Video Fitness

Strong Bear

Tracie Long

I've only done this video once so far. But I can tell it will be one of my favorites. I would classify this as a total body workout. There's not enough cardio to classify it as a Tortoise. The moves are slow so you can heavy up. Some of the shots seemed fuzzy. I think it was the long shots since the close-ups seemed clearer. I also viewed from a big screen so that could be it. There's sufficient time to change equipment. This is an inner thigh killer!! As usual, I think the legs get worked more but this video is definitely more balanced in terms of upper body vs lower body. The triceps and shoulders are worked well. I really felt the one arm bicep curls. I would have liked to see more chest work that wasn't push-ups, back, and ab work.

Overall, I'm very pleased with this video. I think Anna is so creative with choreography. She puts new exercises or different twists to old ones.

Here's the breakdown of the video:
1) Tall box warm-up - fun with some stomps (mambos) on tall box
2) Stretches using tall box on some of them
3) Step squats with standing outer thigh lifts on some reps
4) Narrow squats with bicep curls and military press
5) Squats in between alternating heels front with rhomboid pinches
6) Plies with one heel lifted. Do upright rows at the same time. Slow lunges in between switching sides.
7) Then do plies with both heels on ground and bicep curls.
8) Plie jumps with delt lifts. Side leg stretches (looks like side lunges) with alternating shoulder lifts in between. No weights during this section since it's a short cardio "rest" segment.
9) Plies with one foot on tall box. The tall box leg has the heel lifted.
10) Tall box leg press with outer thigh
11) Boot Camp - It looks like something that Cathe would do (squat thrust, push-up, then jump back in, repeat). However, Tracie does a different version. It's a slow tempo. Instead of a squat thrust, you move one leg back at a time. I did squat thrusts since I love them!! You do tricep push-ups on your knees instead of regular toe push-ups. But Tracie does them slow so they hurt more. Later she will add two jumps in between each rep. End with more jumps.
12) Negative leg press - that means you do the negative range of movement really slow. This is painful!!
13) One arm lat row
14) One arm bicep curl using same weight as lat row. You can cheat on the bicep curl. You do a set using full range of motion then a set with the lower half of the range. She doesn't do the half range bicep curls on the other side.
15)Leg press then dip. Then the dips turn into curtsy dips. Then you do the leg press slower with two curtsies in between.
16) Knee push-ups with one arm on tall box. A few reps have child pose in between. It looks similar to the push-ups in Firm 3 but you don't curve your back like a cat. End with stretch where one arm goes through other arm while in kneeling push-up position.
17) Stand on weak leg and do double arm french press.
18) Balance on strong leg while doing one arm and double arm military press
19) Balance on weak leg with front raise going to side then back to front (don't do the down movements when you're in the side position). Do regular side lifts after that balancing on strong leg.
20) Leg press/dip combo on other leg
21) Push-ups on other side. Same Stretch afterwards.
22) Negative leg press on other leg
23) Lat row/bicep curls on other side
24) Put ankle weights while sitting on tall box. Do hip stretch in between. The stretch that looks like a 4 (one ankle above other knee). You lean forward to really stretch the hips.
25) Hover squats
26) Side kicks with ankle weights on. You start with one foot on tall box. Other arm holding dowel. Then kick over the box with a small squat (don't go all the way down) in between. Later do holding side kicks with pulsing squats in between.
27) Work on same leg, lying on side. One arm supported by tall box. Do outer thigh lifts but in arc motion.
28) Then work on same leg in table position. Again you will move in an arc. This is similar to what Carissa did in CF. Tracie does this in Hare and Heidi in Strong Heart too. First regular tempo then two fast, one slow.
29) Pigeon pose with the leg that was working as the bent leg.
30) Kneeling tricep pushups with hands on tall box. There are planks (iso holds) in between. The planks are done while you're in the low position. I really felt the iso holds!!
31) Tricep kickbacks. Tracie has her chest over the tall box. I hate movements like this and sat on the tall box instead.
32) Tricep dips with walks in between. A walk means that you do the dip with legs in (knees bent) then you move legs out and do a dip. So you're basically alternating dips with legs in and then legs out.
33) Tricep stretch
34) Side kick series on other leg
35) Lying arc outer thigh lift on other leg. She does regular outer thigh lifts first which weren't done on the other side.
36) Table work on other leg
37) Pigeon Pose on other leg
38) Take shoes off. Hands on tall box. Calf raise. Bend knees and extend. Do two jumps. I thought bike racers had great calves. Tracie has awesome ones similar in development. I know I'm going to love this move since I've been wanting bigger muscular calves. My ankle weights were sliding off during the jumps. I'm going to use different ones next time.
39) Lying on side. Bring both legs ups. Knees goes in, extend legs out (your body is now in a L position, legs still up). Bring legs back out and stretch. Your top leg will move back while your upper body moves forward and your top arm moves forward but then back so you're stretching your spinal eractors.
40) Lying inner thigh lift with non-working leg in back. Your working leg will arc forward, move straight back. Then do regular inner thigh lifts.
41) Brief stretch then move your non-working leg forward. Move working leg back. Then move it up and back like an L. Then bend and straighten your knee.
42) Do the whole floorwork series on other side. Start with Movement #39 and end with #41.
43) Well deserved butterfly stretch. Lean forward while doing this.
44) We're not done with those inner thighs!! Lie supine. Legs up and in ballet first position. Move legs in and out. Add crunches to some of these movements while your legs are out.
45) Legs together and do more crunches. Extend one arm up at a time. But you do some reps with one arm before switching sides.
46) Ankle weights off. Lie supine and do hamstring stretch and then inner thigh stretch. Do the same on the other side. This is similar to Firm 2's stretch but without the towel.
47) Plank, cobra, runner's stretch with one arm back bend. Repeat on other side. End with plank and jump in.
48) Just do one inhale/exhale while moving arms and you're done!!

