The Firm: Sue Mi Powell
This is short but brisk and not a bad intermediate workout. It starts off very easily, with lots of step touches, grapevines and arm movements to match. I was afraid I would get bored to death, but then that segment ends and you never have to do it again.
There are two brief weight segments and two cardio-only segments. The weight moves are compound (lunge with glute lift plus bicep curl, for example). The cardio includes the Firm-famous plyos, kicks, low jacks, and even a somewhat complicated layered on move where four knees become two knees, cross-country ski and a leap.
the workout went by so fast that it's actually a little difficult to remember everything. But I ended up feeling like it was a perfect add-on workout to really get that extra edge of sweat. By itself it would be good for a light day if you're intermediate/advanced.
After seeing her work out in all those countless old Firm videos, it's nice to see her instruct. Her voice is husky and yet just this shy of squeaky, without actually being squeaky. As it is, it's pleasant but quite distinctive. Her cuing is brisk and mostly on time, and she doesn't indulge in a lot of slogans beyond a few "burning lots of calories" phrases. She does have a tendency to constantly raise her eyebrows, giving her a vaguely strained, worried look despite the constant smile. But I find her quirky, cute and rather endearing. And honestly, as an Asian American it's a small thrill for me to see one leading a workout.
I really liked this short workout. The name is rather misleading; it's not all cardio as the name implies, but has alternating cardio and sculpt sections. The sculpt sections are classic 4 limbed aerobics, and I liked that they didn't go overboard on the compound moves. For example, I sometimes lose my balance in the "chop" move where you lunge forward then turn to the side.
Advanced exercisers and Cathe junkies need to pick something else; I can just imagine the "it wasn't hard enough" reviews. This workout is great for beginners, low intermediates, people short on time, pregnant folks and folks getting back into exercising after an injury or illness. It's only 30 minutes, but it is a good 30 minutes.
The set was my favorite, the white brick loft-style set with frosted glass windows, hardwood floors and no badging. The music reminded me of Project You, which was a plus. Light weights are used for the entire workout; I used 3 pound weights thinking this was an all cardio workout, but 5 pound weights would really ramp up the sculpt sections and get your heart rate up.
The workout was very easy to follow and featured no weird steps or hard to follow cues, a bonus when you've only got 30 minutes. Sue Mi was kind of chatty, but most of the chattiness was either gearing you up for the next move, or pointing out your form. She did mention calorie burning a few times, but at 5 weeks pregnant, it's easy for me to ignore that sort of thing.
I can see myself using this workout a lot in the months to come as I go from almost Cathe level to pregnant and nearly toppling over.
This is Sue Mi's first time out of the background, and I found her rather engaging. Her cuing was great, and she gave a lot of form pointers. I hope to see more of her.