Your Ultimate Guide to Cathe’s New STEP BOSS Series
Updated: Feb 22, 2020
Your Ultimate Guide to Cathe’s New STEP BOSS Series
Wondering what the new STEP BOSS workout series, from Cathe Friedrich, is all about, whether it’s a good fit for you and your fitness level, and whether you need to be an experienced stepper to do the routines? This guide will provide all of the details to help you decide and to get the most out of these new workouts.
(Each of the individual DVDs will also be reviewed separately and links to each review can be found at the end of this overview or on my Cathe DVD Review page (by clicking HERE). The bonus workouts are reviewed both at the end of this overview and on the review of the individual DVD on which they appear).
What is The STEP BOSS Series?
Cathe Friedrich’s new STEP BOSS series 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.
In case you haven’t heard of her, Cathe Friedrich is a veteran fitness professional who has created over 400 workouts and also offers a streaming service for both her DVDs and her live classes (that she broadcasts most Thursday's from her gym in Jersey). Cathe’s focus has always been on developing high quality, safe and effective workouts that emphasise form and sequencing of the best exercises in a way that makes the most of your time and delivers the best results.
What Is Included In The STEP BOSS Series?
The program contains 3 main workouts. You can buy these as a 3 DVD (or download) bundle or as individual workouts (however, the downloads do not include premixes). Alternatively, you can use Cathe's On Demand streaming service to access all of the workouts and their premixes. The main workouts include:
1 Low Impact Step & Interval Workout – IMAX 4 - Low Impact
1 Total Body Strength Workout – PHA 3
1 Advanced Choreography, All Step Workout – STEP Sync
In addition, there are a number of bonus add-ons that are included on the different dvds and are used in the premixes:
2 Bonus Core Workouts – Ab Stacker Abs & Bonus Abs #2 – that are 9:30 and 10 minutes respectively
2 Extended Stretches – Extended Chair Stretch & Extended Lying Stretch – that are 17 and 10 minutes respectively
1 Bonus Intermediate Step Routine – STEP Sync Intermediate Step Routine (for those exercisers who want to challenge themselves with STEP Sync but want less complex choreography to start with) – that is 21 minutes
There are 38 different premixes, included in this series, that mix in the above elements, provide time-saver options and change the order of the exercises to provide multiple ways to enjoy these routines, depending on your own time, preferences and the energy you have on any given day.
The series also comes with a digital User Guide, which provides complete workout instructions, a list of all of the premixes and contains workout cards for the strength workout. It also details a number of workout rotations for the STEP BOSS series, including combining it with other Cathe series – Hardcore Series, Ripped with Hiit (RwH) and Low Impact Training Extreme (LITE). There is also a bonus step lovers rotation, which is a mix of different Cathe step workouts (including STEP BOSS) and total body weight routines. The user guide can be accessed by clicking - HERE.
Note that each of the above workouts will be reviewed individually in separate posts and there are links, at the bottom of this overview, to each workout review in this program. The bonus add-ons are also reviewed at the end of this overview.
What Equipment Do You Need For STEP BOSS?
All of the workouts use a full size step but various other equipment is also used in one of the workouts. The reviews of the individual workouts provide further details on the specifics for each routine. However, for the full program the equipment used is as follows:
Full size step with 2 risers each side (you could substitute a high step in places or just use the floor, if you don’t have a step)
Various weighted dumbbells - Cathe uses 5-15 pounds
Two gliding devices (paper plate, gliding disc, furniture sliders, wash cloth etc…)
A mat, if you are exercising on a hard surface
Optional – lifting gloves for the strength workout (PHA 3)
To find out what specific equipment you need for each workout just click on the link to that workout at the bottom of this post.
How Much Space Do You Need To Do The STEP BOSS Workouts?
You will need a reasonable amount of space to do all of the moves in these workouts effectively – particularly the cardio routines (IMAX 4 & Step Sync), as you will be moving all around your step in those. The strength workout (PHA 3) requires less space, as you are not moving about so much but you will still need space behind and to the sides of your step. An area of about 8 x 7 should give you enough room for all of the routines.
How Long Are The Main Routines?
STEP Sync and PHA 3 are 56 and 55 minutes long respectively. IMAX 4 is 46 minutes long. However, there are numerous premixes that give you a range of different length workouts, depending on the time you have available on any given day.
Do You Need To Be An Experienced Stepper To Do These Workouts?
Both of the two cardio workouts include step choreography, however only STEP Sync involves more complex combinations that may take more practice, patience and several tries to really pick up. (Although you can always just learn one combo at a time, as an add-on to another workout, until you can more comfortably string them all together). All of the combinations, however, are built up slowly and Cathe is excellent at cueing so this gives you time to learn the moves before you add on more or put them all together. Also you will repeat the moves, a number of times, so this also helps you to get more comfortable with them.