I felt so jazzed the day after, I just want to do it again!!

Instructor comments: Tracie Long is one of the best Firm/FitPrime instructors. Her cues are perfect. In this video, she gives even more form pointers than she usually does. I like her side comments too. At one point, she says, "I don't want you to get bored". I never get bored with Firms/FitPrimes because of the constant changing of movements. Tracie's has beautiful muscle definition. I want her calves!!

Helen S

1/9/2003

This video has already been broken down, so I will just hit a few points. It is too bad that this wasn't the first FitPrime release. It is an excellent workout without the fuss of the first three FitPrime Tapes(which I promptly traded). It is extremely challenging with some new, super tough moves that work your total body with particular attention to the inner thighs. You need minimal equipment- just a tall box, dumbells and ankle weights(optional dowel) and there is plenty of time to make transitions. There is a slight "glitch" in the current batch of tapes, but I think things are in the works to fix that. However, other than that it is a remarkable workout that I will reach for again and again.

Instructor comments: Tracie is really at her best in this tape. You really feel like she is right there with you. The form pointers and cueing are excellent.

Kathy K

01/17/03

This is one great workout! The standing work is great... The repetitions are kept in the lower end (12ish?) so you can go heavier than in many other Firms or the other FitPrimes. The floor work is tough, tough, tough. There are some neat twists to some standard moves, such as standing abduction using a dowel and the FL for support, or using the FL to support your elbow as you balance on your supporting knee. Abduction work is thorough, to say the least. The core is worked quite a bit with some great balancing while doing upper body work.

There's a move I don't "get" where the feet are "worked." Hands are placed on the FL, and you jump while wearing ankle weights. It seems more a "filler" than something effective. ???

Half-reps are done for the biceps on the first side, but not the second. (I wish that was caught in the editing.)

These things are minor though, because the rest of the workout is wonnnnderful. The music is good, the editing is great, the production gets better with each of Anna's new workouts.

Instructor comments: Tracie's cues are always right on. Her form is perfect. She's one of the best in the business, and is very natural.

Apryl B
aprylbfirm@yahoo.com
01 20 03

This is my 4th FitPrime video (I also have Weights First, Core First and Up & Down) and I think Strong Bear is my new favorite! (I used to favor Weights First).

This is an excellent total body strength workout that is challenging, fun, with a nice pace, interesting exercises, a moderate amount of equipment (not too fast on the equipment changes either which is great), EXCELLENT music (which is true of all the FitPrimes). This workout, to me, is reminiscent of some of my favorite Firm videos like Tough Tape, Firm Strength and Maximum Body Shaping, except some of the exercises in Strong Bear are more innovative.

I absolutely LOVE this video and it is really close to perfection. The only way this workout could be perfect (in my opinion) is if there were fewer inner thigh exercises and more ab work. It seems like the inner thighs are overworked in this video. Otherwise, after doing this video only one time, I can honestly say this one is one of my new favorites and I highly recommend it!

Equipment needed for this workout is various sized dumbells, tall step, dowel or stick and ankle weights. Total workout time is close to an hour.

Instructor comments: Tracie is better than ever in this video. She looks great (which is inspirational), her cueing is excellent as always and she is just a total inspiration.

