Video Fitness

The Firm Body Sculpting System: BodySculpt

Jen Carman

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 think I like this tape even better than Cardio Sculpt, and I really liked Cardio Sculpt a lot! Jen Carman is such a great leader, so enthusiastic and such great form.

The color du jour for this tape is green. The cast all wear different styles of lime green tops with black bottoms. The background has green lights and the fans are lit green. No mats again, just wood flooring. I always liked the greek statue set, but I can see that they are trying to appeal to a new audience that might find the old set "unusual". The set is very professional looking and pleasing. As in the other tape, the only props are the Fanny Lifter and a selection of dumbbells. I noticed no one had chrome dumbbells, everyone had the hammertone kind. I have decided the leads must get paid extra every time they use the word "Fanny Lifter" during their instructions.

Jen introduces the cast. They each smile and some give a little wave. I noticed that although they are all beautifully made up, the look is more natural than previous Firms (no heavy mascara or thick pancake). No one sweats and their clothes remain stain free throughout all the workouts.

On to the workout. It is about 48 minutes long and is all weight work other than the warmup and cooldown. Jen says it can be divided into two workouts by just doing the first section, which is "lower body, for the thighs and butt", or just the second section, which is "upper body, for the back, chest, shoulders, and arms". There is a stretching section between the upper body and lower body portion where the screen says "Cooldown for Lower Body, Warmup for Upper Body", so you can go to that section and still get a warmup for the Upper Body if you're just doing that part. If you're doing both, it's a nice break.

Please note that I use the words step and box interchangably, sometimes in the same sentence! In any case It takes too long to write Fanny Lifter! Tall box means both blue and purple steps together.

Warmup (6 minutes) - Fast paced choreographed section that seems like a typical cardio interval from a cardio/sculpt tape. Stretching is worked in too.

Lower Body section:

Squats with weights, hovering over tall box (whoops, I mean Fanny Lifter)
Hover squats sequence

Remove and use just purple step for long lunges and dips sequence. This is a long set that totally fatigues one side at a time. You lunge forward onto the step with weights on shoulders. After the lunges you then step onto the box with the lunging leg and do dips off the back with the opposite leg (so you are working the same leg.) You repeat the lunges and dips, this time with pulses, still working the same leg. Then you do alternate lunges and dips working that same leg. Before moving onto the other side, you straddle the box for a plie series with weights resting on your thighs. These are done slowly and really work the thighs. Then you repeat the entire lunge and dip sequence working the other leg.

Reassemble the tall box for a leg press sequence, with weights hanging by sides. You start wiht both legs on top of the box and lower, working the right leg. Then a hover squats series over the box (hover and stand, hover and sit, hover-sit-stand-sit, hover for 3 count, etc). Then you do a second set of leg presses for the right leg, this time starting with one leg on the floor and raising up.

New move: Side Lunges. You remove the purple step and use just the blue step this time, placing it to your side. Facing forward with weights on shoulders, you step to the side onto the blue box, standing foot on floor stays facing forward, lunging foot on box to the side (picture a fencer lunge). One side only.

Reassemble box and do leg presses for left leg this time. Then step down and do squats with side leg abductions (raising legs to either side, with deep squats in between). Then squats with foot taps on box. Then you do the second set of leg presses for the left leg.

Repeat the Side Lunges on the other side: remove purple step and lunge onto the blue step. At this point Jen lets out a "whoooo". No wonder!

Cooldown Lower body/Warmup Upper body (6 minutes) - Jen used the purple step a lot here, straddling it for arm reaches, hands on it for pushups, foot on it for hamstring stretches. She even lay on her side on the floor and rested her elbow up on it for quad stretching (where you reach behind and grab your top foot to bend your top leg). No cardio portions here like in the lower body warmup.

Upper Body Section:

Double lat rows - Reassemble tall box. Sit on box and lean forward with weights for double lat rows, moving elbows up and back.

Hammer curls - still sitting on box.

Double lat rows again, this time start with palms facing back and end with palms facing forward.

Pushups - turn tall box diagonally and put hands on box, fingers facing in.

New Move: Jen calls this "Clean and Press". It's various combos of Bicep Curls and Millitary Presses, done standing. First bicep curls, then military presses palms out. Then alternate military presses, then alternate bicep curls. Parts of this series reminded me of Cathe's "crazy eights".

French press with varying tempo, (standing)

Shoulder work sequence (long and tough) - sit on box and use light weights. Front delt raises, then up-to the side-to the front-then down. Then side and down, then side-front-side-down, then side-down. Stay seated and combine weights for french press, alternating and together.

