The Classics Volume 1 is a collection of Cathe‘s old step workouts. There is another collection, Cardio Hits, but for some reason it isn’t called Volume 2–in fact, there is no “official” Volume 2. The Classics contains 3 of Cathe’s old step cardio workouts: Step Jam, Step Heat and Step Max. Step Jam is from 1996, and Step Heat and Step Max are from 1995. These are very dated workouts–and it shows in the set, the attire, the way Cathe structures the workouts and even in the way she behaves. Even though they are signature Cathe workouts, she does things differently than she does in her more “modern” current workouts. It doesn’t make them bad workouts, just different.
I have put off doing these and the step workouts from Cardio Hits because of my fear of Cathe’s often complex step choreography. But I decided to work through them on my rest days so that I don’t waste a good workout day on a workout I can’t do because I have two left feet. There is a total of 7 old Cathe step cardio workouts I still need to do (the three on The Classics, the three on Cardio Hits and Rhythmic Step, which is on another collection DVD but the other two on that DVD are Maximum Intensity Cardio and Interval Max–two workouts with very doable choreography, so I did those two workouts (and reviewed them) a long time ago). Once I decided to at least sample these workouts to see if I can start working them into my regular rotation, I did some research on the complexity of the choreography. The Classics appeared to have the easiest choreography so that is the DVD I started with. The order of complexity I was able to surmise from easiest to complex (from reviews that is) is Step Heat, Step Jam and Step Max. So Step Heat was the first workout I did. So we’ll start there. (***Now that I’ve completed all 3 I have revised the complexity level spectrum: Step Heat, Step Max and Step Jam is the actual order of their choreography complexity.***)
Step Heat is a 58 minute step cardio workout. It is transferred from VHS, so there are no premixes but it is chaptered. There is a one minute intro; 7 minute warm up, step training 35 minutes, cool down 5 minutes, stretch 2 minutes, ab work + mini stretch 7 minutes. You need a club step with two risers on each side (8 inches). This is a steady state cardio step workout. During the intro Cathe calls this workout advanced, but it is not. It is intermediate. Nevertheless it is a solid steady state workout. The choreography is very easy. In fact, it is the easiest Cathe choreography I’ve done to date. Please don’t mistake easy choreography with easy work out. It is a very solid workout. Again–not Imax intensity or HIIT–but it will get your heart rate up and make you sweat. I really liked it–however (and yes there is a however) the choreography at times was monotonous. I didn’t mind the lack of high intensity, but when she teaches a step she does it so many times she runs it into the ground. Yes, you definitely know this step but it gets a little boring, especially the simpler steps. Cathe teaches the steps in this workout very well, btw–I never once stood there staring at the TV as I sometimes do the first time through workouts with doable choreography. The set is odd–yellowish/mustard wallpapered walls. And the outfits! Jane Fonda-esque. Leotards with shorts for the crew. I only recognize one crew member–Cede. She has been with Cathe a long time! The music is pretty good–definitely some dancy mixes.
I’m going to break this workout down a little more. The warm up is done primarily on the floor–very little step work–which is not the way Cathe does step workouts now. In her more recent step workouts she warms you up on the step right away. The training period is made up of two sections–combo #1 and combo #2–and they are both different. Combo #1 is the most basic of the two and the longer combo clocking in at 25 minutes. It is made up of 6 mini combos. She teaches the mini combos one at a time and, like I said above, runs some of them into the ground. The teaching period lasts 19 minutes. The last 6 minutes is the “finished product.” She strings all 6 combos together, one right after the other, then you do the finished product again with the other lead leg. This is not complicated at all. You do a heart rate check, then you move into Combo #2. The second combo is different. You do that one for a total of 10 minutes. The choreography is more complex, but not overly complex and she teaches the steps well. In fact, Combo #2 is done in Cathe’s current step cardio style. There are 4 step moves and she teaches this combo on layers, unlike the first combo in which each mini combo was taught separately with no layering. After you learn the 4th one, you then do the finished product–but it was a progressive thing anyway. Here is what I mean by layering: you learn the first step combo, then the second, then she combines combo 1 and 2, then you learn the 3rd, then combine 1, 2 and 3, then she teaches the 4th combo. Combo #2 ends with doing all 4 step combos together in the finished product. The workout ends with a cool down step combo that is low impact and very simple. It lasts 5 minutes. You do a 2 minute stretch, then get your mat out for abdominal work. The ab work is all crunch variations. Very unimpressive, but I did feel it. You then do another short stretch and you’re done!
How often will I come back to this workout? I don’t know. I do think it was a good steady state cardio workout, but (dare I say?) it was maybe even a bit too simple for me? Even for a recovery workout? So I don’t know that I will return to it. One of the things I love about Cathe workouts is the fun factor–she just makes hard work fun. Not so much in this one. I got bored a few times, especially early on.
