Low Impact Circuit

Cathe Friedrich
Year Released: 2006

Categories: Circuit Training (cardio and weights)

I’m reviewing this workout after doing it twice (IIRC, I did the whole thing once as is, then did the step-only premix once).

General workout breakdown: As with all of Cathe’s videos, you can get a lot more information about plus view a long clip of this step cardio and weights circuit workout at Cathe.com.
The basic format of this 75 min. routine is this: 8 min. warm-up; three circuits with 5-8 min. of step aerobics, 2 min. of a step blast, 2.5-3.5 min. of lower body strength (which for the 1st 2 circuit cycle has more of a cardio focus with included upper body moves to make this more multi-limbed or “compound”), and 4-6 min. of upper body strength; 8 min. of abs; and 6 min. stretch. There’s also a bonus step combo (6 min. cardio, 3 min. blast).
Cathe doesn’t break down things much here, so there might be a bit of a learning curve for those less experienced with moderately complex step and/or new to Cathe, but the choreography isn’t overwhelmingly complex. The flip side is that once you know the routine you won’t be bored by tons of breakdown. The step blasts consists of drills; for example, the first one has side knee lifts, then side leg lifts, done around the world. As always, Cathe’s choreography is on the athletic side (e.g. step w/ knee, shuffles, lunges) and incorporates many of the classic step moves (e.g. V step, A step, U turn).
Here are the strength exercises:
Circuit Cycle 1: legs/cardio = pulsing side lunge into overhead press, side lunge w/ 1-arm reach into overhead press; upper body = lateral raise with heel taps, overhead press, and external rotation pulls (w/ band)
Circuit Cycle 2: legs/cardio = reverse lunge w/ first hammer and then regular biceps curl + alternating knee lift / front kick; upper body = bicep curls, straddle push ups, lying extensions, and kick backs.
Circuit Cycle 3: lower body = balancing squats; upper body = push ups, lat pull downs, scapular retractions, and standing rows (last 3 w/ band).
As you expect from Cathe, there are tempo variations, and she’ll also throw in twists like only going halfway, adding a rotation, holding for a few seconds, or working in the band. She usually includes a quick stretch after an exercise or at least body part.

Level: I’d recommend this to someone who’s at least solidly intermediate when it comes to step and weights, although it’s aimed primarily at those in the more int./adv. range or more adv. exercisers looking for a lighter day. As long as you use an appropriate step height and choose the appropriate amount of resistance this can be modified up or down, although if you’re not comfortable with at least medium-level step choreography you may find this frustrating. I’m in the int./adv. camp and find this an appropriate challenge for me: not easy, but definitely not intense enough to kill me.

Class: Lorraine, Brenda, Cedie, and Jai join Cathe, who instructs live.

Music: combination of upbeat instrumentals with vocal remixes of more popular songs, including a tuba-heavy dance party version of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” The music is definitely a big step up from average and can be quite motivating.

Set: bright interior set with “windows” that appear to open onto a forest.

Production: super crisp picture and sound, camera angles that never distract – the usual high quality Cathe stuff. Both Cathe’s voice and the music are pretty loud, but you can still hear Cathe over the tunes.

Equipment: step (Cathe and crew use a full-sized step with 2 sets of risers; I used my shorter step and 1 set), at least one pair of light dumbbells, a barbell (or a pair or two of heavier dumbbells, if you don’t have or don’t want to use a barbell), a 6’ resistance band (I used one of medium resistance, but choose what’s appropriate for you), and maybe a mat, depending upon your workout room floor.

Space Requirements: You need to be able to walk around your step as well as work behind your step plus have room to do the strength exercises and keep your equipment handy but not underfoot.

DVD Notes: The main menu features these options: Intro to Workout, Play Program, Chapters (which has the warm-up; the step combo, step blasts, lower body, and each upper body move from each circuit cycle; abs; stretch; and bonus cardio), Mix & Match (Warm Up, Circuit Cycles 1-3, Abs, Stretch, Bonus Cardio; you click on what you want to do, and after you do that segment you’re returned to this menu to pick something else, Premixes (Cardio Blast Timesaver, 48.5 min.; Lower Body Circuit, 56 min.; Upper Body Circuit, 65.5 min.; Upper Body Sculpt, 31 min.; Total Body Sculpt, 47 min.; All 4 Blast Add On, 9.5 min.), and Credits.
N.B. The very first batch that went out to those who preordered had a glitch during the triceps lying extension (at 42:44) that caused a little skip or freeze on many players, but corrected discs were sent out; everything issued since that period should be glitch-free.

Comments: The step portion is more similar to Low Max than to Low Impact Step, particularly with regards to the more complex choreography (although LIC doesn’t have quite as many twisty turny moves, full pivots, and actual high impact moves, i.e. moves in which both feet are momentarily off of the ground as LM) and the lower body-intensive drills or blasts.

Instructor Comments:
As always, Cathe is her upbeat professional self. She cues moves decently, although she could be a tad more precise on her step cuing for those of us who haven’t been stepping with her since the beginning. She mirror cues, too.