Step Max

Cathe Friedrich
Year Released: 1995

Categories: Step Aerobics

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I see why this is a favorite. This workout rocks! She has a heck of a warmup. I was already sweating from the warm up then she really took it there. lol From beginning to the end I was pouring sweat. I love the moves and her cueing. I like simple non complex aerobics and that's why I love this tape. I was in my target heart rate and I had to stop for a water break twice. I don't really know what else to say but get this video if you want to burn fat, improve your cardiovascular system, sweat like a hog and have a good time. Step Max and Step Heat are my favorite step tapes overall. Cathe gets a big A+ for this one.

Instructor Comments:
I want Cathe's body! I really love Cathe Friedrich. She is the best step aerobic instructor on the market.



I found out about Cathe Friedrich on the internet. I won Step Max on ebay and after doing it one time I went back and ordered three more videos. It's a very good step tape that has three different sections. A little into the first section I was sweating and breathing hard. I love the combos and Cathe whooping and ahhing was great. It took me four days before I could make it all the way through this video. It's tough but you will burn fat and work your butt off. The last part is serious power work. The lunges and explosions will have your heart working overtime. It's a serious workout and not for the faint of heart. I work out with Charlene Prickett in the morning and Cathe Friedrich at night and combined with proper eating (Richard Simmons food mover) I have already lost 11 pounds. I can't wait to get her three other videos that are on their way to my house. When I receive those I will be reviewing them as well but if they are anything like Step Max then I will be very satisfied. :)

Instructor Comments:
Cathe is wonderful. I love her personality and she is in great shape. Her body is not overly muscular and her body is tight from head to toe. She also has workout friends in this video including a fuller bodies blonde who goes through the entire workout with a smile. The whole crew is incredible and very motivating.



This is a GREAT workout. I even like it better than Power Max. The first section is an intermediate linear combination. In section two, cathe really turns up the intensity. She has you jumping over your step in every possible way. The third and final section is plyo power. In this section cathe REALLY TURNS UP THE INTENSITY. It starts out easy but then it turns into torture for the thighs. After you do the whole combination, cathe makes you do it again on the other side. By the end of this workout i'm really drenched and proud of myself for being able to complete this workout. If i were to rate the intensity and sweat factor of this workout it would be a 10. If you (like me) want an VERY INTENSE workout with simple coreography Step Max is for you. If you prefer more complex coreography Power Max is probably for you.

Instructor Comments:
Cathe's cueing makes this workout really easy to follow. She makes this workout enjoyable even though it's really brutal.

pat griffin


I love that Plyo Power! The endorphins are pumping after Section 3. This is still one of my favorite Cathe videos even though she has come up with even better ones, this is still a classic to me. The only thing I don't care for are the colors of the set, which is a real eyesore, but the content of the workout more than makes up for this minor detail.

Wendy M


I have been doing this video for about a year and I still love it. I ordered it after doing Step Jam and Power Max. I find that the first two sections of this tape are not that difficult, but I call the third section (plyo power) ludicruos, insane, or whatever word I come up with that day. Don't get me wrong: I call it those words not because it is bad. I call it these because it is the most challenging step section I have ever done. It definitely makes you sweat. Like other reviewers, I feel that Power MAx, and now MIC, are harder on the whole. But that third section of Step Max kills me every time I do it. This is a video that I do regularly, and I have not gotten sick or tired of it. It is fun, and seems to go by fast. I like the long cooldown, because believe me, after plyo power, I need it!!!!!

Melanie Higgins


I LOVED this workout!!! It was fun and intense without being impossibly dancy. Cathe knows how utilize the whole step for maximum intensity. I liked the cuing and just the overall syle.

I usually do step aerobics five times a week. I'm bored with the health club routines so I've worked out a home schedule. I do 2 days, then take a day off, then do 3 days. This tape is going to be my Thursday tape (day before my break). It's definitely one to work up to!