Triceps kickbacks - kneel on floor and lay chest over tall box. Do triceps kickbacks alternating and together. Jen says you are "sculpting your sexy arms". Finish with delt raises to the front, still laying over box. Stretch.

Chest work - Lie on floor with knees bent and feet on box. Do chest presses, together first, then alternating arms. Then chest (pec) flies.
Cooldown (5 minutes) - Sit on box for hamstring stretches and other seated stretches for chest, arms, legs. Then standing stretches.

Like Allie in Cardio Sculpt, Jen ends with a few "nice job" comments. "The more muscle you have the more fat you'll burn", and "Keep up the good work". Fade to black. No dork dance, no leaping and clapping.

I think this is a great workout. The music is typical instrumentals, and seemed to fit nicely with the movements. I think the older Firm tapes had more variety and more memorable songs, but you'll be sweating so much with this one you probably won't even notice!

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

Marie did an excellent job breaking down the video so I'll just give my impressions.

What I liked:

This is an awesome leg workout. I went heavy the whole time and was sweating and huffing and puffing, and I wasn't sure I was going to make those last few leg presses. I live in fear of what my legs will feel like the day after tomorrow!

The upper body work was not as intense, but it was thorough.


What I didn't like:

The complete lack of ab work. I don't care that they have an entire 30 minute ab tape that comes in the kit. I'm probably never even going to do it--I just don't like ab work that much. BUT, I do recognize that it's necessary and would like *some* ab work in my total body workouts. (I felt this was a fatal flaw for Tough Tape as well.)

The box push-ups. These feel awkward and hurt my hands. (I'm sure the black rubber tops were more comfortable for this.)

The "now you're up, now you're down, now you're up again" sequencing. Hey, as long as I'm down there for push-ups, why not keep me down there for chest flies and stretches and *then* have me stand up?

Jen repeatedly saying "do this twice" when what she really means is "do this for two counts."

The box scooting around during the box lunge segments. Even with the black rubber feet it moves on my wood floors. I'm going to have to get some non-skid stuff to place underneath. (This is not a flaw of the video, but since it all came in one big kit, I thought I'd mention it here.)

Bottom line--I like Cardio Sculpt much better. Will I keep Body Sculpt? Not sure yet.

Renee Drellishak
renee@nwlink.com
2/4/02

Jennifer Carmen

The new set looks great. It is professional and modern looking. A nice change from the old Firm look. Body Sculpt is a definite keeper! I am an advanced exerciser who has been doing strength workout with the Firm and Cathe for about 4 years. I agree with those who have compared it to Tough Tape and Tough Tape 2. I always feel worked out after doing this video. I go very heavy ( 35 lbs for leg press, for example ) and it definitely challenges me. It's perfect for days when I don't have the time and/or energy for a longer strength workout, but want to get the total body in. My only complaint about this workout is that there are no abs, just like TT and TT2. If they had just thrown in 5 minutes of ab work, it still would have come in under 50 minutes, and I would have had my whole body taken care of. I know, I know. They expect you to use Ab Sculpt, since it IS in a set. But if I'm reaching for Body Sculpt, it's because I'm short on time, energy, motivation, or all of the above. In those circumstances, an additional 20 minutes of ab work is too much. As it is, I can add on an ab section from another video.

Instructor comments: Jennifer Carmen does a great job of leading the workout. She's very natural in her cueing and leading. She's encouraging without slipping into cheerleader mode.

ErinF
ferragut@avalon.net
2/27/02

I miss the personality of previous Firm workouts--the more varied and colorful sets, the more distinctive music. The new set has a very clean, even austere look. The workout opens with a simple warm-up based on typical Firm-style athletic/basic moves. Yet it took me a couple of times to catch on simply because the cueing is minimal. The warm-up is nothing special, except the kick-dip-kick move, which I enjoy.

I enjoyed the body of the workout. A few of the moves are really challenging for me: the dreaded hover squats, and the lying over the Fanny Lifter/tall box to do flyes. Personally I think slow hover squats off a 14" step belong on advanced workouts, not intermediate, (it takes a lot of strength to avoid using momentum on these) but of course these can be done without weights. One of the best things about this workout is that time really flies! It's not repetitive. I don't dread it like some others. And it's relatively easy to go heavy or light on weights. All of the floorwork uses the Fanny Lifter, and for me, this makes it much more tolerable (I generally avoid traditional floorwork). When I learned to keep the bend at my hips flush with the box, and allow my chest to extend off the box a bit, I found I could do these exercises comfortably. As usual, the Firm comes up short on giving form pointers and detailed cueing. They haven't done a bad job with this, they just need to do more! All in all, I like the workout.

