// Step and deliver with cute 'n' clever choreo
by Stephen Parker
As with all things in life, group exercise must grow, change, evolve and adapt to its surroundings in order to survive. In my time working in the fitness industry, I have seen freestyle step evolve and go through many changes. It is a very different class now to when Gin Miller first convinced Reebok in 1989 that step was a great concept for group fitness. There have been many positive changes that have enhanced freestyle step as a program, such as tap-free choreography and cross phrasing. And on the flipside of that, there have also been changes from which we have learnt valuable lessons, such as overly complex and dangerous choreography.
In the early to mid 1990s when I first started participating in step classes, the popularity of this exercise format was at its highest. Along with many others, I willingly paid $2 to the gym I was member of (on top of my membership fees) to hire a step platform for each class. Then, when I became an instructor, I would go to step workshops that were held on double basketball courts to accommodate the amount of instructors attending. Step was booming and it was during this time that my passion for this type of exercise was born. In my opinion, this is when we were teaching step classes that involved cute and clever choreography, to inspire members and give wow factor, while at the same time being achievable.
As the teaching ability of instructors improved, their skill on the step increased, and so did that of our participants. Then the pressure to keep the front row happy increased, and before we knew it the choreography and music speed were out of control and classes became unachievable for the majority of participants. Members struggled to keep up, so the workout factor decreased.
Some participants were getting injured, others were frustrated, and a lot stopped coming back. There are now a lot more choices on group fitness timetables, so members are more spread out over a variety of programs. As instructors we have to work even harder to ensure the step choreography we deliver is safe, achievable, and will give our members the workout they came for. Only then can they experience the amazing feeling of accomplishment achieved by ‘putting it all together’ at the end. This is what will keep members coming back, and bringing their friends.
As instructors, if we teach a step class that incorporates the positive growth of the program, with solid learning curves and easy progressions, we will see class numbers increase again. Then more step classes will return to club timetables, creating more employment opportunities for freestyle instructors, and incentive for new instructors to become freestyle trained. In turn, this will then help the RTOs and freestyle music companies. And when we take this chain of happy events and ‘put it all together’? Freestyle group fitness will again reach out and benefit more members in our community.
The following is a block of choreography that has multiple layers in the learning curves to progress to the final product gradually, direction changes around the step to keep it interesting and rhythm changes for advanced options. Take it to your class, have fun and build a strong freestyle following.
Watch the choreography by clicking play on the video below:
With a background in classical dance, Stephen has been in the fitness industry for 14 years and currently holds the position of group fitness manager. Having competed successfully in sport aerobics, he is now focusing on helping fellow instructors develop their freestyle teaching skills. Stephen is committed to doing all he can to see more freestyle group exercise on club timetables.