Shock Cardio Athletic Step

Cathe Friedrich
Year Released: 2009

Categories: Step Aerobics

Video Fitness reviews may not be copied, quoted, or posted elsewhere without the permission of the reviewer

Show oldest reviews first

I have to say I love these 45-ish minute workouts from Cathe. Great for those short on time but who still want intensity which describes me perfectly. I'm not a fan of dancy moves and get frustrated easily when I can't learn something after a couple tries. That said, I had no problem picking up the choreography in this DVD on the first try. I even thought that the first combo had a teeny bit too much TIFT'ing for my liking, which is unusual for Cathe, IMO. This one I'd say falls within the higher intermediate to lower advanced category. I consider myself low advanced and got a good workout in and had some fun in under an hour. Another keeper from Cathe.



I’m reviewing this workout after doing it twice.

General workout breakdown: Nyx and Nancy have already described this video well, so I’ll just add a few thoughts of my own.

- Warm-up: I also liked the lengthy warm-up, and I liked the dynamic stretches (which I prefer over static stretches for warm-ups).
If you can survive Cathe throwing the complete block of choreography at you as you’re doing it in this part, you can probably make it through the workout.

- The step portion: This workout seems intended as a quick little cardio workout designed for long-time Cathe fans to sneak in when they want a little extra sweat session but don’t have time to do one of her other longer step videos.
Although this isn’t necessarily the first thing I would think of when someone said “athletic step,” Cathe does prove that workouts choreographed with athletic rather than dancey moves can be just as interesting as their dancey cousins – and perhaps a little more challenging to the cardiovascular system. I found this rather enjoyable, once I figured out what I was supposed to be doing.
Cathe doesn’t really layer; she just adds pieces together. What you see in the first run through is pretty much what you get in the finished product.
I also wondered about the orphan combo / drills stuck on at the end: why not make it four combos officially, then run through all four? (Just as an FYI, in the final run through putting the first three combos together, each combo is run through on each side twice before moving onto the next, so no real TIFTing.) Three seems to be the magic number for the Shock Cardios’ total number of combos, though, and there’s definitely an emphasis on not making workouts any longer than Cathe feels they absolutely need to be.

- The cool-down: Actually, despite the shockingly short cool-down, this has the longest cool-down of any of the Shock Cardios I’ve tried (I’ve done all except Circuit Blast and Travel Fit). I feel like it has a whole minute or two of moves designed to get the heartrate down, with Cathe actually doing a few 8 counts of several different simple steps before telling you to finish cooling down on your own. Whether you need to keep cooling down or not, you’ll probably have to pause your DVD anyway to push aside your step and whip out your mat.

- The stretch: Cathe has a few nice upper body and low back stretches and thoroughly covers the back of the leg, especially those hamstrings, outer hips / glutes, and even inner thighs, with a little for the calves, too, but there’s only one stretch for the front of the leg. I know I’m not the only one with tight quadriceps and hip flexors, so additional stretches are yet another thing I have to add onto this video. Cathe, by shrinking the cool-down, not making an equipment change in real time, and not thoroughly covering several major muscle groups in the stretch, you’ve shortened the length of the video, but you’ve lengthened my total workout time, with this 47-min. video taking more like 50-55 minutes for me to do.

Level: I’d recommend this to high intermediate through mid-advanced steppers comfortable with at least moderately complex choreography, using an appropriate step height for your level and 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, well, see my thoughts on Cathe’s cuing under “Comments” below. 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 needed to clean up a few places and add the rest of the hops plus some of the quick pivots and arms back in. This gave me more of a steady state workout that had me in a high work zone when I did it at first on 6” as well when I did it on just 4”; although the second time was after weights, there is something to be said for knowing the routine better and putting a little more oomph into it.

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, drawn from the classics (since the 80s now count in that category). It’s all right; it could be better, but it could be worse. Actually, I liked this soundtrack better than the one in Step Moves, I think.

