Hardcore: Kick Max

Cathe Friedrich
Year Released: 2005

Categories: Boxing/Kickboxing/Martial Arts

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Iím reviewing this workout after doing the warm-up, kickboxing segment, and cool-down multiple times, the kicking drills a couple of times, and the high intensity drills / blasts once.

I have to say this video has never totally won me over. Maybe I didnít give it enough of a chance, since a number of people who at first didnít care for it found a way to make it work for them. Maybe my goals when I reach for a kickboxing video are just too different to accommodate this one. Maybe I just donít get ďit,Ē whatever it is here. I dunno. Itís not a bad video by any means; it just doesnít work for me. And it appears Iím just one of those who prefers Kick, Punch & Crunch.

What didnít I like?
*The whole thing felt too ďparts is partsĒ to me Ė that is, too much of a little bit oí this and a little bit oí that without great segues from one to another (like when Cathe tells you to cool down on your own after the high impact drills before starting the kicking ones). I remember when this first came out there was some discussion about how the bits and pieces seemed geared for various requests from Catheís fans (low impact! interesting kickboxing combos! focused kickboxing drills! high impact! super high intensity drills!). Even with some distance in time I still canít get it to gel together in my mind. Yes, the kicking drills make sense with the kickboxing, although not all of the kicks in one appear in the other. But then with such a choreographed kickboxing routine and with such a focused kicking segment the athletic drills, which have few kickboxing moves in them, felt out of place to me. I guess my problem is that when I pull out a kickboxing video I want to do kickboxing. That said, for some people the workout does makes sense as is or makes sense with a little rearranging.
*The high impact drills just were not for me. I must disclose that I donít normally do a lot of high impact, what with having had a few joint issues already and living in rented apartments. I had killer shin splints after the one time I attempted this segment, and I know to some extent (OK, maybe a large extent) my shoes and flooring were to blame, so make sure you have good, supportive, and new(ish) athletic sneakers plus flooring that absorbs shock well. This segment would require a lot of creativity to modify down in impact (youíll pretty much just have to substitute in all new moves in some parts), which I just donít have in me.
*I felt the chaptering could have been more extensive and as a result the premixes could have been more creative. Both the kicking and the high impact drills were all in one chapter each. Maybe Iím missing the whole point of the workout, but I thought it would have been interesting to have a premix mixing the kickboxing combos and the drills, for example. More importantly for me, there wasnít actually a premix that would allow you to do the warm-up, all of the kickboxing, and the cool-down Ė just that, nothing else. I ended up always just playing the whole workout and keeping my remote with its skip button handy.
*The sound and music on this Hardcore series just doesnít have the same crystal clear quality of other Cathe series. Theyíre perfectly serviceable (well, the musicís a hair on the low side), but, letís face it, when you pop in a Cathe you expect the best in DVD technology.

What did I like?
*The kickboxing combos were interesting and low impact Ė except for the filler jacks, that is (although one could just do a tap out to modify out the impact). As someone who considers herself an int./adv. when it comes to cardio (although I was more of an int.+ when this first came out), these were at the perfect level for me. As you may have guessed after reading this far, I kept this around just for the kickboxing, which gave me a solid workout in under 45 min. that didnít leave me felling so wiped out I couldnít do anything else for the rest of the day.
*The kicking drills were great. If only I had the time and patience for them, Iím sure I would have seen great improvement in my kicks (and perhaps my butt, hips, and thighs as well). These are definitely a step up from those on Kathy Smithís Kickboxing video.

A few other comments:
*You have to know what youíre doing before picking up this video. Cathe doesnít stop to break down punches or kicks, so prior kickboxing experience is a must. But you certainly donít need a black belt to tackle it.
* I had recently discovered Janis Saffell when I picked this one up, and I agree that the style of kickboxing choreography in KM is reminiscent of Janisí.
*I found it easy to take out the pivots in the kickboxing portion and just stay front, eliminating some of the twisty turny torqueness that manages to crop up in Catheís low impact offerings.
*For me the kickboxing portion is a hair less intense than similar ones on KPC, but the high intensity drills were easily more intense, so I agree that in the end things balance out that KM is a touch more challenging than KPC, if one does both of them all the way through.
*OK, Iím a real dork, but I got a kick out of the plaster casts of classical and pseudo-/neoclassical statues (Iím always up for a workout with the Diskobolos) lining the ďpatioĒ done up in that faux finish with which I covered several high school stage sets. I donít know much about the Firm mansion, but thatís about as close as Iím willing to come to that feel.

So what does this all mean? You may love this video exactly as is, you may find you like it once you make it your own, or you may find that itís just not for you. This is probably one of those youíre just going to have to try for yourself.

Instructor Comments:



Whew! Kick Max is definitely more intense than KP&C, in terms of length, complexity of the kickbox drills, and as a cardio challenge. Even the warm up (11 min) is a little challenging with regular and pulsing squats.