Instructor comments: Jen did a fine job. I want more detailed cueing and more form pointers, but I could say that of most Firm workouts (and many others).

Lynnee

May 2002

I wasn't expecting much after I read that the new Firm Kit was geared towards the average infomercial viewer--who may not have worked out before. I thought this workout was a bit harder than the Firm Tri-Trainers which everyone thought was on the easier side, too.

After the warmup, Jen has a tough lower body section. Hover squats, then leg presses (2 sets) with pleas inbetween, then a move where your leg is in a plea postion on the fanny lifter's blue section to work the inner & outer thighs again. All of this is repeated for the other leg, but instead of pleas again, this time you do outer thigh leg lifts alternating with squats. I found the first section well worked the lower body and I could definately feel it the next day, especially in the glutes.

I disliked the cooldown/upper body warmup. The box seemed over used and uneccessary here. On my second time doing the workout, I elimated it and found it better that way. They wanted you to use to to do a hip flexor stretch and found it uncomfortable on my knee. Also they stay in an odd position and do a tricep stretch with one knee on the floor. I found this entire section to be odd. I loved the music in this section though.

Now for upper body. It was short, but if you use the right weights it can be challenging. I didn't have to lift heavier than I normally do, but I made sure I don't use a lighter weight that I'd normally chose for the Firm's Aerobic Weight Training videos. This section had double lat rows which was a nice change for me. The sections moved quickly, but I was able to change weight sizes and not miss out on any reps. I even had to go down from my normal 8 pounds I use for shoulders to 5's. This section was tough, and it made up for the lack of good shoulder work in Firm Cardio Sculpt.

All in all I was very happy with the kit & liked each video equally. I'd still rate this one an A.

Instructor comments: Great as usual. Glad she finally got her own video.

Lorrie

05-17-02

I bought these 3 videos about a month ago.. (Ab Scupt, Body Sculpt, Cardio Sculpt). I already had the 14 step from original Firm videos. This tape is wonderful. The best thing i love about it is it has 2 segments, upper and lower. I also love using this tape with Cardio Split 1. Sometimes ill use Cardio Split Lower body with Body sculpt Lower or mix it like Body Sculpt Lower with Cardio Split Upper or Cardio Split Lower with Body Sculpt Upper.Her cuing is very good on this tape and form is perfect. I really do miss the original Firm classic backrounds with the class. I know its sort of old but i really miss that look. Thats one thing i really wish they didnt change about their videos. All the new ones dont have the Firm class in them with the nice sculptures and rug floor. Anyhow, i really think although the segments are short (like in cardio Split 1), i really like this one. The moves are tough but basic so you pretty much know what your doing if your old to the Firm which i have been for 7 years now. I really only use the Firm and have kept as a size 2 even after my daughter! But ill really have to say...eating is still 70% of how your body shape will show no matter HOW much you work out. But this tape is really effective and i love the upper body part. There are a few new moves on the lower body like when Jen tells you to put your 4 inch or 8 inch step to the side of you and with your dumbells you step to the side like a side step lunge which REALLY works the inner thighs! I never knew an exercise that way. ITs a really nice change to the new sculpting ways they have. The upper body is pretty basic but there is also a new exercise where you lift your shoulders above your head but laying over your fanny lifter....this one is tough!! Even with 2 pound weights!! But its a nice change. This one is good when you want a nice workout with weights and zero cardio. So i recemend alternating this one with Cardio sculpt or another all cardio tape from the Firm.Fun Firming!!

Instructor comments: She was execellent and full of energy!

Raelene
10-19-2003

This workout is part of the first body sculpting series. I bought it retail and therefore do not have the fanny lifter, but I used my rubbermaid stool with no problems, so don’t be scared if you don’t have the gadget :-)

I have used the firm before and this workout felt familiar to me. Same style, same type of work but with a more modern and refreshed feel. The dvd is unchaptered but it lets you choose to do just the upper body, just the lower body or play it all together. I really like this because most of my classic firms mix up lower and upper body work so you can’t split it in this way.

I found this to be a very well-organized workout, and it would be easy for all levels to use it. There is a background exerciser (Libby) who uses no weights and beginners are reminded frequently to follow her for modifications. But I would not recommend this workout for someone who has never exercised before as they move quickly from one exercise to the next and they do not always offer detailed instructions for the moves. On the plus it would be easy for intermediate and advanced exercisers to progress because you can always increase your weights. The class uses three different weights (light, medium and heavy) and they always tell you which one you should be using.

