Video Fitness

CIA 9903: Boot Camp plus Step and Stretch

Donna Read and Helen Vanderburg

A fun, intense boot-camp style interval workout with great music, but one basic flaw: the interval section is a short 24 minutes. I love and Helen's military and seeing the adorable Donna Read giggle can make my day. The step is vertical and some of the sprints, which are done in a pyramid format, are: lunges off the back, jumps over the step, squats from side to side, double jumps onto the step, fast shuffles off the step, super fast taps on the step and some jacks and high knees on the floor. I found the workout to be easier on my joints than both Interval Max and Intense Moves, therefore, I was able to get a super high intensity workout safely. I will probably add this 24 minutes to other workouts to extend my cardio. Next came the body bar (I used the Firm barbell unloaded) and a series of squats, interspersed with side to side fast steps and three count jumps (like in All Cardio), with more body bar leg work (more of an endurance nature, like BodyMax) and super speed straddles on the step. This was followed by six minutes of push-ups in different positions - I was dying and kept thinking it was over and it just went on and on - Helen is a real drill sergeant. Next, Donna does a 7-minute segment consisting of core exercises (I cracked up - my tush on the step with legs and arms up in the air in a holding position - am I glad hubby was in the bathroom), followed by tricep dips (different positions). Finally, a five minute ab segment by Helen - short and mediocre except for those darn roll-ups which are impossible for me, followed by a 5 minute stretch. I love the entire workout. Donna's step was a disappointment to me. I love 9701, but this workout was such a low intensity, it felt like a 35 minute warm-up. Her step combos have the same style as 9701 - working both sides of the step. It was a little confusing, but I know it can be learned by the next time, if I decide to do it again, and Donna's style, personality and attitude are an easy draw. There are six count turns, step knees, chasse off the step, reverse turns, arabesque/straddle/cross-over, L-stomps, and too many walks on the floor to keep the intensity up. This step workout would have to be an add-on for me, maybe combined with 9701. I don't have the time or patience to do 18 minutes of stretch, so Helen's, barefoot, tai-chi based segment was fast forwarded. I would rate the tape advanced for the first hour, and as far as Donna's step, beginner in intensity and advanced in choreography.

Instructor comments: Donna is a favorite of mine, with her bubbly personality and unpretentious attitude. Helen is new to me, but I enjoy her style.

MaryAnn Parker

What's with the green pants? Everybody on the video seemed to be having a problem with them, especially Donna who is too curvy for men's pants.

Aside from that, this is a real keeper and one I will do again and again.

The "boot camp" portion flew by and Donna's step segment was a pleasant follow-up. I was ready for the cool down!

This and Keli Robert's (9902) are the best of this series.

Instructor comments: I am really crazy about Helen. She is really a wonderful instructor and had Donna gasping for air during the Boot Camp video.

I want more from Helen!

Pam Culpepper

Bootcamp has its own warm-up and cooldown. So, there are 2 full workouts on the tape. Bootcamp is 40 minutes of aerobics, using a step. It is interval training, but not as intense as Intense Moves or Interval Max. Helen and Donna tag team teach and laugh thru the whole WO. It's just too much fun! Next is Donna's step, which also has its own warm-up & cooldown. The intensity is intermediate and the moves are more complex, BUT, Donna does a good job of breaking things down. I think this video would be perfect for intermediate exercisers who want to advance in complexity. Every move is ones I've seen before, but she has a good flow from combo to combo and it FEELS new & fun. Grade:A

Instructor comments: Donna is just her fun self again. She has a Good time and spreads to you. She asks you questions and of course, she can't get an answer; so she says: Boy, I really wish I could talk to you:) Helen is just as much fun as Donna. In Bootcamp, she is Sargent Helen and she blows a mean whistle!


This tape has three sections: boot camp with Helen and Donna, step with Donna, and ROM stretching with Helen.

