BodyMax is a 91 minute cardio + strength workout by Cathe. It’s an oldy, too–2001, and apparently it was originally released on VHS. I got it on a DVD that has 3 of her older workouts on it: Power Hour, Maximum Intensity Strength and BodyMax. The other two will be reviewed soon.
BodyMax is the first Cathe workout I have not been crazy about. In fact, I really didn’t like it at all. And I injured myself doing it. I know I’ve mentioned before that I have avoided Cathe’s step cardio workouts due to her complex choreography–until recently, that is. However, this DVD was purchased primarily for Power Hour and Maximum Intensity Strength which are both pure strength workouts. The description of Body Max said the choreography for the step portion was simple but intense–which is exactly what the step choreography is in Athletic Training and To the Max and I love those two workouts. Plus, BodyMax is a 91 minute cardio + strength workout! And Cathe always delivers on intensity, so I had to try it, right?
Here is the break down. Total workout time: 91 minutes. Warm up on step 5 minutes followed by a 3 minute stretch. 24 minutes of step aerobics (this is where I injured myself). 19 minutes of power circuit intervals (more “explosive” step aerobics combined with lower body strength moves). 2 minute cool down. 27 minutes of upper body strength moves. 7 minutes of abdominal work. 4 minute stretch.
Equipment required is a step at 8 inches, a variety of dumbbells and a barbell. As usual, I have no barbell yet and just substituted dumbbells. In addition, for the upper body strength section she recommends a chair–she uses a stack of step risers. I just put my Transfirmer together in the 14 inch position and used that. It’s for your opposite hand when doing bent over moves.
The warm up was pretty simple, floor work and basic step work that even I could follow. Then you move on to the 24 minutes of step work. This was a combination of simple and complex choreography. I will admit that it was more basic than the first Cathe step workout I did that scared me away 5+ years ago. I was able to follow the majority of it and get a decent cardio workout–however, my fumbling feet made me trip over the step a few times and once I even toppled over the step to the ground! That is a first for me! It even drew a little blood and left a goose egg bump/bruise on my shin from where I banged the step as I careened over it. I share this so that you understand I am not exaggerating when I state that I have two left feet. I can do all kinds of high intensity, plyometric and athletic drills with no problem, but complex choreography is where I will actually injure myself!
For the 19 minute “Power Circuit” the step choreography becomes a little more basic, though I still had some confusion on some of the moves. The Power Circuit segment alternates higher powered step moves with lower body strength work. So you’ll do a circuit of intense step, then a circuit of lower body strength, a circuit of intense step, a circuit of lower body strength and so on. I am not going to break down the step work, however, here are the lower body strength moves that are done: holding dumbbells do backward lunges off of step, squats with barbell on shoulders, front lunges with dumbbells, plie squats with barbell on shoulders, static lunges with barbell on shoulders.
Next is the only segment I really liked and will probably come back to. 27 minutes of upper body work. It is chaptered well, so it will be easy to come back to while avoiding the rest of the workout. All of the upper body work is done in supersets and the tempo of the reps are varied, so your upper body is aching by the end. First is chest work: bench press with dumbbells, bench press with barbell and lots of push ups. Back work: one arm bent over lat rows, two arm wide bent over rows and rear delt flies. Shoulders: military press, upright row and side lateral raise. Biceps: curls, hammer curls, crazy 8s and hammer curls with rotation. Triceps: with barbell a narrow low (at ribs) bench press, lying tricep extensions, lots of tricep dips, tricep kickbacks.
The last segment (other than the stretch) is the abdominal work. I didn’t like this either. It was very intense, but I felt it worked the upper abs way more than lower abs or obliques. The workout ends with a short stretch.
I did not care for this workout at all. Not sure what to chalk it up to. Maybe I simply won’t like Cathe’s older workouts (we’ll see when I review the other two purely strength workouts on this DVD), or maybe it is just her “normal” step workouts I hate because of the complex choreography. But over all, I didn’t enjoy it. There was no fun factor whatsoever. Though it was a solid workout–it wasn’t the most difficult or intense Cathe workout I’ve done. The majority of her other workouts that I’ve done/reviewed since starting this blog are much more intense and difficult (though contain little or no complex choreography) than this one.
I do have to add that I am not with the majority. BodyMax has received a lot of excellent user reviews. People seem to love it. I attribute that to the fact they are more coordinated than I am. I want power and intensity–NOT dance numbers. It was also labeled as advanced. I don’t consider it advanced at all. High intermediate perhaps.
12/28/12 edit/update: I haven’t attempted Body Max again since I did it the first (and last) time for this review. However, in the intervening months, I have accumulated and done many more Cathe workouts. And a lot of them have step cardio with choreography of various complexity. I confess, I have become a convert. The more you do Cathe step choreography the more familiar it becomes. And now there are quite a few Cathe step workouts I love. I am getting better at it and catch on fast. When I did Body Max 2 I loved it so much that I knew I had to try Body Max again, that maybe my opinion had changed. And guess what? It has. I don’t love all Cathe step choreography, some if it is still too complex for me, but Body Max is a winner. I finally did it again for the second time this morning and now, the choreography was simple for me to catch on to. It was a fun and intense workout–I love it. I will say I still am not crazy about the abdominal work–but everything else, I adore!
I thought about revising the entire workout, but I wanted that version to still be available. If someone hates difficult step choreography, they should know that Cathe’s isn’t simple–even her more basic step choreography is more complex than what I was accustomed to pre-Cathe. So I decided just to add this edit to the end, so people could get both sides of the story.
If you enjoy Cathe’s workouts, I think it is worth spending time to learn her choreography. I would never have said this a few months ago, but her workouts are so intense and fun, that even the learning process will net you an excellent workout.