Video Fitness

Comments About the FIRM/Comparisons of FIRM Tapes

No other exercise videos evoke the kind of strong feelings that the FIRM does. FIRM Believers, as the series' fans call themselves, can be positively rabid in their praise of these tapes. What engenders this level of fanaticism? If your goal is to lose fat and gain lean muscle mass by doing some heavy weight work at home, the FIRM provides the best strength workouts I've seen on video. They are the only strength routines I've seen that allow the exerciser to improve a lot (and add *much* heavier weights) without outgrowing the workout. The videos have a very different style from your run-of-the-mill exercise video, and not everyone will like this style, but it's hard to deny their effectiveness.

Although the FIRM workouts demand a lot of endurance, there are many tapes out there that provide superior aerobic conditioning. The FIRM's aerobic sections, which are interspersed into the strength work, are very short, very basic, and often not very intense. Some of the earlier tapes have aerobic sections that I can only call "goofy", and the music is often a little cheesy, too, in part because it is slower than normal aerobic music.

Using FIRM total body volumes on alternate days with videos with long aerobic sections would give you the best of both worlds. I bought my first FIRM videos when I had already attained my aerobic training goals and had maintained a desirable shape and weight for about 2 years, but I'm now steadily losing fat again without changing my diet and have real muscle definition for the first time in my life.

If you think of the aerobic sections in the FIRM's tapes as periods of time when you can fully extend your limbs, flush lactic acid away from the muscles, and to keep your heart rate up in your aerobic zone, you'll be less disappointed with the aerobic sections in the FIRM total body tapes. After a few sets of squats, lunges, dips and leg presses with heavy dumbells on your shoulders, you'll be begging for mercy, not challenging aerobic choreography!

People who do not have any experience with weight training should use great care to imitate the instructor's form, because the FIRM is not always diligent (especially in the early tapes) at teaching proper form. I might advise people in this situation to start with a tape with lots of good form pointers, such as Karen Voight's strength training tapes, or invest in a few sessions with a personal trainer who can explain proper technique.

I have tried Vol. 1, 3, Tortoise, Strong Heart, Strong Body, and Tough Tape. I maintain my distaste for the early volumes, though I regularly use the latter three, which are recent releases. I feel the later videos (from Tortoise & Hare on) are safer, the aerobics more interesting, and the tall box leg presses more effective than the floor work in the earlier volumes.

Wendy Niemi Kremer

ALL the Firm videos are amazingly excellent in production, cueing, effectiveness. Finding these tapes is my biggest gain in the road to fitness. Nothing compares to these when it comes to melting fat and toning muscles. Current faves are Firm #4, #5, Strong Heart, and Strong Body.

Annie Jen

I had heard of the Firm years ago, but never tried the videos because I had heard you should not do weights and aerobics and the same time. However, some e-mail friends of mine kept raving how great the Firm videos were, so I rented Volume 2 (now known as Low Impact Aerobics) from Blockbuster.

My first impression was that it was kind of corny (something about the videos seem too 'scripted', the members of the class are TOO perfect looking and I think the beginning of the videos, in which the instructor is posing in the studio, is hilarious!) but the copy I rented also had "20 Questions about Fitness" (the Firms video "infomercial"), tacked on to the back of it, and I found it pretty convincing. I decided it was worth a try, so I ordered Tough Aerobic Mix, and Volume 2 from Collage.

I'm still amazed at how well these videos worked for me! I had been doing aerobics alone for years, and though my cardiovascular fitness had improved immensely, I really hadn't lost very much fat. Once I started doing Firm videos, I became stronger, my endurance noticeably increased (I was able to take my two small children to the zoo without collapsing on the couch afterwards), my husband started talking about my "Buns of Steel", and oh yeah, I dropped 15 lbs. I assume I lost more than 15 lbs of Fat, because I know I've gained quite a bit of muscle.

I have since increased my library to Vols 2,4,5, Tough Aerobic Mix, The Tortoise, 5 day Abs and the new "Variety" videos, StrongHeart and Strong Body.

There are definitely some flaws in these videos, as I said, some of them are kind of "corny", the choreography really isn't challenging, and there are a few items in the earlier volumes which show their age. I keep them challenging by using as heavy weights as I can, working to exhaustion. I get a big kick out of it every time I am able to increase my weights! But they have worked great for me, I have been using them for a year now, and I am not bored at all!

I do not have the Firm's special "boxes" which they use in their videos, I use the traditional "club" step (blue w/ purple and grey risers), turned with the short end towards the TV. I have bought additional risers from the Step Company (1-800-SAY-STEP), so that I can do the tall box presses with a 14" step.