SassyGirl

2/1/03

Strong Bear is a winner! It's tough without being overwhelming. There is an emphasis on lower body sculpting, and what I like about this workout is that it uses the usual exercises, such as tall box climbs, hovers and dips, in new ways (that are VERY effective and fun). There are compound movements, such as squats with upper body work, and upper body work while balancing on one leg (which I enjoyed, to my surprise).

This workout is great for people to build up their ability to do push-ups, because Tracie does a number of push-up variations. There are some very tough, unique push-up variations using isometric holds, and the tall box. I loved these exercises!

The floor work for the lower body is great for toning up the hips, thighs and buttocks, and I would have liked it to be even longer. Tracie does the lower body section with ankle weights and barefoot.

All parts of the upper body are worked: shoulders, chest, back, biceps and triceps. There is a really tough triceps dip section using the tall box! Even Tracie found it challenging! I loved it!

The only negative is the production quality, which struck me at first (it looks and sounds like FitPrime used home video and editing equipment), but the workout is so good that it doesn't matter to me. The music is pretty good, although the balance between the music and Tracie's voice is not always good.

I highly recommend this workout to advanced and intermediate exercisers. I give it an A+!

Instructor comments: Tracie is a very knowledgeable, professional personal trainer and an experienced video instructorand it shows in this workout. She is in great physical shape with excellent muscle development. Tracie's approach is no-nonsense and straight-forward, but she also comes across as caring and nice.

Abbe G

April 17, 2003

This workout is just over 55 minutes in length and is an advanced workout led by Tracie Long. There is no high impact in it. You need dumbbells, tall box, ankle weights (optional) and dowel (optional). This workout is a solid sculpting workout and like FTGU, doesn’t have frantic equipment changes and flows well. It is an excellent, fun, effective, thorough workout.

I hope my recollection of the sequences is correct. The warmup starts with a few deep inhales and arm sweeps, squats and arm circles and then moves into foot stomps on the tall box which quickly elevates the heart. A few stretches follow.

As with all Fitprimes, you work the weak side first throughout the workout.

The first sequence also is done to continue elevating the heart so you use medium weights to do side squats with leg abduction and then squats with feet together withn bicep curls and overheads. The overhead presses are done in the squat position and the pull of the body in opposite directions makes the movement difficult. The next squats with heel lift and rhomboid pinch have more of a cardio feel to them.

Plie squats with heavy weights is next but this variation of the plie squats was new to me. One foot with heel elevated is on the tall box and the other foot is in plie position on the ground – try to do a plie in that position – the inner thighs are really working. When I previewed this, I kept thinking that my knees may have a problem but they didn’t. As with many of the Fitprime moves, the moves are compound working upper body, here biceps at the same time. You then do a full leg press but again working the inner thigh – I really felt this. Continuing with inner thigh work, you then do a plie jump and shoulder rolls keeping the inner thighs contracted – my inner thighs were burning by this time. Then you work the other leg. Tracie then says that this is enough inner thigh work. And if you think that is the end of inner thigh work you are so wrong! This workout is an inner thigh killer.

Push ups with emphasis on the triceps follows boot camp style. There are some yoga stretches at the end of this.

The next segment starting on the tall box works the weak side first. This tall box work stresses the negative. Lat Rows and then bicep curls follow. Then you do dips, regular and curtsy and pushups with one hand on the box and the other hand on the floor (not sure how I feel about these – I modify and do half the pushups this way followed by regular pushups).

Next comes upper body work while balancing on one leg. I like how Fitprime always puts in balance work, an integral part of the fitness equation – strength, endurance, flexibility and balance. You start with French press balancing on the weak leg then overhead press balancing on the other leg, move to delt lifts, moving from front to side delts in the one move balancing back on the weak leg and then finishing with medial delts balancing on the strong leg. Because you are balancing, you are also working the core as well as the upper body. I found this sequence tough.

The tall box work working the strong leg follows. Repeat of bicep curls and lat row on the strong side. There is an editing error on this side with reduced number of bicep curls but there is time to add them in without losing the rhythm of the workout.

This is the 30 minute mark! You add ankle weights and stretch while sitting on the tall box. Tracie then teaches hover squats (no weights are used) but you do work the really low end of the hover squat. Standing outer thigh and hip work using kicks and an optional dowel are next. I cannot lift my leg as high as Tracie and I really felt my outer thigh on this move. Then there are variations of this kick including resting the foot on the tall box and doing a few pulses.

