Body Fusion

Cathe Friedrich
Year Released: 2004

Categories: Circuit Training (cardio and weights) , Step Aerobics , Total Body Workouts

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Basic Step
Iím reviewing this workout after previewing and doing it once.

General workout breakdown: This step workout runs just over 30 minutes. The warm up includes a number of basic step moves, like basic, knee up (center and corner to corner), v step, rocking horse, Charleston kick, step touch, side step, step kick, step instep/insole, step outer thigh, horseshoe turn step, and A step before including a few dynamic stretches. These moves are combined with other standard step moves like L steps into two combos. The workout concludes with a few quick stretches done in a seated position. (I found I needed to add on the basic stretching segment from the Total Body Stretching DVD that came with the package because these stretches didnít really hit the lower body enough.)
The workout moves fairly quickly, but not so fast that I struggled a lot to keep pace or catch up when I missed a step. This is low impact, with few if any jumps.

Level: Iíd recommend this to a beginner to step, but Iím not sure this is best for a beginner to exercise. Cathe jumps right into the moves without pausing to break down individual moves; instead, almost all are introduced at the same pace as they will be used in the workout. I consider myself at the crossover point between high intermediate and low advanced with respect to floor aerobics, but Iíll probably find that Iíll have to stick with intermediate step workouts for a bit. Anyway, I felt this was a solid workout with one set of risers (so 6Ē), so this is probably a high beginner workout with no risers, a low to solid intermediate with one set, and a high intermediate with two sets.

Class: Cathe leads four of her regular crew.

Music / Set / Other Production Notes: The beat-heavy instrumental is bland. The interior set looks like itís an ourdoors patio, with plants and a portico at the back. The picture and sound are fine.

Equipment: sneakers and a (short) step, with optional risers. One exerciser uses a step with no risers, Cathe and another exerciser use one riser, and two exercisers use two risers.

Space Requirements: enough room to take a big step off of the step followed by a small to medium sized step in all directions.

DVD Notes: This came with the Cathe Step set I bought on sale at Target. Itís on the Total Cardio Step DVD with Low Impact Step and Body Fusion. Anyway, in the version I have it is chaptered by segment (i.e. warm up, combo 1, combo 2, and cool down), but thatís it for bells and whistles.

Conclusion: This was my first step video (Ok, the first Iíve actually done with a step), and it is so helpful in getting me used to working with the step. As someone used to complex choreography, I donít see myself using this often once I feel comfortable with the step, but the half hour of basic step might come in handy for a day when I just donít feel like thinking that much.

Instructor Comments:
Cathe cues well enough here, although she doesnít break down all moves as well as she could. She prefers to keep the workout moving, which is great if you have an idea of what youíre doing because you actually get a workout but not so great if you need help with the moves. She is upbeat and encouraging without being too perky.



This DVD is a great bargain - it consists of Basic Step (30 minutes), Body Fusion (50 minutes), Lower Body Add-On (20 minutes), Upper Body Add-On (20 minutes), and Abs Add-On (10 minutes). Although Basic Step was a little tricky for me at first, after several times doing it, I just have it about down pat. The moves include basic steps, V-steps, alternating knees, repeater, corner to corner moves, rock horse, L-steps, A-steps, turn steps (horseshoe), and leg extensions, cha-chas, knees around the world, and Charleston kicks. I've really had fun learning this work out and Cathe teaches the moves pretty thoroughly. I was able to do this video on an 8-inche step with no problem.

Body Fusion is 50 minutes long and consists of alternating step and weight combos. Weight work consists of squats with overhead presses, lunges with side and front lateral raises, lunges off the back of the step, bicep curls, deadrows, deadlifts, dips, and push ups. The first time I did this video, I became so frustrated because I could not keep up, that I turned it off 20 minutes into it. However, I thought that maybe if I lowered my step height, I could do it. Ta-da, this worked! I was able to get through the entire work out fairly easily with a lowered step.

