Video Fitness

The Firm Body Sculpting System: AbSculpt

Lisa Kay

Note: This review was based on just a preview of the tape, I have not done the actual workout yet. I know a lot of people have been curious about this series, so these are my initial impressions.

This video is part of the new Firm Body Sculpting System kit, which includes three videos: Cardio Sculpt, Body Sculpt, and Ab Sculpt, along with a 3-in-1 step called the Fanny Lifter. All three videos have the same 5 cast members, who are introduced as master instructors: Jen Carman, Allie Del Rio, Lisa Kay, Christa Suggs, and Libby Heath. Libby always shows the modifications for beginners.

I have to admit this was the tape I was least excited about. I have never been a big fan of Firm ab work, it always seemed like a series of endless crunches, with varying foot positions. I certainly would never do 30 minutes of it! I accepted the fact that this was just part of the kit and figured I would just trade this one right away. After reading other people’s favorable comments from the live class version of this workout, I decided to look at it with a more open mind.

If you like Firm ab work, you will LOVE this tape. Lisa takes the crunch moves to the next level, adding lots of core work and balancing type moves. Some of it seems Pilates-inspired. If you don't care for Firm ab work, you might want to give this a look.

The theme color for this tape is lavender. The same cast is here, led by Lisa Kay. They finally gave them mats! They appear to be black plain rubber mats, like the "anti-fatigue" mats my dh uses in his workshop. The weights are gone but the Fanny Lifter is still there and mentioned often. No one but Jen smiles during this entire tape, it is tough! Here is the breakdown:

Breathing instructions and warmup (5 minutes) - Lisa sets the tall box in the middle of the mat and gives breathing instructions, which they all practice during various stretches. The proper way is to breathe in through the nose and fill the abs first, then the chest, then the throat. Contract the lower abs to exhale, pulling the abs in toward the spine. She warms up the core through proper breathing with your hands on your abs to feel the proper technique. Seated stretches are followed by standing stretches.

Lower ab work sequence:
Small pelvic lifts (lying down with bent knees and heels on tall box)
Larger pelvic tilts
Reverse crunches lifting heels off box
Stretches

Upper ab work:
crunches with heels on box
pulsing crunches
crunch variations: bring one knee in and pulse, knee in and straighten

Oblique ab work:
crunch with twist to side, then crunch with knee up to opposite elbow

Separate and just use blue step, heels on box:
crunches
crunches with heels up, then hold and do leg pulleys
twisting crunches with leg pulleys
lie down and just do leg pulleys (pull abs in and down)
reassemble box and set aside, lie on mat with bent knees, feet on mat
crunches
crunches, lifting body side to side

Lie on side and lift legs as unit (this looks tough!)

Kneel in table position for cat stretches (round back and then release)

Lie on stomach and raise front of body on straight arms (I think this is called the cobra in yoga)

Lie down on stomach and alternate kicking feet towards buttocks (not sure what this does, I'd have to try it)

Internal contractions (I smiled here, it wouldn't be the Firm unless these were included somewhere)

Kneel in table position for more cat stretches, then extend one leg and hold, then knee in and round back.
Extend leg again and extend opposite arm, repeat for both sides (for balance and core)

This is the last tape to review, but in case anyone's curious about the leaflets, the kit came with two:

The Instructor's Secrets to Success has one page blurbs for 10 instructors, listing their fitness history and nutrition and exercise tips. It's a light but fun read.

The 30 day rotation calendar is geared for those new to the Firm. It explains the Firm philosophy on combining weights and aerobics, and general exercise tips. The 30 day rotation calendar is a 4 week getting started program for the tapes in the kit. Week one suggests Cardio Sculpt on M,W,F,with rest on the other days. Week two adds Ab Sculpt (or rest) on T, Th, and Sunday. Week three has M-Ab Sculpt, T-Cardio Sculpt, W-rest, Th-Body Sculpt, F-Ab Sculpt and Body Sculpt, Sa-rest, Su-Cardio Sculpt. Week four is the same as week three.
The rest of the booklet discusses Firm Fuel (diet). They recommend carbs 55%, Protein 25%, Fats 20%, and 2000 calories per day for active women. Suggested menus are included.

Summary: I am very happy with the kit. The tapes were high quality, and though the set changed, the workouts are distinctively the Firm. The step was better than I expected and I will use it. On the other hand, if you loved the old sets and fun music the new "look" might not suit you.

