What Is Step Aerobics? A Beginner’s Guide

By:    Published: May 16, 2012

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In order to maintain your health, as well as your figure, it’s recommended that you exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. But who wants to get dressed and drive to gym only to spend a half-hour working out? The good news is you don’t have to. You can spend that half-hour in the comfort of your own home, doing an exercise that’s simple and easy and won’t leave you feeling exhausted afterward.

That exercise is called step aerobics and provides a high-intensity, low-impact workout that will give you the results you want without a lot of effort. Step aerobics offers many health and economic benefits and the routine can be easily adapted to fit your needs.


The history of aerobics goes back quite a few years. People have been dong aerobic workouts or forms of aerobic workouts since the 1950s. But step aerobics wasn’t created until 1989, when competitive gymnast Gin Miller injured her knee by overworking it in high-impact aerobic workouts. As part of her physical therapy, she had to make stepping up and down on a milk box a part of her daily routine. Miller decided to use her front porch steps and some music to make the workout more interesting, and step aerobics was officially born.

Preparing To Step

In order to do step aerobics, you’ll need something to step on. You can use a step aerobics bench, which is available at sporting goods stores, or, if you prefer to practice step aerobics at home, you can use a set of stairs, a thick phonebook or a sturdy box, similar to what Gin Miller used when she created the exercise. Just make sure that whatever you choose to use is sturdy, can support your weight and isn’t too high.

The Basics Of Step Aerobics

As a beginner, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the basic steps of step aerobics before jumping into a more advanced routine. These are some of the basic steps that you can practice. Keep in mind that your lead foot is the foot that you lead with.

  • The Basic Step – Step onto the bench with your right foot, followed by your left foot. Then step down with your right foot, followed by your left foot.
  • The Tap Up – This step is similar to the basic step. Step onto the bench with your lead foot, and then tap the bench with your other foot. Bring that foot back to the ground, followed by your lead foot.
  • The Split Basic Step – Step onto the bench with your right foot, followed by your left foot. Tap the ground with your right foot and then bring it back onto the step. Repeat that move with your left foot and then step down with your right foot, followed by your left.
  • The Repeater – Step onto the bench with your lead foot and do a leg lift with the opposite foot. Tap the ground with that foot. Repeat the leg lift/tap three times.
  • The Grapevine – Step to the side with your lead foot and then cross the opposite foot behind it. Step to the side with your lead foot again and bring up the opposite foot so it rests next to your lead foot.
  • The “A” Step – Stand next to your bench and face sideways. Step onto it with your lead foot, followed by your other foot. Then step down on the other side, lead foot first.
  • The “I” Step – Perform a basic step but before stepping down, do a jumping jack.
  • The “V” Step – This step is similar to a basic step, but the difference is that you should step far, with your foot landing on the farthest side of the bench.
  • The Turn Step – This step can be tricky for some, so keep in mind that you’ll be changing directions while stepping. Stand facing the side of the bench. Step up onto the side nearest you with your lead foot and then step onto the other side with the opposite foot. With feet firmly planted, turn your body so you are facing forward. Turn once more so you are facing the side you started on, and step back onto the ground with your lead foot, followed by the other foot.
  • The Corner-to-Corner Step – Step onto the corner of the bench with your lead foot and do a leg lift with your opposite foot. Bring it back to the ground, followed by your lead foot. Repeat this step on the next corner using the opposite foot first.

After you become comfortable with these steps, you can start to organize your own routine. You can vary the routine by turning the leg lifts into kicks or by increasing the number of taps. Once you become really advanced, you can incorporate the upper body into the routine by lifting light weights while stepping.

How To Prevent Injury

It can be very easy to injure yourself while doing step aerobics if you make these rookie mistakes:

  • Using a bench that’s too high – Make sure the bench height is comparable to your leg length.
  • Stepping onto the bench incorrectly – Make sure you place your entire foot on the bench. If the heel is hanging off, this puts undue stress on the foot and could lead to Achilles tendinitis.
  • Bouncing or hopping off of the bench – This also puts undue stress on the feet and ankles and could lead to a shin split or a stress fracture.


Step aerobics not only works your lower body, it also does wonders your heart. It increases your heart rate and helps you to burn a lot of fat and calories. It also has economic benefits, the main one being that it’s cheap. You don’t need to buy any expensive equipment; all you need is a step aerobics bench or a set of stairs. You don’t need a lot of room to do step aerobics and once you familiarize yourself with the steps, you can shape the routine to make it more challenging.


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