Shock Cardio MMA Boxing

Cathe Friedrich
Year Released: 2009

Categories: Abs/Core , Boxing/Kickboxing/Martial Arts

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Full disclosure: I received a free review copy of this workout.

OK. A couple of things about my preferences - because they might help you decide if you would like this workout. I am an intermediate exerciser with bad knees, hands, and wrists due to arthritis. So, I look for workouts that are low impact or that I can easily modify. I am not a big fan of Cathe's workouts. Intellectually, I think Cathe is one of the best instructors on the market, but her workouts are generally harder than I want to, or can, work. When I read raves about this workout that said it was shorter than most of her others and could be done by intermediate exercisers and was punching with little to no kicking (my favorite with kickboxing), I decided to check it out.

This workout is fairly short; the breakdown of the workout is:

Warm up - 7 minutes
3 Boxing sections with a punching routine, upper body blitz and lower body blitz - 27 minutes.
Core work - 9 minutes
Stretch - 5 minutes.
Heavy bag bonus section - 20 minutes.

I do not have a heavy bag, so I have not done that section as of yet. I may try it at some point.

The set is open and bright and Cathe is backed up by three exercisers, one woman and two men. The music is standard techno beat-y kind of stuff. Cathe gives no explanation about how to do the punches and offers a few form pointers, so you should know your boxing punches before doing this workout.

The combos in the cardio section are short and taught in short segments and then you combine them and repeat them on each side. For the upper body blitzes, you focus on one type of punch at a time, performing them faster and faster until you are punching as quickly as you possible can. The lower body blitzes are all jumping drills and can be modified fairly easily if you want to go low impact. Cathe and her crew laid down bands to divide the area in a couple of the drills and I just imagined I had done so.

The ab work has traditional/typical core exercises, using a pair of 5 lb hand weights. I don't enjoy most core work and I don't like getting on the floor, so I won't be doing this section in the future.

I am happy at my intermediate level and I enjoyed this workout. It encouraged me to do more and work harder at cardio than I have in the recent past, yet it didn't wipe me out.

This DVD is worth trying for its focus on punching drills and the cardio bursts and because it's just plain fun. If you are looking for an advanced and/or HARD workout, this isn't it. I think advanced exercisers could do this workout and have fun as long as they aren't expecting Cathe's hardest (or anything close to it).

Instructor Comments:
Cathe is one of the best instructors in the business. She isn't the best cuer and she isn't the best connecter. But overall, she delivers a quallity product.

Laura S.


I really, really like this workout. And that was a complete surprise to me, because I've always considered the kicking part of kickboxing to be what I liked the most. However, the addition of the lower body drills make this pretty fun, and allow me to get a decent workout.

I do like the format - 3 rounds of Boxing combo, Upper body drills (focusing on one punch), Lower body drills (high impact jumping). It keeps it from getting boring because you aren't doing one thing too long. There is impact, but these sections are short. They make the workout for me - I don't think I'd like it as much without doing this section.

The abs are good - the weights make them pretty intense. As Kathy mentioned though, it isn't very well-rounded. That is OK if I am working my abs/core 3 times a week, like I need. However, when I'm slacking, I need a more comprehensive ab workout.

The music is mostly instrumental and not my favorite, but it isn't bad. There is one fun song in the abs section which I think would have been better in the cardio, but that is a small complaint.

Instructor Comments:
Many have complained of Cathe's seriousness in the Shock Cardio series. I haven't really picked up on that myself, though. I think she is pretty much the way she always is - although probably more professional from her early days. She remains one of my favorite instructors, and I have not tired of her after many years.

Lisa C


Absolutely LOVE this one! Others have accurately broken the workout's structure down, so I won't repeat them :) I consider myself on the lower end of advanced. I did this workout with 2 lb each weighted gloves and that really kicked the intensity of this workout up a level. My back, shoulders and obliques are on feeling the burn this morning for sure. The workout is short enough where you can squeeze in a great workout in less than an hour, but still feel adequately worked. Wonderful for people who are tight on time. The combos were fun, and consisted of mostly all punching. I liked the core moves with weights, but some of them were beyond my level of core strength which sadly never seems to progress beyond intermediate.



MMA: Boxing is a 50 minute workout consisting of a warmup, three rounds (each one with a punching combo, an upper body blitz, and a lower body blitz), ab work, and a short stretch. I am reviewing the main MMA Boxing workout; I do not own a heavy bag, so I have not done the bonus workout included on the DVD.

I was initially drawn to this workout because punching is my favorite part of kickboxing, so I liked the idea of a workout that really concentrated on just upper body work. Cathe is pretty serious here, jumping right into the first combination with a rather offhand remark that "you already know this". The music is mostly generic club/techno beats, which is a disappointment, but it is a good volume and has a nice strong beat and doesn't detract from the workout even though it doesn't add much extra motivation either.

