Video Fitness

The FIRM Core Cardio 2

Tamela Hastie, Carissa Foster, Dale Brabham

Hi everyone! Barbara P here with my Core Cardio 2 review. Bottom line: 2 biceps up! I did like Core Cardio 1 better, I think (gotta do them again) but I enjoyed this one very much and got a good workout. I'm going to the doctor soon for my infected toe (like in 45 minutes), so today I hit upon cutting out a hole in a pair of old keds where my toe is! It's okay now except when it rubs against something, so by cutting out the hole no more rubbing!! (I suffered from that yesterday!!) BTW, I have not read anyone else's review of this tape although I've saved 'em in another folder! Anyway........

The warmup is very active, using weights. I noticed several shots of Lisa (Fitbabe) in this segment! Great to see her smiling face. Lisa, you were great!!

Abs is next, very short, only about 2-3 minutes long, then tall box climb.

The ball in the next segment made it very intense, not because of the weight of the ball, but I think because you keep your elbows up the whole time, or you're lifting above your head. Oh, and I did confirm which one Julie is (Tracie's sister), black leotard in front row 2nd from end. This was the only segment I remember in this tape with the ball.

Also there were not as many calf pumps and plyos as core cardio 1, I think and all together not as high impact.

Carissa's step segment had a "hamstring-knee" and quarter turn off the step; I got confused because instead of alternating legs you keep on the same one, complete the sequence, then switch legs. the cuing could have been better here, but by the end of the segment I had it down so next time I shouldn't have a problem. I really liked the "hesitation repeater" that came next.

I noticed in the next segment with Dale, squats with hammer curls, alot of the cast were doing just regular bicep curls when the camera showed just the cast, but when the camera showed Dale with the cast in the mirror, they were doing hammers!! Uniquely the Firm!!

The next segment, floor aerobics, was alot of fun!!!!!! I think this was Tamela. One leg front, then back, high impact, then step touch.

The next segment was hover squats over the tall box with the board and light weights. You could go heavier, since I didn't know what to expect I used 5# throughout.

Carissa's next segment was a "rock kick", loved that move. Up till this point the music was non-descript, but I really liked this music and also the next song, the best. That one was fun too, with a squat-delt lift, with heel lifts, and lots of other stuff.

Then Carissa really got my attention with a grapevine and a "swim back" LOL!!

The final cool-down song uses weights but is low impact; the stretch uses the dowel.

While I used 5 pound weights in each hand for all the weight segments, there were some where I would have used 8 or 10, all but the delt and tricep segments (I have some shoulder problems.)

All in all, a very good cardio workout! I think CC1 is more intense but I think CC2 is a few notches above Fat Blaster in intensity. Fun factor, I love FB and still have to see where CC1 and 2 fit in there. I would definitely recommend this tape! Of course you have to buy them together, but so far all are great!!

Barbara P

Barbara Paola
francis.paola@snet.net
03/11/99

Well, I have seen all 3 and decided to try this one first. If you like high intensity, high impact cardio and the FIRM you are going to love this tape!

The tape is composed of segments featuring the 3 instructors. The transitions are very smooth and quicker than it the tritrainer tapes where we have to wait for the next instructor to walk to the front.

It begins with a warmup and stretch with light dumbells. That's followed by ab work featuring different variations for the obliques.

The first cardio segment is a tall box climb much longer that on the tritrainer tapes!

This is followed by a section with the ball, lots of running in place!

Then, a low impact segment that leads into intense pylometrics.

Then, a great 4 limbed segment with the short box followed by box aerobics with some very fun choreography that I'll have to do a few times before I get it.

Then we pick up the weights and step up an down and do rhomboid pinches and a clean and press move that really gets your heart rate up. It move much faster than the box work on volume 4.

Next a fun box segment with some karate kick moves!

Next, more 4 limbed aerobics, a welcome reprieve but your heart rate stays elevated. Then we put the weights down adn do soem floor aerobics, very intense includes jumpinp jacks, heel digs and this front/back move that seems like skipping, very fun!

Then we pick up some medium weights and do hover squats on the tall box with a 2 by 4 under the heels.

After that, an intense mixed floor aerobic segment that includes a lunge move that works the inner thighs. Some more 4 limbed work is next with light dumbells. I love these 4 limbed segments! We did overhead presses with leg abductions and delt flies with squats and triceps extentions.

Then, floor aerobics with grapevines , shuffle moves and jump rope moves(without a rope).

This is followed by another 4 limbed segment that includes a lunge/dip move that works the bicep. I used 5lb. dumbells for all 4 limbed work.

Finally, a dowel stretch segment sitting on the tall box. Pelvic contractions are included.

It might seem long reading it in detail but the time flew! I felt like I was back at the studio in Charleston working out!

I think the tape could be done with a child's size ball or light dumbell instead of the ball. I did find the ball to be fun though!

A special thanks to Anna and Cathy at the Firm for giving me this oppurtunity to review these tapes. I think the flyer is very accurate at depicting the tapes. If you love the Firm you should be very happy!

Take care, Diane

Instructor comments: I found all 3 instructors motivating and the cuing excellent.

Diane
Momster438@aol.com
3-11-99

THANK YOU, ANNA B!!! I'm sending you a FIRM hug!!! These are GREAT!!! They are fun and have lotsof variety, so I don't think they'd ever get boring. They have the most complex choregraphy of any FIRM, but it's not intricate or dancy.

