This is the tape that made me dislike the FIRM for a
long time. It's 10 years old, and it shows its age.
Although some people love it, it just is NOT my style of
workout. I checked it out from the library (twice, to get
a fair assessment), and found the music and aerobics a
little silly and high impact--they just didn't seem to
fit stylisically with the strength work. I think the more recent FIRM tapes
are much better than this one, though I give this one
credit for its longevity in this industry.
Wendy Niemi Kremer
I really love the Firm. I feel I must respond to the
negative comments geared toward Susan Harris. Granted, I
know her voice can be irritating. Nevertheless, I have to
say that Vol 1 is one of my favorite workouts. Even after
several months of doing these videos, Vol 1 leaves me
feeling pleasantly sore everytime. In my opinion it is a
very tough, very effective workout both for its aerobic
aspects and its weight training aspects. 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
Volume One really hooked me on the FIRM series. Susan
Harris may have a distracting tone to her voice, but she
gives easy-to-follow instructions, and uses near-perfect
Volume One is extremely easy to follow. Even my
completely uncoordinated boyfriend can follow along
easily! This does make the routine a little boring after
you've learned it.
The workout provides visible results, and it's easier
to make it more challenging by adding heavier dumbells.
It's a great place for people who've never used weights
I can't say this is my favorite FIRM video, but it's a
good workout, especially for your lower body. The first
section is standing work consisting of some short high-
impact aerobic routines and upper body dumbbell work. The
upper-body work is faster-paced than most of the other
FIRM videos, so you'll probably want lighter weights for
This video's strength, for me anyway, is the
lower-body work. I really don't feel like my upper body
has made much progress when I'm done with this one, but
my buns and thighs sure feel it. I use 10-pound ankle
weights for the floor work, and I have to keep stopping.
One of these days I'm going to make it all the way
through without even grimacing!
This is not a video I would put on my Top Ten List,
but it's a good one to do on days when you don't have the
energy for anything aerobically strenuous, but you want
to feel like you've done something good for your body.
Firm one is the only tape in my collection that is
"old" (about ten years old). Not only that, but
I know that it will be in my collection for another 10
years. Furthermore I believe it is the only effective
tape that was produced in that time. I remember doing
Jane Fonda every day untill my knees and back gave out on
me (I was only 14 at back then). I remember hating every
minute of the Fonda tape because it was so hard on my
body and I didn't notice any difference. Some people say
that the music in Firm one is a little dated and the
instructor and cast looks to perfect. I really don't care
what the cast looks like. All I know is that after using
the firm volume one for a couple of months, I began to
look like one of the members of the cast (something that
would have been impossible using old Jane Fonda videos)
The 5 minute high impact areobic section in firm one is
basic with not funny or tricky footsteps. The weight work
(especially the lunge work) in this video is excellent as
well. I like to think of this tape as a classic workout
I really like Susan Harris. I liked her in Volume one,
four and the tortise and the hare. I was upset that she
wasn't in the newer workout tapes. Her cueing is great
and she sounds a lot more intelligent than a lot of other
The Firm Volume 1:
This was the last Firm video I purchased, for only $12
I couldn't resist. When I started exercising 14 years ago
with Jane Fonda tapes, and TV shows, this tape came out
in 1986 for a whopping $50.00. I would not spend that
kind of money on a tape, but heard so much about its
difficulty and new way of working out. Since I began
buying all the other Firm tapes 2 years ago, this was the
last one. I have to say that I really like this tape. I
do agree that some of the moves are too fast, especially
with weights. But for years I did this type of exercise
with no ill effects. I think Susan Harris is a master
instructor. She uses 10 lbs. for those leg lifts that
never end, and for those fast arm movements. She has a
great deal of strength for a small-boned thin woman. I
give her a lot of credit and admiration. I love the high
impact aerobics and, in my opinion, the music is really
good and motivating. The leg floorwork is a killer
workout even after doing all those leg presses for 2
years. I was really surprised that I was not sore the
next day after doing all the floorwork (maybe those leg
presses really help). I am happy I got this tape and
don't find it old-fashioned at all (in fact, Susan hasn't
changed a bit in ten years).
