I don't know what volume it was, but the instructor
was Sandahl Bergman. SO and I picked this specific volume
because we like SB's style in Firm Parts for abs and
SO really likes this video, but I have mixed feelings.
This is not an endorsement or denial of the effect of
interval training. It is a review of the video.
My biggest problem with the video is that it has many
potentially dangerous moves in it. I mean, they are fine
if you do them correctly. The problem is the less
They have a big list of warnings at the beginning of
the video. I read them, but around number 7 I got bored
and fast forwarded thru the last warnings/advirsories. SO
did not bother to look at the warnings.
There were several times during the workout that I
corrected SO's form. The problems were fairly typical;
what any instructor corrects during a class, but SO made
them over and over again. Incorrect form, especially if
you have large weights in your hands (the smallest we
used is 5 pounds). I just see a huge potential for
injury. So, my advice is that any user, be super aware of
her/his form. Check it many times during hte workout. I
never assume that my form is correct. I always check it
and compare it with the instructor. When I am teaching a
class, I am scrupulous about my form. The form in the
video is excellent. Just remember that your form should
be just like the videos. Check for things like forward
flexion and never, never swing those weights. All moves
should be controlled.
The aerobic workout was easy and boring and very high
impact. It has been a while since I did a high impact
workout. I had to wear either two bras or one of the
super structurally sound exercise bras. I usually do not
wear a superduper sports bra for low impact or step
aerobics. The amount of impact was higher than I feel
during running. I am a 34C. SO did not seem to mind the
impact, but I strongly caution anyone who is considering
doing this tape alot on a slab foundation.
Boring: it was very repetive. The coreography was very
simplistic. It's one thing to do simple moves with
weights in hand, but they used boring, repetive moves for
the aerobic parts w/o weights, too.
The aerobic intensity was low. It is tough for me to
judge. I felt like we had just started going when they
would stop for the resistance training. I know, I know,
that is the essence of interval training, but I did not
feel like I got a decent aerobic workout. Maybe you
aren't supposed to. SO felt like he got a decent aerobic
So, what was good? Well, if you are doing it at home,
you don't need a lot of room. It was a pretty good upper
body workout for me. SO did not disagree, but he didn't
feel it was a tough upper body workout.
If you want to do some resitance training and some
aerobic training, this tape will do both. You do not get
a full body workout (resistance training), and it is not
sustained aerobic activity, but it does include both.
It's interval training.
Like I said, I had mixed feelings about this video,
but SO liked it. Just be careful when you are using heavy
(response to Neefer's review)
I use all of the FIRM workouts, and wanted to add my
thoughts to Neefer's review of Volume 3 with Sandahl
Bergman (Interval Training).
While it isn't one of my favorite workouts, I always
find myself trashed at the end despite the 3 separate
aerobic intervals. I do use the heaviest weights I can
with good form (about 7-15 lbs. depending on the
exercises), and Neefer is right, you really do have to
pay extremely close attention to form in this video.
Since I've been using exercise videos for years I have
perform the moves as close to perfect as possible. If I
find myself swinging the weights or arching my back while
lifting I'll pyramid to a lighter weight.
I don't find the routine boring or repetitive though,
and do find it to be a good total body workout. It works
both the upper and lower body with both standing
toning/aerobics and floorwork. In some sections though, I
feel more reps/sets could be added, but since the FIRM
had to make effective use of the time I feel it's more
than adequate, especially if you are rotating volumes on
a regular basis. In fact, the FIRM's intention when
producing the videos were for the tapes to be used in a
cross-training fashion, so what might have been missed in
one workout was covered in the next. If a person is using
them sporadically they might very well feel they are not
getting a complete total body workout. In that sense,
Neefer made a very good point and I agree with her
When I compare the choreography of FIRM aerobics to
say, that of Cathe Friedrich's step tapes (which I do on
my off-FIRM days) there is no comparison whatsoever. The
FIRM aerobics are (somewhat) boring. Perhaps the reason
it doesn't bother me is because I'm getting the killer
aerobics on my off days, and when I'm combining aerobics
and weight training as the FIRM tapes do, I don't want a
lot of complicated choreography to mess me up and tire me
Just thought I'd add a different perspective on this
tape for those who might be interested in trying it (or
any of the FIRM total body volumes).