For most of the workout, you alternate working one side of the body with working both sides of the body, like a giant set. There might be, for example, three biceps moves. So first you do all three on the right side, then all three on the left, then both arms at once. It made the time go by pretty quickly because as soon as she starts the other arm, you’ll know the set is over and all you’ve got left to do is repeat what you just did.

The exercises were familiar ones. For the lower body, mostly squats, lunges (a few too many for my taste) and tall box work. I used no weights for this. Then a stretch (which would be the cool-down if you are only doing lower body or the warm-up if you are only doing upper body) and the upper body section, which is a nice mix of back, biceps, triceps, shoulders and chest. There are all classic, familiar exercises and most of them are done seated on the box (it might be fun to try on a stability ball). For once they don’t overwork the shoulders and there is a decent amount of biceps work.

Overall I really enjoyed myself and felt I got workout by the end. I am not sure I would do this more than a few times a week because it was not very knee-friendly, and there is no ab work so you’ll need to add your own. But overall, this is an excellent, attractive, well-organized and fast-paced weight routine.

Joanna

2/24/04

Of the 3 BSS1 tapes, this one was probably my favorite…though that is not saying much. Jennifer Carman is remarkably sculpted and looks really ripped…almost too ripped for a nice, southern gal. Anyway - this video is pretty focused on the sculpting end of things (as the title would lead one to believe) and I find that it is not very fun.

This workout is filmed on the new post-2001 Firm set which is fairly plain and white. There are 5 master instructors (including Jen) and one of them always shows the modifications for beginners. The workout uses the 3 in 1 Fanny Lifter and it feels like they are a little too fond of always saying "Fanny Lifter". I think I prefered when they used to call it the "Tall Box" in the older Firms.

I don't know what it is, but I just couldn't warm to any of the original 3 BSS1 tapes. Maybe they are just too drastic of a departure from the original Firms...the new set is really austere looking and the girls all seem really plastic-y. Admittedly, many of the older Firms have been critisized for seeming like the girls have no personality, but if anything, the invasion of Goodtimes has made this much worse. Perhaps it is just a preference for the older tapes.

I know that this tape got some good reviews from other VFers,and it may well be the best of the BSS1 tapes. I just have trouble getting into it and I never reach for it. It will be going out of my collection in the near future.

Cori (ziggy2306)

February 24, 2004

Body Sculpt is from The Firm's Body Sculpting System 1 and is led by Jen Carmen; there are four background exercisers, one of whom shows beginner modifications. The 48-minute workout uses the Firm Fanny Lifter, which is a tall box that can be set at three different heights, and three sets of dumbbells.

The workout begins with a 6-minute warm-up which includes standard Firm moves such as squats, body waves, grapevines, knee ups, and moving stretches. Next comes the 15-minute lower body section. Jen uses heavy weights throughout this segment (I used 10#), and it is tough! She completely exhausts one side of the body before moving to the other. You do squats, lunges on one side, plie squats, lunges on the other leg, dips off the Fanny Lifter, hover squats (adding a 3-count hold), leg press on the Fanny Lifter (same leg), side squat onto the low step, repeat Fanny Lifter work on other leg, squat with abduction, side squat on the other side. One thing that I didn't like here is that you are doing a lot of disassembling/reassembling of the Fanny Lifter throughout the sequence.

Following the lower body work, there is a 5.5 minute segment which includes stretches for the lower body and warm-ups for the upper body, including both stretches and two sets of push-ups on the short step. Next comes 15 minutes of upper body work. Here Jen uses two sets of weights, medium and light. Beginning seated on the Fanny Lifter, she does a row, a bicep curl, and a row with a twist. She then does push-ups with hands on the Fanny Lifter, clean & press, and single French press. Returning to a seated position, she does several shoulder moves and a double French press. Next, Jen has you lie with your torso over the Fanny Lifter (I found this uncomfortable) for tricep kickbacks and additional shoulder work, and finally, she moves to the floor for chest press and pectoral flies. The workout finishes with a 5-minute stretch for all major muscles groups, coming in right at 47.5 minutes.