I bought this tape years ago for $49.95. It introduced
me to the FIRM and made me a FIRM believer. I had lost it
over the years, and never replaced it. Instead, I bought
newer FIRM tapes. I remember not caring for the
tape--except for Susan Harris who remains one of my
favorite instructors of all time. I bought this tape at
Wal-Mart for $16.97 one week ago and have done it two
times now. WOW! The leg segment left me intensely
humbled! I use a 40-pound barbell for the step-up box
segments on most other FIRM tapes. So I was really
disappointed when I could not make it through the leg
floor work with 5-pound ankle weights and a 8 pound
weight! I now realize I still have far to go. I like the
music on this tape. One selection is really goofy (a tuba
plays one of the stupidest songs I have ever heard and
this music makes everyone look as though they are
extremely flatulent), but I love the rest of the music.
The thing I like best about this tape is that it still
contains basic body buiding moves that will never go out
of style. If you are new to weighted workouts, this tape
is a must have! If you have abandoned this tape for newer
FIRM tapes, go back and revist it--it is a killer!
Overall Grade for this Tape: A
Grade for Susan Harris' form, instruction and strength:
Amy R. Steppe
This was my first (hesitant) Firm purchase made last
year and I was pleasantly surprised. Even with the
negative aspects and if you know how to correct your
form, it is by far the best strength/toning type tape I
have done so far. I am ALWAYS sore, but a good sore.
Definite results - and that's what we're all after
Instructor comments: I agree with one reviewer who
said Susan Harris voice is a little annoying and she
could stand for some voice lessons. She also is off on
some of her form, which, for the novice user could be
damaging. However, she is a heckuva strong lady!! It will
take me months if not years to get to her level. She is
very inspiring in her strength and body.
Susan Harris is ok, I think there are some
inconsistencies in her instructing techniques in this
video.. All that aside I have had really wonderful
results from doing the hip, thigh, inner thigh and ab
workout on this time.
I know its old but it's still a WINNER!!
Why can't I just accept the fact that I don't like the
early Firm videos? I've already given away Volumes 2 and
3, but recently bought Vol1 because I needed a change and
knew a lot of people liked it. I have to say my favorite
thing about the video is Susan Harris. For some reason I
really like her; she comes across as very classy. I'm
surprised that so many people dislike her voice. I guess
that's because I live in the south and hear accents
*much* more grating than hers. I can understand why
someone else would like this tape, but it's just not my
style. A lot of the moves with weights are kind of fast,
which to me are uncomfortable at best, unsafe at worst.
And everyone already knows how much I dislike all those
side leg-lifts! I think I'm going to keep this tape
rewinded to the ab section and use that part on my cardio
days. That way I won't feel too bad about wasting my
I rented this tape out of curiosity and did it twice.
If you own the later FIRM tapes, it is interesting as a
piece of history that shows how the FIRM "got
started" and how far they've come since then.
I found this to be an easy-to- follow 60-minute workout.
Unfortunately, I think Vol. 1 shows its age, especially
in the two "aerobic" sequences, where you jog
with hand weights. I question the safety of these and
many other moves in the workout. (Another example: the
cast lifts their weights not by squatting, but by bending
over and rolling up with weights in hand!) The warm-up,
which seems like nothing more than a serious of pulses
and stretches, is not vigorous enough to get the muscles
warm for the workout that follows, and the cool-down
stretch at the end is too quick--each stretch isn't held
long enough. What finally redeems this workout is the
killer floor work--the leg presses, which I did with a 5
pound dumbbell to force the reps and with no ankle
weights, seemed much much tougher than the floorwork in
Vol. 5 with 5 pound ankle weights. I think this lower
body workout is valuable, but I wouldn't buy this tape
just for that.
Susan provides more instruction than later Classic
volumes (2 and 5 come to mind), but she could give more
pointers on proper form. She seems a little more animated
than she is in Vol. 4. Clearly, she is playing to the
camera here, but it really didn't bother me much.
I feel that vol 1 is the classic of all the firm
videos It really hits the problem areas. When I don't
have the energy to do the other firm videos I use this
one for a complete workout. Susan Harris is a great
I rented this tape from Blockbuster the other day, watched it once, and did it once. Its a piece of 1980s history. I could show it to a Cultural Studies class and ask for a feminist analysis and have students writing for hours. The sexiness of Susan, her voice, her moves, the exercises, and the exercisers are played up so much it makes me uncomfortable (not because I don't like sexiness, but because I want to work out, not stare at Susan's butt!) When Susan bends at the waist and speads her legs (and she does so to pick up heavy weights!!!!) the camera's focal point is the mirror behind her, which seperates many minutes of this tape from a Hustler shot only by the thickness of the leotard between her legs.