The only thing that bugged me about this tape was that Cathe is a bit obnoxious. My boyfriend said that if you weren't watching the tape, and took away the cues, it would sound like an adult movie with all of her, "Oooo, it feels so good. Doesn't that feel soooo good? I have to agree, but it's still an AWSOME WORKOUT.

Anne N.


You see, life is just too short to waste time doing the tapes I don't care for as much. This tape has good music, good choreography, and is a pretty thorough workout. But after doing it a couple times, I've found I never have the desire to try it again, and I'm considering putting it on the Exchange.

The main thing that bugs me about this tape is Cathe's personality. She is always kinda cheesy, but on this tape she keeps going, "Feels SO good!" or "Cool!" over and over for no apparent reason. I told myself that if I ever did this tape again, I would count how many times she said, "Cool!" The somewhat garish colors of the set and costumes don't help much.

I do think most Cathe fans would like this tape. I can't even go so far to say I dislike it - but I would rather do PowerMax or StepFit, or for that matter CIA 8003. Now - I'm off to do StepFit!

Instructor Comments:

Jen Blaske


When I first watched this video, I thought that this was a tape I was not going to like. The orange set looked garish and is made more so by the purple outfits that the exercisers wear, some of the funky moves in the warm-up and cooldown looked silly, and Cathe is younger and goofier than she is in later videos like Power Max. But after trying it a couple of times, I found I loved this workout. This is a tape that excellent for a day that you're feeling a little sluggish, but still want to get your "derrière" kicked. The three sections build in intensity. The first section is intense enough to get your heart pumping, but simple enough to allow that extra time you need to get your mind moving. My one criticism with this section is that the intensity lets up a little too much during the "3 count horses." To add intensity, I use the variation from Power Max with the double jump. The second section is tougher, and the choreography slightly more complex. It's the third section ("Plyo Power") that makes me adore this tape: the choreography is still moderate, but aerobically, it's a killer — IMO, the toughest section in all of Cathe's post Mega Step Blast Videos (to date). To my surprise, I love doing the cooldown, funky moves and all. In fact, this is my favorite of Cathe's cooldowns, I don't know why — the power of those endorphins generated by this excellent workout, I guess.

Instructor Comments:

Karen P


I love StepMax. I have a lot of fun doing the tape. I have been a runner for years and consider myself to be advanced in terms of cardio, but intermediate in terms of choreographic skills. If something is too complex, I get frustrated; if something is too basic, I get bored. Cathe hits the right balance with Step Max. I enjoy the warmup. It really makes me ready to workout. I find the first section fairly moderate, but I have fun with it and it prepares me for the rest of the workout. Section two is great - I never think I am working that hard, until I take my pulse. It is always really high. Section three is killer. It wipes me out every time. I am not crazy about the cool down - I don't enjoy walking around the step, and the stretching is too short. Plus I wish there was an ab workout. But these small complaints aside, I have to say that everytime I do Step Max, I really feel like I have had a great workout. Comparable to running, even. When I first tried the workout, I wasn't crazy about it, but after a few times through I was hooked. Once you know the routine you can do it again and again, and always get a good workout. I would give the video an "A".



This video is another high quality Step N Motion product. Cathe’s cuing is great and the moves are fun. The choreography in this video seems to be less involved than PowerMax or Step Fit, but it is still a lot of fun. The workout is broken up in to three sections, warmup and cooldown/stretch. The warmup is fun, and flows right in to the first section which is mainly a set of linear combinations that you do on one leg, and then you do the whole thing on the other leg. This is the longest section of the video at 16 minutes. The next two sections are more intense, but are also more fun. The second is a series of alternating propulsion/non propulsion moves on and off of the board, that makes a full dance that you do at the end. This section really gets the heart rate up, and although some people have mentioned that the soundtrack is a little overused, I love it. During the second section, I whoop and holler right along with Cathe. The third section is the shortest, and most intense. I neither whoop nor holler because I do not have enough energy or lung capacity to do so. This section has some very challenging power moves, and when you think you’re totally exhausted, she says "I’ve brought back the riccochet" and you start hopping. After the third section, "Plyo Power" I feel completely wrung out. The cooldown is kind of a funky one, and it’s a lot of fun, and not too long. Stretches follow. This video is a lot of fun, and provides a good challenging workout.

