Video Fitness

Maximum Body Shaping (aka Maximum Body Sculpting, aka All-Weights)

This is probably my favorite of the new Tri-Trainers. I really like the sequencing of exercises, and they've added in a few new variations of some of the exercises. The time flies by when I'm doing this workout. After the warmup/stretch (I really like the music during this, btw), she goes right into a squats/pushups combo. She does the pushups on her knees, but tells advanced exercisers to do them on the toes. (C'mon Tracie...you should be doing them on YOUR toes!) I think the pushups are pretty challenging. There are 1/2 time pushups, and 3-count holds at the bottom. (I hate those!) Then more squats, this time w/ bicep curls, then she finishes w/ a final set of pushups. She does lat rows on one side, then immediately goes into bicep curls w/ the lat weight. You use your other hand to "cheat" the weight up. (I think I cheat more than I'm supposed to, but that 20lb weight is heavy! No way I'm using my 25lb weight for this lat segment!) During the leg press, she pulses at every 4th rep, and reverses the motion, so I think there's a total of 24 reps (on each side). It's a little confusing because she counts down 3, but then does one more that she pulses on. Next she does a bicep/upright row combination, ending w/ alternating biceps, where she tells you to stay in the "work zone," not going all the way up or all the way down. Next is dips w/ kicks using a dowel and an "optional" weight. I use a weight. Before she changes legs to do the other side, she does squats w/ militaries. This is a pretty tough sequence, and she repeats it after the second set of dips/kicks. There are plies/upright rows, and then more militaries w/ toe tapes (similar to Vol 4). Left-leg leg presses are next followed by french presses/kickbacks and lat rows/biceps on the left side. After this, there's a short segment w/ marches, plyo jumps, and karate kicks. This is followed w/ more deltoid work, working the lateral and frontal (anterior?) deltoids. Next is the tall box climb, followed by posterior deltoid work. She does this differently than I've seen it done before. You're in table position w/ your chest (I suppose it's really your back that's being supported) supported by the box, and you do posterior flyes in that position. Then it's on to a dip/lunge combo and tall box oblique work w/ torso rotation. For table work, you're again supported by the tall box, but she doesn't use ankle weights during this section. I do, because otherwise I just don't feel like I'm working hard enough. Same for bridge work. She doesn't use weights, but I feel like I have to. Abs are next, followed by pec flyes and a ribcage pullover/tricep press combo. I have a hard time w/ the tricep press (Summer calls it the "skull-crusher" which is appropriate). After you pull the weight back up so that you're holding it up straight over your chest, you're supposed to lower your forearms to work your triceps. I just don't seem to be able to lower it that much (maybe I have short arms!) before the weight meets my forehead. To finish the workout, there's pelvic floor work and finally the stretch. I think this is a great workout...I just wish it were an hour, although I'll probably appreciate the shorter length when school starts up again and I don't have all the time in the world to work out.

Instructor comments: Tracie is great in this video. She really seems to be enjoying herself, and she gives wonderful form pointers throughout the workout. She also shows what you're NOT supposed to do during certain exercises, which is very helpful.

Melissa F
6/5/98

The BEST workout made by the Firm since Firm Crosstrainer STrongbody/Strength!!! I LOVE this workout. From the music to the sequencing of the workout. It is awesome and time just flies by. I use ankle weights for the table work and bridge work like Melissa F. I found I have to go very heavy on the weights for bridge work and chest work because Tracie doesn't do very many reps. I recognized some routines from Firm 1( plie with upright rows) and Firm 4( overhead with toe touch). Melissa F did a good job breaking the whole video down. It is just 45 minutes but it is a blast and I LOVE it! The Tall box music is really upbeat, fun and I look forward to this section everytime I do this workout. I was surprised that Collage put this workout in the toning section because my heartrate was in it's target zone throughout. I felt it should be in the aerobic with toning. This is a total body workout! I use heavy weights. Tracie also does tall box climb and plyo hops and kickboxing to keep you in your heart rate zone in between heavy weightlifting. The music just changes all the time and I loved every tune. One of the tall box climb music sounds like the Police music. The end stretch with kegals is to a Nutcracker tune. I highly recommend this workout to any Firm lover or anyone trying to decide what fun workout to get. I just have so much fun doing this workout that I can't help asking myself, " Is this exercise???!!" A winner of a workout!!