Any other FIRM tape you've seen with slinky moves, breathy voices, or inquiring camera angles is much subdued compared to this original.
So those were the subjective bad points. Here are the objective bad points:
- Everyone in the class, including Susan performs lunges with their knees extending over thier ankles, which hurts my knees just to look watch!
- Susan *drops* her hand weights at one point.
- Many of the moves include bending at the waist and then lifting up rapidly, which I doubt is safe, and unnecessary.
- All weights are lifted off the floor with straight legs.
- Mostly impact aerobics.
- Oddly, after you perform leg work on one side, the message "Aerobic segment ends" appears, and then you go on the do exactly the same on the other leg. Wouldn't it end either before the first leg or after both?
- No time to both check your pulse and take off your shoes.
- Pulse check is repeated at very end of tape. Why would you need to after cool down and stretch?
Good points - If you modify or ignore the above absurdities, you will get this out of the workout:
- If you are a fan of leg lifts and get good results from them, then this tape will really give it to you!
- If you are a fan of plies and get good results from them, ditto. I'm sure anyone who does this tape often (with safety modifications) will end up with thighs and buns of steel.
- Good intro to weight training as body sculpting, rather than body building.
This tape is primarily plies, leg lifts, and impact aerobics. Like I said, totally 80s... (which, in a twisted way, made it rather nostalgic and fun!)
Instructor comments: Susan Harris breathes out all her cues, and sighs and moans just a little too much for my taste. Her cuing is adequate for the simple moves in this tape.
I thought this video was great. This is my first FIRM video, and I love it. It is easy to follow and it's an excellent workout. It makes you feel energized. I have been doing it for about 2 months and I already see a difference in my body. I can't wait to get the other ones.
The only thing I didn't like was the music, but hey all I have do to is put on a CD and I'm fine.
Instructor comments: I thought she was very motivating. She was actually sweating!! She looked like she was working just as hard as everyone else.
I have to write a review of one of my favorite workouts! Even though it is old (Susan wears capezio shoes instead of aerobic shoes and she doesn't wear a bra, I still love it. Time just flies when I am working out to this video. I am sweating like crazy at the end of the standing aerobic weight training section. I like jumping on my mini trampoline on the high impact section. I just jog on the trampoline and do the same arm movements that Susan does. I use heavy weights (10lb-12lb) on the squat sections and lunge sections. Susan doesn't swing the weights but does a bicep curl during the squats. She uses a 2x4 to raise your heels. The only thing I don't like is in the warmup , it doesn't do any calf stretching so I usually add Susan's stretch at the beginning of Tortoise for extra stretching. I love the music in Firm 1 too. Especially the tuba section. My kids love it too. The floor work is the toughest I've ever done. I am very sore the next day. She also does, pushups, pec flies and bridge work. She does a lot of side lifts and shoot outs. Very tough! Then she does inner thigh work. I have so much fun having Susan as an instructor. I like it how Susan doesn't hide the fact that she is getting to failure. She is sweating away and feeling the burn just as much as you. It is just a wonderfully made total body workout. It will always be one of my favorites.
Instructor comments: Susan Harris does well with her instructing since it was her first video. She is one of my favorite instructors. She makes me push myself harder in the workout by seeing her doing pushups on her toes and using 10lb weights on the floor work.
This is the workout that started it all and over ten years later, it still delivers! Although I don't do it as much as I would like, I still find Vol 1 incredible tough and challenging. In my opinion, it belongs in the hall of fame!
Since most of the workout has already been described in detail in other reviews, I will just add a few of my perceptions. First, I am not sure why, but I find myself working very hard throughout the majority of this workout--in fact, I believe my heart rate stays higher than during almost every other Firm tape. The cardio segment consists primarily of running in place, jacks, and kicks. I usually modify this part of the workout--which is the--one area I really feels shows its age by jumping rope during the first running segment. The other modification I make is during the lunge and upper body segments. I simply slow the moves down because if I don't, it is difficult for me to maintain proper form.
The real strength of this workout is the lower body work. If you do not like floorwork, this tape is not for you! This section is completely done on the floor. It is killer and my muscles scream for relief by the time I'm finished (that is even without ankle weights). This section is about 26 minuges long and part of it can be found in the Firm Parts: Floor Legs. It is followed by pec flies, ab work, and a nice stretch.