Andrea H.


I have tried and tried to like this and a couple of other Cathe tapes I have, but I just don't. Step Max is definitely a good workout. However, I just do not find it "fun" to any reasonable degree. Some of the moves I really like, such as the explosions. I can't exactly pinpoint why I don't like the workout, though, except that her routines don't seem to "flow" very well. Many times it seems like you're just doing this and that and a jumble of other things simply to get your heart pumping. And your heart does pump, but if I just wanted hard work, I could go mow the lawn (blech!). It may be that I'm certifiably insane, since everyone else seems to adore Cathe's tapes -- but I admit it -- I just don't think this is fun! (Is there a 12-step program for me?)

Annie S.


Cathe is very creative with her step choreography, and herein lies my problem. I can't follow her choeography cueing to save my life! I have tried for about 6 weeks to catch on to this tape. I'm not *that* patient with learning a new workout. I like to spend no more than a week figuring out choreography. Any more than that, I feel like I'm wasting valuable workout time. Also, I find this video a little bit too "commentary-intensive" for my tastes. I guess I don't like a video instructor saying "You look so HOT!" and other things along those lines.
Step Max is an intense, advanced-level workout. Cathe uses a lot of combinations, variations and add-ons. There are quite a few times where your back or side are facing the T.V., and you can't really see what's going on. I *might* be able to catch on to this Cathe video if I had four T.V.s running the video simultaneously in each direction I need to face.
Also, I wish that Cathe would add abs and upper body toning to the end of the workout. The exclusively step routine isn't enough to qualify the video as a "complete" workout.
The one thing I did like was the cool down. I don't know why, but I caught on to it quickly, and it was fun. My dogs really got excited when I walked completely around the step. It made me laugh.
I would recommend this video to anyone who likes step, catches on to choreography quickly, likes instructor commentary/motivation and is an advanced level exerciser. Personally, I found StepMax to be a solid-sweat tape, but it really did not suit my personal tastes.

Christine Letsky


Until PowerMax came out, this was my favorite of Cathe Friedrich's videos. It remains one of the toughest step video on the market. On the other hand, those who don't have a lot of experience with power stepping should probably master "Energy Sprint" (and/or Reebok's power step tape) first--Karen Voight's form pointers are much better. If you can't do "Energy Sprint" or Step Reebok's "Power Workout" without gasping for breath, you will probably not make it through this tape and you will not be able to execute all the advanced power moves (richochets, hop turns, explosions) safely and with good form. Please take this warning seriously! This tape is among the most advanced of the advanced tapes out there.

I like everything about this tape--the music is a highly motivating traditional aerobic mix, and Cathe does her best job yet of matching choreography to music beautifully. I enjoy this one so much that I can't help but smile while doing the video.

The warm up on this tape is a great one--most tapes' warm ups barely get my heart going, but this one does it with lots of traveling moves, level changes, squats, even a little bit of power. Section 1 is pretty linear (you do a move on one leg, then the other, rather than learning a long combo), but tough, with lots of power moves. Cathe includes some interesting moves like 3-count "hesitation" turn steps and over the tops (instead of completing the move you go back the other way). Some of the moves from this section are used in Section 2's long combo.

The long combo in section 2 is my favorite combination--the music and steps work perfectly together. You travel around and over the step in every possible direction, and Cathe combines a lot of different types of choreography: L-steps, A-steps, T-steps, over the tops (full length of step), power jumps and runs up onto the step, hop turns (even one turn over the long end of the step), rocking horses, alternating lunges, jacks and repeaters.

