Steppin' Up

I’ve been avoiding the gym lately. I’m not sure why, but I think it has something to do with avoiding that “stuck indoors” feeling that winter brings. (I do not like winter. )(At all.)

The good news is that I’m not avoiding exercise. I have a treadmill at home, and over the past couple of years, I’ve acquired a few other at-home exercise tools. One item, a going-away gift from a friend/former co-worker, is a Reebok 5-Position Step Deck*. I’ve used the step a few times for basic step-ups with weights, but not much more. Until last week, that is.

This particular fitness step comes with two DVDs, one for toning and one for cardio. I’d set them aside and forgotten about them, to be honest, but last week I decided to give them a whirl.

Verdict? Not bad. Not bad at all.

Both DVDs allow for beginner and intermediate levels. Since they do not have a clumsy-and-uncoordinated level, I decided to start with beginner and fill in with other exercises if I didn’t feel I got a proper workout.

I really do need to film myself doing the cardio workout. I could upload it to YouTube for your benefit. (I have it on good authority that belly laughing probably burns a couple hundred calories.) As I mentioned, I have zero coordination. I can do the basic step on/step off movements just fine. Ditto the kicks and the “repeater knee.” I can even clumsily do the side steps and crossover steps. The problem (and the hilarity) comes in when the demo lady says, “Okay, get those arms moving!” I try to match my movements to hers (and that of her two sidekicks–which, btw, why do these exercise DVDs always have two sidekicks?). The results are dismal, but amusing. At some point, I give up and just flail my arms about. I figure movement is movement. Who cares if it’s synchronized?

I’m sticking with the beginner level on cardio for my next two workouts, as I try to master–or even just tame–the coordination. I have, however, raised the step to its highest level. At the end of the 30-minute cardio workout, I have a nice little sweat going. On days when 30 minutes is all I have time for, this will work, and on those days when I want to do more, I can always repeat the DVD or hop on the treadmill. Or Mother Nature willing, bundle up and walk outside!

The strength training DVD also provides a decent workout, if a bit too short at 15 minutes. Instructions for beginniner, intermediate, and advanced are given, with the differences primarily related to auxilary equipment used (resistance bands and dumbbells) and step position. I started at the intermediate level, because I couldn’t find the right resistance band. I found the more resistant band yesterday, so I’ll move to advanced level today. To get the benefit I want, I think I’ll repeat the DVD at least once and toss in a few extras, like jackknife and hamstring curls. Maybe some pushups and lunges. After all, bodyweight is free. :)

My goal with strength training is to find that edge between soreness (I’m opposed to it) and knowing that the targeted muscle groups are fully engaged and pushed. I believe that if we properly warm up before and stretch after a workout, soreness is totally unnecessary. And for me, soreness is also detrimental to the process. I’m not going to consistently do something that makes me hurt.

It’s nice to have this at-home option for a gym alternative, and I’m looking forward to developing it into a full strength training workout. If you have any other step DVDs to recommend, I’m all ears.

And flailing arms.

Do you have a gym alternative for indoor exercise? Or is the gym your One True Love?

*Link is through my Amazon Associates account. You can also find them at many sporting goods stores and Target.

17 thoughts on “Steppin' Up

  1. When I can not make it to the gym, I either do a step aerobics video (either from NetFlix or a few shorter videos I find on YouTube) or take on my hubby in Wii boxing. After half an hour of boxing, I am really sweating.

    Santa is suppose to be bringing me the EAS Active game for my Wii…so perhaps this will be another weapon in my aresenal.

  2. I looked up this stepper on Amazon and learned that it adjusts to several levels and is one of the sturdiest steppers out there. Nice.

    You may feel clumsy, but you worked through it. I'm pretty sure I'd kill myself.

    I'm a gym hatah, so I keep the exercise indoors with my bike, weights and evil Jillian.

  3. thank you for the review! right now i just go to the gym, but i think you are right on the money with having an alternative to the gym, at home. i don't like driving on ice or snow, and boy do i love an excuse for not going to the gym to workout. having stuff at home for cardio would help me, thanks for the info!

  4. Cammy, you know I love the gym & my weights! I do cardio but I LOVE the weights!!! I stretch after my workouts all the time.. I do like to feel "worked" though after my weights & I usually do but not to any extreme!

    Good luck with that step stuff!

  5. I tried aerobics years ago and got completely confused with coordination pieces like the one you described. Now I just stick to yoga!
    BODA weight loss

  6. I've been going to the gym for the last month and although I don't love it, I feel good afterward. Some days I really have to make myself go, but I'm glad I did. I also love my treadmill that I have at home.

  7. I love, love, love the step! It is such a great workout and low-impact. I hate cold weather, too… and my temps are colder than yours. (I'm jealous)

  8. I don't like winter either. Shudder. Today I am refusing to go outside because it's too cold. Instead, I have been doing jumping jacks and my 200 reps challenge to get in a little exercise. It's helpful! I like being able to workout at home (especially when I feel MOTIVATED to do so, which isn't always the case ;)).

  9. I hate winter too. I don't have a gym so I'm trying to workout inside. Sometimes it's more fail than succeed.

  10. I live in a tiny place, so it's the gym or nothing. Since it's never too cold here (except yesterday, today and tomorrow), when I need a day off from the gym, I ride my bike/walk everywhere, which I do anyway. Sometimes it's too cold to bike, but never to walk.

    Other than that, I can clean or pull weeds.

  11. Luckily for me, I have summer weather year round and now is my favorite time of year for outdoor training so I'm not too much of a gym bunny. Which is so unfortunate because I feel like my membership is becoming a waste of money.

    Good for you for seeking out other forms of exercise that keep cabin fever at bay :)

  12. Great review of the workout DVD's. When I was first losing weight I used The Firm when it was too cold or hot to exercise outside. They look cheesy now, but they were great then!

  13. I feel bad for people who don't enjoy the winter. It's a long season to get through if you don't like to play in the snow.

    I'm excited we're getting snow today. I'm looking forward to taking advantage of my time off and having the time to do lots of winter sports this season.

    I'd much rather be out in the snow than on the treadmill or in front of the tv although I have been enjoying my time at the gym now that I have all day to get there and work out.

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