Many people have commented that this tape has a high "cheese" factor and I admit I usually giggle whenever I hear the "flatulating tuba" but the last two times I've done the workout, I was concentrating and working so hard, I didn't even notice.
I would like to place one caveat on what I've said during this review. If you are new to weight training, this might not be a great choice--the new videos have more form tips and demonstrate better form. For all other video exercises, this tape delivers!!!! Its a keeper!
Instructor comments: Susan is terrific and is much the Firm as the Benson sisters. I wish she would make another video!!
The music is cheesy and there is enough makeup in that room to keep Merle Norman in business for the next twenty years, but it still provides a challenging workout. I can make it as difficult as I want simply by adding more weight. There are some safety concerns with some of the movements. Beginners should beware. Experienced exercisers should, however, be able to use common sense and modify movements where necessary. The thing that keeps me coming back is the simplicity of the footwork. There is nothing worse than wasting your precious time and energy trying to figure out complicated dance manuevers. At best it is frustrating, at worst it is dangerous (especially with weights). This old favorite is what keeps me execising, even when I don't feel like.
Instructor comments: Susan Harris is still my favorie instructor out of the entire series. Aside from LaReine Chabut in volume 5, she is the only one who provides adequate cues. Harris' co-instructor in Volume 4, Kai ??, perfectly demonstrates this point by her inadequate if not misleading cues during her segments.Being from the south, Harris' accent does not bother me but I will concede that she is a bit breathy in her remarks. While I realize that her body is unachievable for about 90 % of the population (including me), I still find her strength inspirational.
I've had this video for a few years but have just now decided to submit a review after reading other's comments. I bought this video after doing the parts-series and I liked the segments taken from Vol 1, plus I wanted to expand my FIRM collection. At first, I was a little taken back by the total 80's-ness of the video: the music, the Capezio shoes Susan wears, and the "older" quality of the tape clearity. But that quickly faded when I realized how effective and challenging this video was! It really was ahead of its time. There was a rerun of a "Dallas" episode on from the mid 80's where they were doing floor aerobics - now THAT was a dated style of working out! This tape is in a totally different league.
I can understand some people's concerns regarding the safety of some of the segments in this video. If you've used enough other workout video's (especially other later FIRM videos), you will know what to modify. This may not be a great tape to get if this is your first ever workout tape to buy, though. I now know to squat with my head up to get my weights, or to not extend my knees over my toes when doing lunges. If you make the proper modifications, this is really a great workout. I have to say, it is not as aerobic as the other Firm Total Body videos (exception is Vol 5, but I always do the rewind for 25 min of aerobics). I think I clocked it at under 20 min (more like 17), even though the "aerobics end" message appears later on. I feel the aerobics have actually ended when you take your shoes off and put on your ankle weights, NOT when the message appears. To supplement, I usually do 20 minutes worth of step or floor aerobics before doing this tape. Nevertheless, this is a great strength workout, again, especially for its time!
The video starts out with a warm-up/stretch combo. You then go into a very heavy set of arm work. It's a little fast, so I usually do a slower pace with a 15lb set, rewind, and do Susan's speed with a 12lb set. You then do some traditional floor aerobics with 1.5lb hand held ankle weights. Then some squats with those weights before moving into heavier weights. There are lunges, more floor aerobics (this time with 5lb dumbells), and more upper body work with heavy weights. By the way, there is no step up box in this video. Now you move down to the floor (again, I personally feel the aerobics ends here, but they feel it ends after the pushups and one set of the floor
work). At this point you will add 2 sets of ankle weights: a set of 2.5lb and a set of 1.5 together, putting the latter on your toes. I use 1 set of 5lb. Susan begins the floor routine with pushups on weights, then moves into the first set of grueling lower body work. The second set of lower body work has you adding a free weight to your working leg. Although I am still impressed with Susan's strength as to the heavy poundage she uses for the floor work, I did realize after a few viewings that, yes, she is using a 10lb weight on her leg, but she also only has on a 1.5lb ankle weight (I believe she wears the additional 2.5lb ankle weight for the leg work that does not require a free weight). So I didn't feel so "weak" using a 5lb ankle weight with only a 6 or 7lb free weight.