Upper Body and Lower Body Add-Ons: these use light weights and an Xertube. However, I used a little heavier of weights than they used in the video for extra challenge. This video provided me the perfect opportunity to use my Xertube that had been sitting around unused for months! Some of those moves with the tubing are tough, but worth it! They include overhead presses, squats, and leg lifts. Traditional push-ups are also included. Cathe continuously provided suggestions for modifications and Cedie demonstrated many of these modifications.

The Abs Add-On also allowed me to use my stability ball that I hadn't used in forever! Wow, abs on the ball provides an extra challenge! This is one of the first abs workouts where I can actually FEEL that I've worked my abs later on! It consists of crunches lying on the ball (forward and twisting to the side), crunches while lying on the floor with your legs at a 90 degree angle on the ball, reverse crunches with the ball, roll-ups with the ball, and a back strengthener while lying on the ball. As in the Upper Body and Lower Body Add-Ons, Cathe provides suggestions for modifications, which includes Cedie demonstrating the exercises without a ball.

This was my very first Cathe work out and I found it to be a very good introduction to her style. I would highly recommend it, but caution new users to be patient with themselves, as it may take a few or more times through before you feel comfortable with the Basic Step and Body Fusion work outs. I give it a solid A.

Instructor Comments:
Overall, Cathe cues well in these work outs and teaches the moves thoroughly, although I did find it somewhat difficult to keep up with her cueing during Body Fusion.

Cynthia aka cindylouhoo


This workout DVD consists of one cardio step workout (basic step), one 45 minute circuit workout (body fusion), one 20 minute upper body strength workout, one 20 minute lower body strength workout, and a stability ball abdominal workout (10 min). I have gotten more bang for the buck out of this DVD in the year 2004 than any other DVD I own, new or old. The production quality is very high, the music I thoroughly enjoy, and all the workouts are very enjoyable to me. I have been in something of a a workout slump over the last few months, and Cathe and crew have kept me going with this fabulous gem of a DVD. Any of the workouts here are suitable for someone who is an experienced exerciser but desires a less-strenuous alternative than Cathe's other workouts. These workouts have no fear factor, yet once I begin my workout, although they are easier than Cathe's usual fare, she still weaves her inspiring attitude into the routines, to push you a little farther than you thought you could handle.

The step routine consists of a warm up and two combos. The choreography is nothing complex, yet it is interesting enough to keep me pulling out the workout (for your reference, I prefer non-complex choreography but I do use all of Cathe's step routines. She is as complex as I get, but I love her step workouts). I find the the music motivating, as well as Cathe's great attitude and teaching style. The time length is perfect when you are trying to talk yourself into a workout. For some reason, 25 minutes is easier to swallow than 30, when half of your brain is trying to talk you out of the workout. Inevitably, I end up repeating sections to end up with a longer length cardio section anyway, because I am enjoying myself so much.

The Body Fusion workout is a 45 minute circuit workout which has three cardio step routines sandwiched with three sometimes-compound weight sections. This is a workout which again has that deception factor. There is no dread involved going in to the workout. It's very easy to handle. You never do a strength section or even a move for so long that you are truly uncomfortable, yet, there is always a way to make it a little tougher if you want to. Also, it is very, very easy to repeat a section because it is so well- chaptered. I find myself doing this a lot. It's a great little workout.

The upper and lower body sections pack a good punch for 20 minutes, and incorporate bands as well, which I feel gives nice variety and flavor to the workout.

The stability ball abs is perfect. It's still Cathe abs, but toned down a bit.

One thing that strikes me about this DVD after doing it over and over, is that Cathe has nailed the 'intermediate' level workout, yet the Cathe-ness is still intact. It just feels a leetle-bit harder than it might if it were another instructor (and maybe it is).

Anyway, to sum up, I am so very pleased with this DVD. It is a contemporary classic in my opinion. I would wholeheartedly recommend it, if you're looking for an easier alternative to Cathe that is still Cathe, if you want a non-complex step routine that is not hard to master but doesn't slow you down, if you want Cathe's high production values and style but an alternative for an easier day, if you want a bridge to other Cathe workouts.

Instructor Comments:



I bought this when it was a presale and I don't know what has taken me so long to try it! Challenging, but not so hard it can't be completed. If your not lucky enough to have her wedding tape, this is the one to get. It is a great introduction to more complicated Cathe DVDs/tapes.