The workout itself consists of 10 kickbox "blast challenges," beginning with some that will test your balance and ending with some that will test your cardio capacity. The blasts got harder as the video went along. At the end, expect plenty of plyometric moves like jumping jacks, jumping "rope" in a zig zag formation, power lunges, and some of those dreaded knee tucks.

She does not break down the moves quite as slowly as she did in KP&C. I think some of you will be happy to hear that since all that instruction can get a little old by the 10th time around or so.

After the blasts, you move on to leg conditioning drills. Cathe holds onto a chair and works the leg with small movements (think Callanetics, Lotte Berk, etc.) for a while and then goes on to rapid fire and slow kicks (think TaeBo).
And while I'm drawing analogies, I'll point out the set has statues on it (think classic Firms).

I like the leg drills and I like the idea of working the legs with two different styles on one tape, but the video may seem a wee bit long by the end for it.

Overall, one of my favorites. I love that it's more advanced that KP&C and other kickbox videos I own, but it didn't completely wipe me out and wasn't *quite* the killer some of her step workouts can be.

Instructor Comments:
She looks great and cues well. She really sets the standard.



Initially I disliked this workout because I love Kick, Punch, and Crunch so much. In time this workout grew on me, it is a serious fat/calorie blaster. The first section is mainly low impact with some jacks thrown in between combos, the first part is not as hard as Kick, Punch, and Crunch, but the second part-the blast challenge-whew! At first it literally took my breath away, it still challenges me and I have to psyche myself up when I get to that part.

The leg part is also difficult, it challenges your legs in a different way than the standard weight exercises.

Instructor Comments:
Cathe is like fine wine, she gets better with age. She has a natural presence and is one of the few instructors who is serious about getting video exercisers into tip-top shape. Her line of dvds/vidoes are the simply the best on the market

M. P


Kick Max is a 74 minute flame inducing butt kicking workout. There are three sections: Kick and Punch Combos, High Impact Blast and Leg Conditioning drills. I only did the combos and leg conditioning drills.

Right off the bat, I'm afraid. Cathe looks like she might come through the TV and beat me up with the use of a single well toned pinkie finger. I get over my fear, however, and proceed the through the long (11 minute) and gradual warm up. It'd make a nice "just rolled out of bed and need to wake up slowly" warm up. It includes more kicks than KPC and has you in horse stance (plie squat) for quite a while. There is no reviewing the punches and kicks. She gives a few forms pointers but this is not the place to learn the difference between a roundhouse and side kick.

Next up are the combos. These are very very fast! I'd say they're even a little faster than KPC. Like KPC, she teaches the punches first and than the kicks. You really need to be able to whip those arms around at lightning speed to keep up with her. Quite literally you'll do a jab, cross, hook and upper in about 5 seconds. A warning, be careful not to smack yourself in the face (not that I did that.) The first one involves puncing and than doing kicks while moving in a circle. If you have carpet, Cathe wisely advises doing this in place (or consult an orthopedic surgeon for knee replacement surgery.) The second combo includes more punches (jabs, crosses, uppers) and than kicking with a balance element. You do a front kick and than without putting the foot down do a back kick and than front and than put your foot down. Tough to balance, not tough aerobically. Third combos has more punches (jab, cross jab) than low blocks and a hammer. This didn't seem to flow that well and was awkward. The legs involved three knees (again moving in a circle) and than a front kick. Fourth combo has double jab, duck upper x2 and than a really fast side kick, lunge, side kick combo. Cathe does not break this down at all. It's a see it and do it thing. I got it quickly but those without kickboxing experience will be dumbfounded. A warning, while this is advertised as a low impact workout, she does throw in jumping jacks in between combos and between sides. You can modify, of course, but this section isn't that tough aerobically so you really need these to get the heart rate up.

The leg condioning drills were a pleasant change. Okay so maybe I wasn't thinking pleasant thoughts while doing the drills but before I was cursing, I thought they were a pleasant change. The difficultly ranges widely on these. Some had me making noises that my neighbors probably interpreted as me a doing a different kind of Hardcore workout. This would include the roundhouse fast kicks (leg out, bend at the knee, in and out, very fast.) Others had me bored since they weren't that challenging like the side kicks. A lot reminded me of pilates style moves like chasses (sp?)

The cool down was yoga inspired. Cathe was subdued and didn't provide many form pointers. It was nice and long and held the stretches long enough to really get into them.

Instructor Comments:
Cathe has improved her kickboxing form. She and her two background exercisers are ripped to the point of gaunt faces. While Cathe provides a few form pointers, they are more reminders to experienced kickboxers than instructions to newbies. Her cueing is a bit late in parts and she doesn't break things down much. Very professional and encouraging. She and her background exercisers are obviously enjoying themselves and working hard.