I won't even try to list the different segments; I'd get lost! I will say they move from one to the next verrrrry quickly. The heartrate is raised from the warm up and never comes down. It's wonderful! They both are really intense, and are definitely what was promised!

To compare these to AC/FB.......These make that one look like a nap!!! TCM runs a distance behind the intensity of these new ones, too. To compare to TAM or NSTA, well, I didn't care for either of those all that much even though they are decent workouts. My HR always dropped during the segment changes when the moderator came on and did her "Phew!"

CC1 has lotssss of high impact, but the sections are divided somewhat, so it's not consistent thoughout the workout. Plyos out the wazoooo! Tall box work, short box work with some fun variations, hi lo, everything!

CC2 seems to have a bit more light dumbbell work, and not as much high impact. I don't think it's *quite* as intense, but the difference seemed minimal. The workouts are similar but have their differences. This one has hover squats using the 2X4 under the heels. It uses the dowel only for the final stretch. (Sorry, I don't care for the dowel....Glad this is all it's used for.) I LOVE using the ball! It does "do" something! (I think a perfect sub would be a soccer ball.)

A couple things: The warm up in CC1 throws me because left and right are mixed up. It's quick-paced, so the cues are important. I'll probably be alright when I know the warm up better.

There's a segment where we put one knee on the opposite foot and crunch the lower, then the upper, then both and release. We never change to the other knee. I don't see this as a problem because we're not working the obliques here, except as stabolizers.

I don't anyone will be the least bit sorry they've ordered these tapes. If you're choreographically impaired, you may struggle a little, but with some practice, I think you get the routines. They seem easily modifiable to low impact. In fact, on CC2, I noticed one of the cast marching during a running segment. Maybe she was modifying everything....I didn't notice. All three workouts are great, and what a wonderful rotation! Between all of them, you're hitting everything! I love the ball! WOWOWOWOW!!!! Two more biceps up! YUMMMY! I'm a happy FIRMie!

Love, Apryl = )

Instructor comments: The instructors, Tamela, Dale, and Carissa all do an incredible job. Tamela seems like a natural (She says "That was fun" quite a few times......), and seems to enjoy herself. She looks so good! Carissa is working hard and you can tell! I love it. She's a great instructor, as I found out in Charleston. She has a pretty body! Dale is more no-nonsense and serious. She's a pro, and is really good. She has some great abs going!!!

Apryl
tonyap@bright.net
3/11/99

WHOOHOO!!! Is your ENERGY UP??? Cus you're gonna need it for this puppy!! Let me ask you all something. Does my review count if I had to spend a few minutes sweating/resting on the corner of the couch..DURING THE WORKOUT??? (One of my favorite modifications). This was a KILLER!! Hope Cathy doesn't take my videos away, because yeah, as hard as it is to admit, I had to MODIFY A LOT! I have no problems getting through FAT BLASTER. Which is another FIRM tape I totally enjoy. But this one!! It's INTENSE!!

The workout begins with a light dumbbell warmup led by Dale Brabham. Dale's warmup includes "ball prep" which involves pressing through the toes as you lift your heels. (The OOOF Jr. is not used in this warmup.), bicep curls, etc.

On to ab work. The ab exercises in CC1 and CC2 are different than any the FIRM has used before, and from each other. CC1 uses swiveling motions that radiate from the lower midsection. The CC2 exercises target the obliques with upper body to lower raises body on the sides. One arm is stretched straight out over the head and the other arm is bent, grasping it. Hence you feel a WONDERFUL, LENGTHENING in these limbs.

Next,Tamela Hastie takes over with tall box step ups. Your HEART RATE is CLIMBING!!

Step ups are followed by a FUN ball aerobics section with Carissa Foster. YOWSA! Running, calf pumps, hops etc. HEART RATE GOING UP, UP, UP!!! And the CARDIO work continues!!

I think the other reviewers have covered the moves extensively but I do want to add a few comments.

Though the segments on Core Cardio 2 ,overall, did not seem as high impact as Core Cardio 1 the INTENSITY level is right up there!! Individual sections on CC2, in general, are longer than CC1. On the tall box step, Tamela's box step ups in CC2 run about 2 minutes long. Carissa's tall box step ups in CC1 are about 1 minute.

The long aerobic box section that Carissa leads in CC 2 will really BLAST your heart rate right up there!!

These new videos are really bringing in some NEW ELEMENTS. I LOVE many of the new movements like the hopscotch with the ball in CC2 and the playful ski movement in CC1. I also enjoyed the dowel stretch at the end of CC2. The dowel was used in some new ways i.e. under the leg etc.

The setting is the sames as the others. The traditional FIRM classic setting so many of us LOVE! Pastel walls, oriental rugs, Greek statues and the wonderful murals. The music really works with the exercises. I love the bubbling, popping music during the box aerobic section.

There are approximately 11 exercisers in each class. In addition to Fitbabe, I think I may have recognized a few others from other Firm videos. Two males were also in the class. I like that as I think it encourages, our spouses to join in!

Ok I know I will take some ribbing for this..but I couldn't help but notice that Tamela was color coordinated with the OOOF ball! She wears a blue bra top with matching bike shorts with white piping. The blue is a match with the ball!! The DETAILS in these FIRM videos!! All in all, the FIRM has another WINNER on its hands!!!! This is MEGA-INTENSITY CARDIO!!!

Lee Mellott
rustymellott@msn.com
3/99

I am happy to report that I have enjoyed all the new tapes. they are "Firm" thru and thru and NO ONE will be disappointed.

I am so impressed with the instructors and the cast, of course I like lisa the best !

