Is Step Aerobics Really Dying?

That’s what Diane, an instructor at my local LA Fitness (where I can be found typically 4 or 5 times a week) announced this morning, adding that today we were going to try Step with Kick Boxing, a combination that my neighbor chortlingly christened “Stoxing.”

Step Aerobics was developed around 1989, I learned from the Wikipedia article, although I don’t think it was widely adopted until Reebok started to market steps and videos for in home use. I took it up in around 1991, I think. I was living in Wimbledon at the time with my first husband, working as a Brand Manager for Birds Eye Walls, and I did classes at a boutique women only gym whose name I have forgotten.

The first time I tried Step aerobics I was atrocious at it! I just could not get the hang of the tap change. But I persevered, as I tend to at things I find challenging, and pretty soon had reached proficiency. I also bought my own Reebok step/video, and did that in the tiny front room of our tiny row home on the nights I did not get out of work early enough for class. I was hooked!

After my marriage broke up and I went to live in Bristol there was a short period in my life during which Step aerobics played no role. But after my first child was born in 1997 I started taking fitness classes again at the Rivermead Leisure Complex in Reading, and Step re-entered my life.

Apparently it’s like riding a bike–you never forget.

In 2000 we moved to New Jersey, and my fitness allegiance was given to the Burlington County Y, where I remained until September 2010, taking step classes with a couple of wonderful women (Karen and Vicky) whose choreography could be challenging for beginners, but presented no problem for an old pro like me.

The Y and I fell out partly because of Step. The Y had around 20 steps, all of which were so old (10 years or so) that the risers no longer locked into the main platform properly. Several short term fixes were tried to avoid the outlay of purchasing new steps, but these failed. So, after a few people got injured, and some rousing but ultimately ineffective letters to the Y’s management, I decamped to LA Fitness, which costs less per month and has newer equipment.

The first time I tried Diane’s Step class, I was atrocious at it, again! The woman’s choreography can be mindblowingly complex, with non-intuitive, against the beat moves, and she likes to splice her routines. (Don’t ask!) However, my long years of practice stood in my favor, and it wasn’t long before I, too, was looking with pity at the newbies who struggled to follow along, and quite often simply put their steps away and left.

But now it’s death knell has sounded! The old timers like me want their complex choreography, and no one at LA Fitness offers a beginners’ step class, so the young people (Alas, I am no longer classified as such) take their Kick Boxing and Zumba instead. I suppose 20 years is a pretty good run for an exercise fad, but I’m still sad. It’s such a great mind and body workout, and while trying to follow one of Diane’s spliced routines, it’s almost impossible to brood obsessively over the latest rejection!

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