Instructor comments: Tracie Long is at her best in this video. The more video's she is in, the better she gets. Her form is excellent and her cueing couldn't be better. She could have used heavier weights and done the pushups on her toes in my opinion but oh well. I feel strange that I use heavier weights then she does and I'm not even an instructor. She brings her own style to this video using funny terms like "marry" when combining two exercises. It is just a pleasure to workout with her. She makes working out so much FUN!!!

Mandy Lee
5/6/98

I love Tracie Long in all her Firm tapes, so I wasn't disappointed with All Weights. Although the body of the workout is only 27 minutes, I really loved the fast pace and used the heaviest weight I could tackle, since there were low reps. It is definitely not as difficult as Tough Tape I, but it still has found a home in my workout schedule.

Instructor comments: Meticulous in her cueing. Shows how not to do a move. Very clear articulate voice.

maryann parker
6/16/98

With the exception of the brief bit of floor work at the end (I hate floor work!), I liked the combination and sequencing of exercises in this workout very much, and I suspect it will be a frequent total body video choice when time is short. Though I prefer Tough Tape, this one is more complete in that it contains ab work and there is a better balance between upper and lower body.

Even so, this video didn't grab me. Though I plan to do it regularly to add variety to my strength routines, it will seem like the exercise equivalent of "eating my vegetables."

Instructor comments: Tracie is my favorite FIRM instructor, and she looks fabulous in this video, but it seemed to me as if she was merely reading from a teleprompter on this one. In Tortoise/Tough Tape, for example, she's equally no nonsense, but she somehow takes control of that workout and makes it hers. I didn't feel that way with this one.

Wendy Niemi Kremer
7/10/98

This workout is another winner from the FIRM. I know a lot of people want the full hour of workout, but the 45 minute deal works perfectly for me. Maximum Body Sculpting has the typical array of FIRM exercises: squats, lunges, dips, leg presses, lat rows, militaries, etc. They also add the new Tall Box Climb. The first few times I did this tape I used my 14" box, now I'm using a 12" step, and feel much more comfortable. In the Tri-Trainer series, the FIRM combines a lot of lower and upper body exercises... like a squat followed by a miltary press. This makes the exercises very efficient.

Instructor comments: As always, Tracie does a terrific job leading the workout. She always provides good pointers and adequate cueing. I appreciate her business-like manner.

Christine Letsky
7-13-98

This is one of those workouts that you can make as hard or easy as you want (which means you need a lot of self-motivation!). As it's presented, it's an intermediate-level total-body workout. Tracie uses moderate weights with few reps. You can make it harder by using the heaviest weights you can handle, or you can make it easier by using light or no weights.

Although I like the workout and think I (usually) have enough motivation to make it hard for myself, I would much rather see Tracie doing it as advanced. I tend to want to do whatever the instructor is doing, so if she/he is "taking it easy," I want to do the same. For example, Tracie does the pushups on her knees. There are really very few reps, so I know I should do them on my toes to challenge myself. But sometimes I think, "Well, if she's doing them on her knees, why don't I?" This is my only complaint about the workout -- I really believe it would be more motivating, even for beginners, to have Tracie sweating and grunting with heavy weights and/or advanced positions for the exercises. Even if it were too hard now, it would at least give you something to work up to.

That criticism aside, I do like the workout very much. It hits all the major muscle groups in only 45 minutes, even the abs.

Tracie seems more relaxed and fun here than she did in Tortoise and Hare. And boy, does she look good! Love that leg definition!

Grade A-.

Instructor comments: Wow - Tracie looks great!