At this point, get ready for some TOUGH floor work. Even if you are an experienced Standing Legs or MIS veteran, you will be challenged! Especially if you increase the free weight you use on your working leg. I admit, I always have to break right before the 30 degree leg extensions. And just when that little sector has your leg burning, you begin what I think is the hardest inner thigh work I have ever encountered! Just when I think I can increase my poundage, I am put right back in my place when I find I can not complete the segment without stoopping. Finally, the tape ends with some pec work, bridge work, and ab work. The ab work is really challenging if you use 2.5lb ankle weights.
All in all, this is a good toning tape. I use this tape on just "strength" days, too, by tacking on Upper Body or Cory's Get Hard Arms tape. Or as I mentioned above, to get more cardio, I do an aerobic tape before this one. Susan does have a whispery voice (compare to her later tapes), but I don't at all find it sexual! That's just her way of talking. The cast looks pretty updated considering this was made in 1986. In 1986, there would be no way you could get my spiked hair in camera view with out cutting it off! At least there is no "big hair" or Duran Duran looking outfits. And so what if the cast has on make-up and silly smiles? They were obviously told to! Just remember, you're doing the workout for results, not fashion pointers!
Body Sculpting with weights is definitely a challenging workout for anyone. I learned a lot about form using this tape. I have been using this and other Firm tapes for 2 or 3 years now and have not tired of them. I continue to see good results and increase my stamina. I would recommend these tapes to anyone who is serious about working out.
Instructor comments: I think Susan Harris is excellent. I am surprised to find anyone commenting on her voice because I never noticed anything about it! In fact, most other tapes I have tried have overly perky-voiced instructors and that is far more irritating. Overall, she is such a good instructor that I am too busy trying to learn from her to notice how her voice sounds.
I give Susan an A+
I have volume 1,2,3 and 4 and I must admit, although I like the others, volume 1 is my favorite. Susan inspires me when she doesn't hide it when she's reaching failure. Also, her shape really inspires me to want to be in shape like that. As her voice is concerned, I think that it is feminine and soft and I think more women could learn from her on how to tone down their voices a few octaves when their indoors (myself included). The only thing I wish the firm would remind people is that there is no such thing as "spot reducing". An overweight person needs to watch their diet in order to lose the fat and see the muscle under the fat layer. So diet is even more important. See the "Body Shaping" website's Q and A section. Good luck to all you fellow excercizes. Stay motivated! It's hard work but it's definately worth it!
This is the first FIRM tape that i ever used and is
the one that made me a Firm Believer. i really love
this tape. Even though some people may say that
it is cheesy, or that some of the moves are a little
outdated, i still find it a very challenging tape,
specially the floor toning section. It definitely is a
very good workout to tone your muscles, and it requires very little equipment (dumbbells, optional
ankleweights and an optional 2x4. Susan Harris
is great in this workout, her cueing is great, and she is one of the best FIRM instructors ever!
i highly recommend this tape.
Classic A adj 1] of the first class, of acknowledged excellence; remarkably typical; outstandingly important; made in a simple style not much affected by changes in fashion. B noun 1] A writer, artist, composer, work, or example of the first rank, acknowledged excellence, or value; the body of Greek and Latin literature; the body of literature, art, music, etc. that is considered excellent, significant or standard.
After being a member of VF for five months and riding many of the waves that introduced me to new wonderful workouts, it is a revelation that the spirit to move me to write my first review would turn out to be about The FIRM Classic Workout Series Volume #1, produced in 1986. I have many FIRM tapes lined up against the wall on an asymmetrical and freestanding clef note type of Ikea sculpture, unable to get beyond, I really want to say, it's anti-feminist packaging. I have purchased FIRM tapes, traded for them, won them in Ebay auctions, but I have never tried them. I have researched in earnest and been moved by the language and experience described by other reviewers sufficiently to collect FIRM titles, but when they arrive at my front door and I unwrap them, I am sufficiently turned off and even ashamed by the provocative gloss on the clam shell and DVD covers.
When one is sick and tired of her old ways--and sick and tired of being sick and tired—-as I was of amassing FIRM tapes that I had never even previewed, I think the perfect experience is required to make a sudden shift in one self. That shift can be ever so slight, almost imperceptible, like an adjustment in a yoga position, but it is necessary nonetheless to effect a change! Forgive the divergence; I have not yet even begun to describe the workout in this review. But I am coming to realize that one may be able to provide a clearer picture of what is being reviewed if the reviewer reviews herself, too, or, at least, if she includes herself in the review. Much of one’s attraction to or repulsion from an experience in life results from a psychological state. And although I am talking about a fitness tape only, a subject I am most passionate about, the experience here is like the title of that book by Thich Nhat Hanh: Wherever You Go There You Are. There is no place to hide from oneself in life, certainly not on the VF forum anyway. Well last night on VF I had that perfect experience, with you guessed it: Me, myself and I, and, of course, you! And in that experience I have forever changed my relationship to The FIRM.