Marie B
mzb@frontiernet.net
1/28/02

The new set in general I think looks great. It's professional and modern looking. A nice change from the old Firm look. I really like the lavender tops and lighting combo. I found it very soothing. The workout itself is a solidly intermediate abs workout. It's EXACTLY what I was looking for a few years ago when I wanted to go from just traditional crunches into more functional fitness work. It is perfect for someone who wants a tape that will grow with them from beginner up through intermediate. With Libby demonstrating easier versions it's VERY versatile in that fitness group. However there are just too many stretch sections for it to challenge someone who is used to Cathe or some of the other advanced instructors out there. If they had compressed it a bit, taken out some of the stretches, and added a little bit more core work to fill up the rest of the time, it would have been perfect, IMHO. As it is, it's still a good workout. It just doesn't suit my needs right now

Instructor comments: I LOVE Lisa Kay as an instructor, and I really hope they use her in future videos. She just strikes me as a down to earth kind of person. She was cheerful without being syrupy. Her cueing was very good.

ErinF
ferragut@avalon.net
2/27/02

This video seems to be the most traded of the Firm Kit, so I was expecting to be doing the same until I tried it. I loved it! I thought it was great. I heard there was a long section of breathing and stretching that was a time waster, but the stretching felt great to me. Most recent Firms don't have enough stretching, so I was pleased with this one. It was also short, only a few minutes. Funny how opinions vary on this tape.

The ab work at first seemed tough and challenging. I loved the side oblique move that I've seen in some Pilates tapes. (I feel that one the next day) Yet, just as it seems to be tough on the abs, they move on to back strengthening moves and stretches. If they came back and did more ab after the back work, it would have been an excellent ab workout. I still think it is very good. I'd say it is a thorough intermediate workout.

I felt very stretched and relaxed after doing this tape. One thing that I didn't care for was a hamstring kick towards the end. I didn't feel it did anything but waste a few seconds. It wasn't enough to fast forward through. Overall, it isn't as challenging as some of my other 20 minute ab tapes, but this does include good stretches and back strengthening in that time frame. I'd rate this one an A-.

Instructor comments: She's great, too. I liked her a lot & would like to see her lead a Firm cardio video.

Lorrie

05-17-02

This workout is about 25 minutes long and is entirely focused on Ab work. The workout is led by Lisa Kay and I must say I really don't enjoy it. It is too long for an ab workout. Far too long. 8-15 minutes would be perfect…close to half an hour is too long.

Anyway - this workout is one of the original 3 videos in BSS1. The set is the one used post-2001 and there are 5 master instructors participating. These first 3 videos always struck me as being really cold and impersonal and this one is no different.

I really like Lisa Kay in the older Firm videos. She was always very personable and warm. I find that in this video - she seems really cold. Perhaps it is just me...but that is how I feel about it.

Just to lend some perspective to my viewpoint...I really did not enjoy the BSS1 videos. I like a couple from the six-pack and I am starting to like the BSS2 videos, but the first three I just do not enjopy and will be trading when my next list goes up this next summer.

Cori (ziggy2306)

February 24, 2004

I am an advanced exerciser and thought this would be a nice add on to a workout, but it is way too easy. Some good moves, but not enough of them.

Instructor comments: Serious - down to business type. No encouragement, no smile, just straight on instruction.

Denise Berger
October 15, 2006

This was my first time trying this workout, having traded away BSS1 shortly after buying it because it wasn't like the FIRM I remembered.

Fast forward six years and the old FIRM isn't coming back, so I decided to jump on the new FIRM bandwagon. The set reminds me of Leslie Sansone with the lavender colors and no knick knacks like the previous set. I finally got to the Fanny Lifter as it was originally intended instead of as a replacement for the old wooden Tall Box and various short boxes. Unlike earlier stuff, where the music was loud and part of the workout, this music was background only. I couldn't tell you what kind of music it was, it was so unobtrusive.

Since others have long since broken down the workout, I will say that parts of it ironically reminded me of the ab work from FIRM Vol. 1 with Susan Harris. There were pulleys and serratus, even though they weren't called that specifically. The mermaid stretch from pilates was a nice touch as well, along with some core stability stuff I recognized from Kathy Smith workouts.

There was quite a bit of stretching also, included cat poses and hamstring stretches. So it wasn't just abs. I'm sure I got a good workout; I did feel my upper and lower abs moving, and Lisa's cuing helped me find proper form with crunches, which sometimes actually give me heartburn.

I'm on the fence with this workout. It was kinda sterile compared with the older stuff, perhaps more so because I just finished reviewing after a rotation of Classics (Vols. 1-6 and Crosstrainers Tortoise/Hare and FIRM Cardio/FIRM Strength). But I did appreciate the more modern touches.

A keeper and good for light days when more stretching and concentrated core is needed.

Instructor comments: Lisa was no nonsense and easy to follow.

theurbanhippie

7/4/08



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