The combos are short and taught in two to three pieces before you string them together and repeat them 12x on each side. For the upper body blitzes, you focus on one type of punch at a time, performing them faster and faster until you are punching as quickly as you possible can. The lower body blitzes are all jumping drills and are the cardio heart of the program, making the workout an interval one.

The ab work consists of mostly generic core exercises, using a pair of 5 lb hand weights, but I liked the flow and the fact that you do some full sit-ups. I agree with the previous reviewer that some extension-based exercises for the lower back are missing here and would have been nice for some balance in the core.

I am a happily intermediate exerciser, and I consider this DVD a good challenge for my level. The jumping in the lower body blitzes got my heart rate going, and I enjoyed focusing on my punching and really putting my all into it. The next day, I was nice and sore in my back along the bra line, and my calves were also sore from staying on my toes during the jumping drills. (I did this workout barefoot.) I liked the shorter length of the workout as well.

I consider this DVD a keeper for its unique-to-me focus on punching drills and the cardio bursts, but there is also a seriousness to this workout that means I don't think it will be a special favorite of mine. But it definitely fills a niche, and will be one I reach for again in the future.

Sandy J


I’m reviewing this workout after doing it once.

General workout breakdown: This DVD contains a 49-min. fitness workout with boxing combos interspersed with punching and high impact lower body blitzes followed by an abs segment. An 18.5-min. heavy bag bonus, again meant for fitness and conditioning rather than training boxers, is also included.

* Boxing
Warm up (7 min.): wide tap w/ reach up, jab, hook, upper cut, bob & weave forward & back, box slide, 1-armed speed bag & punch, shuffle, double-armed speed bags, jump rope (regular & figure 8s), and side step.
Combo #1 (4 min.): jab – cross – hook – upper cut – fast jab cross jab – duck – upper cut
Upper Body Blitz #1 (just over 1 min.): hooks (first slower, then double time)
Lower Body Blitz #1 (just over 4 min.): uses two markers (Cathe and crew put down two tubing in the shape of a cross) for side to side jumps, front – back jumps, front – back – side – back hops, hops in a circle / box
Combo #2 (just over 4.5 min.): high double jab – low double cross – low alternating hooks – high alternating hooks – weave & cross
Upper Body Blitz #2 (just over 1.5 min.): jabs (slow, double time, and then flurry)
Lower Body Blitz #2 (just over 2 min.): uses one marker (Cathe and crew put down one tubing) for stance jump switches
Combo #3 (6 min.): jab – cross – jab – cross – rock back – cross – hook – double upper cuts – double hooks (Note: Cathe starts on the other side this time, but since this is heavy on the back hand it works out.)
Upper Body Blitz #3 (just over 1 min.): upper cuts (slow, double time, and then flurry)
Lower Body Blitz #3 (3.5 min.): (imaginary) jump rope variations (alternating foot hop, double foot hop, alternating foot forward, ski hops side to side, scissors, double hops, jogs, high knees, criss cross arms)
Core Conditioning Drills (just over 8.5 min.): weighted sit-ups; v-sit with dumbbell side to side (see Russian twists), playing with legs up and down and adding double and quadruples; knee ins; frog-style full sit-ups, first w/ dumbbell front raises and then unweighted; reverse crunches; back swim (see Pilates’ double leg stretch) w/ holds; triple tilt reverse crunch; bike maneuver; and an ending knees to chest to release. Cathe includes some hip flexor stretches during this segment.
Stretch (4.5 min.): cat and cow on hands & knees to release spine, child’s pose to stretch low back, child’s pose to side to stretch upper back, seated chest expansion with hands on floor, hands in front to release upper back, arm across chest to stretch back of the shoulder, arms behind for biceps stretch, arm out in front with wrist down and up for forearm stretch, and head to ear and chest, then looking over shoulder, to stretch neck. This is a nice upper body stretch, but after all of that jumping and driving from the hips don’t forget to add some lower body stretches, especially for the calves and hips.

* Heavy Bag Bonus
This begins with jabs, then jabs around the bag, and then jacks into jack and jabs to switch sides. This becomes the series of moves you’ll do in between sets of other exercises. Other sets include jab & cross shuffle, jab & cross continuously, triple jab & cross; jab & cross continuously, low & high body shots, alternating sides, jab & cross – alternating low & high body shots – set; fast jabs; low squat & roundhouse, air squats onto the heavy bag base; triple jab & cross, fast jab – cross – jab; knee drills (knee smashes or crushes or whatever they’re called); and burpee w/ jump into jabs & crosses at the bag. As with the main Boxing workout, you’ll usually work in sets of 8.