I had been lurking on the new "Firmies, FitPrimers, Cathe Check-in (everyone welcome)." Findng myself in the company of category-free women, as I once knew myself to be, I immediately dropped my guard. I wondered, “might I possibly let my hair down when it came to the FIRM tapes so that like so many other instances in my life, I could make room for a rewarding experience that I otherwise might shut myself down from and close myself off to before it even occurs?” The softening I began to experience within myself was validated by posts on another thread, which I had actually started up: "Which Tapes Do You Consider Priceless", and the FIRM Classics once again carried their weight in gold.
Before popping in Volume #1, I first went to the reviews section of VF to read all the Volume I reviews. It was fascinating to encounter the varied experiences and points of view ranging from one that could have been written by me: “I could show it (Vol #1) to a Cultural Studies class and ask for a feminist analysis and have students writing for hours…So those were the subjective bad points. Here are the objective bad points…” The fears I had harbored for months were validated once again as I stared at the spines on my shelf. Another comment that made me grin was: “Even though it is old (Susan wears capezio shoes instead of aerobic shoes and she doesn't wear a bra, I still love it.” LOL. And how could anyone not love VF for what will turn out to be relic statements like these when we look back on video history!
So once again, I thought I knew what to expect. But nothing prepared me for what I was about to experience: This weight workout is a masterpiece! What a delightful and joyous surprise. From the moment I turned on this tape there was no other place I wanted to be than in the present moment. The clean production quality, classy setting and community of people are a visual feast for the eyes, coupled with the auditory pleasures of fabulous instrumental horn music, which I have to admit, delivered an unexpected memory dancing with an old flame in my life. The combination of fabulous attributes of this tape provides a higher quality experience than one finds in recently released DVDs. This tape truly is a classic in that it is timeless. I imagine in 100 years from now, fitness enthusiasts will still be using and talking about this little tape in the same way we invoke Greek and Latin antiquity as the benchmark in art, architecture, and literature. Certainly this is the workout that will achieve that well-proportioned physical ideal initiated by the Greeks.
Susan leads you through a 60-minute fast paced cardio workout using relatively heavy weights. The sets are short and the variety is long. So for people who constantly look at the clock in a workout as I do, Susan moves at such a fast tempo that my mind never had an opportunity to wander or set itself on anything other than the turns she was taking in a weight workout that moved at the clip of cardio. Especially during the jogging-in-place and other cardio impact work with weights, one did have to exert extra caution and summon forth one’s strength and power to avoid injury, but the adrenaline rush from the strength and power I have cultivated through cross-training among all those great tapes I have found through VF, including Lotte Berk, Bosu, Pilates and the Slim Series, I enjoyed the same excitement I imagine a skier achieves on an advanced, risky trail. Never for a split moment was I bored during this tape. My focus was the sharpest during any workout I’ve ever done, and of the caliber to which I aspire in my newly acquired yoga practice. And when we were finished, I think I raised the bar for myself in terms of what it means to sweat during a workout.
As the last review was written October 22, 1999, more than 3 ˝ years ago, it struck me that it is time to connect the dots in history. The next time someone like myself stops by to read the reviews of this tape, she hopefully will not overlook Volume #1 because of the year in which it was produced nor the year in which a review of it was last written. Instead, if the seeker is fit and strong, loves to perspire during strength work but is allergic to initiating cardio on her own, she will realize that right here and right now, she is standing on gold! One need not look any further than The FIRM Volume #1: Body Sculpting Basics for a perfect full body workkout one might have been seeking a lifetime.
Susan Harris is a master instructor, even with her human flaws and imperfections, which amounted to nothing more than arching her back when it should have been straight during a back exercise. And why should she be perfect and the production free of feminist flaw? Mt. Olympic didn’t exactly rock for Athena, Demeter or Persephone. Aren’t the human imperfections and character flaws of the Gods and Goddesses in Greek literature and mythology what render those stories timeless, universal, and meaningful today? Now I’d love to see whom Susan turned out to be 16 years later, and what type of workout she would belt out for us today. I would be fascinated with anything she might be part of.