I checked out this video from the library once, so I
can't comment on the long-term effectiveness of the
workout, but I definitely did feel as if this was a tough
strength video when used with heavy dumbells. This was
the very first FIRM video I ever tried, and I concluded
from this experience that the workout was interesting,
but not my style. Sandahl Bergman grated on my nerves a
bit, too, as did the music.
Wendy Niemi Kremer
I purchased this video on the recommendation of some
of the reviewers. I found the aerobics to be very
challenging with all the plyometric jumps. This is the
first Firm Video that used the Step Up box and there was
only one segment (instead of 2-3 in newer Firm videos).
Moving from one exercise to the next was very fast paced
so you need all your equipment right on hand, including
leg weights and a small towel. I am glad I purchased this
video. I have been exercising 14 years and just started
using Firm videos the last 2 years beginning with Firm
Parts. With all the rave reviews on this site, I am
gradually purchasing all the older Firm videos to add to
The "interval training" style used in Volume
3, makes it a nice change of pace. When I use my heart
rate monitor, I have observed that the heart rate
intervals match up accurately to the FIRM's claims.
Sandahl is a good instructor. She isn't as fit as the
FIRMs own master instructors.
This tape marks the FIRM's first use of the tall box.
After I started using Volume 3 (around Christmas of 91),
I noticed great tone and definition in my thighs, hips
Volume 3 really focuses on the lower body... and it
Good instructor, but sometimes she acts like she's
doing a Playboy video. Form and cueing are outstanding.
My favorite part of this workout is the high-impact
aerobics. There's jogging, jacks, scissors, and jumps.
The aerobics are mixed with toning segments using
You get a great total-body workout, and it's fun to
do. There are a couple of things I don't like about it,
though: #1 - Not enough time to put on your ankle
weights, and #2 - After the abs, while you're still lying
on the floor, she tells you to grab your weights for
pectoral flies. My weights are never handy, because I'm
not expecting it. (You'd think I'd get used to it by
The class uses dumbbells for the floor leg work. I use
ankle weights instead, and I think that's better. The
dumbbell is a little awkward for me.
This is one of my favorite FIRM tapes. I give it an A.
This was the first Firm video I ever tried, and I
liked it enough to buy it and try other Firm videos. But
this quickly became my least favorite, and I very rarely
do it anymore. Like all The Firm tapes I've tried, I
think you could get a good workout from this one. But the
moves are too jumpy and strike me as being potentially
dangerous, especially if you did this tape a lot. Those
"quick lunges forward" particularly bother me.
And there is something about this instructor that bugs
me, although I just can't put my finger on it. She
doesn't do anything wrong, and doesn't have a whiny voice
or anything. I just don't like her!
Jennifer M. Blaske
This was my first FIRM tape - and my very least favorite. I *hate* the silly warm-up - "big squats" with hand-claps and "hip wiggles" coupled with the even sillier music. I don't like that the 30 minutes of aerobics are divided up. And I really dislike all the high-impact aerobics.
It does have some of the good FIRM aspects (IMO) - easy chereography, yet you really get a thorough workout, weight work, strength building, etc. I knew that the FIRM was on to something, though, so I did this tape off and on for months til I finally purchased other FIRM tapes. Now I never do this one!
Recently at Blockbuster I saw an old exercise video called GymJazz by Sandahl. She had the totally 80's spiky hair and makeup, and was wearing some funky black leather type outfit. I think she looked more at home on the cover of GymJazz than the FIRM! :-) In terms of form and cueing - she's fine. Not bad, not impressive.
