This was much more beginner-ish than I anticipated; in fact, itís in the novice/beginner category. But I have to say itís excellent! (For the right group, that is.) I would unhesitatingly recommend this to any beginning exerciser, especially older beginners. The variety is enough to keep you interested, while at the same time, there is enough repetition so that the beginner can get comfortable with the moves and not flop around all over the place trying to keep up with changes. But what makes it really stand out, I think, is Anna Benson. Now, I am not an Anna fan at all Ė quite the opposite, due to her business practices Ė but I found her to be very warm, knowledgeable, and encouraging as an instructor. Instructing is obviously her forte; she should leave business to others. She really impressed me in this video. She is extremely likeable, and even the ďcornyĒ comments that you sometimes hear in other FitPrime/Firm videos seem to come off well when she says them. Her instruction does not seem scripted, but very natural. (As opposed to, for example, Tracie Long following Annaís scripts Ė some things just donít sound right.) The production quality is not on par with the classic Firms, but quite acceptable. Iím giving this one an A. I think it could end up as a classic for beginners, if not for the fact that itís been discontinued.
This was a very different video! I'm not sure how it compares to other FitPrimes, as this was my first experience with the series. Although the name of the video is Weights + Cardio + Yoga, there was very little of the latter two, so I'd probably classify it as mostly a toning workout.
The workout begins with a 3 1/2 minute warm-up march; Anna uses simple foot patterns and arm movements similar to Leslie Sansone. Next comes three minutes of stretches using a balance stick--you could substitute a broom handle or skip this all together. Following the warm-up, there is an approximately 6 1/2 minute cardio section which uses light weights. This is very similar to Firm-style aerobics: your feet are constantly moving while your arms perform bicep curls, lat presses, etc.
I would have to classify the next 16 minutes as toning work, although Anna repeatedly says that you are "using weights for cardio." It's true that your heart raise does raise at times, but there are a lot of stops and starts. The moves include squats, step-ups using a tall box (I substituted a chair), a killer calf series, and more upper body work. One thing that I really liked about this section is that Anna has you focus on the weak side of your body: you always begin with this side and do more reps than on the dominant site. This was a unique feature which I've never before seen in a video.
Here's a breakdown of the final 12 minutes of the video: 6 minutes posture work sitting on the box (using weights), ending with a spinal twist; 2 minutes of abs work (really just some core-focused stretches), and a 4 minute cool down which consisted mainly of seated forward bends (other than the twist mentioned above, this was the only yoga in the workout). The total time came in at 42 minutes.
Overall, I found this workout to deviate quite a bit from how it's described on the box: there wasn't really much cardio/yoga, it was too easy in some parts but tough in others, and the abs work was practically non-existent. On the other hand, I really liked the uniqueness of some of the moves plus the focus on the weaker side of the body; I also liked that there was more upper than lower body work. I will probably use this workout as an alternate full-body toning program whenever I'm in the mood for something a bit different.
Anna Benson was behind the scenes for the Firm videos, and the box of this video says it is her first on-camera appearance. Her voice sounds very similar to Susan Harris (also from the Firm), although she is more soft-spoken. She cued well here and was gently encouraging, although she also uses some goofy metaphors ("imagine a choo-choo"). Anna works out on a small, cozy set (it looks like a home workout room) to mostly upbeat music.
October 19, 2004
I did not have high hopes for this
workout since FP JR FlexPosture really
rubbed me the wrong way, but this isn't
bad. Anna is still pretty goofy here, but
comes across as more motivating than
in the Just Right workout. I would not
say this is a cardio workout- the few
minutes of cardio here just doesn't
seem like enough to bill this as a cardio
workout. And the same for the yoga-
there are yoga stretches interspersed
throughout but I would not say its yoga
tape either. I thought the focus was
more on weights, with stretches
incorporated and a very short cardio
segment that felt warm uppy to me. I
wish Anna would match her images to
form instruction, especially since she
seems to be billing the JRs as beginner
workouts. She offers imagery for many
moves but doesn't follow or precede
them with more concrete instructions,
so it feels incomplete. Also, she talks
about the equipment for the workout
and it would've been nice if she had
given a little more info about how the
stool would be used. I imagine many
beginners could find something but they
should know it needs to be sturdy and
stable enough to climb on. Her form
looks off in some parts of the workout
as well, like her weights are behind her
ears in the military press, which could
bother some people's shoulders,
particularly if they are prone to should
problems. She has a strange
combination of motivating expressions
and cheesy ones, like saying choo-choo
all the time. That really bugged me- I
put it up there with tummy, fanny and
stretchie as an annoying expression in a
workout. Despite all this, I think this is
a worthwhile workout, one that
impresses on people the fact being
strong is important and possible.
Anna's a goofy instructor, but fairly
likable in this workout. Its too bad this
workout seems to be quite hard to find-
despite its problems, its a good
workout, even if it isn't really the best
choice for true beginners, which seems
to be its target audience. It seems to be
a good pick for intermediates looking
for something new and different than
the usual toning moves or a different
pace than other similar level programs.
Anna is a quirky instructor. She has
some really strange expressions, and
offers odd imagery to help with a move,
but doesn't always match it with good
instruction. Her form is sometimes
questionable. Overall, though, this is a
pretty good workout and I thought she
was quite motivating in it.