I also do not use a barbell for the Firm videos that use them, I use dumbells only. Frankly I think the reason the Firm started using a barbell in their videos just so they could make more money selling them . (however the barbell they use is about the nicest one I've ever seen, padded and shorter than the ones I've seen at stores) I could use my husband's barbell, but I think it's easier to change weights for the different exercises and get a better workout if I just use dumbells.

Also I would like to add that I use heavy weights and I am not "bulking up". If anything my arms look skinnier.

Trish Ransom TOP

I have all six total body volumes, Tortoise and Hare, Tough and Light Aerobic Mixes, Ballroom Aerobics (ballroom dance moves on the step - fun stuff!), Upper Body, 5 Day Abs, Variety Strong Heart and Variety Strong Body.

Volumes 1,2, and 3 all have high impact aerobics. I use Volume 3 very rarely but enjoy the workout. Volume 4 is all low impact and step with standing leg work. Volume 5 has the shortest aerobic segment (12 minutes) and is all step, no low or high impact segments and lots of leg floorwork. Volume 6 uses a barbell and has one low impact segment and 3 step segments. No leg floorwork -- it is very similar to Tortoise using the barbell interspersed with dumbells. If you want a volume with no high impact moves and no leg floor work choose either 4, 6, or Tortoise. The Hare does a lot of leg floorwork but no high impact, just ballroom dance step aerobics on a short 4" box.

I find myself using Tortoise, Volume 2, and Upper Body (and now, Strong Heart and Strong Body) the most, as well as 5 Day abs. The Hare is tons of fun; however, it isn't enough to keep me in target zone, even on a 6" step.

Tracey Long is by far the best FIRM instructor on video. I also like Susan Harris, despite her cues sounding sexual... she definitely has an educational background in exercise physiology, as does Tracy. While the celebrity leaders possess excellent form and alignment, they do not provide enough instruction *about* form and alignment. I would caution the beginner exerciser to watch the videos one time through, really paying attention to form, and using no weights at all until their form is on target. This is especially true for squats and lunges... too many people hyperextend their knee over their toe when doing these exercises. When I teach classes, I am constantly saying, "pelvic tilt, abs contracted, rib cage lifted, stand TALL..." I know everyone is thinking shut up and cue, but so many people tilt their pelvis either too far forward or back, throwing themselves out of alignment and risking injury. Anyway, in FIRM videos, I really appreciate Tracy and Susan's alignment cues during the exercises.

I have the FIRM's 14" box as well as the barbell and plate weights. I don't find the 14" box is too high for me, and I'm only 5'2". If you step one foot up on the box and your thigh is parallel with the floor (your knee doesn't point up toward the ceiling), then you should be fine. When doing tall box leg presses on the 14" box (which is it's specific purpose; it's not used for traditional step aerobics; it's strictly a muscle shaping tool) it is important to ensure your knee is always in line with your ankle, your abs are tucked in and your back flat, not arched. If your legs are really short, you might want to use a 12" box instead (which the FIRM also sells).

I'm 5'2" and use both the 10" and 14" boxes for Firm videos. The misconception here seems to be that the 14" box is used for traditional step aerobics. It isn't. It is used only for tall box leg presses and to rest your foot on while doing arm/back work like lat rows and tricep kickbacks (and also to stand in front of for squats on Volume 6 and Tortoise as mentioned previously). The 10" box is difinitely too short for the squat sections on these videos. When I was using only the 10" box I had to stand to the side instead of in front for squats.

Up to a 10" box can be used for the step aerobic segments and it should be noted that the step aerobics in FIRM videos are all less than 5 minutes in length and are much slower in format than a regular step aerobic class or video. The 10" box has given me no problems whatsoever but if one has a history of lower joint problems, a lower box should be considered. In the beginning, I used only the 10" box until tall box leg presses were no longer challenging (and I masterd proper form alignment) then ordered the 14" box from the FIRM.

Smaller weights are perfect for the step aerobics sections in Volume 4. Any higher poundage puts too much stress on my joints. There is also a step section in Volume 5 where I use 3 lb. dumbells as well. A lot of recent research states not to use weights while stepping and I completely agree but again, the pace you are moving at in FIRM videos is slow and controlled.

I have dumbells ranging from 2 to 15 lbs and use them all. The 15's are used for lat rows, french presses and pec flies. The 12's for bridge work, inner thigh work, biceps and tall box leg presses. The 6, 7, 8, and 10's for deltoids and tricep kickbacks. This all varies depending upon which video I'm using and how strong I feel.

The earlier FIRM volumes have more basic, high impact aerobics (Volumes 1,2,3) segments interspersed with the weight training so they tend to leave me feeling rather fatigued at the end. The Variety series [Strong Heart and Strong Body] leaves me feeling energized and strong, because the weight training uses heavy dumbbells (or a barbell) throughout. I think these workouts are much more well-thought out than the earlier volumes, and the choreography is wonderful.

