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Cathe’s STEP BOSS Review: IMAX 4 – Low Impact

STEP BOSS: IMAX 4 Low Impact

Cathe’s STEP BOSS Review: IMAX 4 – Low Impact

Cathe’s STEP BOSS Review: IMAX 4 – Low Impact – a cardio step and interval workout that will get that heart rate up and you breathing a little harder!

IMAX 4 is part of Cathe Friedrich’s new STEP BOSS workout series, which consists of 3 step DVDs plus a number of bonus add-ons and premixes. The series is aimed at advanced exercisers and while all the routines are step based, they follow different formats for three totally different types of challenge. For more details on the STEP BOSS program, click HERE or check out my blog post – Your Ultimate Guide to Cathe’s New STEP BOSS Series.

Cathe has three other IMAX workouts (Interval Max, IMAX 2 & 3 on DVD) and they are all excellent and tough cardio workouts. In addition, she also has a Live version in the archive – IMAX Live #17 (for a detailed review of that workout – click HERE).

The concept of the IMAX workouts is that you do a step combo straight out, with no build up, and repeat that combo six times before moving into a high intensity, step interval blast. This routine, however, is different to the previous versions in that it is entirely low impact. So all of the combos and blasts do not involve any jumping. The blasts are higher intensity but remain low impact, and this was a nice change to the other IMAX workouts. The other difference for this routine, compared to her other DVD versions, is that it is shorter at only 46 minutes, whereas all of the other versions are closer to an hour. However, there are premixes that increase the length of the workout and there are two longer versions that either double the whole workout or doubles the blasts after each combo. Both of these are really great options to increase the intensity a little more and provide more of a cardio challenge.

In total there are ten combos and ten blasts for this workout. The combos themselves are all reasonably straight forward moves and if you are familiar with Cathe’s other step workouts, these will mostly be recognisable. It’s definitely not the most complex choreography but there were a couple of the combos that did take a few tries to get all of the moves down properly and to make sure I was turning in the right direction! Combo 6 and 8 were the trickiest for me but I got them in the end. It really helps that you repeat each combo six times, so even if you don’t get everything the first time through, you have time to learn it before moving onto the next one.

The cardio step blasts are generally one or a combination of a few moves that are then repeated for a number of sets. There were a few different and interesting moves in here that either put a twist on familiar moves or were something a little different and I enjoyed them very much. There is no choreography but again there were a couple of the moves that took a little focus to make sure my legs and arms were all moving in the right direction and at the right time. I found Blast 2 and Blast 8 the trickiest. Blast 2 is a Heisman-type move over the step and this really felt a little awkward to get the timing right initially but it got better with practice. The blasts are a good mix of harder and easier intervals and these will definitely get your heart rate up and you breathing a bit harder. However, they are definitely not as intense as some of her other IMAX blasts but they did provide a nice challenge and I was pretty drenched by the end. The 8”step really helps here and also the fact that many of the moves really challenge the lower body and my legs were definitely feeling it on some of them, particularly the squat abductions. Cathe does give you slightly longer breathers, in between the combos, though so it is not as all out as her other IMAX routines. However, she does also mention a few ways to increase the intensity a little more, on some of the moves, e.g. jumping on the knee lifts etc so if you are looking to take it up a notch, you can try those as well.

The workout ends with a bang as you do ‘Over The Top Burpees’. You do eight sets, on each side, and these really had me breathing hard and feeling the work – a great way to end the routine.

Overall, this was a really fun cardio interval workout that’s packed full of variety. It’s definitely not quite as tough as Cathe’s other IMAX routines but does provide a nice cardio challenge for when you want to keep it lower impact. This is definitely one I will be returning to frequently.

The Workout

IMAX 4 – Low Impact is a cardio step and interval workout that consists of ten step combos, which are repeated six times. Each combo is then followed by a low impact, high-intensity blast segment, which then transitions into a short resting phase. Cathe used a full size step, with two risers on each side for this routine, however you can obviously use a lower step height, if you would prefer.

This DVD also includes a core bonus (Bonus Abs #2) and an extended stretch (Extended Chair Stretch).

What You Need to Know

(The information below is based on the main workout, not including any of the bonus add-ons).

What you need to know: Instructor: Cathe Friedrich. Length: 46 mins. Equipment needed: Full size step with two risers on each side. Fun Factor: 4/5. Sweat Factor: 4/5. Coordination: 3/5

(Rating scale – 1= lowest & 5 = highest).

