In my gym, there are some class snobs. They look down on some of the other cardio classes. I'll hear steppers saying, "Oh, I went to that bodyvive class. Yah... that was hard (heavy sarcasm)." I'll hear runners diss Zumba people. And spinners dis any nonbike aerobics, and so on. I don't know what's up with the "I can do more than you can do" syndrome so many people have. I HATE that crap. And it's simple not true that you can't get really good workouts in almost any of them. It's what you put into it.
So, I used to do BodyStep and BodyPump religiously. I stopped doing BodyPump a month or so ago due to a knew injury. I've been doing other strength stuff to let that tendon heel. I haven't done BodyStep in 7 months or so. Instead, I've been doing some intervals, doing Zumba, fast walking and that 'easy' BodyVive class and an occasional spinning class. Three or so times I've done a step workout at home. I've also even dabbled in a wee bit of light running.
When I left step 7 months ago I was using two sets of risers with all propulsion. I was pretty fit then, but I stepped away from step, so who knew where I would be today.
So, today I decided to use a single riser (options are no step, flat step, step with one set of risers, and step with two set of risers.) I also wasn't sure I would be able to do all the propulsion as it's been so long.
Well, I was fine and never felt, in the entire hour that I was going to pass out. Next time I will add the second set of risers under the step. I did as well if not better than a big chunk of the class of stepping regulars, especially whenever there were intervals or strength moves. I actually think I'm stronger and better at step than I was 7 months ago when I left because I've been doing a mix of other stuff, including some of those "easy" classes.
A lot of steppers (and runners and spinners) are cardio junkies. The specialize in their one thing and are really good at it, but they ignore other things. It's obvious when we go to do push-ups in step and most of the women drop to their knees immediately. Or when we do some planks and they all give out immediately. On the other side, people who do only strength, can't keep up in cardio classes.
I'm not feeling smug as I have a LOT more to go to get better. I still consider myself a dabbler in many ways, but this whole idea of, "Stepping is harder than X" or Y is harder than Z is bogus. I've done no step in 7 months and was doing the much dissed "easier" cardio and I was able to increase my cardio endurance doing it. How? by moving bigger and harder.
I think it's perhaps that you can't really make step easy, so it's always a fairly hard workout and hard for a beginner. You have to go up and down the step. In Zumba or other low impact floor aerobics, you can start easy and build up. Or, if you have a tendency to not push yourself if you aren't forced to, you can 'cheat' and go easy. You can move less and not get much out of it.
Same with spinning. It can be a great workout, but how hard it is completely dependent on how hard you push yourself - same with treadmills and ellipticals and weight training. Hard for running to be 'easy' or step as you have to have a certain level of fitness, but is it the only exercises that can build up great cardio endurance? Heck no!
So, today felt great. I am as strong and as fit as when I left step 7 months ago. I'll add the second set of risers next time and if I still find all that interval stuff is easier going than I remember it 7 months ago, then I will know for sure that the 'easier' stuff I've been doing, wasn't so easy.
And, I think it is fair to say, I'm at tied at my fitness level I was at last spring around late April. I was just 20 pounds lighter then. Still working on dropping the weight (just not checking the scale for awhile and doing what I need to do to see the progress soon enough).