If these are too complex though, Cathe has also added a bonus intermediate step routine to this DVD, which provides less complex combos and a greater level of breakdown to get you more familiar with the moves. You can use this as a way to both preview and build up your confidence before attempting the main routine.
IMAX 4 also has some choreography but it is not as complex as STEP Sync. You do a few moves, for each combination, that you then repeat six times before doing a fairly straight forward interval blast. You then move onto the next combo. The moves are definitely less dancey than STEP Sync but there are a few combos and a few of the blasts that will still take more practice and lots of concentration. The additional challenge here though is that for these combos there is no build up - you just do the moves straight out - but as you have six times to practice them, before moving on, it gives you a chance to learn them as you go.
For both of the above workouts, it will therefore be easier if you do have some step experience and for STEP Sync being a more advanced stepper will definitely help. Experience of Cathe’s other step workouts would be useful here too so you are more familiar with some of her terminology etc. However, with patience and practice it would be possible to learn and enjoy these routines even if you haven’t stepped much or at all before. Don’t worry if you don’t get all the steps the first time through just have some fun and eventually you will get it or if not have a lot of fun trying to do so!
However, if you are really averse to stepping, you may wish to consider just getting the PHA 3 workout instead. This is the only workout, in this series, that does not involve step choreography - as it is just a pure strength total body workout.
So What’s New?
This workout series only includes three main workouts, unlike many of her recent series that include 6 or 7 workouts. There are rumours (and a mention on one of the road trips) that Cathe is going to do another series early next year though - just to make sure we get our full Cathe fix! This hasn’t yet been confirmed on her forum yet though but fingers crossed! (*Update: this has now been confirmed as Cathe is releasing another series ‘Perfect 30’ in the summer).
IMAX 4 is low impact this time. The IMAX routines are known for being high impact, high intensity workouts so it’s a nice change to have a low impact version instead.
The advanced step workout (STEP Sync) includes a bonus intermediate step routine. This gives the less experienced stepper a chance to build up to the more complex moves but still get a fun cardio workout at the same time.
Some of the workouts also include new exercises and combine the use of the equipment in different ways. For example, in PHA 3, where you are combining the use of a step and a gliding device – this aims to increase the intensity and balance challenge of the moves a little more. Also in the bonus abs segments, you are actually using the step risers (see picture below) and the step for added resistance or challenge during the core moves. It’s always nice to see different combinations of moves - as it keeps it interesting and your mind focused on the exercises.
Finally, as with Cathe’s last new release, the LITE series (for a full review of that series click HERE), STEP BOSS also includes two bonus abs routines and two extended stretches. I love having two core sections again, as it gives so much more variety, and is also great for using with the Workout Blender, to increase the options for blending even more core segments! The extended stretches are also fantastic – I often use one of the LITE stretches to add on after a tough workout or just to fit in a little more flexibility / mobility training into my week. Also this time, one of the stretches includes the use of a chair, for all of the stretches, which is a nice change if you don’t want to go to the floor.
So What’s The Verdict?
I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this series, as I am not the biggest step fan but I do love the original IMAX routines. As presented, the main workouts not including any of the bonuses, these are not the most intense or advanced workouts I have done. However, a lot of these routines is what you put into it. So I would suggest that you really make sure you select the right weights for PHA 3 and really put effort and intensity into the cardio routines.
If I had to rate these workouts from easiest to hardest, I would say STEP Sync, PHA 3 closely followed by IMAX 4.
So will I be returning to these workouts? Well IMAX 4 definitely did not disappoint – I loved it! It is a fantastic cardio routine that challenges you without any jumping or impact. PHA 3 is also an excellent total body strength workout and one that I will definitely be adding to my regular rotation. STEP Sync I think I will return to less frequently though, as dancey step isn’t necessarily my favourite workout, but it’s nice to have as a change when I want to do something a little different. This also gave me a good cardio workout again without lots of jumping, which I appreciate. My only concern is that once you really know the routine, would the level of breakdown become slightly frustrating but we shall have to see. The intermediate step routine was a nice add-on when you want a little more cardio. I also liked the Ab Stacker bonus abs and both the extended stretches were wonderful. So all of these will definitely be used very frequently. However, I wasn’t a fan of the Bonus abs #2 routine and probably won’t be returning to that one in future.
How Do You Approach These Workouts?
There are numerous ways you can do these workouts. As mentioned, the series comes with a digital User Guide that provides a number of different rotations for these workouts, including combining STEP BOSS with other Cathe series (Hardcore Series, RwH and LITE). These rotations set out exactly which workouts to do each day and provide an easy option for scheduling these routines into your daily activities. (Click HERE to access the User Guide).
Alternatively, you can just build them into your own / existing rotation or select individual workouts that appeal to you and do them however works best. This is what I did, as I rarely do full rotations, as I tend to get bored quite easily! In addition, with the 38 premixes, you can also adapt these workouts to suit your schedule, preferences and mood on any given day.