The basic step is a short 25 minute workout. Cathe takes you through some of her more popular moves like 1/2 turn (horseshoe), knees around the world, A-Step, V-Step, etc... She takes the time to introduce each step in a way everyone will be able to catch onto. I will do this on the days I don't want a lot of cardio or just need a short workout. For more advanced, this may be a great warm-up on your weight days.

The body fusion workout is excellent interval-type training. It is a 50 minute workout. It takes the step to the next level without being too complicated to catch on if you've only done the basic step. Cathe easily leads you through step training with intervals of light weight workout that will include both the upper and lower body. You will need a set of light hand weights for this portion.

There are some excellent add-ons on the DVD for upper and lower body and a challenging stability ball ab routine. With the exception of the stability ball abs, you'll need a light set of hand weights 3-5 lbs and exercise tubing (similar to what is used with Beachbody workouts). These are quick and to the point. Cathe gets in, exhausts each muscle and than your own to the next muscle. Before you know it your done.

I did the basic step and all the add ons and had no problems completing the workout (I haven't done a step routine in about 6 months). Overall I would recommend this to any beginner or low intermediate that has a step, light hand weights and exercise tubing. It's a lot of fun and a great down and dirty workout. Nothing to difficult or dancey.

Instructor Comments:
As always Cathe is very motivating. Her cueing is impeccable.



This dvd is geared to beginners. Each section contains a separate workout, which I will review separately below.

1) Basic Step- this is a step workout designed for step beginners. I am extremely choreography-challenged and was delighted to find this workout much more manageable than I thought it would be. Cathe does a warm-up and two combos which begin simple then slowly add. Cathe repeats the steps very often, so those used to her choreography might find this boring but it was perfect for me. I was able to follow most of it on the first try, but I really had to concentrate. The second time I tried it, I was tired, not really focusing and could not keep up as well. Hint: Catheís right leg has a design on it and her left leg is plain. If you try to always match your right leg to Catheís artier one, youíll be fine.

2) Body Fusion- This is an intermediate step workout. It is longer, and follows a circuit format with three step combos broken up by toning work. The toning work features compound moves that might be a balance challenge for some people. I hate compound work and do not like doing upper body work in this way so I did all of these unweighted and focused on the lower body work, which was heavily lunge-based and was very nicely sequenced. As for the step combos, these are similar in style to Basic Step as far as teaching and repeating the moves and adding on. The combos were a little trickier because she adds a lot of jumps and pivots. She also has one combo that takes place almost completely sideways, so if you get confused when you arenít facing the tv, it might take you some time to get this one. I found the third combo, with all its twirly turning around, a bit beyond my current choreography level. But I have impressed myself with my ability to master this set of workouts. She really does build the moves well and repeat them often. I am confident that over time I can master this one. I still like Basic Step better because itís a better length for me an I am not wild about circuit workouts that mix strength witth cardio. But this routine is a nice extra one to have on the dvd.

3) Toning- There are three sections here: upper and lower body (20 minutes each) and a short abs section. None of these feature a warm-up and cool-down.

The upper body section uses light weights and tubing. It works chest, back, shoulders, triceps and biceps. Everything gets two exercises except shoulders, which get four. Some of the exercises get two sets, others only get one. And some get pulsing sets while others do not. The organization of this workout felt a little random to me. I tend to prefer more structured routines and will probably not use this one often. It is not a bad routine, just not the style of training I usually prefer for weight work.

The lower body routine worked better for me. For starters it had a better structure: unlike the upper body section where some got two rounds and others did not, all the exercises here get one round. Each round has a regular set, then has a few tempo variations. It was mostly basic exercises such as squats (four different kinds) and leg lift type floor work. There were also some creative moves here such as an alternating front and back pulse lunge I have not seen before. And with fewer body parts to worry about, I felt we got more reps for everything. I am not sure I would use this as a stand-alone workout, but I can see myself tacking it on if I still have energy after Basic Step.