Then down to the floor for mainly floor legwork with a twist. Initially the upper body is balanced on the tall box and you lift one leg in an arc again to work the outer thigh and hip area. Then onto tablework again with the upper body resting on the tall box and you bring the leg in an arc again. I really felt these exercises. Tracie says something like we will pulse the legs so that we won’t get bored. At this point she should nearly have burst into laughter because there is no way anybody could be bored with this workout. She did smile ever so slightly. More tricep work follows with tricep pushups and tricep kickbacks as well as tricep dips with leg extension.

The strong side is then repeated – standing side kicks, floor leg lifts and each leg is stretched after the workout doing a modified pigeon pose – I loved this stretch.

Shoes and socks are removed and then you work the feet – spread the toes, rock back and forth with the hands rested on the tall box and then you jump. This felt good and is obviously designed to work the arch of the foot and reduce the incidence of flat feet.

Core work is next where you lie on one side, bring the legs in and out at a right angle to the body and then extend the top arm and leg to stretch in opposite directions. Its ok but not as effective core work as I would have liked.

Some fairly standard inner thigh work but with a twist follows and this was very effective. There are L-lifts and inner thigh kickbacks and my thighs were burning. The other side is repeated for core work and inner thigh.

And if you thought the inner thigh work was finished – you were wrong! Lying straddle work is next with some ab work and by this time, my thighs were killing me.

Time to stretch at last – regular hamstring and inner thigh stretches were followed with planks, cobra and runner’s stretch and then stand for squats inhales and exhales. A GREAT WORKOUT!!

The total body is worked but extra emphasis seems to me to be on inner thighs and triceps. It is one workout of a cross-trainer pair – Fast Cheetah being the other but I don’t have that one yet. It does lack sufficient ab and core work so I presume that what Strong Bear lacks, Fast Cheetah makes up. And if Fast Cheetah does do much weight work, I am not sure how these two will work together because my body would need a rest before doing any more sculpting work.

I loved this workout! It is outstanding. The only negatives were to do with editing and colour of the film. There was a slight glitch at about the 27 minute mark where the film breaks into horizontal lines but I understand that the new copies have had that removed. It wasn’t enough for me to ask for a replacement video because I don’t want to miss doing this workout even for a few weeks. I really don’t like the fade in and out on the editing and there was a lot of that so I found that the only realy complaint that I have with this workout. And when I am doing the workout, I notice this less. The colour looked washed out. I understand that with the new Susan Harris workouts coming out sometime in June (?), Anna created a new set so hopefully that will get over the colour issue. And the music is great – Anna really chooses her music well.

Well done Anna and Tracie!!

Instructor comments: Tracie Long is excellent. She gives thorough form pointers throughout, is more relaxed in this one than she was in Weights First - not that she was nervous but the delivery of her lines seem more genuine rather than scripted but rehearsed. Tracie comes across as if she is right there in the room with you giving you what you need when you need it. She is a winner, a thorough professional!

Colleen Dawes (aka Corridors)
colleen_dawes@yahoo.com
18 April 2003

I had Core First, Weights First and From the Ground up - and none of them grabbed me like this one.

The music on this is so incredible. It's mostly non-vocal and some of it is beautiful. The indian/middle-eastern sounding music during a leg section was the best music I'd ever heard on a workout video/dvd. The rest of the music was fabulous as well.

Just for the record - Firm music never made me overly excited. Anna Benson has outdone herself with this one.

The workout itself was really great. I clocked that the 50 minute workout burned a little over 300 calories for me, which isn't so bad.

Alot of the moves are balance oriented, which I really like, as that used to be a problem area of mine.

I am thrilled to have this, and could easily see doing it weekly.

Instructor comments: Tracie is absolutely superb in this. Although she is always wonderful as an instructor, she has loosened up from her Firm days.

I love her professionalism along with the right amount of warmth

Leela

9/14/2004

This workout mainly focuses on strength, particularly in the lower body and there is a mixture of moves that makes for an interesting workout. As I mentioned in my Fast Cheetah review, Tracie's form is nowhere near as good as she is in the TLPs - her pelvis is in slight forward rotation the whole way through, giving me the impression of tight hip flexors. This is important to note because if you are in this position, the large muscles of the buttocks (the ones you are trying to improve) don't fire properly - results? less calorie burn and less strengthening of the butt area.
The weaker side of the body is trained first.