And finally, as it is Cathe and with the magic of her Workout Blender (the amazing online tool Cathe offers free with her OnDemand streaming service), you can blend any chapter of any of her workouts together in whatever way you want to (and can think of!) This gives you almost unlimited ways to use these workouts (or parts of them) to adjust the intensity and level to whatever you desire.
STEP BOSS Series Reviews
As mentioned, each of the main workouts will be reviewed individually, as will the bonus elements, but obviously bear in mind that the DVDs offer the chance to incorporate these bonuses into the workouts pretty much however you want to. Therefore, the reviews will focus on the main workouts as they are presented in the program.
For the main workouts you can access the detailed reviews by clicking on the links below (or go to my Cathe DVD Reviews Page HERE).
The bonus add-ons are reviewed below.
The Bonus Workouts
Bonus Intermediate Step Routine
This routine is designed for those exercisers who want to challenge themselves with STEP Sync but need a slower start. This section is 21 minutes long and does not include a separate warm-up or stretch, as Cathe is assuming you will use the ones from the main workout. It does include a 20 second cool down, at the end, but I didn’t feel that was enough on its own. You will need a full size step with one riser on each side for this bonus.
This is a good bonus routine that was both fun and much easier in terms of learning curve. The moves are broken down a little more and are also performed at a slightly slower tempo than the main routine so they are easier to pick up. Also the combos contain a number of elements from the main Step Sync workout so this really gives you a nice preview, of what is to come, and a chance to practice the moves at a slower pace. There are two extended combos in this routine and Cathe builds up each of the elements gradually so you have a chance to learn each of the moves before adding more. Overall, given its length, it is much more intermediate in level so it’s a nice one to get you moving without going all out.
This is a nice cardio routine that you can do on its own or add on to the main workout for a little more of a cardio challenge (or to any other workout that you choose). This is a nice way to get some movement into your day without going all out or worrying about a steep learning curve for the different combos. In addition, the premixes offer a number of different ways to use the bonus routine, including incorporating an abs bonus too or mixing it into the main routine.
The full review of this add-on, including all of the different combos and moves is reviewed on the STEP Sync review HERE.
STEP Boss Bonus Abs
These are bonus abdominal workouts designed to be done separately or as add-ons to your workout to tighten and tone the whole core. There are two bonus core workouts included as part of the STEP BOSS series. You will need four step risers for the first workout plus a mat to lie on, if you are on a hard surface. For the second abs bonus, you will need a step, with two risers on each side, a light dumbbell and a mat.
Ab Stacker Bonus Abs – is 9:30 minutes long with no warm-up and includes a quick stretch at the end. This is a good little bonus that works the core pretty well and finishes off any workout nicely. The routine incorporates the use of the step risers to provide a different challenge for you core muscles and to add a little more intensity to some of the moves. The routine includes many familiar moves but they are given a different twist by using the risers. If you don’t have step risers you could always use light dumbbells or dixie cups instead – anything just to make sure you are using the full range of motion for the moves.
The routine has a good mix of harder and easier moves and I found some of the exercises quite challenging with the additional weight of the riser. However, I would probably use a heavier dumbbell, for some of the others though, to increase the intensity a little more where the riser seemed a little light.
The routine is a mix of different exercises, including more crunch type moves, boat pose, planks and supermans so targets all areas of the core effectively. The moves flow from one to the next, with little rest, so it keeps the core working nicely. This isn’t the toughest core routine but I did find it more challenging than Bonus Abs #2.
Bonus Abs #2 – is 10 minutes long with no warm-up and includes a quick stretch at the end. This is a pretty light core routine and was easier than the Ab Stacker Bonus. This routine incorporates the use of a full size step and a light dumbbell to increase the balance challenge and engage your core muscles in different ways. If you don’t have a step you could always do these moves on the floor instead.
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. The routine includes 7 different exercises but I found the challenge, of this routine, was more for my wrists, with all the plank work, than really challenging my core muscles. Cathe used an 8# dumbbell and I found this a little light so I used a 10# dumbbell but would probably increase further in future.
STEP BOSS Extended Stretches
These routines are longer stretch segments to add onto your workouts to provide a more comprehensive stretch and help lengthen and relax hard worked muscles. There are two Extended Stretch bonuses for STEP BOSS.
Extended Chair Stretch is 17 minutes long and Extended Lying Stretch is 10 minutes long. You need a chair for the first segment, and a mat for the second one, as this is done on the floor. Both of these bonuses provide a nice addition to your workout when you want to spend a little more time stretching out that body. I really enjoyed both of these add-ons and will definitely be incorporating them into my weekly routine. The moves are all familiar stretches and flow from one move to the next. None of the moves are held too long but are just enough to stretch out the body nicely. They provide a really relaxing way to end any workout or as a standalone segment, when you want a little more stretching.
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 Review Page HERE.
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