Regarding how many times a week to do FIRM tapes--your body will provide, all the feedback you need. I overdid them at first. Even though Tough Aerobics is primarily an aerobics workout it still includes some weighted portions of the videos. If you just did a total body volume the previous day and use weights for Tough Aerobics the next you are probably going to end up overtraining. I sometimes use the Tough and Light Aerobics with no weights if I've done a total body volume the previous day. This way, I don't overstress my muscles.

I love the FIRM; I haven't found any other videos that keep me motivated except for Cathe Friedrich's step tapes, but then, this isn't a step topic so I'll save the raves for another review!

Roberta KagnoTOP

I've got several of their tapes but Volumes 2 and 4 are my absolute favorites. They all give an incredibly intense and well-rounded workout. I've used other fitness tapes but the Firm is the most enjoyable of them all.

The transition from one type of exercise to another is very smooth, it's not boring like countless other tapes, you can progress at your own pace by using whatever weight you're most comfortable with.

These tapes deliver what they promise. You can see and feel results that you don't get with other tapes plus the fitness information in the back of the tape is beneficial. Most tapes offer very little or no fitness information, you plug it in and it starts and that's it.

The production quality is superior to Jane Fonda, Kathy Smith and definitely Denise Austin (quite frankly, her tapes are a waste of time). The Firm tapes have given me incredible energy. The only criticism I have is I can't stand the music, but you can't please everyone, right?

These tapes will make you sweat and make your muscles burn like nothing else out there, but it feels great.

Alisa7067@AOL.COM

I own five Firm videos: Vol. 2 and 3, Variety Strong Heart, the Tough Aerobic Mix and Firm Parts Standing Legs. I have to admit that I am basically lazy and do not work out like I should but when I do work out, these videos are my first choice.

I have videos by Jane Fonda, Kathy Smith and Charlene Prickett. I also own Buns of Steel, Bun Busters and others that are really not well known.

Everytime I try a different one I always come back to the Firm. They work and they work quickly. Granted, I have my favorites, I prefer Vol. 3 and the Strong Heart videos but I don't dislike any of the Firm videos except for Vol. 1, that one IS cheesy.

The Firm states that you can usually see results within 10 workouts...I have seen them in half that time. If you are willing to really work and aren't afraid of using weights for a little definition AND you want quick results, these tapes are the way to go.

CJ Copeland

I really love the Firm. I own 11 Firm Videos and am currently receiving one a month from Time Life. Before doing the Firm, I was a vivid step addict and treadmill walker. However, nothing has given me the results that the Firm has. I see so much more definition in my arms and legs than ever, and I can actually see my stomach muscles. My clothes fit better than ever. All this combined with the remarks from other people on how "good" I look have made a Firm Believer out of me.

Sandy Martelli TOP

Tracy Long is far the best, and the fittest of all the Firm instructors. Her cues are easy to follow, and she keeps you motivated throughout the tough sections of her video performances.

Volumes 2 & 3 are very challenging, however I find that I am exausted after doing them. When I feel very strong these are the volumes I will choose. I think that Volume 3 is one of the best for your legs. Volume 4 is great when you are short on time, or when I don't get up in enough time to make an hour long Firm video. Volumes 5 & 6 are eaiser to do, but I feel you get the same workout as the harder eariler FIRM videos. I really enjoy doing 5 & 6. Volumes 7 & 8 Tortise & Hare videos are very different from the others. At first the ballroom dance stuff was a real turn-off, but after I learned the steps, It was fun. Also a great workout. I look forward to ordering Stong Heart, and Strong Body. (Seems everyone else loves it). I can say that I am a FIRM BELIEVER. No other video can even compare to THE FIRM.

Darla Stanger

I am definitely a Firm Believer! After 10 years of Jane Fonda, Kathy Smith and others, I tried The Firm and I'll never go back. I own volumes 2 - 6 in addition to Tough Aerobic Mix, Not-so-tough Aerobics, The Hare and Variety Strong Body. Vol.2 is a little too high impact for me and is beginning to show it's age, but it still gives a great lower body workout. Vol. 3 is one of my favorites. It is tough! You have to pay close attention to form as it moves very quickly through lunge work so I would not recommend it to a beginner. Vol. 4 is great because it is short (42 minutes) but it gives a great total body workout. Susan Harris and Kai Soremekun lead this video. Susan Harris is always great and Kai is good too, however I would cut out the hokey dance routine at the end of the video and just finish with the stretch routine. Vol. 5 is also good, although I'm not too hot on the "rewind" aerobics section. The ab work and leg work is tough and extensive. LaReine Chabut is not my favorite instructor, but if you're looking for lower body work this is a good tape to try. Vol. 6 was a tape that I avoided thinking it would be too easy since it's for the "Boomers" but it can be really tough if you heavy up on the weights. The squat section which features full squats and hover squats it a real burner. Jayne Poteet is also a good instructor although you have to overlook some of her dramatic cueing at times.