The Moves

IMAX 4 – Low Impact is 45:26 minutes long. The workout starts with a xx minute warm-up, using the step, before moving into the first combo. The step, with two risers on each side, is set up horizontally in front of you. You will need to ensure that there is space all around your step, as you will be moving off every side. Each combo below is repeated six times before moving into the interval.

Combo 1

  • Shuffle down the step, turn & shuffle down the step (other direction), knee off the back of step, knee to the outside, shoot across (over step), face front, step touch x2, knee off side, rock twice & exit

Blast 1

  • Squat on / squat off (shuffle squat off the side of step & on to the step) – 16 reps each side

Combo 2

  • Rock horse off side of step, go off the front, swim lunge x2, exit, in out repeater, salute squats x3

Blast 2

  • Agility run (similar to Heisman movement across the step - one side & then the other) – 16 reps each side

Combo 3

  • 2 Knee repeater, Madonna pump x2, step touch behind & strike a pose on step x2 (both corners), over face & over, tap, tap, pas de bourree (on step)

Blast 3

  • 3 Lunges off side of step & wide tap on floor (hopping) – 8 sets each side

Combo 4

  • Peg leg pivot turn, peg leg, rock back, insoles around the world (around each corner of step) – 3rd hesitates, A-step, tap & walk around step

Blast 4

  • Squat thrust & heel clicks (step knee straddle x2, squat thrust (hands on step) & click heels x2 (hands still on step & legs straddling step) & stand) – 8 sets each side

Combo 5

  • Step kick corner to corner, over the top x2 (moving back & circling the arms), 1, 2, 3 step x2, over the top & 3 swim lunges

Blast 5

  • Alternating cross back lunges off step (slower then faster) – 40 reps

Combo 6

  • 2 Knee repeater (on step), walk back & around step, shuffle down the step, straddle, shuffle back on step, straddle, K-step, outer thigh lift, straddle, outer thigh lift (on other side)

Blast 6

  • Squat abductions (squat & 1 leg abductions off side of step -pumping arms up & down) – 24 reps each side

Combo 7

  • Up, up (on step), tap off x2 & exit, up, up (on step), tap off x2 & exit, V-step (on step), uneven V-step on corner (1 foot on step & 1 on floor), pivot turn, pony on the corner (of step)

Blast 7

  • Swim lunges (pulling down arms from the top / swim arms / reaching down low) – 80 reps

Combo 8

  • Hamstring front (on step) & back (on floor), knee, kick, knee, outer thigh lift, straddle, sweep leg to inside, outer thigh lift (other corner), straddle, sweep leg to inside

Blast 8

  • Squat attacks (1 foot on step, reach up & ‘attack’ bringing arms up & down) – 32 reps each side

Combo 9

  • Mambo on corner (of step), cha cha, pivot turn, cha cha, hip hop repeater (off side of step), step slam on the corners x2 (of step), walk, walk, turn x2 (around step)

Blast 9

  • Pulsing line taps (on & off step. 2 pulsing uneven squats then line taps across step x3) – 10 sets each side

Combo 10

  • 2 Knee repeater, straddle, cross back, pump repeater (on step), reverse 6-count mambo on step & on floor, tap on step, triples around the step

Blast 10

  • Over the top burpees (shoot over step laterally then squat thrust on floor – standing at the top – alternate sides) – 8 sets each side

The workout ends with a 1:30 minute cool down (not using the step) and a 3 minute stretch.

Bonus Add-Ons

Bonus Abs

Bonus Abs #2 is also included on this DVD. This bonus core section is 10 minutes long and does not include a warm-up (as Cathe is assuming you are adding it on to another workout) but does include a quick stretch at the end. You will need a full size step, with two risers on each side, a light dumbbell and a mat for this core bonus. The step height remains at 8” throughout the routine.

The use of a full size step again helps to increase the balance and core stabilisation challenge for this routine. Some of the moves are similar to the Ab Stacker workout but done using the step and a light dumbbell instead. Also there are more plank type moves in this routine and using the step is an interesting way to put a twist on these more familiar moves. However, there are three different straight arm plank moves one after the other and this made my wrists very uncomfortable so for me it wasn’t the most fun routine.

