Shock Cardio Step Moves

Cathe Friedrich
Year Released: 2009

Categories: Step Aerobics

I’m reviewing this workout after doing it once.

General workout breakdown: This DVD has one 44.5-min. step aerobics video.
The warm-up (9 min.) runs through several steps, which are then chopped up and put into a combo, followed by dynamic stretches (which I prefer in a warm-up).
In the main workout (30 min.) Cathe teaches three mega combos, each built up in halves. There's minimal layering; pretty much what you see the first run through is what you'll get, although there are a few tweaks here and there. Cathe does three to four run throughs of any parts and then two of the full combo, and then it's onto the next bit. The workout ends with a final run through of all three combos, each done twice in a row before the next one is done, so no real TIFTing, as you'll find in other complex choreo videos.
The choreography is decently interesting. It has some dance-inspired moves like mambos, cha chas, box steps, and pivots, but it’s not dancey, if that makes sense. You’ll be traveling all over the step and around it; Cathe leaves no corner on and off the step untouched. The 4-point turn - insole up - cross wide - hold - wide pump was probably the only block I found that just didn’t flow as well for me as the others.
For the cool-down, Cathe does a few knees corner to corner, marches with a few breaths, step touches a few times, and thens tell you to finish cooling down on your own. (Personally I would have preferred another few minutes provided in a separate chapter for those of us who need and/or prefer to have a cool-down provided; it wouldn’t have to be another combo, just some 8 counts of basic steps that gradually reduce in intensity, for example.)
The stretch (4.5 min.), done standing, touches upon the chest, upper back, low back, (back of the) shoulders, inner thighs, glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors, and calves; it also includes a spinal twist. As always Cathe’s lower body stretches focus on the hamstrings, although she pays a lot of attention to the inner thighs here, too. As in many of her other videos, there’s nothing directed at the quadriceps, but at least there’s a little something for the hip flexors, which I always need, especially after stepping.

Level: I’d recommend this to intermediate through low (maybe mid-) advanced steppers comfortable with at least moderately complex choreography, using an appropriate step height for your fitness level or intensity needs.
I consider myself an intermediate / advanced in cardio, although I sometimes still feel like more of an intermediate plus when it comes to step, which I’ve only been doing for a few years now. I pick choreography up quickly if it’s broken down and cued well, which is somewhat true here. Mainly because the choreography wasn’t too complicated I felt fairly confident with it after one through (again, know I think I’m better than average at picking up – although probably not exactly executing – choreography), although I could stand to clean up a few places and add the rest of the hops and arms back in (this is too clap-happy for my tastes, though). This gave me more of a steady state workout that had me in a moderately high work zone, with my heart rate actually just above where it has been during my recent working through Christi Taylor’s step workouts (many of them also for the first time). I will say that the second half of the second combo and most of the third combo were less intense than the first combo and the first half of the second combo; when Cathe came off of the step and started mamboing or spinning around the floor, my HR dropped some.

Class: Cedie, Brenda, and Lorraine join Cathe.

Music: courtesy of DJ Brian Howe, it’s upbeat, mostly instrumental stuff with a strong beat. I recognized a few tunes, including “Put Your Hands up in the Air,” which appears in one of the MMAs (although this might be a slightly different mix). The music’s all right; it could be better, but it could be worse. Actually, the music didn’t really register with me, so I can see why others find it uninspiring.

Set: bright interior studio with “windows” featuring views of NYC rooftops and Cathe-labeled racks of dumbbells and other equipment neatly placed around the outside walls.

Production: clear picture and sound, with Cathe’s voice clearly audible over the music. Greg Twombly is the producer, so the camera angles are what you’ve come to expect from his work and are mostly helpful rather than distracting.

Equipment: Cathe and company use a step with 1 set of risers (6”) for the workout, and that’s what I used, too.

Space Requirements: You should be able to run around with your step, with enough room for some turns in there (for someone like me, with size 10-11 feet, that means at least 18” of clearance to the sides and front). You’ll need a little more space behind the step, as there are a few moves that back up off of the step onto the floor, many of them off to the side (although you could keep them directly behind the step if you don’t have tons of room in the corners).