Overall, this is a solid full-body workout. For the lower body in particular, Jen accomplishes a lot in a short amount of time, but I felt that the intensity of the upper body work did not match that of the lower body. When working the arms, Jen frequently alternated sides; this would've been fine if she was using heavy weights, but since she wasn't, I made the upper body exercises harder by working both of my arms at the same time. Furthermore, although the upper and lower body portions are quick and efficient, there seems to be a lot of wasted time in this workout. Not only did the warm-up feel a bit too long to me, but also the stretch sequence between the lower and upper body workouts felt completely unnecessary. One example of wasting time is that you do a basic triceps stretch at FOUR separate times during this workout: during the warm-up, during the middle stretch, during the upper body portion, and during the cool-down. For a workout that does not include abdominals, this just seemed too long; I would've preferred 40-45 minutes. Finally, fans of The Firm's aerobic weight training style may be disappointed that there are no cardio segments in this workout (although my heart rate did stay in my target zone for about 20 minutes, mostly during the lower body portion).

This is definitely a decent strength training video that's probably best-suited for advanced beginners-to-intermediates. If you like The Firm's strength workouts and enjoy Jen's style, then I would recommend the workout and give it about 3 1/2 stars.

Instructor comments: I know some people love Jen, but frankly, I find her a bit annoying. In this video, she keeps repeating the comment "okay, let's do those hard ones!" upon returning to a slower count version of an exercise. Also, her cuing often implies that you are on your final repetitions, but then it turns out you have another set to go. Here she and the background exercisers are all dressed in yellowish green tops and black bottoms, and the background lighting is lime green.

Beth C (aka toaster)

July 17, 2007

Oh my goodness! I just finished this tape. If you want a toned and tight body, BodySculpt is what you need. I did the upper part yesterday and my triceps are still sore. I just finished the lower part and after the first set of leg presses and hover squats I was done! I finished it but it was not easy. My legs were worked very well and they were shaking like limp noodles. I once got rid of this tape because I read unfavorable reviews but I am ecstatic I got it back! This is a prime example of why sometimes it's better to try a tape yourself. The wonderful thing about this tape also is that my heart rate was in my training zone and I wasn't even doing cardio! I really like that plus I was covered in sweat and I was roasted afterwards. This will be in heavy rotation in my workouts for sure. This tape is basically Standing Legs Jr. because it doesn't have all those long sets of lunges and leg presses, which is what I didn't want. This tape is perfect for me. In 17 minutes your legs will get an excellent workout. It's short but it does get the job done. There are even exercises for your inner and outter thighs, which is what I really need. Wow! I am very impressed. This gets two big thumbs up from me but while I was doing it, it got two fingers from me too, but the fingers weren't thumbs. LOL

Instructor comments: I like how she says if you are a beginner follow the woman doing the beginner workout. I also like how she tells you how your feet should be and how not to do the exercises. She is a very good instuctor. :)

Bonita

November 27, 2007

A little about me: I don't do Cathe. I've never done Cathe, I'm scared of Cathe, I stay away from Cathe. There! ;)

I got my first FIRM workout in 1992 (Vol. 1) and did the 90 Day Rotation with all the workouts in 2000. Then I sold off the workouts wanting something new, but never got the results that FIRM gave me originally. So I reacquired most of the older stuff, and a lot of the newer stuff starting with BSS1.

I'm an intermediate exerciser who got knocked back to the advanced beginner's level due to illness. Only in the last few months have I been able to do longer or intermediate workouts, and I started a rotation with the FIRM Classics and original FIRM Crosstrainers. This is my first foray into FIRMing without the fancy sets.

I was lulled into a sense of complacency by doing AbSculpt first. Then the truth came out: this might be "new" FIRM because of the sets, but the workout itself is serious AWT complete with leg presses, hover squats and lunges.I loved this workout!!!

It was harder than FIRM Cardio or FIRM Strength to me because the upper body work got the entire upper body, not just the lats, delts and triceps. In fact, I like this better than some of the Classics because it doesn't go overboard with lat rows and deltoid lifts, and includes new moves like side lunges on part of the Fanny Lifter, as well as variations on pushups and more work for the posterior delts and anterior delts.

I'd just purchased a set of 8 lb. weights because my strength has returned, but I ended up using 5 lbs. for lower body and most of the upper body work, and 3 lbs. for the shoulder work. I was drenched when it was over, total goo.

I like that ab work is *not* included with this workout because I would have been too knocked out to do it anyways. Lots of stretches are included after each set, which I also liked, and I think doing abs on another day using AbSculpt makes sense.

A+.

Instructor comments: Jen doesa great job leading this workout!

theurbanhippie

7/8/08



Video Fitness copyright © 1996 - 2009 Wendy Niemi Kremer    All rights reserved