Their form is impeccable, and they camera seems to be closer to the cast so you can really see the effect the move is having on that specific muscle. Carissa has legs that go on forever and is great, dale has mucho energy and lots of spring !!!! and Tamela is the girl I wanted to be in gym class !!!! smiling, and her personality comes thru on film. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention Cal, the man who smiles and smiles and smiles!

We start with the warm -up........this will definitely get you warm and ready to go lots of calf pumps, squats with over head lifts, heel dips and stretch.

Abs come next with new effective moves that I liked , I kinda miss the traditional abs but im willing to be "flexible"......

Tall box climb with tamela , this is a fun set with jazz hands , delt lifts and romboid pinches.

Next on the menu is carissa with a dancy set that uses the ball. we jog and power run, believe me we are getting our $$$$ worth here ......this is probally the hardest set of the tape. I noticed that some of the cast are modifying the running and power runs. have an oxygen tank near by...................

Low-impact with tamela is next with a step -hamstring ,an over the top step, v-step, and hop. this is my favorite part of the tape. look for lisa as she is featured and looks great! this set also contains the p-word........PLYO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Short step 4 limb is next with carissa. using medium weights, we do a toe tap and with over head lift, lunges with up rights and bicep curls.

continuing on with carissa, we have 2 more short sets of moves.

Box aerobics with more step ham, using the arms, a dancy step on the box which they call a quarter turn with a hop. then its step with weights, romboid pinches , knee repeaters with over heads.

Tamela uses the short step ,moving with delt pulls, karate kicks, an l-step with kicks to the side and then knee-repeaters and jacks. this is my 2nd fav so far......... lisa looks like shes having fun too.

Dale starts with step touches on the floor with weights, doing an up right row. the music on this set is not all that great.......but like ive said before ....as long as the work-out is good, thats what counts ! we also do a squat abduction and bicep curl. this segways into step touch with lateral arms, calf pumps, a fun dancey samba type step with heels digs and jacks. dale has lots of energy with is very motivating.

Next is the tall step with the 2X4 and weights. we do hover squats with over head lifts. There is a short stretch at the end.

Carissa does a step touch with hop, add on a quick lunge and a rock kick with bicep curl.

Tamela again with 4 limb with weights a samba step add a dance step with up rights, squats with delts and a leg extention with over heads

Yes folks, there's more !!!!!

Carissa leads a march with a grapevine a step touch with swimming arms a shuffle step with heel digs (were going to have such strong heels , well be able to plant our gardens digging with our heels !!!!!) add on a jump rope move that you do with your feet together , then wide . this is a fun set too.

We have dale for the last set with more 4 limb ..........(remember "floor land?) we do a dance step with delts, a quick lunge with hammer curls (good for carpentry he he he), dips with biceps, and a kick with a romboid pinch.

THE COOL DOWN .............phew......im tired..... done to Tschaikowsky, we use the dowel.

So, fellow Firmies, I'm sure you will like these new tapes. As jayne poteet says...."I know I did."

eve
EVERH@aol.com
3/17/99

Well, I just finished this tape and my breath was literally taken away. It seemed to be a lot longer than it was. Just when I thought I'd finally reached the end of the workout, another vigorous tune would begin. And, yes, I was confused on some of the moves but that will only prevent boredom later. I only have one little complaint on this one. The abs section was too easy. My feeling is why bother putting any abs in at all if you're not going to make them challenging? One could simply add Five-Day-Abs before or after the workout. Apart from that, I'm sure my body is in a bit of shock as the Firm promised it would be. I wouldn't recommend this tape to early beginners, but for intermediate and advanced-- GO FOR IT! Oh, yeah, I liked using the Ooof ball as well.

Instructor comments: It's been a long time since I haven't had anything negative to say about a Firm instructor, but these three were fine! There were some tricky first-time moves that I managed just fine thanks to on-time calls. And Dale Brabham, WOW! Her physique is right up there with Salina Bartunek's from the Standing Legs video. I was impressed. Also, none of the instructors had that annoying way of talking that seemed to be adopted by a few leaders after Firm Basics Fat Burning (thanks to Jennifer Carman).

Lena Yester
shoqura@mindspring.com
3/31/99

This workout is great....I love this one!!!! I really feel like this workout was designed to be more of an interval workout and that's how I use the workout!! The transitions are just a tad slower but they are still pretty quickly paced. but then there are 'power' sections where they do lots of running, jogging, and plyometric hops and jumps and then you recover a little bit with 4-limb dumbbell aerobics and lower impact Hi/lo aerobics and short box aerobics! I really loved this workout and the time just flies by...I can't ever believe I am finished when the stretch comes!! I love it as an interval workout because I can really push during some of the sections and then recover with the 4-limb dumbbell aerobics..I feel this will be more fun and effective than recovery methods used in other interval tapes (because they are also doing squat and lunges motions for lower body). There are more 4-limb dumbbell aerobic sections in this video as compare to Core Cardio 1.

The set is the same as the other 2 videos in this crosstraining set...the large studio and a large group of exercisers. The set is painted in light, bright pastel colors. I really like the music in this as well...a good mix of pop, jazz, rock and classical music. The production quality on all 3 of these tapes are excellent! There are a couple of bloopers (as far as cues) on the tapes but nothing that will affect the quality of the workout.

Warm-up (Dale) she uses light dumbbells to warm-up the upper body with bicep curls, tricep kickbacks and overhead presses along with lower body calf pumps, mambas and light stretches, and also glute raises with rhomboid pinches.

