About me: I am a high intermediate/low advanced exerciser. I enjoy the Firm, old to new (w/ a few exceptions of course).
I did this workout today and realy liked it. I did all 4 segments then followed it with the jump rope section a second time. Each segment does have its own w/u and c/d so I just jumped rope during those segments to make this a more challenging workout and to keep my heart rate up.
The jumprope segment was tough. It REALLY got my HR up. The "breaks" were plyos!!! I suggest hanging the rope over a door frame or something before you use it. Mine was twisting up really bad because it hadnt smoothed out yet from being in the box. I hit myself in the eye and that hurt. Im not very coordinated though. Fun and tough!
For the tubing segments I used my purple Firm cord (heavy resistance) and it made the workout more difficult. There are not a lot of reps so the pink cord that came w/ the kit would definatley not be tough enough.
The ring segments had some new interesting moves(to me at least). The ring is not heavy resistance, but I found you could make it more difficult by squatting during the crab walks and choking up on it during the tricep kickbacks, etc.
This workout was worth having to modify up IMO. Its fun and very unique. Jumping rope during each segments w/u & c/d made this very "firm-like" with cardio intervals between the toning segments. It constantly changing activities and keep it intersting. The time goes by quickly. Done as-is, I would rate the toning segments as low-intermediate and the cardio as advanced. With the modifications mentioned above, I feel I got a low-advanced workout.
She has improved as an instructor. Much looser than her previous w/o's. She does stumble over her words a few times in this one, but not a big deal.
I am a high intermediate to low advanced exerciser. I really like the Firm, but I have to admit I am disappointed. The Firm seems confused as to which market this DVD is for.
Each section has a 1 1/2 minute warm-up and a 2 minute stretch.
The cardio/jump rope section is definitely advanced. This is the case even without the rope, which has 1/2 lb weights in the handles. Annie mixes sections of straightforward and more advanced jump rope moves with short breaks of plyometrics (plyo jacks, squat thrusts, and skaters). The cardio portion of it lasts about 9 minutes.
For the tubing sections I had to use the purple heavy cord from Tina's cord kit for almost every exercise; the cord with this kit has very light resistance (same with the loop). All of the Firm's cords are short, which will make some of the exercises problematic if you are tall (I'm 5'9''). To do the overhead press and French press moves, I had to dig out yet a 3rd cord that I already had which was about 6 inches longer.
With my heavy cord, the core section was sufficiently challenging, though not Cathe-tough. It included not just abs (mixing Pilates with typical Firm stuff) but lower back moves. Minus warm-up and stretch, it was 10 minutes.
To me, the upper and lower body sections seem way too short, with insufficient reps per exercise (some had only 8 reps, not much when you haven't got a heavy dumbbell!). The lower body section was so light that I ended up using both the cords at the same time and doing it twice! However, paired back to back with the jump rope section, my legs felt it a bit more.
The lower body part has one short set of squats, 2 sets of deadlifts, and one of a sort of rear lunge that becomes a balancing one-leg deadlift. They used no tubing for this one; I used my heavy cord. Then there's a section with the loop around your shins, where you do step squats, squat jumps, crab walks, abductions and rear leg lifts. Some of these have only 4 reps! Then you go to the floor for inner thigh work with the tubing. The actual exercises last 8 1/2 minutes.
The upper body section is a little bit tougher. Sets have 8-12 reps, with with slow negatives. There's 2 sets of bent rows, 2 of biceps on different angles, 2 for shoulders (upright rows and overhead press), French press and loop press-downs for trips. Chest gets one set of 12 pushups which Annie demonstrates on her toes with extra resistance from the tubing (there are also a few standing flies in the warm-up). The exercises last for 7 minutes. I wish each of the actual exercise sections could have been at least 10 minutes, with one separate warm-up and stretch only, each in their own chapters.
The planning or design of this workout seems very confused to me. The tubing sections, with the cord and loop that come with this kit, would probably be challenging only for a beginner, but there is little form instruction and the cardio section is far too tough for a beginner! Some of the moves in the DVD are fun and different, the music isn't bad, and Annie is very pleasant. However, on its own this doesn't provide enough of a workout. I will probably only use it to provide add-on sections to other workouts.
By the way, the jump rope is totally adjustable. In the bonus features Annie shows how long the rope should be for each person. The handles can easily unscrew, and the rope part has a little cap thing you take off and then put back on once you've cut it!
I like Annie. She is a bit awkward, and miscues a couple times. That makes her seem more real to me and more human. She's very encouraging and friendly.
Oct. 17. 2008