This is a fairly light core bonus overall, as there are only 7 different moves and none of them are done for very long – generally 12 reps. Cathe used an 8# dumbbell and this seemed very light. The work here, for me, seemed more on my wrists than really challenging my core. I did use a heavier dumbbell (10#) but would probably increase it further next time. However, given the amount of wrist work, for the three different planks moves, I am not sure I will be returning to this one very often. It just didn’t challenge my core as much as I was hoping for and it was definitely easier than the Ab Stacker bonus.

  • Weighted crunches (lying on step, sit-up & collect db from floor between your feet & bring it back over head then sit-up to put it down on floor again) – one 8# dumbbell (I used 1x 10), mat & step – 12 reps

  • Weighted oblique crunches (lying on step with db between the hands, arms back over head, sit-up & twist to alternating sides bringing db down towards side of knee) - one 8# dumbbell (I used 1x10), mat & step – 12 reps

  • Oblique rotations (or Russian twists - sitting on step & leaning back, rotate db from side to side) - one 8# dumbbell (I used 1x10), mat & step – 30 reps

Oblique rotations

  • Side plank hip dips (in side plank, on toes, with one hand on step & other raised straight up in the air, raise & lower hips) – step – 16 reps each side

  • Straddle planks (lower body) (starting in straight arm plank position with feet on step & hands on floor in front of step, then walk feet down to the floor & back up) – mat & step – 16 reps

Straddle Planks

  • Straddle planks (upper body) (starting in straight arm plank position with hands on step & feet on floor behind step, then walk hands down to the floor & back up) – mat & step – 16 reps

  • Reverse crunch & leg extension (lying on step with knees bent & feet off the step, hands holding edge of step behind your head, do reverse crunch & then extend legs straight out in front of you) – mat & step – 12 reps (slower & then faster) & 8 reps (with leg extensions)

Reverse crunch & leg extension

Extended Stretch

Extended Chair Stretch – is 17 minutes long and only requires a chair. This is another really relaxing stretch routine that I enjoyed very much. The routine starts, sitting on the chair, with a series of different stretches for the lower and upper body, which are then repeated on the other side. These are all really nice, gentle moves that stretch out different parts of the body nicely. There is no bouncing or aggressive stretches but you hold each move for a slightly longer period of time and sometimes incorporate different arm patterns, into the stretch, before moving onto the next one. These are all very familiar moves but doing them in the chair helps you feel them in different ways. You then move into some stretches that focus more on the whole body, while sitting in the chair, including stretches for the shoulders, hips and back. The hip flexor twisting stretch I found really nice for my spine, as you really feel some of the tension releasing here. Finally you move into more total body and lower body stretches, including for your quads, IT band and back, and these are done standing, using the chair for support. Overall a really wonderful feel good routine that will leave you nicely stretched out.


IMAX 4 has 14 premixes on the dvd.

(Premixes are extra bonus workouts included on the dvds that use the main workout as the backbone and then add, remove or change the order of elements to create a new routine).

Basic Premixes

  1. Main Workout + Extended Chair Stretch – 57:36

  2. Main Workout + Bonus Abs #2 – 54:34

  3. Main Workout + Bonus Abs #2 + Extended Chair Stretch – 67:34

Timesaver Premixes

  1. Timesaver #1: First Half Only – 27:23

  2. Timesaver #2: Last Half Only – 27:37

  3. Timesaver #3: First Half Only + Bonus Abs #2 – 37:21

  4. Timesaver #4: Last Half Only + Bonus Abs #2 – 37:35

  5. Timesaver #5: Blast Only – 27:47

  6. Timesaver #6: Blast Only + Abs – 37:46

  7. Timesaver #7: Combos Only – 27:03

  8. Timesaver #8: Combos Only + Abs – 37:02

Mish Mosh Premixes

  1. Double Blast After Every Combo – 61:50

  2. Double It – 78:39

  3. Mixed Combos & Blast – 57:27

Take Action

These workouts are available as a bundle or individually on DVD, download or through Cathe’s On Demand streaming service ($19.99 per month, which also includes access to all of the Cathe Live archived classes).

Check out my reviews of each of the other workouts in this series by visiting my Cathe DVD Reviews page HERE.

If you liked this workout, check out my review of Cathe Live: 2014 Roadtrip All Step – HERE.

If you enjoyed this review, please share it using the links below.


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