Okay, I admit it…I love this workout! I know... this is one of the “classic” Firms that most of you love to hate, but I really do like it. The Firm calls this an interval workout. I don’t necessarily agree with that. There are 3 aerobic segments that include both high impact/no weights and low impact with weights. The third aerobic segment is standing weight work done with ankle weights on and no high impact (obviously). In between the aerobic segments, there is more weight work, which is done at a lower pace, including floorwork and upper body work. The table work in this video is tough…you place a dumbbell behind the knee of the working leg (you’ve still got the ankle weight on) and then alternate sets of slow hamstring lifts (donkey kicks), with fast pulses. It seems endless. My hamstrings are usually sore the next day. The ab section, I think, is one of the Firm’s toughest, and there’s also pec work done in the middle of the ab work. She finishes with a well-deserved stretch.
Instructor comments: I admit it, I really like Sandahl, too! Not because I think she's a wonderful instructor...her cuing's fine, she doesn't give much in the way of form pointers, but she seems like she's really having fun!
I have three firm tapes including one "Firm
Parts Tough Aerobic Mix" that is a combination of workouts that includes Sandahl. That's how I got my introduction
to the Firm and vol. 3. In my opinion, this
is an excellent workout. I didn't find anything to be dangerous although I must admin I have been working out for 10 years so I know about proper technique. I generally use 6-15 lbs for the weight training and find the 10lb weight to be the best especially for section with the shoulder workout. It is a killer! So are the abs; I still can't get through the entire segment. The
table work for the hamstrings and buttocks was different and difficult, but effective.
I run, use machines, and do traditional and step aerobics, but this workout is the best!
Instructor comments: I love this instructor and wish the other
Firm instructors had her attitude. I think
cueing was good and I didn't have a
problem with her "sexy" voice.
She is enthusiastic and has good form
This is one of my favorite Firm videos. The choreography is high impact (which I don't mind) and more interesting than the other Firm tapes except the Hare and the Tortoise. Yes, I like the music too. I use this tape so often that it's nice to have rather bland but upbeat music that you don't get sick of.
This is a good introduction to the trademark step up box. I've noticed some reviewers find this tape too easy, but you can always add more weight if you find it so. I prefer the way that Sandahl does one-arm French presses, to the two-arm technique used on the other Firm tapes which I find too stressful on my lower back.
Regarding some comments I've read on this website about the early Firm tapes being "too sexy" and looking dated, I have to admit that that's why I actually prefer the early Firm tapes to the later ones. I think the sort of sexy presentation of the earlier Firm tapes is what sets them apart from other exercise videos. The later Firm tapes offer pretty much the same fare that you can find anywhere.
I'm thinking that the reason that the early Firm instructors tend to have a "sexy" approach is that these tapes where made during the eighty's and early nineties when most women were still afraid that they would "bulk up" and look and walk like a man if they dared to lift more than 5 pounds. I remember the first time that I saw Susan Harris on Volume 1, lifting what looked to be 15 pound dumbells doing military presses. I thought "She's so tiny, and she's lifting that much weight with perfect form!" That really inspired me to lift heavy weights.
Today of course, most people (not me) seem to prefer a more androgenous, serious jock look and manner from their video instructors. But who knows, that look might seem dated in ten years.. (Maybe then reviewers will be commenting on this website that the hot videos of today took dated, because the instructors look too jock-like and androgenous.)
Instructor comments: Contrary to the other comments I've seen on this web page, I really like her. She is very graceful in her movements and she really seems to like what she's doing. I find her very inspiring.
Words cannot describe how much I hated this video. I know that I should do a video multiple times before reviewing, but I couldn't even make it through this one once. I got frustrated and sat on my tall box and sulked about wasting precious workout time. The tape was just weird and I hated the high-impact scissor kicks and most of the other aerobic moves. And there was too much changing back and forth. I know it's an interval tape, but I felt like I was constantly adding or subtracting ankle weights or getting onto or off of the floor.