Anne B.

I bought Volume 2 several years ago, did it once with 5lb weights and couldn't move for several days. I really wish I had sent away for the "20 Questions about Fitness" video then, because I probably would have continued using the tape if I had. About four months ago, I came across it again and gave it a try. I was in better shape than when I tried it the first time, but I still went very light on the weights. (mostly 3lbs) I learned my lesson about starting out slowly, and now I'm hooked on The Firm.

I like all The Firm instructors. I appreciate that they don't shout at you or get overly excited about working out. I tend to prefer the master instructors to the celebrities, especially Susan Harris, because I feel she knows what she's talking about. I think, in the earlier tapes, the instructors were probably encouraged to speak and behave in a sexy way, maybe to get men to buy the tapes, but I don't think that is the case now. At least, they no longer describe their instructors as providing "a stunning visual feast".

Nothing else I've tried works like these tapes. I now have Volumes 1,2,3,5,and floor legs. I plan to purchase Strong Body when it becomes available in stores. I'm so glad that Strong Body doesn't use the aerobic step. Unlike most people, I HATE step aerobics, and that's the only reason I don't really care for volume 5. I love the tall box exercises, though. I didn't buy the special Firm "fanny lifter", I think they're ridiculously expensive, so I looked around for something else to use. I found a really sturdy plastic toolbox/stool made by Rubbermaid at Target. It was only 15.00, and it's great because I can store my weights in it when I'm not using it. It's 13" instead of 14", but my legs are quite short. I started doing the tall box leg presses on my 8" aerobic step, though, because I tend to have weak knees. I also started out slowly on the squats and lunges, not going down completely to thigh parallel, and my knees have gotten so much stronger!

I haven't lost a lot of weight yet, but I can tell my body composition is changing because my clothes look better on me, and I look better without my clothes. Another thing I like about The Firm that a lot of people dislike is that the choreography is basic, at least in the volumes I have. I'd much rather concentrate on good form with the weights than worrying about dance steps or whether I'm going to trip over an aerobic step. Because of my biases against step and intricate footwork, there aren't many more in the Firm series that I would consider purchasing, at least until they come out with more tapes. I'd love to try the Tortoise and the Hare, though. The ballroom-type music actually kind of appeals to me. I don't really mind the music in any of the tapes I have --it's kinda generic, but when you have to appeal to a large market, that's how it has to be. Frankly, I get tired of working out to the annoying, top 40 dance mix stuff most aerobic classes use. I'm probably really in the minority here, especially for my age group(I'm 32), but I wouldn't mind working out to classical music. The high impact aerobics in the earlier volumes doesn't bother me. There's not really that much of it, and it's really easy to modify to a march, and if that's not intense enough, I just use a heavier weight. I'm really pleased with what The Firm has done for how I look and feel.

Jean

All Firm videos are fun and motivating because they produce results. I love the body they have enabled me to develop. You get a sleek muscular look. I've been doing them for 6 yrs. Every so often I'll try another video, but none of them can compare to The Firm! The Firm instructors are wonderful. There's no idle chatter or cheerleading. Just subtle encouragement and sound advice.

Robin S. Weiss
4/4/97

I began using The Firm a long time ago - when there was only three videos - Volumes 1, 2 and 3. I received Volume 2 for Christmas one year and then ordered Volume 4 with their offer to help finance the
production before it was made because it was a bargain - because they were $50 tapes then. Since that time, I ordered Volumes 1 and 3 and then absolutely everything else. I have most of The Firm on audio cassettes. I have their Hard Walking audio cassette as well as the pelvic muscle/ ab audio cassette. I own the 10 and 14" boxes and the barbell with the plate weights. I also have all of the The Firm's parts videos - well, let's just say I have everything. (I even have The Firm's fitness journal)

After reading all of the reviews on The Firm Videos I find I don't really agree with everything that's been said on a number of the workouts. I find Volume One to be an excellent workout - Susan Harris to be an excellent instructor (and my favorite Firm instructor) and I don't think it shows its age. I believe the music is well suited for the moves and it continues to challenge me after all this time. Volume Two is probably my least favorite Firm workout partly because I don't have much faith in Janet Jones-Gretzsky's ability. She sometimes instructs in a rather sexual fashion - but the workout is well done - particulary the stretch sequences. Volume Three I think is the toughest Firm workout - and I enjoy Sandahl Bergman's instruction. Volume Four is a great workout in only 42 minutes - with a fabulous ab section. I don't understand why Volume Five doesn't get the praise it deserves. It's a great workout - and the next to the toughest. LaReine Chabut is rather a dub as an instructor but so much that it interferes with the effectiveness of the workout. Volume Six - is ok - not nearly as difficult as any of the others but I'll use it when I don't feel like ripping myself to shreads to keep from feeling guilty. The Tortoise and The Hare Cross Trainers I had to warm up to. At first, that 4" step and the ballroom aerobics infuriated me. I was so angry after the first time because this wasn't as intense as the other workouts, especially The Hare. I felt that people buying Firm videos expect something more challenging especially if they had been working out any length of time. I would expect something more diffiuclt - not these wimpy step routines on a 4" step. And I didn't want to learn "Ballroom" dance steps. So I stopped using a small step and I now do it all on a higher step to make it more difficult. The Tortoise is an excellent strength workout which I find enjoyable. I like Strong Heart and Strong Body but felt the new set disconcerting. Why give up the other classy set? Both workouts are well done but not aerobically challenging.