Annie S.
7-26-98

I finally broke down and borrowed this video from a friend, and after doing so decided it is a must have (well like the other 30+ videos). I have a few complaints, I wish it were longer, but for a 45 minute video it can be made very intense. I think that's why I love the classics, halfway through I maybe yelling at the TV but at least I get an excellent workout. I do love the section where you go from a lat row to a bicep curl, usually I wimp out and don't use heavy weights for my biceps but since there is really no break I can for this one. And I LOVE tall box climbs. I first started doing these in February from a magazine article and feel they really work the glutes. The push up section is a toughy, especially the three counts; but it doesn't bother me too much that Tracie isn't on her toes but that's only because I am too busy trying to do *some* on my toes. The biggest complaint I have about the later videos is where have ankle weights gone? They don't use them in BBB or here, and for me I don't feel I am working as hard without them; luckily I can pause to add them. One thing I like about the Firm is I can go down or up in weight, making videos tougher or easier everytime.

Instructor comments: Tracie is more personable in this video IMHO. As always she has excellent cueing and form.

Stephanie Bridges
08/06/98

I'll admit it. I've never, ever had a very long attention span when it comes to strength training. To top it off, this is the busiest fall season I've had since the one six years ago planning my October wedding. If I can find a routine that'll get the job done in 45 minutes as opposed to an hour, guess what I'm going to do:) That's why I'm so glad the FIRM came out with some shorter tapes to complement the longer volumes from the Classic series and the Cross-Trainers. (And I do hope that the Bensons will come out with some longer tapes in the next series to please my Amazonian friends here at VF!)

This tape is even more fun than FIRM 4. Everyone else has done such a great job describing it that I'll just add my personal opinions. The cast sometimes seems to be reacting to cue cards--they're serious just like I am when doing the weight work. Then all of a sudden during the little aerobic breaks, it's like someone held up a sign that said, "insert ecstatic smiles here." And I'm thinking to myself, "come on, gang. This isn't the Donna Richardson/Jennifer Mills Party Hour." Tracie is such a joy to watch and emulate. Her title of Master Instructor is well-merited:) She does crack me up with her deadpan delivery of that "here comes the happy couple" line when it's time to combine the dowel lunge with the dowel dip. Speaking of which--I love those moves--though I use my handy-dandy whisk broom instead--and find that I can lunge deeper and really hit that hard-to-get-at spot at the top of my leg. The tall box presses leave me begging for mercy, even though I'm only 5'1" and do them with my Reebok step at 10 inches. The aerobics are very different from those in previous volumes--not as dance-inspired. Instead, the FIRM's jumped on the martial arts bandwagon, and you punch and kick your way to fitness here:) They're kind of fun, but then again, when I think of yucking it up, I don't think of the FIRM's aerobics. They're more function than fun. And that's truly OK in a strength workout.

Like other VFers, I've found that my heart rate stays up there, particularly if I go as heavy on the weights as possible without losing proper form. The working pace here seems a bit slower than in the classic FIRMS, so I think it'll be relatively safe to increase weight sizes significantly and still use this tape.

And one last thing. . .given that I still want to do the Temptation Walk from Donna-Mite every time I hear one of the soundtrack songs on the radio. . .I'm selling my ticket to the Nutcracker this fall. They'd throw me out of the theater for sure :)

Grade: A+ and 10 extra points

Instructor comments: Warm, friendly, strong, and--yes--beautiful. Need I say more???

Melissa Cooper
9-18-98

"Our toughest bodybuilding sets ever," the box says. They must be joking. Strong Body and Tortoise are both definitely harder, and I'm sure they're not the only ones.

This video has a nice bright feel, and the music is a little less cheesy than some other Firms. It's nice to have something different for a change of pace. For a while I was doing this video a lot simply because it's only 45 minutes and I'm been crunched for time lately. But then I tried doing Strong Heart or Toroise and just FF during some sections, and I think I got a better workout. This is probably a Firm tape I will do once in a while, but it will never be one of my favorites.

