Cathe’s Cardio Hits

cardiohitsCardio Hits is another collection of Cathe‘s old step workouts. I recently reviewed The Classics Vol 1 which is a collection of three of Cathe’s old step workouts and now I am reviewing Cardio Hits, another trio of Cathe’s old step workouts. However, Cardio Hits collection contains newer workouts–not by much tho, only a year or two. Which makes it odd that these weren’t called Vol 2, but they weren’t. In fact, a Vol 2 does not currently exist.

Cardio Hits consists of 3 step workouts and an ab workout: Step Fit 1997, Step Works 1998 and Power Max 1996. The ab workout is nothing new; it is just the ab section from Pure Strength‘s Back, Biceps & Abs workout.

As I stated in The Classics Vol 1 review, I have been procrastinating on doing these workouts due to my fear of Cathe’s complex step choreography. But I finally bit the bullet and started using my rest days to sample these workouts. I did some research on the complexity of the choreography of all of the workouts and scheduled them from easiest choreography to most complex. Because of this The Classics Vol 1 was done first, since according to the reviews I read, it had easier choreography than the Cardio Hits workouts. And I was surprised when I did The Classics Vol 1 workouts that they were all very doable (choreography-wise). From my reading I have surmised that the order of complexity of Cardio Hits workouts (from easiest to hardest) is Step Fit, Step Works and Power Max. I may end up revising this line up after reviewing them all–that will be in the summary at the end of this review.

**I have a disclaimer to make about these reviews. Due to the fact that I am sampling these workouts once a week, PLUS the fact this review fell during a recovery week during a round of STS, I am doing a lot more step workouts than normal. So I am getting even more familiar with Cathe’s brand of step choreography than I was before. Which is probably making the choreography easier for me each time I do a new workout–easier than if I was coming to these workouts without having done a step workout in months (or years), so keep that in mind. These reviews are from the perspective of someone who is currently doing at least (often more) one Cathe step workout a week. Also of note, in Cathe’s intro to Power Max, she states something that actually makes a lot of sense when I look at these workouts as perhaps a “normal” person might look at them (“normal” being people who do not own 200+ workout DVDs and do not have severe workout ADHD). Cathe states that she doesn’t do a lot of breakdown of the moves (even the complex ones) because a workout DVD is not like fitness class in a gym. When you pop in the DVD (or VHS at the time this workout was made) you are doing the same workout every time, so you will learn the moves with repetition. This is also what a lot of the long time Cathletes on Cathe’s forum state any time someone complains about Cathe’s complex step choreography. Apparently they get a step workout and do it many, many times over a short period of time. So that does make Cathe’s lack of “good” choreography breakdowns in later workouts make more sense. However, that is not how *I* do workouts. I am always varying my workouts so even when I do a particular workout “a lot.” A lot for me equals 2-3 times a month at the MOST–even tho I workout every single day. So that is yet another thing to keep in mind when reading any of my workouts in which I complain about the complexity of her step choreography.

Finally, a note about the packaging. This DVD does not come in a regular DVD case. It comes in a square CD case. Not a big deal to me, but worth mentioning.

Step Fit is a 72 minute cardio step workout; 2:30 minute intro, 11:30 warm up, 50 minute training time and 8 minute stretch. Cathe and 2 members of her crew use a 6 inch step and the two other members of the crew use 8 inches steps. Like The Classics Vol 1 workouts, Cathe and crew’s clothes were horrendous. Cathe is wearing a yellow thong leotard with tight black shorts and her crew is wearing the same outfit but the leotard is red. The set seems to have a Roman theme to it and isn’t as hideous as the sets in The Classics Vol 1. Cathe was very enthusiastic and a little silly in this workout, but overall I liked her as usual.

It is a steady state cardio workout. During one of the step sections your heart rate might spike a little but overall it keeps you in your aerobic zone. I liked this workout but didn’t love it. I was correct about the complexity of the choreography being more difficult than in The Classics Vol 1 workouts. It was complex choreography but well taught. I did get lost a few times but I eventually caught on to every step after a few tries. In the workout description and in Cathe’s intro she states she is introducing new steps. Since I came to these workouts after doing Cathe’s more current step workouts, none of these steps are new to me, but it was nice to see her teaching them for the first time. The steps are flying angels and power scissors. Which leads me to the impact level of this workout. It is high impact with some plyometrics. Not a lot of plyo, but it does contain some. She always gives a lower impact option for anyone not interested in jumping.

The workout consists of 3 combos–4 if you count the warm up. The warm up is done on the step and is step combo taught in layers. It is a low impact and and the choreography is pretty simple. If we go with the 4 combo concept, then the two middle step combos have the most complex choreography of the workout (with the warm up combo and the final combo having the simplest). All of the combos are taught in layers and taught well, so it is not difficult to catch on to. The second step section is 19 minutes long and has the most intense of the power moves in it, including the power scissors. The third combo is 22 minutes long and contains the flying angels. The final combo is 9 minutes long and more a of a cool down step combo as it is lower in intensity and brings the heart rate down for the long stretch at the end. I actually kind of liked it even though it was pretty dancy. She did a Macarena inspired step move (blast from my past–except I thought the Macarena was stupid even when it was popular), mambos and pivot turns.

I did like this workout but didn’t love it. Not sure how often I will come back to it as Cathe has a lot of step workouts that I like more than this one.