Melanie J. Wolf
May 17, 2003
Since there aren't a lot of recent reviews for this tape I thought I'd throw mine in. This tape is a classic for a reason. It is a tough workout but so well put together. It's hard to believe this was the FIRM's first effort at video. If you read the FIRM for Life book they talk about some of what went into this production and how they put the workout together. I really appreciate workouts that are this well thought out - right down to the tempo of the music.
I do sometimes think that the standing weight and aerobics sections are too short, and the floorwork too long, but it is ever killer! The cardio is also on the dull side for my tastes, mostly running in place and jumping jacks, but there isn't much of it and it's over soon.
Despite this video's greatness, I can't yet bring myself to really enjoy it. It kills me every time, and I know it works so I'll continue to do it once in awhile. One of the big criticisms is that there are little or no form pointers. If you're new to weight training you might want to try something else first.
There's something special and unique about Susan Harris. I'm looking forward to trying her more recent workouts with FitPrime.
Feb. 5, 2004
This was my very first Firm video, 2
years ago, and though I keep trading it
away and reacquiring it, I don't really
like it that much. I find the moves to be
far too high impact for my poor knees
and I honestly think that Susan Harris
has it out for me!
Unlike alot of people who have
problems with the Firm classics, I don't
even notice the breathy voices or
anything like that...it would have been
nice if Susan had worn a bra the day
this was shot, but that is just a small
If you are an advanced video exerciser,
who knows when and how to modify,
you will really get a killer workout from
this one...if you aren't, it is probably
best to leave this oneon the shelf where
you found it and walk away.
February 28, 2004
I find it hard to believe that people would seriously criticize the age of this tape from the exercise clothes to Susan's voice! Gimme a break! You KNOW the age of the tape before you even buy it so what do you expect? And who in the world has time to pay attention to that stuff when she keeps you moving and sweating like a pig? Anyone who refuses to use this tape for those reasons are not interested in a good workout in my opinion.
I have been actively collecting the Firm tapes for the past 5 weeks and I'm now trying to buildup more with the classics because I don't find the newer Firm tapes (ex. Sculpting system 2) not to have much personality nor is as challenging as the older tapes.
I like volume 1 the best! Yes Susan may not have perfect form on a couple of the moves but I like the fact that she is sweating and moaning along with the rest of us, unlike Janet Jones in vol 2 (even though the workout is also challenging but not the lower body). Despite the fact that she has the unattainable figure, she is REAL and gives you a run for your money. She is a tough cookie but her workout keeps me motivated to keep going as a Firm believer, I use her tape once a week as a part of my major core exercising program.
Susan is very imspirational and I find her to be a very warm and STRONG person who will keep you thinking (a fantasy yes but keeps you going regardless) that if you would keep doing what she is doing then you'll get remotely close to looking like her figure.
May 15, 2004
I know this workout is quite old, but
with all the positive press it gets, I know
there are still people buying it and
trying it out, so I assume there's still a
reason to review it!
I originally bought this video because
people all over said it was the hardest
FIRM video they had ever tried and I was
in the mood at that point to work out as
hard as possible (on the same advice, I
bought Standing Legs). However, I must
say that I don't find this workout to be
as challenging as I expected, and I
rarely find myself reaching for it
(probably because of the "cardio," which
is really just jogging in place, the lack
of tall box work, and the fact that I find
it overall to be quite boring).
First, if you get ahold of either an
original copy or the BMG reissue (I'm
not sure about Goodtimes's most recent
reissue), you have to sit through an
extended intro, with snippets of "20
Questions", plus a false start where we
get to see Susan flexing and preening
for the camera, followed by more hints.
I admit 20 Questions is a good
purchase and I might never have heard
of it if not for the tape, but at this point,
I find it hard enough to force myself
into doing it that 5 or so minutes of
FIRM ads before the workout is enough
to get me to quit. Once the workout
starts, the warm-up is little more than
pelvic tucks and hip flexion; hardly a
The next 20 or so minutes of weight
work is quite good: the combination
plie and arm work is fatiguing, as are
the lunges, and I actually find that
doing lunges with the arm work
improves my form on the lunge and lets
me go deeper for some reason. There
are seemingly endless squats, with
weights, with hand weights, with the
board, with twists, etc. By the time the
standing portion is over and it's time to
hit the floor, I'm glad, but even so I still
don't find it to be as intense as many
The floor work is another story. As has
been said, that floor legs section is
absolutely impossible, and I have NO
idea how the entire cast of seemingly
normal people can do the entire set,
WITH two sets of ankle weights and a
heavy dumbbell on their thigh! I'm lucky
to manage three-fourths of the reps.