Instructor comments: I go back and forth with how much I like Tracie Long. She is very professional, but sometimes that makes her seem robotic and annoying. The form pointers are very good, especially compared to other Firm tapes.

Jen Blaske
10-31-98

I really love this video. I'm somewhere in the upper-intermediate range strength training wise and this video works perfectly for me. The reps are somewhat low but that allows me to go heavy on the weights--and feel very strong! Although the video is *only* 45 minutes long, there's no ballroom aerobics or low-impact, so it's probably the equivalent of some of the FIRM one-hour tapes, just without the cardio breaks. One thing that I don't think has been mentioned so far is that you do not need a short box for this tape, just a tall box.

I do have to make modifications for the videos few shortcomings, however. There is a combination exercise of lat row/assisted bicep curl. If I use a very heavy weight to actually do some good for the lats, I have to pyramid down real quick for the bicep curl. Even though it's assisted, I can feel my joints screaming if the weight is too heavy. Posterior delt flies and table-like work both require leaning over the tall box, which puts you in a bad position if you're tall and is also very uncomfortable. For the delt flies, I just sit on the box and rest my chest on my thighs, like in Cory Everson's Get Hard video. The table work and, immediately following, hip raises, are painful the way they're shown in the video. My ankles get very mad if I put them on the box like that! At this point in the video, I usually get out my flexaball and do prone knee tucks to substitute for the table work (this also works the low back, which this video neglects) and then do the hip raises with my ankles on the ball (much more comfy!). The last two exercises--pec flies and rib-cage pullovers with triceps--just don't work very well on the floor so I would recommend getting out a step bench and inclining it. Or you can do these on a stability ball like in Xtreme Strength Circuit on the Ball and vary the angle accordingly. There is no calf work, not oven the obligatory calf pumps, so I usually pause the tape for a while and add calf raises.

All-Weights only includes one set of leg presses on each leg. I never felt these in my glutes until I finally went to the FIRM websites and discovered that the glute/hamstring work is mostly at the beginning of the move. This is never pointed out in the FIRM videos. The new tall box climb is pretty neat, done in very short intervals. On the second one, however, I have to be careful with V-ing the arms or I tend to smack the ceiling.

These criticisms aside, this is a very motivating video. Tracie Long is great, the set is beautiful, and the music is very motivating. With the later FIRM videos, I feel more like I'm working out to a movie soundtrack than in an aerobics studio.

Instructor comments: I keep pulling out my Tracie Long videos. If I go too long without doing a video by her, I start missing her. Even when I'm not very motivated, I know she'll get me through. She's confident but warm--the kind of person that you'd want to have around if the FIRM studio caught on fire. Her cueing is very good, but in this video, as in her others, she occasionally says left when she means right. But since it's which leg to starting lunging on rather than which leg to jump and pivot on over the step, it's not really a problem.

Gretchen Vaughn
vaughngr@aol.com
2/4/99

This video has been outlined quite thorougly by other reviewers, so I will just add my opinions of this tape. I really enjoy doing this workout--the time sure flies by! This is definitely a tape that you can use the heaviest weights possible for you, since the sets are rather short, and there aren't too many of them. As has been suggested, I do agree that this workout approaches the intensity of the crosstrainers (if you challenge yourself with heavy weights), even though it is 45 minutes long as opposed to an hour. It just has less cardio than previous series (I've found this with the tri-trainer Better Body and Buns as well).

My favorite exercises on this tape are the lunge/dip combo (killer!), the leg presses with taps up on the step and pulses at the bottom), the lat row/bicep curl with cheat, and the ribcage pullover/tricep press combo. The music is great--I like the music in the tri-trainers best out of all the Firms I have (I have about 25 Firms). The tall box climb and the kickboxing moves are so fun! I also like the plyo jumps a lot.

I also really enjoyed the infamous stretch/pelvic floor contractions to the Nutcracker! As Melissa Cooper has said, I don't ever think I'll think the same way about the Nutcracker again!