Step Works: Winner! Winner! Winner! I LOVE this workout! Adore it! In fact, I am surprised at how crazy I am about it! It is the newest in the two trio collections–from 1998, so maybe that is why? Not sure. The set is neutral. Cathe is in normal workout clothes–nothing weird or offensive–and she is acting pretty normal (as in more current workouts), no silliness. Even though all of that is a bonus, that is not what made this such a great workout. In fact, I can’t put my finger on exactly what made me adore this one so much. The music was very good but not spectacular. It was the step combos. They were fun, put together so well–and reminiscent of her later step workouts I love so much (Step, Pump & Jump and Cardio & Weights). In fact, this workout was clearly the precursor to those since it came out before them both.

Step Works is 62:30 minutes long; 2:30 intro, 8:30 warm up, 40 minute training period, 8 minute cool down and 3:30 stretch. There is a lot about this workout that is different from her older step workouts and even from her newer ones. In fact, the intro is unique thus far. Not only does she give an overview of the workout to come (she usually does that) but she also breaks down the more complicated step moves and gives easier and lower impact alternatives. In addition, this workout uses various step heights. Cathe and all of her crew except for one person use an 8 inch step for the warm up and first two step combos, then lower the step to 6 inches for the final combo, cool down combo and stretch. This is because the the choreography becomes more complex in the these final combos which is hard to do on an 8 inch step.

The training period consists of 3 step combos, but like most of her other step workouts both the warm up and the cool down are step combos as well, so there is a total of 5 step combos. The choreography in this workout is pretty complex, but as in all of these older workouts, Cathe teaches it very well (**please seen disclaimer above). Each combo is taught in layers/add-on style, so you learn the combo in segments before putting it all together. The workout is high impact; however in her intro she tells you how to keep it low impact and on other moves it’s just obvious–take out any “hops.” It is a steady-state cardio workout but fairly intense. I worked up a good sweat–and had a great time doing it! BTW–at the time of this workout, a lot of these step moves were new (Cathe was introducing them for the first time), but she has used them again in many of her later step workouts, so they were not new to me. Which is probably one of the reasons I picked up on it so easily. However, there were some new-to-me variations on a lot of familiar moves that I found fun and refreshing.

Step combo 1 is 15 minutes, step combo 2 is 15 minutes. After step combo 2 Cathe and crew lower their steps to 6 inches because the choreography becomes more complex. Step combo 3 is 10 minutes and the cool down step combo, which is the most complex choreography of all IMHO, is 8 minutes. Nevertheless, in spite of the very complex choreography, it did cool me down completely. It is low impact and low intensity. And fun! Once I caught on, that is! The cool down did leave me staring at the screen a few times before I could catch on.

Power Max: 62 minute steady-state step cardio workout; 2 minute intro, 8:30 minute warm up, 44:30 training period and 7 minute cool down/stretch. Unlike Step Max from The Classics Vol 1, the “max” in the title of this one did not deceive me. In Cathe’s later workouts, “Max” in the title meant she was going to max you out–literally. And she delivered on that. That didn’t happen in Step Max, so I didn’t expect it in Power Max. And it didn’t max me out either. However, Power Max is pretty intense for a steady-state cardio workout, but nowhere near as intense as Cathe’s later workouts. I liked this one a lot; not as much as Step Works, but more than Step Fit. It was a very good and fun workout. It had the most complex and confusing/difficult choreography of all of the older step workouts that I’ve done thus far. But, as in the others, Cathe teaches it very well and I caught on to everything except for one step move called a “360” (meaning 360 degrees) in which you are hopping in a circle over the step with one foot always on the step. And that one, I just could not get. In fact, my attempts to get it send me tripping over the step and onto the floor once. But there were some other well-taught complex moves that were a lot of fun–horseshoe variations and a lot of others that were just being introduced in this workout, but are not new to me as I have done all over her recent step workouts. It was just a fun, intense workouts. It also had some great music–old hip hop songs like Wild Thing, Push It and others–even some Queen. Cathe and crew were in their hideous thong leotards again and there was a lot of silliness and whooping, but it overall it was a solid, fun, intense workout.

Power Max is made up of 5 step sections–2 of those sections are the warm up and the cool down and the other 3 are the training period. Surprisingly, the most complicated choreography, IMHO was the cool down combo. I had some coordination issues in the warm up combo, then in Section 3 there was the 360 move that landed me on my a$$. You start with your step in the 8 inch position and it stays at 8 inches until the cool down combo. At that point you lower it to 4 inches (just the topper). The warm up and stretch is 8:30 minutes, Section 1 is 14 minutes, Section 2 is 17:30, Section 3 is 13 minutes and the cool down and stretch are 7 minutes. The intensity increases as the workout progresses with Section 3 being the most intense. Another winner!

Ab Segment: As mentioned above, this is a not a “new” workout created for this DVD or even as a stand alone core workout. It is actually a core workout from her Pure Strength collection; specifically the workout Back, Biceps & Abs. The segment is 10 minutes long and not very advanced. More intermediate with very basic moves. The first 3:30 minutes are basic crunch variations. The next 1:30 minutes is reverse crunch variations. Then 3 minutes of oblique work, which again, just does basic oblique crunch variations. The workout ends with 2 minutes of spinal erector training (low back) consisting of superman variations. It does the job even if it isn’t advanced. I especially liked the 2 minutes of superman variations at the end.

Summary: Another surprising collection! I will keep step choreography complexity in the original order I determined it–Step Fit, Step Works, and Power Max–in that order. Also, the choreography in Cardio Hits  is all more complex than the choreography in The Classics Vol 1 workouts. And just like in The Classics Vol 1, Cathe taught and cued so well that I managed to catch on to nearly everything pretty quickly in spite of the complexity. I will probably do all of these again with my favorite being Step Works. In fact, of these two collections, my favorite step workouts are Step Works and Step Jam, but they were all great workouts.

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