboxing tape. Apart from his movie and TV work which most people know, Chuck Norris was a legitimate karate champion. Known first as an awsome competitor, he got his big movie break in Bruce Lee's Return of the Dragon. Recently, he has gotten into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu working with the Machado Brothers. The line I've heard is that he is a brown belt under them, which would make him almost as fearsome on the ground as he is standing up. If you ever have to face Chuck in a fight, my suggestion would be to throw a script with good dialog at him. Being something he has never seen, he will be momentarily confused, allowing you to make a run for it.
Keli Roberts is a professional fitness instructor from Hollywood who has shown up in the Crunch Fitness workout show. She is probably best known as an instructor in the some of the fitness tapes (Reebok, etc.) (available online at Amazon and Buy.com) most of those relating to step and circuit training. It is worth noting that she looks much more peppy and aerobic like on those box covers than she does in the Kathy Smith Kickboxing Tape, where she has a no-nonsense type attitude to . She also has a tape available on the CIA (Creative Aerobics Instructors) Web Site. I don't have any information on this one. I have seen her Crunch Punch workout on the Crunch Fitness show and that was pretty bad. Her technique in that tape was among the worst that I have seen in such workouts. Refer back to the review for details that I won't repeat here. I see some of the same problems in the Kathy Smith Kickboxing Tape. I can only hope that by the time she did the CIA (Creative Aerobics Instructors) tape, she had learned some better technique.
Janis Saffell is a professional fitness instructor from Miami who has shown up in the Crunch Fitness workout show. She is probably best known as an instructor in the Crunch Fitness tapes (available at Amazon and Buy.com) most of those relating to body sculpting. She also has a pair of tapes available on the CIA (Creative Aerobics Instructors) Web Site. I have heard good things about her CIA tapes. I have finally seen the Kickbox Express tape and that was tremendous. I have seen her Kickin' It workout on the Crunch Fitness show and that was pretty good. Janis has her own web site.
Kathy Smith, like Denise Austin is a fitness tape franchise. A professional aerobics/fitness instructor who does lots of different tapes for different markets or interests. She has two tapes of interest here: her Aerobox Workout and her Kickboxing Workout.
Staphanie Steele is a professional kickboxer. She has two tapes of interest here, a Kickboxing tape and a Boxing tape. You can tell how good she is when she leads the advanced punching section. Her hands are really fast and there is plenty of steam in her punches.
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Related Web Pages
Janis Saffell's Web Site. This lists a few of her tapes as well as a bio, some choreography, and times that you can work out with Janis in the Miami area.
As of this update (6/9/99) the show airs from 6:00 to 6:30 am weekdays, Pacific Standard Time in the United States. I have been recording some of these shows in the hopes of finding some good kickboxing fitness shows. They do exist. For instance I recorded Janis Saffell doing a Kickin' It workout that had some good punching and front and side kick drills (sorry, no roundhouses). On the other hand, they also have other workouts, such as what can best be described as aerobics in drag -- instructor is a guy wearing long white opera gloves and a Marilyn Monroe wig -- (not that there's anything wrong with that). I guess it is hit or miss depending upon your tastes.
This seems like a pretty good resource.