What I didn't like as much was the table and bridge work--the sets were too short, and I don't feel challenged unless I use weights. I did add 5 lb. ankle weights for table and a 15 lb. set for bridge.

This is a tape that you can definitely use on its own when you are pressed for time and get a good workout. My heartrate stayed in my training zone for about 30 minutes. It's also a good length if you want to add a short cardio tape as well. I often combo it with the TriTrainer Fat Blaster (All Cardio) or one of the Parts cardio tapes. This tape works for me!

Instructor comments: Tracie Long is an excellent, no-nonsense instructor. She probably gives more form pointers than all of the other Firm instructors put together. She makes weight training accessible to all levels. Often she will demonstrate improper form so as to show you what *not* to do. Tracie is usually quite serious in her videos. She did manage to smile once or twice in this one.

Kristin Aziz
KAziz@prodigy.net
2/5/99

This is probably my favorite of all the FIRM videos. Others have broken down the contents well, but I do want to mention that this can be a VERY challenging video if done with heavy weight because there are no breaks.

It is apparently popular to refer to the Tri-Trainers as "beginner" videos over on the VF Forum. I think this is an unwise habit, because a true beginner should approach this video at their peril. While valuable form pointers are offered, the pacing of the exercises is too intense for a beginner. The leg press, tall box climb, and dip/kick combo are all extremely challenging if done with heavy weight. I feel that Collage Video's classification of this as Intermediate to Advanced is right on target.

I enjoy this video because it really hits the upper body, but still gives a good lower body workout. I use heavier weight on this tape, than on any other video because the short sets and the pace of the repetitions allow me to do so. From start to finish the music is great and really gets me pumped up. The sequencing of the exercises switches constantly between upper and lower body exercses which I find quite challenging.

If the tape has a weakness it is in the brief floorwork at the end. The bridge and table work really does need to be longer and could use weight to make it more challenging. The ab work, however, is very good. Brief but challenging and performed at a slow enough pace to really use good form (most FIRM ab work goes too quick a pace for my taste).

Most of all this tape is FUN! Good music, interesting moves and challenging weight work! Plus it has the glorious Tracie Long who has never looked better. I highly recommend it!

This tape would be a great introduction to the FIRM for an experienced exerciser.

Instructor comments: Tracie is fabulous and very inspiring. Her cueing is good and her form pointers are excellent.

Micki Voelkel
mvoelkel@msn.com
02/05/99

Short and sweet, this video almost has a Firm Basics feel. Too easy. Not long enough. Table work makes my hamstrings and glutes laugh.

Instructor comments: As usual, Tracie is very human and gives good pointers. There isn't a video she's made that I haven't liked her in.

Lena Yester
shoqura@mindspring.com
3/10/99

I have done strength videos including Firms, Cathe’s, and others. The Firms are the videos I started with years ago and did exclusively for strength for several years. I do them infrequently now, because I prefer strength tapes without compound movements. I have rather mixed feelings about the Firms. I like some things about them and dislike other things. As another reviewer did, I will break down the like/dislike for this video.

Like : Recently, I acquired this video for a lighter weight day without cardio. For me, this tape served its purpose, a good short, strength/endurance workout. The instruction was good . Form tips were demonstrated throughout.

Dislike: Similar to other Firms, an exercise such as one arm lat rows, bicep curls and leg presses would be done for one arm or leg, and then the other side would be done after several other exercises. I also found it puzzling as to why they put in a short segment with marches, plyo jumps and karate kicks. It was hardly cardio. During that section, I do another weight bearing exercise.

Instructor comments: Tracie is a very good instructor. She demonstrates what not to do as well as the correct way to perform exercises.

Hattie

5/05/02

Excellent, excellent & excellent! I love this workout, and I do it often. The only change I would have liked is in the aerobic sections - they should be a tad longer and more intense. When she does the box aerobics (for instance) I incorporate 6# weights for more intense arm work, and when she does the floor aerobics, I use much higher impact. Other than these couple items, it's an excellent workout.