Abwork (Carissa) this abwork is different from other videos and I really liked it (it kinda reminds me of some of the abwork in Tae Bo advanced)...she does side raises (for obliques) first with upper body and then both lower and upper together (by lifting top leg) and does this for both sides of the obliques...then she finishes with some upper and lower crunches done together at various speeds and tempos.

Cardio sections:

1. Tall box climbs (Tamela) basic climbs alternating with jazz arms and delt lifts, basics with knee-ups and digs. 2. Ball Aerobics (Carissa) calf pumps, mambas with hops while pushing ball forward, jogging with pushing ball upward and forward, power runs holding ball at chest level, pivots behind with hops. This section is very TOUGH and gets the heart rate way up there. 3. Hi/Lo Aerobics (Tamela) double steps, hamstring curls, v-steps, step forward with backward hops with arms punching, plyometric hops. 4. Short box w/ 4-limb aerobics (Carissa) toe touches on box with bicep curls and overhead presses, side touches with lunges on box with biceps, triceps and upright rows, toe touches with cleans and presses. 5. Short box aerobics (Carissa) step hamstrings, hamstring repeaters, basic climbs with quarter turns with arms to side and overhead, hamstring/rockcombo..by using power moves on the box I make this another interval. 6. Short box w/ 4-limb aerobics (Carissa) rhomboid pinches with alternating knee-ups, knee repeaters with rhomboid pinches, hestitaion repeaters to back and side of box with overhead presses (this part is REALLY fun and the music is fun here too!) 7. Short box (Tamela) alternate toe touches and pulls, kickbox moves in this section which I LOVE (I'm crazy about kickboxing) kickbox front kicks alternating legs along with punches with the arms, L-steps combined with front and side kicks and punches....LOVE it!!! and I use this for another interval and really work! 8. 4-limb Aerobics (Dale) step touches with upright rows, single and double step touches, squat presses with bicep curls. (yes here Dale is doing hammer curls and the group is doing regular bicep curls :)!, squats with abduction lifts with hammer curls (or regular curls :). 9. Hi/Lo aerobics (Dale) step touches with arms, calf pumps with arms pressing overhead, frong and back hopping move which is really fun (kinda like hopskotch!), jumping jacks and heel digs (by really pushing with the jacks and hopskotch moves I use this as another interval) 10. Tall Box w/ 2x4 and medium weights (Dale) Hover squats with overhead presses (sit and stands) 11. Hi/Lo Aerobics (Carissa) step touches with hops, step with circle arms, side lunges with punches, rock kicks with bicep curls (alternating legs). I push with the side lunges to make this another lighter interval. 12. 4-limb Aerobics (Tamela) sambas and triples each leg with bicep curls, side and front steps with upright rows, squats with deltoid lifts, heel lifts with tricep kickbacks, abductions with legs with overhead presses. 13. Hi/Lo Aerobics (Carissa) grapevines with rhomboid pinches and swimming arms, diagonal grapevines, shuffles with basketball (dribble) arms and heel digs. By really pushing on the shuffles with basketball (dribble) arms I make this another interval. 14. 4-limb Aerobics (Dale) side and back steps with delt lifts, lunges and dip combo with bicep curls, kicks alternating legs with rhomboid pinches. Again I feel that the workout moves too quickly between last aerobic segment to stretch so some may need to pause the tape and march in place to recover. Final stretch (Dale) stretch using tall box and dowel.

Instructor comments: All the instructors are very good...I really like all 3 if these instructors a great deal. They are very professional and encouraging in their manner.

Cheryl Shakespeare
shakespeareca@sprintmail.com
4/2/99

First off, you should know my background. I feel I am a mid-level advanced exercisor. I am also a Klutz, so dancy complex routines do not appeal to me. I regularly do Firm and Cathe strength workouts with heavy weights (40 lb barbell for Standing Legs). For cardio, I do mostly Cathe F., Gilad, PowerKicks, Intense Moves and my own combination of tapes from the Firm. For Cathe F, I usually learn her tapes on 6", but move on to 8" once I feel that I have the routine down. I am not a Step Aerobic Goddess- I am a "Goddess-in-training", so Stepworks and Interval Max are too much for me right now. Though I have done both. In general, I prefer to do low impact, but I can do some higher impact.

On to the review of Core Cardio 2. (bet you forgot what tape it was after that intro! ;-D) With a couple of caveats, I feel that this one is a real keeper! The Firm has done an excellentjob of creating a high-intensity cardio workout in the unique Firm Style. And that is important to consider. You have to like the Firm style of fairly basic routines with lots of changes of equipment and instructors. Otherwise, forget it! It is also shorter then most advanced cardio tapes out on the market, only 46 minutes total, of which only about 35 minutes is the actual cardio. Which makes it wonderful for when you don't have much time but still want to get a Blast out of your workout. (Sorry, couldn't resist the pun.) It is higher impact- so that should be considered. There were sections that I could modify, but other sections, I just went with the high impact.

When I was done with this tape, I was soaked through and through. And I had FUN! Yet I knew that there were several serious problems with the workout, starting right out with the warm-up. The warm-up is very short and is done with hand weights. You start to stretch with the weights almost immediately, there is no real aerobic activity to warm your muscles first. I felt this was dangerous , asking for injury, as well as awkward. This might be fine if you are working out in the evening after moving all day, but at 6 am in the morning, I was too stiff. The second problem was immediately going down to the floor for abs. My back was just not warmed up enough for that, plus I prefer to do my abs after the workout. I don't like this on any tape that I have, much less a cardio tape!