I find I don't like all of the Cross Trainers as much as the other Total Body Volumes. Lying Legs is a good workout especially if you want to do something but not spend any length of time on it. I feel some of the sections shouldn't be done with five pound weights if you are swinging your leg in any way. I use Five Day abs whenever I do a workout that didn't have an ab section or if I use the treadmill instead of a video. I tend to use Five Day stretch in the same manner. I like to use it with Kari Anderson's Great Moves tapes because they forego the stretch in order to fit more choreography on the tape. Upper Body is a great upper body workout - and Standing Legs is one of my favorites!!! It is super tough and so challenging. I like Tough Aerobic Mix very much - I find this also to be very challenging and is one of my favorite aerobic tapes. Not-So-Tough Aerobic Mix is also good for doing something without totally ripping yourself to peices. There isn't enough good things to say about Tough Tape - this provides an excellent strength workout for both the upper and lower body using sections from the Tortoise and The Hare. Ballroom Aerobics I just stay away from - I've done it once and haven't had the courage to force myself to do it again. I don't enjoy "Ballroom Aerobics" and I don't think it is at challenging. I think the Lie Down and Workout video to be a good lower body workout - especially for the abs. I had to put my two cents in and I am so happy to see so many Firm Believers, for awhile I thought I was the only one.

Denise Zoldos
4/10/97

I enjoy all of the instructors of the Firm. My favorite one is Tracie Long. I don't think she is somber and the sister of the Wicked Witch of the West. Far from it. Excercising is a serious endeavor as well as something to be enjoyed. I find it easier to follow an instructor who is not shouting and screeching but rather coaching and speaking firmly about the proper moves. I also think that the FIRM purposefully does not overindulge on too much cueing because after you get to know the moves and routines you really would get sick and tired of listening to the same thing over and over again. I have been doing the FIRM for so long now that I know exactly when Jaynee Poteet of Susan Harris say,"That was tough!" I do appreciate the correct cueing but am glad it is not overdone and there is not a whole lot of hooplah. I just received the very latest Prime Power workouts from the Firm and already have fallen in love with them. The instructors are no nonsense as well. There is just the right amount of cueing and they follow pretty well with Pam Cauthen and Heidi Tanner's ways.

Polly
4/97

The only volumes of THE FIRM that I don't own are 5 and the Tortoise/Hare combo...but not for long! I'm definitely a "Firm Believer" and have been for years. It confirms what many martial arts instructors have been trying to teach for centuries: for optimum performance (in just about any activity), strength and endurance go hand in hand. My favorite videos by far are Vol. 6 and Strong Body. Their slower pace/heavier weight combination seem more "user-friendly" to my overweight frame. Other asthma suffers may find it hard to use the taller step for the more intense leg work. My advice--which came from my exercise physiologist--is do a short 20 to 30 minute set of step aerobics as a warm-up prior to THE FIRM videos. Yeah, I know. More intense exersice, but surprisingly this made the difference between huffing and puffing along and not keeping up, to getting the appropriate level of workout without being knocked down by wheezing/shortness of breath! Bridge work/pelvic floor exercises are also a wonderful addition. I've taken their advice and added it to all my ab workouts. Which brings to mind two other great FIRM volumes: 5-Day Abs and 5-Day Stretch. They are definitely worth the price of admission! I use these after power walking, rollerblading, Nautilus work, rock climbing--you name it. The greatest moment in my use of THE FIRM videos came when my husband felt my hamstring one morning and said it felt hard and rounded like a bicep. That's progress! This coming from a "tough" Naval officer who can't even make it through Vol. 2!

Jacqui Guidry
4/19/97

I love the Firm #4 for when I don't feel up to a full hour workout. I like both Susan and Kai & I can practically do this one in my sleep. The Firm Strength, with Pam Cauthen, is quickly becoming my favorite. It is a full hour; yet when I'm finished I feel energized, rather than exhausted as I always did with Vol. I. Pam is a great instructor. I use 3,5 & 10 lb. weights with 5 lb. ankle weights & a 24 lb barbell. The transitions are smoother and easier to follow; it didn't take me months to learn the routine. I'm so happy with the Firm I confess that I've tried very few other instructors.

