Dance-Based Cardio Step!

by Yoav Avidar on May 21, 2014

Step used to be one the most popular group cardio formats. Although it has registered a slight decrease in popularity recently—mostly due to the proliferation of new programs and limited time slots—step still has its place. Delivering step classes requires creativity, strong teaching skills and preparedness. The following routine includes a full breakdown with a choreography progression.

Cardio Step Details

Format: cardio step
Total time: 60 minutes
Equipment needed: step platforms
Music: Play music that supports a professional 8/32 count.
Safety guidelines:

  • Stick with 125–132 beats per minute (bpm), as this tempo allows for full range of motion.
  • Cue participants to place the entire foot on the platform when climbing up and to touch the heel on the floor when stepping off.
  • Keep the knees “soft.”

Warm-Up (6–10 minutes)

During the first few minutes, many students (especially first-timers) are still deciding whether or not they’re going to stay. Your choice of movement, the way you break it down and the overall energy affects their decision. Use simple moves, show how to approach the step, share safety guidelines, and give your students a chance to “land softly.”

Use the following 32-count choreography combination:

  • Block A: Do hamstring curl on the floor 4x (right, left; 1–8).
  • Block B: March on top, 4x (R, L; 1–4); 4 marches on floor (5–8).
  • Block C: Tap the step 4x (R, L; 1–8),
  • Block D: Repeater knee 3x (R; 1–8).

After about 5–6 minutes of easy movement, transition to dynamic stretches with a little attitude. Warm up the hips, hamstrings and lower legs.

Cardio Step (40–50 minutes)

The following 3-x-32-count combination includes a choreography progression and layering for beginning and intermediate participants.

Progressions and layers:
  • March 8x + repeater knees 3x.
  • Layer march into double stomp (R) + march.
  • Layer rest of march into another double stomp (L), and layer repeater knees 3x into double knee.
  • Layer both double stomps to wide mambo/L-mambo.
  • Layer double knee to knee + stomp.
  • Layer last stomp to box step (L) on floor.
  • Add on 16 marches.
  • Layer marches to 3/3 stomps (L, R).
  • Layer stomps to L shape.
  • Layer first 3 stomps to wide double stomp and across-the-top.
  • Layer wide double stomp into L-step knee + tap.
  • Layer 3 stomps to mambo behind and spin (L) around; stomp over the top.
  • Layer rest of marches to pivot.

Progressions and layers:
  • March 8x + repeater knees 3x.
  • Layer march to 4/4 marches on top and down.
  • Layer march to 8 marches on top and down, and layer repeater knees 3x into double knee.
  • Layer march on top to straddle.
  • Layer march on top to V-up and mambo 2x behind step.
  • Layer exit down after mambos to straddle. Second knee of double knee goes over the top.
  • Add on knee 2x + basic step 2x.
  • Layer knee to mambo cha-cha 2x.
  • Layer basic steps into mambo front/back 2x.
  • Layer mambo front/back into box around the corner 2x.
  • Layer mambo cha-cha to mambo chassé (step/floor).

For a third combination, please see “Sample Class: Cardio Step” in the online IDEA Library or in the September 2013 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.

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About the Author

Yoav Avidar

Yoav Avidar IDEA Author/Presenter

Recipient of the 2012 ECA award for best international presenter, Israel's "Instructor of the Year 2001", Yoav is A Nike Elite Trainer and co-owner of “Hagymnasia”, Israel's leading fitness and da...