Step Jam is a 60 minute step cardio workout. It is transferred from VHS, so there are no premixes but it is chaptered. You need a club step with two risers on each side (8 inches). There is a one minute intro; 7 minute warm up, step training 47 minutes and cool down/stretch 5 minutes. Like Step Heat, the warm up is completely on the floor–no stepping. The cool down is as well. I LOVED this workout. I didn’t think I would in the beginning either. Like Step Heat, it is dated. The set is ok–better than Step Heat’s, but the costumes! They are appropriate for 1996, I suppose, but a violation to my 2013 senses. Thong leotards with close fitting shorts–under the leotard. And early in the workout there are some silly hand movements. One of them I think she called “arm jive” or something, then later there are “jazz hands” I think. And one of the first songs is some teched up country song. Also, Cathe would sometimes… bark during the workout. Other than that–the workout was awesome. The choreography was more complex than Step Heat–in fact, some of it was pretty complex, but the difference from Cathe’s later complex step workouts is that she teaches these step combos so well. In fact, in her intro she warns there are steps where we will have our back to the tv. On those step combos she shows you first–then you join her. Why doesn’t she do this in her later workouts?!?! In later step workouts she just throws complex combos at you in which half (or all!) of them are done with your back to the tv. However, in Step Jam I never miss-stepped on the complex step combos when she taught them this way! Which is why I adore this workout! Everything is taught in layers, too. She gives warning of changes. Everything about her instruction and cuing is just spot on.
It consists of three step combos that build in complexity and intensity. It is a steady state workout but more intense than Step Heat. The first combo is 14:30, the second combo is 13:30 and the third combo is 19 minutes. A fun and excellent workout. Another Cathe winner!
Step Max is a 58 minutes step cardio workout; 45 second intro, warm up 9 minutes, training period 42:30 minutes, cool down/stretch 7:30. You need a club step with two risers on each side (8 inches). It is transferred from VHS, so there are no premixes but it is chaptered. My experience with Cathe’s later workouts lead me to to expect something intense from the word “Max” in the title. This workout did not deliver on the intensity expectation. But that isn’t a bad thing. It is a steady state cardio step workout and almost the lowest intensity of the three in this set. I say “almost” because it is made up of three sections that progressively increase in intensity with the third and final one being the most intense. That 3rd section is the only thing that kept it out of last place. It didn’t make it super intense btw–but it did boost the intensity up nicely. I really like this workout. It was a lot of fun. The set was horrible again; in fact, it might be the same set as Step Heat with the yellowish/mustard walls. The costumes were hideous as usual (circa 1995). The music was pretty good and the choreography ranged from simple to moderately complex choreography. However, just as in Step Heat and Step Jam Cathe taught it so well I never miss-stepped. I really liked the variety in this workout, too. Cathe was weird. I’ll be honest, I like the way Cathe behaves in her more modern workouts so much more. Through this one she would throw out little comments like “That’s the ticket!” and “You’re hot!” and “We’re feeling real good right now!” It was odd. She doesn’t behave that way in her modern workouts. She is more professional, but still friendly–oh and never scripted, so she always comes off as natural.
As mentioned previously, this workout is broken down into 3 sections and each section is very different. The warm up is done on both the floor and the step, and is a more active warm up than the warm ups in the other two workouts. The first section is 16 minutes long and very simple–a series of pretty basic step choreography. There are no combos. You just do one step after the other then do them all with the other leg leading. Section 2 is 13 minutes long and is a combo that is taught in mini combos, put together in a “finished product” then repeated several times. Section 3 is 11 minutes long and is the “plyo section,” which is a generous term. A better title would be “higher impact” section. The workout ends with a 5:30 minute cool down combo that I am surprised I liked so much. It was kind of corny-dancy–nevertheless I liked it a lot. It was fun. You get a 2 minute stretch and you’re done!
Here are the steps in section 1 in the order in which they appear: basic and V-steps, alternating knee raises with and without hops, corner to corner knees, insoles and hamstring curls, “basketball” hops, outer thigh raises, outer thigh raises with straddles, straddle knees, straddles with insoles and hamstrings, horseshoes (or turn steps), 3 count horseshoes, 3 count crossovers, put 3 count horseshoes and crossovers together into an “L” then a “box”, rocking horses with L step and over the top.
Section 2 combo consists of jump onto step, run/jog onto step, step split, hop turn, A step, T step, then combine A and T steps and add outer thigh raises, horseshoes with knee repeaters, horseshoes with repeater lunges, rock horses with over the top. Repeat this combo several times.
Section 3 is the plyo/higher impact section and it starts with a combo that consists of half time V steps, over the tops followed by Power 8s and 4 half jacks. Next is uneven lunges, lateral lunges, diagonal overs, single lateral lunges with different arm movements, plyo lunges off the step, continue the lunges with no plyo, then they turn into lunge kicks. Ricochets with jacks. The plyo section ends with knees side to side with some fun variations. Repeat the whole thing on the other side of the body.
Summary: This collection surprised me! I tried it out on my rest days because I expected the choreography to be so complex that I wouldn’t get a good workout. But that wasn’t the case at all. Regardless of the level of complexity, Cathe taught and cued so well in these workouts that it was never a problem. They are all workouts that I think I will come back to for different reasons. Step Heat probably as a recovery workout. Step Jam any time! And Step Max could go either way depending on how I feel–recovery or regular workout. As for intensity level–Step Jam is the most intense, followed by Step Max (and only because of section 3) with Step Heat being the lowest intensity. And like I’ve said, if not for Step Max’s 3rd section it would be the lowest intensity because as a whole Step Heat was more intense than sections 1 and 2 of Step Max. This is a keeper and I am so glad I finally tried these workouts!