But after that, we got into some fun times! The cardio started with tall box climbs. Someone else on the Forum commented on this, asking "tall box on a cardio tape?", but believe me, it works! The tall box segment was only 2 minutes and 25 seconds, but by the end I was in my target heart zone! That's faster then any Cathe tape I have ever done. We then moved on to a floor routine using the weighted ball. I don't have one of those, so I took a set of 2.5 lbs soft ankle weights and rolled them together to form a 5 lb ball. It worked very well, as the velcro on the weights kept them together. Maybe it was because I was using a heavier "ball" then they were in the tape, but I was really able to get my heartrate up doing this routine at low-impact! The routine was basic- jump/jogs that I modified, but the range of motion arms with the ball did make it seem fun!

The next section started out with low-impact, step-hamstrings and vee-fronts that brought my heartrate down and out of the THRZ, but just barely. However, that is probably because I have a hard time learning any floor routines- so I was just doing the steps and ignoring the range of motion arms. Once I learn the steps, I will add the arms. It segued in Plyos that did a good job of getting it back up there.

Finally we came to my favorite parts of the work-out- two step segments with Carrissa and Tamela. I loved these! They were low impact, basic but fun, and I was able to use my 10" Firm short box. I loved the music on these! Carrisa's segment used weights with a hesitation repeater that I thought great- but next time I will use heavier weights. For this first time I used 5 lb dumbells because I did not know what to expect. Tamela did a step routine that had forward karate kicks and l-step side kicks that was fun. But again basic, which is why using a 10" step was possible and kept my heartrate up.

Right after Tamela's step routine comes a interesting blooper! She tells them to put away their steps and everyone bends down to pick them up (including Fitbabe, who I was watching) and the next edit shows them all bending over like they are putting their steps away, but Fitbabe(and others)has nothing in her hands! Funny, I thought!

Dale does a 4-limb aerobic section that I need to up my weights on- fell right out of the THRZ on this one. Then there is a Dale Hi/Lo that I found very confusing. It looked simple, but I just did not get it. Don't ask me to explain it- I was baffled. Dale moves on to a tall box hover-hold-sit-stand that is a KILLER. I made the mistake of using 15 lb weights and was not able to do the over-head press. I will go down in weight next time.

Carissa had a Hi-Lo segment that was fun but too easy once I modified it for low impact. We moved on to a four-limb with Tamala, where she tells you that "level one should use 3 lbs, and Level 2 should just 5 lbs". Don't know what level I am, but I needed 8 lbs! This was a fun section and I loved the music in this part, but the tri-ceps kickbacks were a joke and felt awkward with how fast they were done.

The last two sections were a Hi-Lo done by Carissa that was mostly Lo- grapevines, shuffles, and heel-digs, then jumprope moves and plyos were added on to give you the HI. The final 4-limb with Dale seemed too easy- my heartrate really came down. It was almost like a cooldown. But if you use heavier weights, then you probably will have to pause the tape and do your own cooldown.

I loved the stretch with the dowel, especially when you hook the dowel under your knee and pull forward to stretch your back. They could have held the stretches longer.

When I was done, I felt soaked through- like I had had a really good workout. I was surprised to see that I had only spent about 18 minutes in my THRZ. But when I checked the recorder on my HR monitor, I found that most of the rest of the time I was only a few beats below my THRZ. So once I learn this tape and add full-range of motion, I am sure I will spend most of the cardio section at mid-level THR.

I don't plan to EVER do that warm-up or abs again. I think I will pair the rest of the tape with (can you guess??) the first twenty minutes of the Firm Volume 5. Now that should be an AWESOME cardio blast!

Final thoughts. This an advanced cardio workout in my opinion. It packs a LOT of punch in 46 short minutes. Is it comparable to Cathe's Step Works or Interval Max? No. But it is comparable to any 35 minutes of any of her other step tapes (well, maybe NOT the last plyo section of Step Max). It was also fun, with wonderful, wonderful music. I know that I can listen to the Firm's music for many more years then I can Cathe's. It is basic routines- if you are looking for complex, look elseware.

I'd give this one an A- only because I don't like the warm-up and ab work, plus the mostly higher impact makes it hard to modify.

Instructor comments: I think they all did a very good job. The editing on all of the Blast tapes is so seamless that sometimes you don't even realize that a new segment has begun, so the instructors really compliment each other. I had some problems with Carissa's cuing, but her segments were so much fun that it did not matter. I know I will catch on with some more practice. They all were beautiful in their own way, with Dale being more muscular then the other two, but I happened to like her look too.

Clare
lzclare@ameritech.net
4/4/99

Sure glad I did Franny's 9905 hi/lo before I pulled out this tape. First off, forget the ab section - I went straight to the main cardio (!!) section (36 minutes) that begins with tall box climbs. The step sections were so badly cued, I was getting frustrated even after doing the video three times. This is more of a circuit workout - the heartrate goes way down (believe me, after Franny's hi/lo, I know what down is, and this was it!). Some hover squats, some plyo jumps, four-limbed aerobics, and the music was awful. This will not stop me from doing the workout as an add-on only workout, maybe with All Cardio (love the music), Step and Stones, or CCI. I guess this can be called a "lukewarm" review.

maryann parker
marypar@aol.com
4/9/99

Of the three new FIRM videos (Core Cardio I and II and "Bust and Buns"), this is my favorite. I give it a B+, and maybe the + is also because it's better than CCI. Like CCI, CCII would have benefited from being longer: adding 5 minutes to the warm-up (rather than going right into stretches WHILE HOLDING WEIGHTS!) and adding on a cooldown routine. Like CCI, this workout goes right from doing cardio with weights to a stretch. However, unlike CCI, where you go directly from cardio to lying on the floor, the stretches in CCII are done while seated, and I didn't feel so rushed doing them.

