Where did Step begin? A brief history.....
Step! Aerobics came to life in the late 1980s when her doctor told fitness instructor and athlete Gin Miller to step up and down on a milk crate to rehabilitate a knee injury. In the beginning, Step! Aerobics was done slowly and with an emphasis on athletic movements. The industry standard was to teach choreography at a 120-128 bpm range, and many participants used two to three risers to keep up the workout intensity. This was a dramatic and welcome difference from Hi/Lo floor aerobics classes, where the choreography was becoming increasingly intricate and fast-with music speeds ranging from 145-170 bpm.
As time went on, so did Step!. Choreography progressed, and instructors easily adapted many of the fun and familiar moves found in traditional floor aerobics (V-Step, Mambos, and lunges) to the step. Instructors had to rely heavily on verbal cueing to keep participants successful, and many created their own unique cues for their choreography. Styles of Step! varied from athletic to dance-based and any combination of them both. Whether freestyle or pre-choreographed, athletic or dance-based, class members loved the mental and physical challenge that Step! Aerobics provided. One could argue that spending an hour intensely focused on choreography cues was truly the first mind-body workout!
Why did Step Fade out?
Step! continued to remain a popular class on group fitness class schedules. To meet experienced students' and instructors' needs, choreography increased in complexity, and music speeds rose to 130-135 bpm range. While many continued to enjoy the workout, newcomers' potential to feel overwhelmed and bewildered by choreography cues and directional changes was becoming an issue.
Additionally, new instructors felt intimidated by the demands of teaching Step!. Rehearsing choreography, practicing cues, and cross-phasing is time-consuming and unnecessary to teach other formats successfully. Other classes popped up on group fitness schedules, such as indoor cycling, group weight training, and boot camps. They offered fresh variety to those participants and instructors who may have been frustrated with the challenges of Step!. The combination of fewer instructors trained in teaching Step! and fewer participants interested in making the mental commitment of learning Step choreography slowly resulted in fewer Step! classes on group fitness schedules around the world.
Despite these challenges and changes for some instructors, I always say, "if you can teach Step! you can teach anything!". Solid cueing and musicality are essential to teaching Step! and are an important skill set that will take anyone far in the group fitness world. For participants, Step! offers an interesting high and low-impact cardio workout that challenges the mind as much as the body.
I have been teaching Step! for about 20+ years it was actually one of the first classes I taught. I've participated in my share of dancy, fast-paced, tapless, overly advanced Step! classes in the past and learned some precious lessons along the way.
Keeping my classes more accessible, with decent speed (somewhere between 128-135bpm), with basic to intermediate patterns has allowed for a much better cardio workout without excessive overthinking or frustration. I really like to change my patterns each week to avoid boredom and keep things fresh. Music is definitely a game-changer in Step!. Uplifting, fun, motivating, and full of energy should be a factor always!
What Are The Benefits? Where Does It Target?
Core: Your core muscles have to stabilize you as you're stepping.
Arms: Your lower body is the star of Step aerobics, but you may also use your
arms to make the movements bigger.
Legs: Stepping up and down works your calves, quadriceps, and hamstrings.
Glutes: All those step-ups strengthen and tone your buttocks.
Back: You'll use the muscles in your lower back with each step.
Aerobic: Your heart will pump harder. You'll sweat as you burn calories.
Flexibility: The fluid motions of stepping will improve your flexibility.
My Final Thoughts
Step! may never regain the popularity it once had back in the '90s. However, I never see it going away. I have loved teaching Step! for so long that I will continue to do so for as long as my legs will take me.
If you have never tried it, give it a chance! It gets better and better the more you do. All you need is a platform, perhaps a couple of risers(optional), and then watch and feel your energy come to life!!!
If you are interested and would like to try a class, we have a perfect solution for you.
At no obligation to you, we are offering a FREE CLASS so that you can check it out.
I hope you'll join me as we continue to "Step! It Up" (cheesy, I know, I know)
P.S. Disclosure: The picture and link of the Step are affiliate links. We tried very hard to find a supplier for the fitness equipment that supported our classes. At the end of the day, anything we tried to do couldn't compete with Amazon. Amazon has a program that allows us to link their products, and we may receive a small commission.