Step Aerobic Terminology

Women doing step aerobics

Whether you are teaching or taking a step aerobic class, you need knowledge of basic step aerobic terminology. Otherwise, you may feel as if you have entered a foreign country and do not speak the language. You may hear familiar exercise movements such as a V-Step, mambo or step touch, but you may also find yourself wondering how to do an around the world, L-Step or T-Step.

Basic Movements

Step aerobics begins with a basic step on and off the platform. This movement uses four counts: two steps up and two steps down. The basic step is varied when you step up wide onto the platform and down narrow to the floor into a V-Step. When a turn is added to the V-Step, the movement is called a turnstep. Other step basic terminology includes repeaters, which is one movement repeated three or five times on one leg, two marches and then repeat the movement on the opposite leg. Leg lifting movements use the terms "knee lift" for a bent-knee lift to the front or side of the body, "kick" for a straight leg lift or "curl" for a heel touch behind the body.

Directional Changes

The rectangular shape of the platform allows for many directional patterns. When you use one corner of the step and then the other corner, this is known as a "corner-to-corner" or "diagonal" step. If you choose to go from the back side of the step, across the narrow top of the platform and begin on the front side of the step, you are performing an "over-the-top" exercise. An "across-the-top" exercise begins on the side of the step, crosses over the widest part of the platform and finishes on the opposite side.


Many movements on the step begin with capital letters. The letter symbolizes the pattern you make on and off the platform. For example, a "T-Step" begins with you facing the narrow side of the step. Step up with your right foot and then your left. Step off to the right side with your right foot and then to the left side with your left foot. Return to the top and step off to the starting position. Your foot pattern makes a capital "T". An "L-Step" begins facing the widest part of the platform. The "L" is upside down. Step up onto the right end of the step with your right foot, then your left. Step your right foot off to the side and follow with your left foot. Step up with your left foot and then your right. Step off to the back with your left and then your right. You may hear other letters such as an "A-Step," "K-Step," or "X-Step," which use the platform and your foot patterns to form the letters.


The words to describe the equipment may be unusual to you. The rectangular step is known as the platform. The plastic, colored squares that you place underneath the platform are known as risers. The platform height should place your knees at 90-degree angles when your foot is on the platform. Use a "quiet step" when placing your feet on the platform. You should not be able to hear a lot of pounding. You will often hear one leg referred to as the "lead leg." This is the leg with which you begin the pattern. The lead leg steps up onto the step and steps down onto the floor. If both legs leave the floor and the platform, you are doing a "propulsion step."