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, although there’s one camera change that’s thrown me both times because it makes it look like Cathe’s staying in one direction even though she’s switching.

Equipment: Cathe and crew use a step with 1 set of risers (6”) for the workout plus a mat for the stretch.

Space Requirements: You’ll need quite a bit of horizontal space for this workout so you can do a grapevine off to each side of the step. But you’ll also need enough space to stand on your step for a side leg lift with your leg out in front and to place your foot in front of your step plus enough room behind your step to take a step off of your platform and lift the leg to the side (this is done perpendicular to the step). Now, I’m not that tall at 5’8” and my space isn’t that small, but after trying my step two different ways I can’t quite make it fit without severely tightening up the grapevines or keeping the step with a side leg lift on the step. (I have about 6’x 8-9’ of space I can reasonably use for a step workout.)

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. I agree that it’s odd the extra or bonus or fourth or whatever it is bit isn’t in the chapter menu.

Athletic Step vs. Step Moves: AS is easily more intense than SM for me, but that may be because I don’t do a lot of higher impact step. (Just a side note: AS is not as intense as Cardio Core Circuit or HiiT, but because it’s more intense than SM it’s also more intense than the MMAs.) AS definitely isn’t any less choreographed than SM, though: Cathe just uses more athletic moves, like lunges, knees, and jacks, and no mambos, box steps, and hip shakes. Still, that doesn’t keep v steps, grapevines, and lots of turny moves from creeping in. In fact, AS has a lot of quick partial pivots, and I have to agree with Nancy that this one felt potentially tweaky on the knees. Even the second time through I kept the ricochet move in one place, for example. SM is easier to keep low impact, too. And I found SM didn’t require as much space. Of the two, I prefer SM, but that has a lot to do with my personal preferences; I tend to reach for that style of step more often when left to my own devices.
I feel Cathe’s cuing is better in AS over SM in a few regards: she provides more directional cues, although many of them are by pointing rather than saying “left” or “right,” and she points out which of the warm-up moves will make it into the full routine. However, she’s just as inconsistent with the timing of her cues, with some coming a hair before the move change, some on the change, and a few after. (Oddly enough, I felt like most of the cues after move changes were during the first run throughs, as if she’s running to catch up with herself.) She doesn’t announces that move changes are coming up in the warm-up or the bonus combo or drills or whatever you want to call them at the end, although there are a few times she does let you know ahead of time during the routine. And she’s just as likely, if not even more so, to toss in whole blocks of choreography at once. In fact, I’m with those who think that she actually provides less verbal breakdown of combos on AS. At least in SM she goes through almost all of the steps, but in AS she names the combos more generally, and she uses condensed cues for run throughs from the start as well as during final run throughs (for example, an L-step with a knee into a grapevine on the floor with a side kick to the inside is simply “knee grapevine” or “grapevine kick”).

Comments: As a casual Cathe fan, the Shock Cardio system appears to me to be targeted primarily at Cathe’s long-time video users and fans, and none is more so than Athletic Step. Although the back cover mentions “familiar moves,” which I naively thought meant that Cathe would be combining a lot of her usual favorite individual moves, Cathe announces as the workout gets underway that she’s used bits and pieces of previous workouts so we can just get right to it since we already know the moves. Except I didn’t. I’ve done seven of Cathe’s step workouts (Basic Step, Low Impact Step, Low Max, Low Impact Circuit, Step Blast, and 4 Day Split Lower Intensity Step and Higher Intensity Step), although none of them more than a few times, and that proved to be of little help. Honestly, I had flashbacks to my experience with that German-language Evolution DVD I once tried (I don’t really speak German). Fortunately I pick up choreography easily by watching, but I wouldn’t blame those who aren’t choreo hounds and/or Cathe step fans if they feel frustrated with this one. I kind of wish I had known that this one was designed just for Cathe’s loyal, long-term step fans; it would have saved me some frustration, time, and money. I’m not that upset I tried it, as it’s not a bad little routine, but it’s just not going to work for me.