The ab workout uses the ball, but one of the background exercisers shows a modification. This workout is not chaptered. It features short sets of a variety of ab moves. I tend to get my ab work elsewhere and am not a huge fan of ball work, so I skipped this. But on preview this looked like a short, fun routine if you like this sort of thing.

Instructor Comments:



Basic Step is surprisingly good and pleasant, and a very likeable workout. I say ďsurprisinglyĒ because I was afraid it would be too simplistic and boring. However, I would describe it as more intermediate than beginner. Although most of the choreography is fairly basic, some is intermediate, and the intensity is intermediate and steady throughout. Cathe cues late fairly often, but if youíre experienced, the choreography is easy enough that you donít get very messed up. Grade A for Basic Step.

Body Fusion is a circuit workout consisting of 3 circuits which alternate step and weights. Both the intensity and choreography are intermediate. I thought the first step combo was very boring, but the other two were better. Overall, I consider it an ďokayĒ workout, but there is nothing that stands out with it either good or bad. Grade B.

In addition to these two workouts, there are also 3 mini-workouts: Upper Body Sculpt (20 minutes), Lower Body Sculpt (20 minutes) and Stability Ball Abs (10 minutes). I loved the Lower Body workout, mainly because of the floor work. The Upper Body is also good, but not particularly noteworthy. I did not do the abs workout since I donít have a ball.

Instructor Comments:

Annie S.


This is a basic step tape with very basic choreography - the most complicated step is "knees around the world." The warmup introduces the steps used, such as basic, V-step, alternating knees, repeaters, and turn steps. Its easy choreography reminds me of the first Step Reebok tape with Gin Miller. Step klutzes (like me) will appreciate the easy moves.

After the warmup, there are two aerobic sections, each with basic step patterns blended into a longer combination. One reason the workout is basic/beginner is that no arm movements are taught with the leg patterns; the whole workout is also fully low-impact.
Anyone beyond a basic beginner will want to up the intensity in this workout: you could add arm movements, increase step height (I use 8" for this workout, the only Cathe workout I do at that height), and/or add impact to the moves. For example, the "knees around the world" could be done with a lift on each knee up; L-steps could also be done with a leap up and lift on the knee-up.

A short cooldown and stretch completes the workout. I found the stretch to be inadequate - for a 20-minute step tape, there is only one short hamstring stretch and no specific stretch for the calves or quads.

This tape is a good add-on cardio on days you want an easy, low-impact, short aerobic workout.

Instructor Comments:
Cathe is her usual upbeat self and displays excellent form. Her cueing could be a little clearer for beginners - explaining new moves rather than just demonstrating them.



I decided to write this because the Body Fusion part was the only part reviewed, and that was the only piece I have not done all the way through.

I started with the add-ons (choose add ons from the main menu). There is a 20 minute upper body routine, a 20 minute lower body routine, and a 10 minute abs on the stability ball (although one exerciser demonstrates without the ball). In the upper body routine, Cathe does the first set using tubing, the second set using 3 pound weights. I am intermediate/advanced, and I found the routine challenging using tubine, and 5 to 10 pound weights. All the moves are basic - curls, presses, flyes. The lower body part is mainly weighted squats, combination forward and back lunges, and bridges on the step. When I did the upper, lower, and abs together, I felt like I had a solid 50 minute workout.

As for the basic step, I would not call this beginner, I would say more intermediate (although like the body fusion reviewer, I used two risers while Cathe and crew used 0 and 1, and I added some power moves). The workout was good, but too short at only 20 or so minutes of cardio. I used the mix and match feature, and added two of the step routines from the body fusion part, and felt like I got an excellent workout.

I would highly recommend this DVD. Excellent chaptering means you could use this as purely cardio, purely total body, mix and match, or as add ons to shorter videos. Great for many levels - advanced beginner, intermediate, or intermediate/advanced. I would not recommend this for a beginner, though.

Instructor Comments:
Cathe is great - excellent cueing, no nonsense (except for a few giggles).

Debby Bloom


Body Fusion
I just did the Body Fusion workout. Having done it just this once, I would say this is definitely intermediate, not beginner. I think...but then again, I added power to most of the moves, used a larger step than Cathe and crew, and went much higher on the weights than they did. This one doesn't use tubes, just hand weights.

