While step training’s popularity has ebbed and flowed since its heyday in the 1990s, it continues to have die-hard followers (and instructors who love to teach it). One way to get people interested again in this fun workout is to return full circle and bypass some of the complex choreography that turned people away. This class reinvents the interval step workout to create a user-friendly, entertaining experience that offers excellent, time-efficient results, along with improvements in strength, endurance, body composition, mobility and the A-B-Cs of fitness: agility, balance and coordination.

The benefits are many. This class

  • works the lower body while strengthening the cardiovascular system;
  • increases participants’ ability to work at a higher percentage of maximum VO2;
  • increases postexercise energy cost and total caloric expenditure;
  • encourages exercise compliance;
  • increases intensity in manageable doses; and
  • maximizes the use of time.

Reinvented Interval Step Experience (R.I.S.E) Details

interval step training

approximately 45–60 minutes

steps and risers Note: Step height recommendation for novices is 4–6 inches. Conditioned and experienced step participants may progress to 8- to 10-inch step heights.

The recommended tempo is 122–130 beats per minute, faster for floor mixes. Musculoskeletal stress increases as tempo increases; faster tempos may result in limited range of motion, which can reduce workload.

This class mixes 16-count miniblocks of choreography with simple base moves and layers, followed by intermittent, repetitive and powerful moves. Fun and functional body weight moves complete each segment.


  • Offer modifications.
  • Balance degrees of difficulty (both technical and intensity).
  • Vary musculoskeletal actions to prevent overuse and repetitive stress to joints.


  • Introduce footwork prior to adding arm moves.
  • Change only one element at a time (layer).
  • Use “add-on,” “building block” and “pyramid” teaching strategies.
  • When possible, cue the foot strike before naming a move.
  • Change instructional orientation when necessary.


The class includes repeated or intermittent work efforts that are above steady-state intensities. The effort may range from somewhat hard—rating of perceived exertion (RPE) of 4—to very hard/near-maximal (RPE of 9). Effort intervals (shaded) are followed by recovery intervals, which are performed at steady state or lower intensity.

Introduce each choreography block using one or more teaching methods (building block, add-on, pyramid, layering, etc.). Once you’ve taught the full combination, repeat it 4–8 times. This process takes 5–8 minutes per block. The strength exercises take about 1 minute 30 seconds.

Warm-Up With Balance Integration (5-8 minutes)
Segements 1-3 and Cooldown

Carol Murphy

Carol Murphy, recipient of the 2010 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year award, is an international fitness expert and motivational speaker. She has worked as a consultant, master trainer, course instructor and spokesperson for leading companies including Reebok, TRX®, Barre Above, Drums Alive, Tabata Bootcamp, and as the Education Director for Resist-A-Ball. Known for her infectious energy and passion to make fitness fun, Carol's innovative, results-oriented workouts have been featured in numerous fitness DVDs, magazines and at conventions world wide. She has written more than 50 instructor training courses, lectures and articles and holds five national certifications.

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