Instructor comments: I like all of the Firm instructors with the possible exception of Janet Jones Gretzky. Pam Cauthen is one of my favorites.

Pamela
8/1/97

Being a male it would make me more comfortable if there were more males in the to cross training sets. I've been doing the firm workouts for almost 9 years volume one is still my favorite but the cross trainers are excellent. They have taken my body to new levels of fitness that the other volumes have not been able to do. I do six workouts a week with the cross trainers and volume one on the seventh in my opinion out of all the exercise gizmos, gadgets and workout products that are on the market nothing can compare to the firm videos. If one has commitment to staying in shape and does want a swimmers or gymnists body the firm is the only way to go. The only down fall is if one has not used earlier volumes and is male he may shy away from the cross trainers this would be a terrible mistake. Lets hope future volumes make men feel more welcome like in volume one

Instructor comments: I own volumes 1-4 plus both sets of cross trainers. Susan Harris and Tracy Long I feel are the best at what they are doing. Pam and Heidi do a better job than Sandahl Bergman and Janet Jones. Susan and Tracy seem to know more about what the firm is trying to accomplish. As well as being serious about the workouts.

Dave S.
7/12/97

The main reason that I use the Firm tapes is that they provide the best fit with my lifestyle, and the fastest, most efficient results. I use mainly Vol 4 and 5, and Upper Body. I have used 1,2 and 3 in the past (3 was my favorite of the long workouts), but find it hard to find the time for them any more.

As someone who doesn't do exercise simply for the thrill of it, I love the results that the Firm tapes give, and so quickly too. The added strength and endurance that I get from them also makes other activities, like bike riding, mowing the lawn, lifting kids etc. much easier.

I must admit that I've never tried any other tapes besides the Firm, and probably never will. I feel like I lucked into the best ones right off the bat. Right now I have 5 day Abs on order for my bike riding days, and look forward to firming up my stomach.

The other big factor where I live(central Ontario, Canada) is the weather. These tapes work all year, even in the dead of winter, when I need those muscles for snow shovelling!

I enjoy reading the reviews of the tapes at VF and find them very motivating. Hopefully, reading a review from a non-exercise junkie can help motivate some other out-of-shape couch potato to get up and develop some muscles. The pay-off is really worth it!

Martha Tettenborn

Let me begin by saying I am a FIRM believer. I've been using exercise videos for several years now, and I've found nothing else on tape that makes as great a difference in body shaping as these videos (although I generally prefer more aerobics in a one-hour session and less floor work). My complaint with these videos is that the advertisement for them is very misleading. In general, they are not suitable for all levels. The first three in the series have fairly large doses of high impact aerobics, and the instructors offer little real instruction on the toning moves. How low should my thighs be on a squat? Should my knees be in line with my ankles or my heels on lunges? How can I prevent from arching my back when I'm doing overhead dumbbell work, especially while doing squats at the same time? And the instructors form isn't always clear to help answer these questions or provide modifications. I think they've really improved this with the Tortoise and the Hare. Long seems to really know her stuff and offers form tips and modifications. She strikes me as being a real pro, more like a Karen Voight type than the FIRM instructors of the first 6 videos, who are either celebrities or just seem to be pretty people that frequent their studios and look really awesome. (PS I'm not commenting on the Variety tapes since I haven't tried them.) For the exerciser who already knows how to do a tri kickback, lunge, squat, etc. NOTHING is as good as the FIRM. The workout leaders offer encouragement, and change the moves to work you out and, quite literally, get your ass in gear. They do give occasional pointers, but not enough to help a novice. Get Donna Richardson's 4 day Rotation, Winning Body by Reebok or another instruction-oriented resistance training tape and learn the moves. Then get the FIRM. They don't lie when they promise results.

Linda

This is an over all commentary of the Firm in general. I was very intersted in reading everyone's reviews. I started using the Firm in 93, just before my wedding to look as good as I possibly could. I started with Vol 2. I really enjoyed it and found it hard at first, then I got used to it. My Mom had purchased it for me for $50.00, and she also got Vol 3, too. At first I didnt like 3. It was very confusing. I admit, for the first 2 years of owning those 2 tapes, I really only used them maybe 1x week ( for my wedding , I used them religiously for 1 month and got great results). Then, 1 1/2 yrs ago, I got real exercise serious and started using them 5x a week. I began building my collection to what I have today: Vol 1,2,3,4,5,6, ALL the Firm Parts, and The Firm strength and cardio. Not only am I addicted to all of them, I have consistanly worked out to them 4-5x week without fail. I get compliments on my toned arms and legs ALL the time. My family can not get over how overall toned I look. I have recommended this to so many people who now are just as addicted as I am to them. Some are good in one area, some are better in another. I truely believe that you need all of them to get an over all toned look, to relieve boredom, and to use which ever one will fit in to your "mood" of that day. I have literally can not do anything else- I'm just not as motivated. I love the firm! And yes, there is an element of cheesyness to the people, but I am usually so maxed out on the particular lunge or squat that I dont even notice anymore. Please don't give up on the firm tapes you find weird ( for whatever reason). Use them all together and you will see the best results of anything out there