As stated by someone else, it is three cardio segments (each about 8 minutes) with weight work interspersed between the cardio.

The cardio segments are well cued, I thought. I felt like Cathe was cuing BEFORE the move, as opposed to DURING the move, as I feel she sometimes has a tendancy to do. The mini routines are pretty basic, taught in an add-on style. They include basics, hop turns, two-knee-repeater with a scissor, in-out-in repeaters, over-face-in-over, rhythmic L, over the top (long way), mambo/pivot on the corner, uneven lunges and swim lunges... That's all I can remember. Each combo has about four moves (?) strung together, taught at a nice pace, and repeated several times. Not complex, but not totally boring, either. I think someone new to step will be challenged but not overwhelmed by this choreography. I am a choreography junkie, so this doesn't thrill me, but I was actually expecting it to be more basic than it was, so I was pleasantly surprised.

The first two weight segments include leg and upper body work. The first segment is squats with overhead presses during some of the squats; then you switch and do static lunges with side delt raises.
The second weight segment is rear lunges off the step with a kick at the top, done at various tempos. Then you do bicep curls in the traditional and hammer curl positions.
The third weight section is all upper body, with deadrows, rear delt flyes, tricep kickbacks, and pushups (3 slow sets of 8, I think, with modifications shown for beginner, intermediate, and big girl.) ** The menu states this includes a deadrow/deadlift combo, but it doesn't actually include deadlifts.

I didn't find the weight work challenging, even with the increased weights I used, but my heart rate stayed elevated throughout the entire workout. The weight segments are quite short--only about 2 minutes for each entire segment. I would only count this workout as a cardio. The weight sections are a nice way to break the workout up, but I don't think they will do anything in terms of strength or endurance. However, I know that if I were just starting out these weight segments WOULD be challenging, and I would probably consider it a weight day. Certainly for the chest, at least--3 sets of slow pushups are a lot for a beginner!

I enjoyed this, and I think it (and the High Step Intermediate workout) will be a good "light bootcamp" style of workout. Beginners can work their way up and intermediates will be set. Advanced people can up the intensity with power, heavy weights and higher step height, or do none of those and just use it as an easier Cathe day.

Instructor Comments:
I thought Cathe did a really good job in this one. She seems like herself, the moves and segments flow together well, and she seems more comfortable doing this level of workout than she did during my preview of Basic Step. I thought she provided adequate form pointers, too.



Strength Add Ons This is the strength workout I have always hoped Cathe would make-- no endless lunges, not too many push ups, 50 minutes covers all body parts (or 40 without the abs)-- what more could I ask for? Oh yes, all this and no barbell!
The first time I tried this workout I gave up quite quickly. I did not like the seated rows with the tubing. It seemed like too much fussing with equipment. Well, I tried it again, this time using my dynabands for the rows, and loved the workout.
This workout does not contain anything particularly new. The big twist is that she uses tubing for some of the exercises. This adds a new challenge to French presses, overhead presses, flys, and bent over rows. For the lower body she does a set of squats and plie squats with tubing first, then with weights. The tubing also adds a new challenge to side lying leg lifts. The toughest lower body work, in my opinion, is the bridge work. Killer! You can really feel it in the hamstrings and glutes. She finishes it of with leg lifts lying prone across a step. This one feels like it is really working the glutes too.
The first time I did the ab work on the ball aI thought it was too easy. I am not sure waht I was thinking-- perhaps my ball was underinflated, perhaps I did not lie back far enough on my ball, or perhaps I only did a few minutes of it! Who knows? All I know is that I feel quite challenged by it now.
Don't let the beginner label on the DVD scare you off. This workout is very modifiable. The reps are performed slowly enough so that you may heavy up on the weights. I use 8-12 pound weights and red spri tubing (as well as a purple dynaband).
This DVD is such a great little bargain. The step workouts are great too. (I think I have reviewed Body Fusion previously.)

Instructor Comments:
Cathe is a little chatty for my taste and uses some strange phrases.