There are some moves that I think are useless at best (a "hesitation" repeater, where you step one foot off the tall box, then bounce a bit, with weights held above the head, before stepping back up onto the box. I personally prefer moves that I feel are actually benefiting me, and/or are fun, this one is neither) or risky at worst (doing a standing leg abduction move while lifting a weight overhead with the opposite arm, alternating sides. The speed at which this move is done makes it awkward, and it seems a bit risky on the spine.The beginning stretches while holding weights also fit in this category.)

Good points: The music is great! Very upbeat and motivating. Unfortunatly, two of the instructors (Tamela especially) have a tendency to rush the music and are sometimes off the beat. But, thanks to the FIRM's editing, if you follow the music, the instructors usually catch up by the next edit!).

There are a good variety of moves, including some plyometric jumps, which aren't overdone as in CCI. I especially like several of the 4-limbed aerobics moves using the short box--they show what kind of cardio the FIRM can do at it's best!

Would I buy this video by itself for $25+?--no. But, as long as I have it, I think it will become part of my routine, especially if I supplement some of the deficiencies by starting out with a warm-up stretch from another video ("Tough Cardio Mix") and sandwhiching in the cooldown from another workout ("Fat Blaster").

Instructor comments:

Kathryn Bulver
cfkmb@eiu.edu
4/11/99

I like this video, but I prefer Core Cardio I. I found this one to be lower impact (at least some of it was), and a bit less intense. As with CC1, I would have preferred to have a longer warm up. I question the safety of using weights so early in the warm up. The ab section is short, but I like the oblique work. I wish The Firm would have combined the abs from CC1 & CC2 on to one tape and maybe left abs off one of the cardio tapes. Maybe they will come out with another Parts tape titled, "Still More 5 Day Abs!" Carissa's box segment (the one with the hop turns) is fun, but her cueing is poor during her segments. After several times doing the video, it shouldn't be as much of an issue. My favorite sections of this tape are the 4 limb aerobics led by Dale. Many of the segments ranged from low to moderate intensity to high intensity, and it has been mentioned on the Forum that some are using this as an interval workout of sorts. I did find that my heart rate went from the low end of my target HR zone to the high end (I wore my heart rate monitor).

The aerobic cooldown is nonexistent--you go straight from 4 limb aerobics to a seated dowel stretch. I think the Firm shortened the warm ups, the ab sections, the final stretches, and left the aerobic cool downs off the Blast tapes in order to fit the workout into 45 minutes and still preserve the high intensity of the workout. I would like these tapes a lot better if they had adequate warm ups, cool downs, and ab sections. For Firm fans (I am one), I give this tape a B-. For everyone else, I give it a C-.

Instructor comments: In this video, as compared to the other two in the Firm Blast series, I found the cueing a bit more confusing. I found myself on the wrong foot much of the time during Carissa's box segment (the one with the hop turns), and usually I am able to pick up choreography pretty easily. Even after doing the video a couple of times, I still found the cueing lacking in clarity. I did enjoy the energy of the instructors. Dale is my favorite in this one. All of them show different, healthy body types. You can tell that they all are working hard during the workout.

Kristin Aziz
KAziz@prodigy.net
4/11/99

Core Cardio 2 is the workout I like best in the new FIRM Blast series. It's just the right mix of high impact and low impact. It kept me in my cardio training zone for the entire workout! I didn't find it to be as tough as CC1.

The workout is structure similarly to Core Cardio 1. There is about a three minute warm-up/stretch followed by abs. I found the warm-up to be adequate. I did not use weights for the stretching part. I didn't really care for the ab work. I've been fast forwarding through it and doing abs from a different tape at the end of the workout.

The workout had a great mix of hi-lo, plyos, and step. Plus there were quite a few segments of cardio-intensive strength work. For example, there was a tough section of hover squats and another solid section of lunges. The instructors used light weights for these parts, but I did not. I felt much more comfortable without the extra weights.

The hi-lo segments include a lot of familiar moves (i.e. grapevines, sambas, step-touch, etc) I've learned the choregraphy in Core Cardio 2 quite quickly. Carissa's segments in this workout were my favorite. I also liked Tamela's tall box climb near the beginning of the workout. This workout had plyometrics, but not nearly as many as Core Cardio 1.

The music was motivating. I liked the 45 minute length. I consider myself an advanced exerciser, and this workout fits the bill for a solid "moderate" cardio day. Overall, I give Core Cardio 2 an B+ (almost A-)!

Instructor comments:

I liked all three instructors just fine. Tamela Hastie was by far my favorite. She seems so friendly, natural, and down-to-earth. Carissa Foster was a very typical FIRM instructor -- very polished, straight forward and professional. Dale is the most muscular of the three instructors. She was O.K., but wasn't my favorite. Something about her demeanor made her seem very abrupt. Although, I do like her better now than I did when I first got the Blast tapes.

Christine L.
letskyce@jmu.edu
April 13, 1999

I really disliked Core Cardio I, at least at this stage, when I've only done it once. Core Cardio II was the redemption. I love this tape!! It is so much fun.