DVD Notes: The main menu options are Introduction, Play, Chapters (Warm Up, Step Combo 1, Step Combo 2, Step Combo 3, Finished Product, Stretch), and Credits.

Comments: I’m coming from a different place than Nancy, so I’m going to offer a different opinion. I seem to be doing that a lot with these Shock Cardios, liking what others dislike or even hate and disliking what others like or even love…
Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised by this one. I’m glad I got it for the discounted preorder price, however, since the workout’s relatively short and there’s nothing else on the DVD. I have so many other fun step workouts on my shelf that I’m worried this may not get a lot of play, though. 45 minutes is kind of an odd length of time for me, too; I prefer a little shorter for add ons and a little longer for cardio only days.
I have done only a few of Cathe’s other step workouts, and those I have done (Basic Step, Low Impact Step, Low Max, Low Impact Circuit, Step Blast, and 4 Day Split Lower Intensity Step and Higher Intensity Step) I haven’t done many times, so I can’t really compare this with her other offerings.
I agree more helpful or at least consistent cuing and better music would give this a stronger chance at winning more folks over.

Things I wish I had known before tackling this workout that would have eased the learning curve:
- Cathe’s cue timing is inconsistent. She alternates cuing a beat ahead of the move change and cuing right on it, and there are even a few times she cues after it. I prefer cuing ahead of the move, but I would have been fine with her usual cuing on or almost on the move change if she had just been consistent.
- Cathe provides few verbal directional cues, except during some turns, when I definitely needed them. Don’t expect to have right and left pointed out, especially in footfalls, all that often. That said, she does include some pointing to let you know which direction to go; sadly, some of these were when my back was to the TV.
- In a few places Cathe throws out whole blocks of choreography at once, saying, “Now we’ll do A, B, C, D, E, F, and G,” then launching right into the whole shebang. This seems to be the latest trend in teaching complex choreo on videos, based on feedback from experienced exercisers who want less breakdown to bog them down as they do a video over and over. However, I believe there is a happy medium that doesn’t alienate repeat viewers while still enabling folks to learn the routine in the first place. Cathe introduces some of the blocks in smaller chunks, however, so not all are taught in this manner, fortunately.
- Cathe does not always give a clear heads up on new moves or alterations to moves already in place. A few times she adds changes in as you’re running through the block again without letting you know at the beginning of the combo that a change is coming.
- Two of the moves in the warm-up reappear in the workout itself, although one of them is done in a different direction. Again, a little heads up to put those moves into the memory bank would have been appreciated. Introducing moves during the warm-up, especially those that are more complicated, is one good way to cut down on breakdown in the workout itself, so I’m surprised Cathe didn’t do this more systematically.
- The usual filler move, the power knee (or knee with a hop) corner to corner, also begins the first combo. While this makes a smooth transition into this particular combo, it also creates a little confusion, as Cathe once or twice cues this move without telling you whether you’re running through the combo again or stopping for a (mental) breather before moving on.
- As I mentioned above, Cathe builds each combo in halves, which she immediately weaves together. There’s no repetition on right and left of the first half, then the second; she goes right into first half on the right side, second half on the left, first on the left, and second on the right (or whatever direction she uses). Those who are experienced with Cathe’s step workouts may be used to this, but for those of us who aren’t this was a bit of a surprise that first time through.
None of these issues prevented me from learning or enjoying the workout my first time through – thankfully I’m a pretty visual learner, so unclear or lacking cues don’t trip me up all that much – but I point them out in the hopes that someone else will be spared some of the surprise and confusion I had during my first run through.

Instructor Comments:
Cathe’s cuing here assumes prior familiarity with her style. Although she seems to be trying to cue this workout for those new to it, her cuing makes more sense the more you’re familiar with the workout itself (She does tell you to preview first…). Even though Cathe still exudes a positive attitude I agree that she’s more subdued than in previous series; she’s more “It’s time to work out, so let’s get started,” rather than “Woo hoo! It’s time get stepping! Are you ready?”