I'm not sure why I have such a violent negative reaction to this video, as I am a complete Firm junkie and own 20 of their other videos. The only one of them that I don't like much is Tough Aerobic Mix and that is because it contains most of the sections of this video that I dislike.
Instructor comments: I agree with the reviewer that said there's something about Sandahl that bothers her, but that she can't put her finger on it. I've decided that I can deal with her in small doses, like on the Parts tapes, but that is it. No complete videos. Anyway, I think all of the sections I liked on this tape can be found on Upper Body, Lower Body or Not-so-tough Aerobics.
I love this video. It is constantly changing from standing toning work to floor aerobics to floor work. This is the video my children love to workout to since each exercise moves by very quickly. There are 3 intervals and the first starts of with fast lunges with a triple step. Then you do some aerobics. The aerobics are about 3 minutes in length. Most of the floor aerobics is basic and high impact. The tall box is introduced in this video. You do 2 sets of 16 reps on each leg. Then you go down to the floor and do bridgework where you lie on your back and lift your pelvis up and squeeze the butt. Then you go back up and do more fast lunges with upper body work. This workout goes by so fast since it's SO FUN! The music is "blues" and jazzy with even some rockin roll music too. The third interval is lot's of dips with heavy ankle weights and pulse squats with bicep/tricep work. This really gets my heartrate way up there!! You have to make sure you use heavy weights on the upper body since Sandahl only does one set of reps. The there is some great table work for the glutes and also ab work that is very challenging. Also you do some chest flies. It is just a great total body workout that I highly recommend. You also do stretching throughout each interval which is nice. Then at the end, Sandahl does this cartwheel at the end. Pretty impressive. Even my kids like to watch this part.
Instructor comments: Sandahl doesn't give much safety cueing or form correcting so you really have to know how to do the certain exercises prior to the workout. Or just watch Sandahl and copy her form in a mirror. I liked the way Sandahl leads this video. She does have a broadway show way of teaching. She has perfect posture and even though her outfit is very lowcut, she wears some sort of very supportive exercise bra because she doesn't fall out of her body suit on the high impact moves.
This was the second Firm tape I started doing about 5 years ago (when it was $50). I always thought it was so hard in the beginning. It still is, but after doing the later Firms, MIS, and Firm Parts more recently, I found this one a bit easier using my standard weights. But when I upped my weights, that really made a difference! That's what I like about the Firm so much. Once a tape starts to get easy, all you do is increase poundage and it's like a whole new workout.
I find the 3rd section the toughest. I really feel it in my legs. The abs are tough, too. I use 2.5 ankle weights. The high impact aerobics in section 1 & 2 are a bit dated, but I don't care because it still gets my heart rate up! If you have mastered lunges with good form there is no reason why you can't do the fast pace lunges in this tape. Use a lighter weight if you have to.
I feel this really is a good all around work out. You get good aerobics, excellent lower body (obviously it's good - most of Standing Legs come from this tape!), decent upper body, and great ab work. Oh, and does stretches throughout the tape - a big plus!
I don't see anything wrong with the music either. It's just sort of neutral. Anything too hip will be un-hip in a few years, so I think the Firm chooses nice up-beat background music that is pretty much timeless. I have to say that I don't find the people outdated at all. Usually a tape made in 1988 would have a lot of people with big hair - maybe they did have big hair at home, but at least it was in a pony tail for the taping.
This is a good solid workout. Don't be fooled by the negative Sandahl comments. She just shows you the moves - you have to do them and they're tough!
Instructor comments: I agree with some of the reviewers, I like her. She doesn't bother me in the least and it does look like she's having fun, too! I think her cueing is fine and I don't see her as trying to be too sexy. Since she is a dancer I like the way she adds grace to all the moves. I really do like her personality as well!
This is the first Firm video to use interval training as the cross trainer series does. Some of the classic total body videos leave me wanting more, but this one is still a challenge for me. The strength work is a little light, but the aerobics leave me sweating and gasping for air every time.
