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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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"
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
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
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"
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
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
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
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
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!
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,
These tapes will make you sweat and make your muscles
burn like nothing else out there, but it feels great.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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
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!
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.
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
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."
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.
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!)
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.
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!
I love ALL instructors!!