The chest and bridge work is also very
challenging, and the abs are very good,
though traditional, and the combination
oblique twists/pulleys are so fast I often
feel like my form suffers.
As is the case with many FIRM
workouts, the end stretch is almost
laughable- though blinking won't make
you miss this one entirely, if you do
you'll definitely have no clue how Susan
got into the next stretch. She stretches
so fast, for so little time, and with so
much wacky motion I still can't follow
her, and I've been doing this tape for a
Overall, this tape tires me out and does
a good job of working most important
muscle groups, but it shows its age and
is generally a boring way of getting the
work done. However, for strictly
historical value, every true FIRM believer
must have this tape. It's hard to believe
this is where it all started, and that this
workout encouraged hopeful exercisers
to pay many many dollars in advance
for the next one, but oh well. . .
Susan Harris is truly inspiring in body
and form, though she tends to round
her back on some of the bent-over
exercises (I noticed this especially on
the tricep kickbacks last time). Her
voice, cues, and the ample crotch shots
to which we are treated have gotten
quite a lot of comment over the years.
Let me say that I like her, the voice
grows on you, and, if you're doing it
right, you're not even watching her for
the crotch shots anyway.
There have been many reviews on this video. I will not give a breakdown as others have already done this. The first half of the workout is aerobic and toning intervals. The toning is fairly aerobic too--lots of squats and lunges done at a quick pace. Your heart rate stays up there. The aerobics are very basic. They are also rebounder freindly. She does them with weights. She even does one set with 5 lb weights--ouch. The upper body toning is done very quickly---a little too quickly for very heavy weights. The most "killer" part of the workout was, as others have mentioned, the floorwork. It was very hard to do all the reps. I also liked the ab work even though Susan's form was not that great. The lunges and squats were done very quickly. The lunge segment was used in Standing legs. I used the Transfirmer on the incline and it made them much more doable. I would recommend this workout to intermediate and advanced exercisers who like the old Firm workouts. For those of you who have a low tolerance for "cheesiness, this is not for you. If you can get past the cheesines, however, there is an excellent workout to be found here.
She is "old school" Firm; need I say more?
I bought this tape in 1988 for $49.95 when it was one of the best exercise tapes around.
I have got into the best shape of my life with this tape, and after all these years, it still works for me!
Susan Harris is superb in the tape. I love the soothing music. There is no loud annoying music, and Susan's sexy soothing voice makes one want to get up in the morning and exercise.
As far as people's comments about her heavy breathy style - yeah she probably is breathy, she IS exercising. Trying talking and exercising at the same time. Can you do it.
Also as some others have mentioned, if you are doing the tape for the sake of getting in shape, you don't have time to analyze the clothing, scenery, music, her crotch.
Another thought, are you gals just jealous, because you don't have her sexy body and sexy southern accent and sultry voice?
I'd like to know what you all with the negative comments look like and sound like! Probably not so hot.
You know you purchased a tape from the 80's as one person commented, so you know the style is not going to be of this time period.
This is an excellent tape and Susan Harris is a class act.
I wish she would make some more exercise tape, because there are a lot of us out there who would love to buy them.
November 27, 2005
This is the workout that got me into aerobic weight training. A friend recommended it to me back in 1992. It was the hardest thing I'd ever done, and I remember using barely any weights. Fast forward nearly 16 years, and it's still the benchmark for all my workouts, the one to which I compare all others. Every muscle in my body gets the once over, and the floorwork is the hardest I've ever done. For those who complained about Susan's "sexy, breathy voice", the woman was out of breath! At least she could still articulate, because I lost the ability to form large words after the second lunge set. Also, I think some people don't realize the FIRM is Southern, and what they think is sexy may have been an attempt to sound less regional. Further, some folks may not have been around to remember what early gyms were like, and that they were originally the next logical step from the bar scene of the 70s. I remember attending some aerobics classes in the 80s with my high school buddies, and the FIRM is practically Puritan compared with the outfits, makeup and overt sexual overtones of those days! (Those early classes are the reason I started working out at home in the first place, to Gilad on Bodies in Motion on ESPN). Still an A+ after all these years.
Susan gives great instruction and remains one of my favorite instructors.