Instructor comments: My sister refers to Sandahl as "weird woman" because of the way she stares into the camera. She does make it sort of obvious that she's reading from a teleprompter. Does she remind anyone else of Laurie Metcalf from "Roseanne"? Even some of the music on the tape sounds like it's from that show. As fitness instructors go she makes a fine actress, but she's easy enough to follow.
I'm currently doing a month of Firms, so it's really nice to get some of the Classic Firms back into my rotation. I had forgotten how challenging and effective they are in just one hour! I think that when it comes to the early Firms, you either really enjoy the style or you don't. I'm one who does. They definitely offer a lot of variety in one workout. The title "Aerobic Interval Training" is a bit misleading. This is not true "interval training" like Interval Max or Intense Moves where you bring your heart rate to the anaerobic range and recover. This is a circuit workout alternating aerobic segments with weight work. I really enjoy the variety of this workout; I like how quickly this video changes from exercise to exercise. The aerobic segments aren't that interesting by themselves (and most of the aerobics are quite high impact), but they are short so they are over before you know it. Sandahl does not do many sets for the upper body, but it is a good lower body workout. You can alternate this tape with one that has a lot of upper body work for a balanced workout. Many of the reps go too quickly to use heavier weights (as do the majority of the early Firms). The ab section is TOUGH, especially if you use ankle weights as shown in the video. Sandahl does a lot of stretching throughout the video, and a nice stretch at the end (right before the ab and pec fly segments). Among the few things that I dislike about this video: the silly warmup shimmies, and the dance or whatever it is right at the end. I really don't see the benefit of including these other than the fact that they showcase Sandahl. But it is a beautifully-produced workout that has aged well.
Instructor comments: I really enjoy Sandahl's teaching style. However, I think that her style is the type that you either love or hate. She definitely plays it up for the camera (sometimes a little excessively); you can tell that she is a stage dancer/actress. She definitely has the lean body of a dancer. She gives a few form pointers (not too many, but I have a feeling she ad-libbed the Firm script a little). Her form on the exercises is good. I agree with Lena (who reviewed the tape earlier)--she does remind me of Laurie Metcalf (Jackie on the show "Roseanne").
I had this years ago and recently re-acquired it. It still kicks my butt! I had my HR monitor on and I varied between 70-85% of max hr throughout.
Skip the warmup and do your own.
The workout goes by quickly because it is so varied. There are three aerobic intervals, some use weights, some do not. The first two are typical hi-lo: running in place, small kicks, grapevines, etc. After an aerobic interval you go down to the floor and do a little floorwork, then sit on the box and do weight work. The last aerobic interval has you with ankle weights on, and you do squats and leg abductions while doing upper body work. There are also squats and lunges without upper body work, just holding the weights. The workout is a little ligh on the chest and back work, but I just grab my barbell and do my own. If you do your own 5 minute warmup and stop when she starts with the strech before the ab work, it clocks in at 45 minutes. This is a tape I won't do often, but has value (even if its just nostalgia) in my collection.
I know she bugs a lot of people, but I like her. I swear there are a couple of spots where she is trying not to bust out laughing. Its like she knows how stupid the Stepford Wife get-up is. :)
Vol. 3 was the second FIRM workout I ever purchased, and I still remember being wiped out at the end of this one, wondering if the assault would ever stop. This workout is HARD. Forget what the Cathe-ites say; for the beginning and intermediate exerciser, this one is a killer. The aerobic intervals have me gasping for breath, and the introduction of the tall box added a new assault on my rear. I modified the high impact moves to low impact, and still found my heartrate up there. I'll offer my defense of the FIRM's "sexy" style by saying that's how most workouts were in the 1980s, to differentiate them from more "manly" workouts and to stress that weight training would not make you look like a man. Weight training for women was just getting off the ground in the late 80s, thanks to the FIRMs efforts, and shoudl not be held against them.
Sandahl is a good instuctor and I didn't have any problems following her.