Instructor comments: Great instructor!

Rox

2/10/03

This tape give me energy that no other tape has yet matched. I like the sequence of the exercises and I find it really easy to challenge myself while doing it.

The workout, itself, is a great strength workout. It covers everything and Tracie Long is a joy to work out with, as per usual. The light aerobic segments do not use the fanny lifter (the strength portions use it, though). There are plyometrics and other basic moves. The segments are short, because the focus of the workout is mainly on the strength training.

The set is the old mansion set and has the large cast. I love the old Firms. I think they have a certain something that the newer ones are missing. Tracie is dressed in relatively contemporary workout clothes, so she doesn't come across as being dressed very datedly (like alot of the older Firms are guilty of).

This one is not only my favorite Firm, but, I would have to say it ranks amongst my all time favorite videos!

Cori (ziggy2306)

February 16, 2004

I am an intermediate exerciser who is taking a break from intensity. I prefer the Goodtimes-era Firms to the older ones. I tried out MBS because I was looking for something similar to Firm Super Body Sculpt, but that alternated between upper and lower body sculpting in order to elevate the heart rate a little. MBS does that but boy is it weird.

It's on the Firm "Mansion" set, which I can't stand--too busy, too many people, just way too much junk in the background.

It also has really really strange music, and it's not at all the kind of bland music that you can just ignore. It's really loud. I normally don't care about background music, but I kept cringing and wishing I could turn it off.

I also didn't think the workout felt particularly effective. I feel more worked out after doing Super Body Sculpt, even though it's shorter.

Instructor comments: I don't see why so many people are so enthusiastic about her. In this video she strikes me as no different from the other Firm instructors.

Diana

January 26, 2005

I've owned this in VHS form and now, in DVD form (gave away the VHS) for years, but I never did it, so I was surprised at how much i liked it.

It's a total body workout with some short and fun cardio intervals.

The music is instrumental, and at times was very enjoyable.

I could have made this harder by heavying up more (10s instead of 8s, 12s instead of 10s), but as it was my first time doing it, I didn't want to lose energy.

On the days I want to do a total body workout, this will make a fun addition to the workouts that fit that bill.

The one thing I didn't like was the lunge/dip combo. I don't like lunges where I have to step frontward repeatedly. I prefer static or dips, so for this section I did all dips.

Instructor comments: Tracie is very good in this one. She has more energy and personality than she did in Tough Tape, and her form is impeccable.

LK

This is a tough little workout. For all the reviewers who found this workout too lame because all you do is Cathe, give us folks who are either new to fitness, getting back into fitness, or recovering from a fitness setback a chance! I'm a returning exerciser who recovered from a sprained ankle and later a miscarriage, and had to start over with the "beginners" weight set of 3, 5 and 8 pound dumbbells. Humbling, but true.

This workout made me sweat, and I wondered if the lower body work was ever going to be over. I actually took water breaks, something I didn't have to do with FIRM Cardio or FIRM Strength. My heartrate stayed up after the first set of tall box climbs, and I was pleasantly worked out after, but not complete wiped out like with FIRM Vol. 3 (Sandahl Bergman).

I modified the tall box step ups on the second go round by using the 8" portion of the Fanny Lifter, and found I could concentrate on squeezing my glutes; I also smacked the ceiling on the tall box step ups with the V. ;)

The music is pretty decent, and the Enigma-like tracks pull me back into the 90s and my mid 20s, not a bad thing. I like that there was a good mix of upper body work, including seated delt flies, anterior and posterior delt flies (shown on the box, but I modified by leaning over my legs while seated). Unlike the earlier FIRMs which seemed to focus on nothing but lats and delts, this one is much better, hitting triceps, biceps, shoulders and everything else.

A+.

Instructor comments: Tracie's form pointers and cuing are dead on in this workout.

theurbanhippie

6/30/08

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