WHAT IS GOOD:

The music is fantastic. This is some of the best music the FIRM has ever put out. Makes me really dislike the earlier, "Muzak"-type stuff. A lot of this sounds like remixes of various well-known music, for instance, one song sounds just like Depeche Mode, only with one of two notes changed.

The activity is constantly changing. I love Fat Blaster's format, and this is similar. Hi/lo to box aerobics to four-limbed, and so on, and only a few minutes of each. And on this one, the transitions are so short you don't lose your heartrate.

This video has just the right amount of high impact. This video is tough-- but it is much kinder than Core Cardio I and that is a good thing-- I think the unsafe factor is greatly reduced here.

There is one section where you're doing kickboxing movies on the short box with Tamela to the most intense music-- I absolutely love it.

This is a fantastic way to fit a cardio workout of decent length (39 minutes of aerobic time) into a short workout. The time spent workout is exactly the same as Cathe's Step Works, for example, but some people describe this as a short workout anyway. Not to me, I felt it was very adequate. I was pleasantly wiped out.

WHAT IS BAD:

Where's the warmup? Where's the cooldown? This isn't as pronounced here as in Core Cardio I, but you don't just go straight from aerobics to a stretch-- and for only 2 minutes!! This is the only bad thing about this video, but it's a biggie. You MUST do your own cooldown. It stinks, especially because these are so expensive. My feeling is that a video set that costs $80 should be more well thought out, especially since these are parts tapes and it would have been so easy to put in a short cooldown.

Also, I don't really like the ball, but you don't have to use it. I also much prefer to stretch without weights. Seems a little strange and risky to me.

Is it worth it? As with Bust and Butt, this is a great video to add to your collection and you can modify its shortcomings. However, $29.95 is really a lot for a 45-minute workout with some serious editing problems. If you're a FIRM junkie, I recommend this, but if you're just looking to get into the FIRM, there are much, much safer, well thought out and cheaper FIRMs available. Unfortunately, these are the FIRM's only power cardio tapes, for now.

Sara

Instructor comments: All three are competent. When I first started doing these videos, I liked Dale the least and Carissa the best. Now I like Dale best. Plus, she's one buff chick. Again, I appreciate the FIRM's use of all different types of people of all races and all body types, and now as instructors and not just cast members.

Sara Whitney
fssmk2@uaf.edu
4-14-99

I won't get into the details of the workout here since others have done so, but I will say that I really enjoy this workout. I did not find that the weighted warm-up was "dangerous" - the 3lb weights are used for light reps of upper body exercises while the legs are stretching, so I don't see how this could cause injury - it's not like the weights are used to "push" any of the stretches beyond a safe range of motion. I enjoyed this segment. The abs segment is useless, however, and I just do Tae Bo knee-ups instead of lying on the floor - works my abs and warms me up further. The routines can be made quite heart-pumping if you give the plyos your all, and raise the step to 8". I think the hesitation repeater in Carissa's segment is great fun, and Carissa seems to have the best music of the three. All in all, I am really happy with this workout, and will be using it very often!

Instructor comments: All of them can't cue their way out of a paper bag! Please give us back Susan Harris and Tracy Long! Tamela has rotten form, and is the most annoying (how many times can you say "this is fun"?) - she can't even punch straight, so why is she cuing the "kickboxing" routines?

Serena
saschlue@sciborg.uwaterloo.ca
April 26/99

Firm Blast Series: CC1, CC2 , Bust & Butt

In my opinion, these tapes were ok. I only did them once, so I'm sure I didn't get the full benefit of each workout. The good thing about them is they are only 45 minutes in length. I felt refreshed and energized at the end of each workout and not wiped-out.

I enjoyed CC1 & CC2 pretty equally. They were good 45 minute cardio workouts with basic moves that are easy to follow. It was a bit confusing the first time through because of the cueing, but all the combos are easy to pick up. CC1 was more intense, probably because it was a lot more high-impact than CC2. The nice thing about the high-impact moves is that you know they will not go on forever. For instance, if they are doing plyo-jacks, they may do 7 of them in a row before going on to another move. That makes the tough moves much more bearable.

The one thing that bothered me is that the Firm seems to use so many props in their videos. This time they came up with the ooph ball, which I felt was unnecessary. In Core Cardio 2 they do a stretch with a dowel - I think a towel would have been just as good.

I often look at all the props as another money-making gizmo for the Firm. I am not trying to bash them, I just think the ooph ball was kind of silly. The one other thing that I didn't like was doing the abs at the beginning of each tape - but that is a personal dislike for me.

Overall, these are decent tapes for a 45 minute workout. I was fortunate to have a fellow VFr lend them to me to try. If I were to buy them myself I would get the Core Cardios but not Bust & Butt. Although, none of the tapes grabbed me enough to spend close to $30 for one. These are parts tapes, so I will probably buy one of the tapes they were made from, when they come out. Those tapes may be easier to follow with just one instructor and the cardio sections will be good and intense.

Instructor comments: They were OK. The cuing was a bit hard to catch onto at first but I got used to it. Dale seemed to have the best cueing. The moves are not too difficult, so it is easy to catch on in the Core Cardio tapes. If you do these tapes a few times, I'm sure they are easier to follow.

