This section of my website used to be dedicated to triathlon training, personal race results and certification reviews, like Turbo Kick. I am expanding it to include more generic health & fitness topics. Also, I talk a lot about "D" -- he's my husband (Dave Liu)!

Friday, September 03, 2004

Step with Judy

Hubby & I just joined the Pacific Athletic Club (PAC) in Redwood City. It has the most extensive athetlic facilities I've seen in a single club. D is interested in playing pickup basketball in their gym, and both of us want to participate in their Masters swimming program. They also have a full group exercise program.

In the spirit of becoming a better step instructor, I tried Judy's step class today in the hopes of either learning new moves or methods to break down combos. I had no idea what to expect, but since Lloyd Merrill, the group exercise director, had told me that the instructors at PAC have been teaching for an average of 15 years, I assumed she should be pretty darn good. Just before class, I overheard one of the participants mention to her friend that she was going to take Judy's class, so I asked her whether it was an advanced step class. She said that it was an easy step class (rats) that was great for beginners. That sent off warning bells in my head, but I decided to give it a shot anyway.

Now that I teach the format, I know I've become quite the step snob, so take this with a grain of salt when I say that this was the WORST step class I have ever taken. I desperately wanted to leave about halfway through, but I stuck with it out of respect for the instructor. That didn't prevent me from involuntarily rolling my eyes throughout class. Yes, it was that bad. Here are my gripes:

  • The warmup was too long. It consisted almost exclusively of step-touches and grapevines. Yawn. It was pretty obvious that Judy is primarily a hi-lo instructor and probably picked up teaching step when it becoming the "in" thing.
  • Use of taps to change leads. Unless a move naturally has a tap at the end, like a Turnstep, or an Over-the-Top, there is absolutley no reason to use a tap to change leads. Doing so requires more cueing than necessary and makes the routine more choppy.
  • Right lead dominant. She had participants use Basic Right as a holding pattern to get to the top of the 32-count phrase. I would have preferred an alternating move, like Step Knee Center, to balance things out.
  • Only traveled in one direction. We had some moves where we moved around the bench, and we only moved in a clockwise direction throughout. Again, this shows lack of balance in the routine.
  • Lack of choreography. I spoke with the group exercise director, Lloyd Merrill, earlier in the week, and he was very proud of the fact that PAC instructors have an average of 15 years of teaching experience. I believe it, because I don't think Judy has changed her routine in 15 years! I understand that moves should be simpler with Basic Step (although Judy claimed it was an Intermediate class), but you can still structure them to develop interesting self-reversing combos.
  • Increasing step speed. Halfway through class, Judy upped the intensity of class by increasing step speed! I didn't clock it, but it seemed quite a bit over 128 bpm. She should have used more complicated moves to increase the difficulty level, or at least introduced impact options. Instead, she used exactly the same routine (if you could call it that) but just increased the step speed to above industry-approved levels. It was dangerous and unnecessary.
  • Steping with weights. This is one of the most contradicted things to do. Ever.

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