The main billing is the boot camp. It's unique and tough! You will definitely work hard. And the two instructors are just a hoot! You don't know how much I wanted to like this -- but, sorry to say, I don't. This just isn't my style, even though I know that many here would kill to be able to take a class like this. I don't think it's a bad workout - at all! - it just isn't me. Good thing I never joined the Army!

My favorite part of this tape is Donna's step workout. This is too much fun! While it kinda drags a little in the beginning, when you're just starting to learn it, it quickly becomes a blast. I LOVE this workout! I also am a big fan of Donna's other step tape, and it's a toss-up for me which is more fun. But I think this may take the edge just slightly. Oh, have I mentioned how much FUN this is?!!?

Finally, there's ROM (range-of-motion) stretching with Helen. This is nice. It's about 20 minutes, and a nice top-off to Donna's step. In many of the stretches, you'll notice some yoga influences. But it's more athletic than yoga-ish.

All in all, I give this tape an A+. Even though I won't do the Boot Camp, it was fun just to watch it. And the rest of the tape will certainly get a lot of use!

Instructor comments: These two are simply REFRESHING. That's the only word I can think of that comes close to describing their personalities and styles. I like both of them a lot!

Annie S.

This is such a fun tape! There are three separate sections: Boot Camp, Step, and Stretch. The Boot Camp workout is 52 minutes, the step section is about 48 minutes (including warm up and cool down), and the stretch is 18 minutes.

The Boot Camp workout is certainly unique! You will need a step (turned vertically), and a body bar or a set of dumbbells (a light barbell would work). The choreography is very basic, as you would expect in this style of workout. After the warm up you start with intervals. They are done in a pyramid fashion--the first one is 20 seconds, the second is 40 seconds, the third is 60 seconds, the fourth is 80 seconds, and then the next is 60, next is 40, etc. They include power lunges off the back of the step, one-legged side-to-side jumps over the step, power squats from side to side (think "plunges" in Intense Moves except you do them over the width of the step), and straddle-down-jump ups. The recoveries are short and consist mostly of marches in place. Then you go on to speed drills. This includes very fast grapevines over the step (like step-ballchanges), high knee jogs on the floor, fast squats over the step, and jumping jacks. In between the drills, again, are short recovery segments. Next is the lower body circuit section alternating leg work with cardio intervals (think Bodymax but shorter and somewhat less intense). Donna, Helen and Sharon use a 15 lb. bodybar. If you are used to working with heavier weights, you could probably use heavier weights during this section. There are squats with the body bar, fast low jogs with wide legs, step up squats with the bodybar, fast squats and plyo jumps, back lunges off the step with the bodybar, plyo jacks without arms, front lunges onto the step with the body bar, multiple repeaters off the side of the step, fast straddles on the step, fast shuffles side to side behind the step, and a jump rope move where you alternate tapping each foot up onto the step. Short, intense, and fun! THEN...onto the dreaded and infamous pushup section! You will really feel this! I hardly ever get sore in my lats, but with this one I do! These are done in pyramid fashion as well (sets of 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 16, 12, 8, 4), with different variations. There is very little rest in between sets, and you will do 100 of them! I counted! This is definitely an endurance workout! I really like the next section--it alternates 30-second sets of tricep dips off the step with core stabilization moves. There are 3 sets of each. Next is an ab section (with a few Method-style roll-ups at the end)--not really exciting, but then again you've already worked your abs with the stabilization moves. I do wish there was more oblique work, though. Helen and Donna banter back and forth, and really seem to be having a great time. This is good for a short, intense workout. As has been stated, it is an interval workout, but not quite as intense as Interval Max or Intense Moves. You will feel the pushups later!

The step workout is taught by Donna. It is an intermediate-level program with complex but doable choreography. I was able to pick up most of it the first time through after previewing it once. It is mostly low impact. When I previewed it, I thought it would be difficult to follow, but once I actually did the workout, it seemed easier to get than it looked. All the moves really flow together. Donna really seems sincere and friendly.