Instructor Comments:
Cathe’s cuing here assumes that you’re already familiar not only with her previous offerings but also this particular workout (She does tell you to preview first…). Even though Cathe exudes positive energy, 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 to get stepping! Are you ready?”



This is one of Cathe’s step DVDs from her STS Shock Cardio set. It’s described as a 45 minute step routine with athletic step moves, rather than dance-like step moves. Overall, I liked this DVD more than the Step Moves one (see my 1/3/10 review).

I am a long-time Cathe fan and have every DVD she’s ever put out.

The format:

--lengthy warm-up (6+ minutes)
--3 step routines
--3 step routines all together
--athletic drills
--NO cool down

What I liked about this workout:

--the lengthy warm-up

--the step routines were fun. The routines were more complex that I would have expected from a DVD billed as “athletic step.” I like complex choreography, so I didn’t mind. This makes the routines more interesting for me.

What was neutral about this workout:

--the music. It was more of the techno hip hop music that Cathe uses in her recent DVDs. It was okay, not as annoying as in the music in her Step Moves DVD. The routines were on the beat of the music, which is a plus.

What I didn’t like about this workout:

--Some of the moves are very twisty and turning, and hard on the knees. In the 1st routine, there’s a core repeater off the step, you then twirl around to the back and walk to the back of the room. No way was I going to risk wrenching my knee on this move since I workout on carpet.

--In the 2nd routine there’s a skip across the step move. My feet get all tangled up and I’m really afraid of tripping, so I skip this move as well.

--the athletic drills after step routine 3. They seemed to be just stuck in there to fill time. Maybe the workout description should read “athletic step and drills.” They weren’t that intense, so I didn’t consider them to be drills, more like additional moves.

--NO cool down. At the end of the drills, Cathe states that we should cool down on our own before doing the stretch. Well, that’s not going to happen for me. It might have been better if the warm-up was a tad shorter. This routine is not that difficult or intense that a 6+ minute warm-up is needed. Cutting 2 minutes from the warm-up and using this for a cool down would have been good.

Overall, this was an okay workout. I’ll do this one more frequently that I do Step Moves. Will I purchase more Cathe Step DVDs? Probably not. I prefer Amy Bento these days, mainly because of I like her energizing music selection.

I still have a soft spot for Cathe since I credit her for starting me with heavy weight lifting.

Instructor Comments:
Cathe is somewhat subdued in this DVD. Her cuing was okay for me, since I don’t like a lot of explanation for a move.

Nancy Loderick


This step workout includes approximately a 6 minute warmup, 33 minutes of step (including 4 combo's and a finished product), and an 8 minute cooldown/stretch).

Okay, the 1st time I did this workout, I thought the music was bad, the cueing was almost always on the move instead of before it, & it wasn't intense. I pick up choreography quickly, but I didn't catch on until the 2nd or 3rd time doing the combos b/c of late cueing.

Well, the 2nd time I did it, I got all the moves immediately & had to eat my words on everything except the cueing (still not early enough but I caught on). I actually liked the music (especially after the 1st combo), & when I got it all down & was able to put my energy into it, it was intense. The DVD menu shows 3 combos & then "finished product", but when actually viewing the DVD, there is another "combo" after "finished product" that is a mish-mash of basic moves that get the heart rate up. I'm not sure why that is not on the menu...seems like a mistake or something (but no big deal).

I would give this workout a 4/5, and I took off 1 star b/c the cueing could be much better (& is in Step Moves), but I think the steps are easy enough to catch on to & you won't need it after doing the workout a few times. If you are someone who does not catch on to choreography easily without good cues, and who also doesn't want to spend a little time learning the routine, this may not be for you.

I like the shorter length (total of about 47 minutes).

Instructor Comments:
Cathe does seem a bit more serious in the Shock Cardio DVDs, but she is still pleasant and smiling and I enjoy working out with her.

Nyx Black