During both the boxing and heavy bag bonus Cathe builds up one side, then the other; she does this evenly. Shuffles are common breaks in between parts of the combo, between sides, and between combos and drills.

Level: I’d recommend this to intermediate through maybe low advanced exercisers with previous boxing, kickboxing or similar martial arts experience. Cathe is clear that she assumes you already know what you’re doing, and she includes no form instruction plus few form tips and reminders.
I consider myself an intermediate / advanced exerciser, with some experience in fitness kickboxing, although I’m no martial artist. (If caught on camera I’d look more like Mark and Robert, sadly.) I find Amy Bento’s offerings and KPC doable challenges and Chalene Johnson’s Turbo Jam, Ilaria Montagnani and Patricia Moreno’s Powerstrikes (the DVD ones), Kelly Coffey-Meyer, Kimberly Spreen, and Janis Saffell’s offerings appropriate for my level of fitness. I found this similar to the latter group: enough to get my heartrate into that so-called cardio training zone but not in danger of wiping me out.

Class: Lorraine, Mark, and Robert join Cathe for the boxing, with Tim and Ali (sp?) join Rob, Lorraine, and Cathe for the heavy bag bonus.

Music: courtesy of DJ BK Howe, it’s upbeat, mostly instrumental stuff with a strong beat. I recognized a few tunes (including “Put Your Hands up in the Air,” a tune commonly found on the Turbo Jams, and “I Wanna Rock,” which I swear I’ve heard on another Cathe). It’s all right; it could be better, but it could be worse. Note that some of the same music appears in the heavy bag bonus.

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: For the Boxing, you'll need a pair of light dumbbells (Cathe and crew use 5 lbs.) and a mat for the core conditioning. To make the combos more challenging, people experienced with using weighted gloves can add up to 1.5-2 lbs. on each hand.
Obviously the heavy bag and boxing gloves (Cathe notes that the women’s are 12 oz., the men’s 14 oz.) are used in the heavy bag bonus, although I enjoyed doing it without one, using weighted gloves of the same weight as Cathe’s to add a little intensity.

Space Requirements: For the main workout, you should have at least enough room to take some a few big steps side to side and a step or two front and back. Honestly, the warm-up requires a lot more space than the rest of the workout: if you don’t have enough room to do the box slide (or don’t want to), you can always stay side to side.
Ideally for the heavy bag segment you should have enough room to work around the bag plus have enough room behind to drop down into a burpee / squat thrust. You can just keep your jabs in place if you can’t comfortably work around your bag in your space.

DVD Notes: The main menu options are Introduction, Boxing (Play, Chapters - identical to the divisions I listed in the breakdown), Heavy Bag Bonus, and Credits. Note that there are no premixes that include the heavy bag bonus with the workout or have the bonus with the warm-up and stretch.

Comments: I seem to be in the minority in that a) I like this workout and b) I find it decently intense (see my comments under “Level” above). It’s not my favorite martial arts-type workout, but I’m glad to have it at the preorder price (I’d be hesitant to pay the full retail price, especially since I probably won’t use the abs portion again and thus am left with 59 min. of workout) and anticipate using it.

I would agree that of the STS Shock Cardios this is one of the easiest, if not the easiest, in the set.

I’d have to do MMA Boxing and Kickbox both a few more times to determine which I find easier and which I like more, but right now they’re about the same for me. I found the combos of Boxing easier, yet the drills were more intense for me. In fact, my average heart rate for the two workouts was identical, but Kickbox was more of a steady state while Boxing was more rolling intervals. MMA Fusion was the most challenging of the three, not just by design but for my capabilities, and again I’m going to buck trends by saying that was my least favorite of the MMAs.

I have some bones to pick with the core conditioning segment on this DVD. First, it’s very heavy on the flexion (forward bending), a position that many of us use too much, including while doing boxing-inspired workouts. I kept waiting for Cathe to provide at least one extension (back bending) exercise to balance things out, but no. I encourage those who use this core workout to be sure to add a super(wo)man, cobra, back extension, or what have you. Second, I’ve seen many of these moves before, including on other Cathes - even on other Shock Cardio offerings. Yes, some of these exercises are very effective, and I even like some of them, but I would have liked to have seen more martial arts-related core exercises rather than such a heavy reliance on crunches and sit-ups.

Instructor Comments:
Cathe cues decently. Note that she often cues on the move change in the warm-up and there aren’t a lot of directional cues given (I don’t remember any from the heavy bag bonus). Cathe’s on the more serious side here, perhaps just her “game face” for these MMA workouts.