Diana Mason
8/27/97

I use to be proud to say that I had all the FIRM tapes. I can't say that any more. I will not buy the new The Firm Basics Series. I was also disappointed in The Firm: Prime Power Series. I only have the fat burning tape. My most favorite FIRM tapes are Vol 2, 4, 5, 6, the Tortoise and The Hare, and Strong Heart and Strong Body. I also use Firm Parts. I really enjoy the Tough Tape. I like the heavy weight workouts.

Instructor comments: I enjoy Susan Harris in Vol 1 and 4. I did not care for her in The Hare. I also enjoy most of the instructors, especially Traci Long. I prefer a FIRM instructor over some "star."

Christina Cacic
12-29-97

I own the entire Firm series, with the possible exception of a few of the "parts" tapes and two of the new cross-trainers. What can you say about an exercise series when you are still doing the same video once a week - NINE YEARS LATER - and still getting results! Can you imagine owning a Denise Austin or Jane Fonda video and STILL doing it, years later? I'm not dissing these ladies - they got me started in fitness (well, maybe not Denise; never could STAND her!), but I've only found the Firm to give consistent results. And, why sweat if you're not going to see any results for your sweat? Every video has something to say for it and rotating them all gives the best results. My all time favorite is still Vol. 1 with Susan Harris; she is and always will be my favorite instructor. Tracy Harris of Tortoise/Hare is an extraordinary instructor - her cuing is marvelous; if I can do ballroom aerobics, anyone can! You may want to intersperse either additional cardio with walking, biking, or strictly aerobic videos to supplement the Firm. Briefly, my comments on each video:

Vol. 1: An awesome total body, drenching workout. Sure, some of the moves are dated; tailor them to your personal preferences.

Vol. 2: Janet Jones Gretzgy can really get on your nerves . . . but, again, another great workout with an excellent upper body section (DON'T go too heavy on the weights on this one; it's FAST).

Vol. 3: Not everyone likes Sandahl or the "interval" aerobics. Personally I like both and feel positively energized after this one.

Vol. 4: A personal favorite. We have perennial favorite Susan Harris and Kai S. leading a brief (40-45 min) total body workout that's perfect for mornings & NEVER gets boring.

Vol. 5: OK, not a favorite, but short & sweet & a nice lower body target; again, good for mornings.

Vol. 6: Another favorite. The use of the barbell targets the shoulders beautifully; the tall box presses & "hover" squats quite literally leave me with looser skirts the VERY next day!

Tortoise/Hare: Tracy Long is a prime instructor; you can basically start to do these videos the minute you get them her cuing is so marvelous. Tortoise is HARD weight work, Hare is fun, but not terribly cardio.

Strength/Cardio: Two great instructors; two great workouts. Pam Cauthen & Heidi Tanner are both marvelous. Cardio isn't exactly cardio, but, again, two great total body workouts. You can't go wrong.

Pamela Bryman
Thirty6@aol.com
2/16/99

I got Volume 2 for Christmas in 1989 and forced myself to do it once a week (with wimpy 3-pound dumbbells!), I thought it was so hard compared to my other workout videos! A year ago, I got fed up with my lack of results and those "last ten pounds" not going away, so I bought Volume 6 and some heavier dumbbells. The rest is history. I now own every Firm workout there is, and I do one every day. I'm sorry it took me ten years to figure out what all the Firm Believers before me knew!

The best part? I lost ten pounds without even trying. Six months later I revised my diet according to the Firm Fuel chapter in Firm For Life, and lost another ten pounds. I can't explain the feeling--I just feel awesome, all the time, and I owe it all to The Firm!

Of course I have some favorite videos! Both Cross-Trainer sets are excellent, as are both Tough Tapes, but I think the first TT is tougher! As far as the Classic Firm's go, I'm picky! Volume 1 has too much floor work, and 5 & 6 are too easy (although some days I need that!). I recommend Volume 4 overall, with 2 a close second. As for the Parts series, all three aerobics mixes are great (I usually follow one with Floor Legs or a day from 5-Day Abs), and Standing Legs is KILLER. I feel like Superwoman after that workout! Tracie Long is my favorite instructor, and Maximum Body Sculpting is her best video yet!