Janet W.
Woodwind@freewwweb.com
04/19/99

I'd to preface my comments on these three tapes by saying that I have used the FIRM tapes for the past 10 years. I have tried others, and the only other series of tapes I enjoy are REebok (specifically, The Video, Power Step, Intense Moves, and Extreme Step). I've tried Kathy Smith, Karen Voight, Tae Bo, CIA, The Crunch, and Buns of Steel. Not one of these has motivated me to put them in the VCR more than, at the most, three more times. These just don't do it for me like the FIRM tapes and the Reebok videos I mentioned earlier. Generally speaking, I'm what you would call a FIRM Believer. Overall, I think the concept behind the FIRM tapes is unique--especially when they first came out. The quality of the workouts and the production are usually very high, making nearly all other tapes pale in comparison, even today. However, now that so many others have adopted a similar concept, and after producing so many tapes, I think the FIRM is starting to have a difficult time maintaining it's uniqueness. In trying to do so, they are creating more and more tapes, targeting us FIRM Believers, but some of these tapes are losing their quality. Sometimes it's the instructor, sometimes the workout. Sometimes I think that the FIRM has lost some of it's edge and is working to produce tapes as fast as they can without as much regard to the quality of the workout as they used to have and should have.

CC2 was not great. I found the steps to be outdated and boring. I'm not sure I would do this one again. The routines seemed to be from tapes produced five or ten years ago. A major problem I have with these tapes is that Tamela, in particular, seems to be using very poor form (more about this in the Comments about the instructor section). Had I not been using other FIRM tapes, like Tough Tape, All Weights, Tortoise, Hare, Strong Heart and Strong Body, for such a long time, I would really have had a time trying to understand how to position my shoulders or move in general.

I also really dislike the way they switch between the short and tall step in each tape.You probably burn more calories moving the steps back and forth so much!

Overall, I am disappointed that I spent almost $100 for these three tapes. Fortunately, though, I saw that the FIRM is coming out with some new compliation tapes...two of them...which will probably include the better parts of these three tapes, and these should (and better) be worth the money, because while I have been somewhat disappointed with some of the recent FIRM tapes, I still believe in the FIRM and think that these tapes deliver like no other workout I have ever done. I just wish they would pay a little more attention to details so that new tapes meet the high standards of most of the past tapes.

Instructor comments: Of the three new FIRM tapes, I did Bust and Butt first, then CC2,and finally yesterday CC1. I don't care for the multi-instructor format, but had Tamela Hastie been the only one, I would have wanted my money back! She is too much like a cheerleader and her form is terrible. Her shoulders are almost always raised, as if she is really tense and when she did kicks in CC1, her feet seemed to be flailing out of control. Actually, for each segment she leads, she seems to be trying to go too fast and her body can't keep up with the music. Her cueing is terrible...all of the sudden, her segment is over and you had no idea it was coming. She constantly says "This is fun" with an enormous teethy smile which I find very annoying. As I said above, she's seems like a high school cheerleader at a football game. I prefer instructors like Tracie Long, who is in other FIRM videos.

Carissa Foster is a little better, but her cueing is also not as good as it could be.

Dale Brabham is fantastic! She has an amazing physique...washboard stomach I would love to have. Her voice is a little deeper than most FIRM instructors, but she provides excellent cueing and clear instructions without being too perky or talkative. And, you know when she is going to end a segment. She makes these videos worthwhile!

Amie Coxon Ware
mware@loudoun.com
5/1/99

I've held off writing a review because I wanted to do this video a bunch before writing. I didn't get these video's free from the Firm I paid for them. This is a very very fun cardio workout that uses a ball, tall box, short step, dowel and light weights. There are 3 instructors. Reminds me of Charlie's Angels a bit. But it's nice to see a different face for each segment.

If you don't like stepping up and down on a step or jumping around the floor to boring choreography then this is a video you should get. I would say it is advanced because there is alot of high impact. The warm-up uses light weights which I really like but I found it went kinda fast so I had to go down to 3lbs. I like using weights but I couldn't concentrate that much on the muscle stretching because I was trying to do overhead presses. It's a great idea to try and add weights during a stretch but I wish it was longer. Dale does the warm-up and I had to get used to her. I really like her now. She has some of the best abs I've seen. Very inspiring.

Carissa does the flirtatious ab work. I say flirtatious because that is what she was doing in front of the camera and that the abs were just not enough for me. I like the Firm because they constantly change exercises so you don't get bored. You do a little bit of tall box climb, then you do ball aerobics and then you do step. Kinda like Sesame Street. You know when you were a kid? Never boring. Time just flies by during this workout. There is some great upper body work too. Carissa does uses light weight and you pull them back and pinch the shoulder blades. This is so great for the back.

Then Dale does alot of upright rows and biceps during a more lower impact section while Carrissa keeps your heartrate up with fun grapevines, shuffles, jumpropes and lunges. Tamela's section is more rockin'rollish. Or the music is. I like her segments. She does this squat section with side lifts that also has a mambo chacha with biceps. She is full of smiles and I really like her.

I really enjoy using this video. It really gets my heartrate up! When I would do a full Cathe Friedrich or CIA step workout, my knees would be so sore afterwards. But when I use Core Cardio 2, they don't bother me because the whole video is like Crosstraining. A little bit of high impact and a little bid of step. A little bid of upper body and lower body toning.

Dale finishes the workout with more back work with lunges and dips. This is supposed to be the cooldown I guess but it still gets my heartrate up! So I walk around and get a drink before the cooldown with Dale. Dale uses a dowel and stretches to the Swan Lake ballet music which is relaxing. Dale has a beautiful smile.

The music in this video is excellent. All different kinds. It's all instrumental. This is my favorite Firm cardio tape!! I am even doing it more now than 45 minutes of stepping. Thanks Firm!

Mandy Lee
9/2/99



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