Section 3 ("Plyo Power") will make you scream and/or swear--this is where the true aerobic animals are distinguished from the "run-of-the-mill" advanced exercisers. Cathe does these "explosion steps" (8 in a row!) which are hard to describe but are a sort of "repeater power hip extension" where you leap straight up (on the step) with one leg back and your arms fan out. You must be extremely attentive to form here, or your knees will hate you. The explosions are followed by uneven squats (with hop turns to do the other side), an extra long series of alternating lunges, some plyometric moves off the end of the bench, then deep lunges (or dips? I'm not sure what they're called, technically) off the back. By this time you'll probably be gasping for air, and you'll glare at Cathe when she says, "OK now how 'bout some of those ricochets" (like in Mega Step--a type of hop turn where instead of just landing, you hop turn then reverse and hop turn back to your original position). Cathe finishes up with a recovery repeater move that's pleasant and allows your skyrocketing heart rate to come down.

The cool down is funky and enjoyable, but the stretch section is WAY too short after such a killer workout. I always spend an extra 10 min. or so stretching afterwards.

I highly recommend Step Max to any instructor or advanced exerciser who's looking for a challenge.



I agree with Wendy's review of Step Max 100%. I wish it was possible to do it every night - this is one workout that never seems to get boring.

Roberta Kagno


A video for advanced steppers, lots of power moves and interesting combinations. Cathe does an excellent job in cueing the moves. That said, this is one of my least favorite videos - Cathe's whoops and yells annoy me, all the participants are dressed alike (which is too cutesy for me), some of the cool-down moves are of a "funky" nature which doesn't come across as natural to me.



I liked Cathe Friedrich's "Mega Step Blast" so much that I immediately ordered this tape when it came out. I wasn't disappointed. If anything, this tape is even more challenging than "Mega Step". This workout is also divided into 3 sections, and so is similar in structure to "Mega Step". There are of course new moves and combinations. Part 3 of this tape is an absolute killer, and even after doing this tape for quite some time I have a hard time making it through this section. This is the hardest step tape I have ever done.

Debbie Kenny


This is MUCH better than "Cardio Step Challenge" - improved production quality (though that orange/turquoise set is a real eyesore) and no more stupid cheering. I was able to finish this the first time, but then again I'm accustomed to lengthy health club workouts, and it's clear that some of my instructors were inspired by Cathe's moves.

Cathe definitely has her own style, and she syncopates some of her steps (such as the three-count horseshoe) so that you have to watch her feet carefully in order to learn them. Cathe's cueing and form are very good, but she doesn't tell you how to do the explosion or ricochet steps - maybe she assumes you've learned them from her previous tapes. Due to hi-impact moves like these and the fast tempo, I wouldn't want to do this tape more than once a week; a knee operation is not one of my fitness goals!

While I still like Kari Anderson's less-brutal workouts better, "Step Max" is fun, different and certainly challenging. Overlooking the hideous set, I give it an A. challenging and fun. She has very interesting moves.

Sue B


I agree with the other reviewers that this is an advanced tape, that is is very well cued and that the warm-up is very good. If I would have made it through the entire tape, I'm sure I would have gotten a great workout. However, her hooting and hollering really got on my nerves, and if she would have said "COOL" one more time I would have kicked in the TV screen! Even if I would have loved the rest of the tape, I probably would never have done it again.

I've found that I generally don't like aerobic or step videos because the music isn't loud enough. The music is what really motivates me and my body seems to move and groove on its own. This video has good music, but I could barely hear it. I should probably just stick to classes at the club, or do my own workout with my own blasting music.

I'm returning the video to Collage, but don't get me wrong. According to the reviews here, most people love it. I'm probably the exception.

Joni O


A very challenging Step video, with interesting choreography. The first aerobic section is less choreographed, just a series of intense moves to get your heart rate up there. The second section is much more choreographed. Cathe teaches a move and then adds it to the previous one, by the time you are done you are doing a long, tough series.

The third section is a set of very intense plyometric moves, which are really challenging. This is the toughest segment, but it is also my favorite, somehow Cathe makes this torture fun!

My personal opinion of the cool-down is that it's too long. I do the first part of it, then either fast forward through it till she gets to the stretches or get a drink, put the clothes in the dryer and come back for the stretches. This is my opinion however, and everyone else I know who does the videos seems to like her "funky cooldowns".

Trish Ransom