The Firm has literally changed my life, and I'm not getting paid to say that! Not only am I thinner, but I'm stronger, I have more self esteem, I'm happier, I have more energy. These videos deliver everything they promise and more. I'm excited to get out of bed in the mornings to work out. (All this from a workout video!)

Jane
Jane1721@yahoo.com
02/28/99

These are just some general comment on the Firm. For the most part, these videos are okay. (Obviously, I am not a Believer.) I have several and enjoy most of those.

What I like: resistance training; beautiful set and high production qualities (very easy to watch); towel stretches on several videos; using real weights instead of relying on tubing. What needs work: video leads do not instruct; shameless self-promotion (I firmly believe that a variety of instructors and video styles and activities are the best way to maintain and gain fitness); poor form on many leads; bland choreography; excessive repetition of the same moves from video to video; too much emphasis on floor work (personal thang- I know folks who swear by it); short aerobics segments.

I should note that these are high maintenance workouts. Unless you stick with volumes 1 & 2, you will need a tall step for toning and as a prop, a short step for aerobics, a barbell, a ball and a dowel. You should also have at least three sets of dumbbells and a set of ankle weights or two. The Firm is more effective than most videos series available because they've hit upon the one factor that many instructors, particularly the ones early on in the "fitness boom," neglect: resistance works beyond aerobics alone. Any fitness program that combines aerobics and weight training will provide some results.

L'Anne

6/29/99


All Firm videos from 1983-2003

I started working out when i was 14. I rememeber my sister ordering Kathy Smith and then Fat burning from Tony Little. He is actually what started me with weights. But then i discoverd the Firm tapes and have never used anything since! I am 24 now and have a 4 year old daughter and i havnt gone one single month or week without the Firm tapes! Honest!! I own 26 Firm tapes and will soon be buying more...let me tell you about each of them quickly!

Vol 1- love this tape. This is the first one i started with which i feel engergetic i'll do this one. The arobics are short but you feel youve gotten a good workout. This one is probably the best tape with so many aerobics and floor work, all you remember is doing lots of aerobics and your suddenly burning with thigh work!

Vol 2- a good total body but very fast using high reps..this one is more upper body than lower body but you do feel youve gotten a total body after since she also does floor work and ab work. Very good hamstring work too.

Vol 3- although this one confuses a lot of people..this one is used to give you that fast/slow aerobics alternating with weights. This one wont be boring. You get so much variety and it challanges your heart rate from ups and lows to strength training...for me the 3rd aerobic phase is the tough part..this one uses a lot of strenght..this one is definitly good.

Vol4-this one is my favorite when you need a quick workout and you get a good one in such little time. Its not boring at all since you get so much variety..use light weights for this also since she goes fast on the reps.

Vol 5- i do enjoy this one. I love the fast stepping on the aerobic box and although her arm work is fast, its a nice new pace from the Firm.

Vol 6- nice and slow and still a good workout. Jane doestn use dumbells alot in this one -she uses the barbell..but for me,,ive always used dumbells anyways.


Better Body and Buns- I like this one becuase its the only Lower body tape with standing work that includes abs in the beggining. I lvoe it. its a lot like standing Legs but a little less hard and with floor toning.

Tough tape-this is basically Tortiose and Hare without the ballroom aerobics but this one is a tough weight tape that sculpts your whole body...i just wish they had abs in this one.

Standing Legs- this is tough since there are 3 segments that use the tall box...this one is tough and you dont get to sit down..very challanging.

Upper body-this one is a great 20-minute upper body workout! Very challanging if you use heavier weights.

Lower Body Shaping-this one is a nice short all floor toning tape that really gives you a nice leg shape and in such a short time (and you get to lye down!)

Not-so-Tough aerobics-this one has good arm work too and its more slow.

Tough aerobics-i like this one..more cardio with no weights. Its tough

Hare-love the aerobics parst and then you do wonderful differnt floor work! Tracy rules!

Toriose-most like Tough tape but with fun ballroom aerobics.

maximun body shaping-this one is fun with Tracy long- alot of weight work and good for beginners. All around smooth weight moves.

Total body shaping mix-this is fun with a lot of aerobics in between..you wont be bord with this one

Firm CArdio-Heidi tanner is superb with lots of differnt box step moves and great weiht work.

Firm Strengh-this one has no box step and smooth weight work with little cardio. She leads well.

Maximun Cardio-CArissa does fun and new moves that keep you energized since she has so much variety..and so much cardio!

Cardio burn-lots of high intensity but lots of fun. Love those bunny hops!

Cardio split 1-this one is my absolute fav! so much cardio evenly out with toning weight work. Ill do this one at least once a week. Short ab work thats so effective!

Core cardio 1-this one is high but lots of fun!!

all in all i alternate all of these!

Instructor comments: I love ALL instructors!!

Raelene
beautiful_brunette22@yahoo.com
10-25-2003



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