The stretch segment is led by Helen. She is like night and day in this tape--she is very soothing and low-key during the stretch--a complete change from the Boot Camp section! This stretch has moves influenced by Pilates, yoga and Tai Chi. That seems to be a popular style right now. For those of you who have done Kari Anderson's Angles, Lines & Curves--this segment is very much like that. Much of the music is the same, too. There are balancing and core stabilization moves, and some stretching. I noticed some Tai Chi-like moves as well. It doesn't have some of the deep stretching that you will get in yoga, though. All in all, I found it to be very enjoyable.

For those of you looking for an eclectic mix of styles in one CIA tape, this is the one for you!

Instructor comments: Donna and Helen co-instruct the Boot Camp workout, and they seem like they are having a blast! Helen is very much like a drill sergeant, complete with a whistle and green fatigue pants. This could come across as very cheesy, but for some reason to me it doesn't. They are having so much fun, and don't take themselves too seriously (but instruct well and show mostly good form). Helen is strong! The cueing and form pointers are good. I do have one comment about form, however; in the tricep dip section, Donna seems to be locking out her elbows at the top of the movement. Also, Sharon Money Twombley (who is the background exerciser) shows somewhat sloppy form on the pushups.

In the step section, Donna is so down-to-earth and friendly. Her cueing is good, and the routine is not difficult to follow after a time or two through it.

Helen changes personalities completely for the stretch segment. She is very graceful, speaks softly, and does a great job of encouraging and instructing on form.

Kristin Aziz

I was a little disappointed with this workout. I mean it is an advanced workout that is challenging but i just don't like doing it. The pants the war are the ugliest pants i have ever seen. The step workout is okay but i never do it. Cathe friedrich has spoiled me so now i can only do her step workokuts. I give this tape a B. It is a challenging workout but I'd rather do Body Max any day!

Instructor comments: helen and donna are okay, but i guess i am just comparing them to the perfect cathe friedrich. They seem friendly, and encouraging, and struggle through the workout just like you.

patricia griffin


Okay, I have likes and dislikes about the boot camp workout. The cardio part of the workout is not choreographed at all, even less so than Intense Moves. During the cardio intervals, I had a diffcult time keeping with the beat and I found the moves to be kind of boring. The intervals and the timing just seemed sort of random. This frustrated me, even though my HR did climb.

The strength workout was tough! Between the pushups and the tricep dips, my arms ached so bad for several days. I enjoyed the ab work and the stabilization/isometric poses.

Overall, I kind of liked boot camp. I am thinking of using a combo of IM for cardio with the strength portion of boot camp in the future. I just don't care for the cardio portion of this tape.

Donna’s step workout is fun as usual. I really like her as an instructor. This is intermediate level cardio; the choreography is fairly advanced, although easy to pick up on. I find myself reaching for this video on light workout days. Donna is just too much fun!

Instructor comments: Someone else mentioned that Helen is strong! Wow. Donna is her usual fun self – down to earth, good at teaching, and just plain motivating.

Jennifer H

I love this tape! I just did the boot camp part and had fun! It said 40 mins on the box, so I thought it was 40 mins of cardio. The first half are boot camp drills. The moves are basic, easy to follow, and tough. I had to pause the tape after the first few because they're tough and there isn't much rest time. They get somewhat easier though because you do some standing legwork in between. But it's still tough- a good leg workout without trying! After cardio/legs, you do lots of push-up variations, some dips, then different ab/core moves. Then a stretch. I didn't do the step section yet.

Overall, this tape is tough and fun. I'm advanced, but my HR was way up at times. My only complaint would be the "teamwork." It's not that they're not a team, they just aren't always starting the moves at the same times, are off count, hesitate, etc. It's not a problem though because the moves are simple and you don't need to stare at the screen. Also, the outfits they wear are NOT flattering!

Instructor comments: Helen and Donna are fun and energetic, but their cuing isn't great. They're not always in sync with each other, but it's ok since this isn't a complex tape.



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