Step Jam

Cathe Friedrich
Year Released: 1996

Categories: Step Aerobics

(Cursory review after my first workout with Step Jam)

I was surpised it didn't require a lot of rewinds even though the choreograpy is the most intricate Cathe has ever done. It's awesome! Much better than Step Heat and it might even become my favorite over Step Max. There are a lot of hop turns to every side of the bench you can imagine, and your back is to the tv a lot. Simple over the tops become turns in mid air, then you go over airborne and turn the other way back to the front. The warm-up is really good; not at all difficult, and it's done to the tribal beat music, which is passable, at least by my standards. Of course I was too busy learning the choreography.

Her cuing is better than ever in this video, just like in Mega Step Blast, and I believe that's the reason I followed her so easily. I couldn't believe with all those moves with your back to the tv I ended up in the right place 98% of the time.

In the warm-up, she starts by teaching you an "arm jive", which is just arms going side to side right, left, right, out and down, then she combines it with side steps. After that you do 2 grapevines, 2 hamstring curls, 2 knee lifts (to the right and then to the left). Then she teaches you a "3-in-1", which is 3 side steps and a calf pump. Eventually you take the ham curls and knee lifts over the step making a full circle. This is the whole warm-up, doing it all to the right side, then to the left. The calf pumps are a simple move that have your weight balanced to take the pattern to the left side.

There is so much choreography it's hard to remember what sections contain what moves, and how they are blended together. I'll try to type some out but they might end up to be in different patterns than what you'll see on the video.

The first section contains the techno-country music. Again, it's passable, since it's a rather short section. It begins with basics like in Step Heat only with different arms (quarter arms which is up-up, down-down, bicep curls, and backward shoulder rolls alternating shoulders). Then she goes into jump ups like in Step Heat, and hop turns just like you see in the other tapes. Then she does corner to corner outer thighs like in Step Max, but on the 3rd one, you straddle down, hop-turn over the step still doing an outer thigh, and end up on the front of the bench (facing tv), but in the opposite direction you started. When she first did it, I was amazed I ended up in the right place. Oh, before the outer thighs she does knee-up corner to corner, first with arms up and down, and then changes the arms to clap underneath the knee and chest press (then goes into the outer thighs). After the outer thigh/straddle hop turn move you do regular horseshoes, then power horseshoes, so you're jumping into the turn with both feet landing on the bench simultaneously, then step down. This is all I can remember of the first section; there might be one other combo. Oh, I think it's the step knee, tap down on the opposite side, like in Step Heat; you do it once I think, then come back to the front of your bench into a repeater, which transitions you to the other lead leg. She also does the run-runs onto the step followed by lunge-offs the front (like in Step Heat), but I can't remember if this is in section 1 or 2.

Section 2 is trickier. This is where I had to rewind a few times. She begins by showing you what looks like a combination you'll never get in a million years. However, she breaks it down so easily while teaching it I had no problem doing it. (I was actually yelling, "Yeah, Cathe!" alone in my living room.) Step up right, 3 knee repeaters left, step down, step up left, scoop 3 times on the step. On the 3rd scoop, you hop turn off the back so you're on the end of the step with your back to the tv. Go over the top (either 2 or 3X) w/your back to the tv, straddle down off the back, tap the floor, step knee up to the front of your step, ready to go on the left lead. The next combo in this section is very tricky. I'm typing from memory so it might not be completely accurate, but will give you a general idea. It starts with T-steps off the side like in Step Heat, but then she changes the off the side to a hop turn so you land in front of your step facing the opposite direction. Using the width of your step, do a step insole on the floor, turn around on the floor, and jump up onto your bench facing the direction in which you started. It's difficult to type out, but again, she breaks this one down so you first do the t-steps front, and the step-insoles on the step (like in Step Max), then adds the step insoles on the floor and the turn on the t-step. This is all I can remember from section 2, but there's not much else to learn that would be difficult.

Section 3 is awesome, the most choreographed and fun of all. The very first combo is tricky; I had to watch it a couple times because a 2 knee-repeater actually pivots around to the back, straddle up, lunge down starting with the outside leg (facing the tv - I kept using the inside leg and messing up, so remember; it's the leg closest to the tv that starts lunging), lunge forward and back, exit off the front of your step. In fact, when she teaches the repeater-pivot straddle up, she simply marches on the bench and tells you not to panic; to collect your thoughts and keep trying. After this I believe she moves into 2 basic steps corner to corner (basics are hard to do corner to corner!), 3 knee repeaters, and then a repeater shuffle (also very tricky, stay on the balls of your feet and loosen up the body!). Then she does the up-jack like in Mega Step Blast, rock down (kinda funky), hop up 2X, step down, 3 hamstring curls corner to corner. After the 3rd one you turn over the top with your back to the tv (really tricky!) and do the ham curls to the back starting on the opposite side. I liken this move to the "circle jumps lunge overs" she does in Step Heat, because your body moves the same way only you're doing ham curls. Then she changes those ham curls to hop up and kick 3X, go over the step just like you did on the hams and do the kicks to the back. However, when you return to the front after those kicks you actually RUN-TURN over the top. Be careful on this one. It's an invitation for injury if you're tired, and you will be by that point! Eventually she blends the moves together so you do 3 hams to the front, turn over with your back to the tv, kick to the back 3X, and run-turn over to the front. This section also contains L steps on top of the the step, step off the side, go over the long way, and step hop to the front. Again, I'm not completely sure where they fit in with the above.

I think section 3 also contains a hop turn and over and overs with your back to the tv right in the beginning, and the combos above might not flow as described as far as sequence is concerned, but the moves themselves are pretty accurate.

Oh, Step Heat's music is used throughout section 2 and 3 of Step Jam, and I think that's why I could follow so easily. I knew the rhythm and could move to the beat.

The cooldown is really easy, very short, and not even funky, just has some funk-like arm movements to, as Cathe says, "free your mind." At some point during the cooldown she changes the grapevine to a side step but doesn't cue it, you just see her doing it. (It's all grapvevines and step touches with funk-like arms to "throw the sweat off". You clap on count 3 of the grapevine and throw your arms out to the side on 4, like you are tossing something out.)

This video is definitely not for the coordination impaired! In fact, for many it could be an accident waiting to happen, but advanced steppers will love the challenge, intensity, and 47 minutes of the hottest step combos I've ever done!

Roberta Kagno