Ultimate Fat Burning is not quite the “ultimate” in cardio, but does deliver a solid intermediate workout.
The workout is led by Alison Davis. The set is sterile, with four background exercisers. The music is non-intrusive and forgettable. Alison cues pretty well, and I had no trouble following along. There’s no fancy footwork, no plyos, no step bench, and no heavy weights used.
The workout itself starts off kind of boring and repetitive, and through the first two-thirds I was thinking that I wouldn’t be doing this workout very often. But then we got to the kickboxing segment, and I started to have fun. I never felt like I was getting a particularly intense workout, but I was sweating and my heartrate was somewhat elevated. But as soon as I started to get into it, we were cooling down. Another fifteen minutes of cardio would have been great.
We cooled down with some interesting ab work, done standing, and some stretches that felt really good (but were too short). I don’t have any complaints with this workout, other than it should be longer. I didn’t care for the first couple of segments, but I think after doing it a couple more times I could warm up to it. It is not an advanced workout by any means. In fact, it would be difficult to “heavy up” to make it advanced. But still, if you want a short (40 minutes) cardio routine that uses light weights, this is the one for you.
Straightforward, cues well, and very fit. I liked her.
I admit, I'm not a bit Firm fan--I have liked a few Firm videos, but not very many. However, I had high hopes for this workout, as it seemed to combine many things that I enjoy, including moderate-length cardio, 4-limb work, kickboxing, and some functional fitness moves as well. Unfortunately, although I felt that I DID get a good workout from this DVD, I was left feeling disappointed overall. The workout includes an 8-minute warm-up, 23 minutes of cardio, and an 9-minute cool-down/abs segment, coming in at just over 40 minutes total.
Instructor Allison Davis begins the workout with a long warm-up to which I took an immediate dislike. First of all, the moves were very standard--march, in-out march, step-touch, back cross, hamstring curl, step squat, knees up, kick front--and the sequence is repeated many times, which I found boring. Then, about 3 minutes in, you do a very brief series of moving stretches. After this, I was thinking that the warm-up was over, but instead, Alison introduces some new cardio moves (v-steps, calf pumps, low jacks, and hops) and then actually goes back and repeats all of the previous warm-up moves. I have no idea why the workout was structured this way; for me, it just seemed to make the warm-up drag on and on.
Finally, the warm-up ends, and Alison moves into the first segment of 4-limbed cardio, which lasts about 5 minutes. She suggests 3- or 5-lb. dumbbells; I used the latter but found that they were a bit heavy for some of the upper body moves. She introduces a sequence which is repeated 3 times total, going slightly faster each time: squat with overhead twist press, knees with french press, forward lunge with lat rows, front kicks with forward press, side lunge with upright row, side taps with biceps/tricpes press, and finally, rear dip with biceps curl (staying on the same leg each time through). I liked this section a little better, as my heart rate stayed up, and I enjoyed the functional nature of many of the moves (ie, twisting and bending, similar to what you might see in one of Tracie Long's videos). Next comes a floor cardio segment. This section was okay, but again, it felt rather repetitive, especially because Alison teaches in an add-on "take it from the top" style. She begins with a chasse and samba, gradually adding in a cross step, press foot, pivot, and v-step. Given that this section is 6 minutes long, the above sequence is repeated MANY times.
Another 4-limb section follows using the same format as the first 4-limb segment. Exercises here included travel squat with alternate upright row (which felt awkward), front lunge with delt flye, side leg raise with punch, side lunge with lat row, front-side-front step with medial delt raise, and then finally, a rear dip/biceps combo working the other leg. As with the first section, this sequence is performed 3 times total (approximately 4 minutes). The final segment (and the longest at 8 minutes) is cardio kickboxing. I had the highest hopes for this section, as I love kickboxing. This wasn't bad, it just wasn't very interesting or exciting: as with the floor cardio, there were a small number of moves repeated many, many times. There was a shuffle with an inner side kick, knee-kick, alternating knees, jabs/uppercuts, jab-cross-knee, and a front kick/punch--that's it! I would have loved to see some rear/roundhouse kicks, more punches, a few additional combos; overall, this semgent was okay but disappointing.
I found the final cool-down to be rather odd. It starts with about 2 minutes of aerobic cool-down work which includes samba with a heel lift, side leg extension with a body wave, squat/round back, and side touch with pull down (as I did throughout the entire workout, I found that the arm movements felt a bit "fussy" here). Then you pick up one of your dumbbells for about 3 minutes of standing abs work. I usually really enjoy working the abs this way, but I found the moves here (twist with knee lift, plie with 1-hand overhead press, plie with twist) to be a bit awkward. The sequence is repeated once on each side. Next comes a 2-minute final stretch; this actually has some nice lunge work, including a side reach and twist. But then inexplicably, the workout ends with 2-minutes of push-ups/plank work--why not put this before the final stretches? I definitely didn't like having to do additional strength work after I had already warmed down (there is only a quick down dog and deep breaths to finish).
The best thing about this workout was that I was in my target heart rate zone for a very good portion, close to 35 minutes. For virtually this reason alone--and also because SOME of the moves were actually fun (just too repetitive)--I will keep this DVD, at least for now. I would recommend this workout to someone who doesn't mind a lot of repetition and who is looking for a basic but farily intense floor cardio workout.
I liked Alison okay. Her cueing was generally good, although there were a few times when I felt I could've used a bit more direction. Also, there was at least one ocassion (I think during the warm-up) when the camera was focused on the background exercisers, and they were out of sync with Allison's instruction. The background exercisers are never introduced, but they include Allie Del Rio, Jennifer Giraldi, and two others.
Beth C (aka toaster)
November 16, 2006
I loved this workout! It was a great mix of kickboxing movies and 4 limb cardio. The 4 limb moves included some of my favorites from the classic FIRMs, including triceps and biceps with side touches. And I got it all done in only 40 minutes.
I liked the music in this one also, and found the set to be clean and understating. This workout is easy enough for a beginner, but can be made tougher with more power moves and heavier weights for the 4 limb. Cathe and Amy Bento fans will probably think this workout is not hard enough.
After years of wanting more cardio only options from the FIRM, I'm so glad they're delivering.
I like Alison a lot, probably the best of the new FIRM instructors. I've never missed a cue with her, and I never, ever feel she's talking down to me.