Here is a breakdown of the workout with my comments.
STEP WARM UP - An adequate stretch sequence, some squatting (Tracie's form could be much better) and a march sequence where Tracie's knees visibly collapse inwards. Avoid marching like this and keep your knees safe.
STRETCH - Reverse lunge (keep hips squared) and an unusual hamstring stretch.
STEP SQUATS - Tracie folds forward in this sequence which is undesirable, the actual squat and abduct sequence itself is good.
PLIE SQUATS/STEP PLIE - Tracie does a plie squat with one heel lifted off the floor (fine) and then does a rotating plie lunge - watch your knees, particularly if exercising on carpet. The step plie on the tall step is OK, but again watch your knees. Anyone who has pelvic instability problems will not enjoy so leave this out if in doubt. Tracie then throws in a lateral step up - I feel the box is too high for a precise and controlled movement, an 8 inch step would work for most.
PLANK JUMPS - A totally useless exercise for most, reminiscent of a burpee jump, but horribly executed with exaggerated pelvic tilt and hyperextension of the spine encouraged - big no no in my book.
PRESS +LATS - Includes a reverse lunge off the box - difficult! Most people have better control lunging off an 8 inch step. The hips should stay square and the glutes fully engaged (Tracie "collapses" at the hips at the end - fatigued). The lat row part could be better, the upper back not stabilised before commencing.
DIP AND PRESS - In the leg press onto the box, the hips are not extended, meaning you miss out on working your glutes. The reverse lunges are OK, but please avoid the curtsy dips if you have knee problems.
OH TRICEP EXTENSION ON ONE LEG - I liked this one (hallelujah!) and it was well executed.
HIP/LEG ABDUCTION WITH TALL BOX AND POLE - A side kick with ankle weights - the momentum generated by the weights could increase the risk of injury - in my opinion there are better and safer ways of achieving the same thing.
TRICEP PUSHUPS/KICKBACKS - Sequence was OK, a little too uncontrolled and sloppy for my liking.
JUMP OFF TALL BOX WITH BARE FEET AND ANKLE WEIGHTS - also involving hyperextension of the knee joint. The risks in performing this exercise far outweigh the benefits. The best way of working the feet is to go for a walk barefoot on the beach (and so much more enjoyable).
CORE - LEG SEQUENCE LYING - includes ankle weights - Tracie's hips again are externally rotated. If the alignment was correct, the need for ankle weights would be diminished.
INNER THIGH - OK.

Overall I found this workout to be a huge disappointment. There are a few good moves and sequences in this workout, however they are overshadowed by the potentially dangerous moves in it as well. There is little or no instruction on alignment and if you are learning about exercise or keen to expand your base of knowledge, you would be better off looking elsewhere
Grade C-

Instructor comments: Tracie is a personable instructor.

Liz N

10 Feb 05

OK my video fitness sisters, here it goes:
I really thought from the reviews that this video was going to be tough. When I say tough, I'm talking yelling at the T.V. It wasn't. She did some cool stuff, but definitely not enough of it. She did not do anymore than one set on each upper body exercise and I felt it was definitely lacking. Again, she did some cool stuff - slow lunges off and on the tall box, lunge combinations, some interesting inner thigh work on the floor and also, some interesting outer thigh work while standing and holding a stick for balance - oh, and that reminds me - she did do a lot of balance work as well. It wasn't a bad workout or an easy workout per se', just a "not enough" workout. If you workout to feel refreshed, this will work. If you workout to WORK OUT, this will not.
Denise Berger
Yonkers, NY

Instructor comments: In this video Tracy is serious about what she's doing, low key and likeable. She has a very authoritative teaching kind of style.

Denise Berger
October 19, 2006

Strong Bear is from the original FitPrime series by Anna Benson, co-creator of The Firm workouts. The videos in this series are known for their blend of exercise components (cardio, weights, and yoga), their often-quirky moves, and their relatively poor production values (more on this below). In general, I really like the FitPrime workouts, as I find them to be fun and different, so I decided to give Strong Bear a try. For this full-body weighted workout, you will need a tall box/high step and several sets of dumbbells; a balance dowel and ankle weights are optional.

Strong Bear is led by Tracie Long, who later went on to create her own video series (borrowing both some of the moves and some of the music found here). Tracie is an excellent, no-nonsense instructor, and I found her to be even more low-key in this than in her other workouts. Unlike most of the other FitPrimes, Strong Bear has very little cardio, although there are three separate segments which include brief plyometric jumps (plie jumps, squat jumps, and toe jumps). Rather, the main focus here is on weight work, particularly for the lower body and even more specifically for the inner thighs. From a standing position, Tracie does several unique twists on plie moves (eg, plies with one foot on the box) to target this area, and in addition, there is a long series of floor work focused mainly on the inner thighs. The upper body is certainly not ignored, however: you will do compound upper and lower body moves (eg, squats with overhead press), plus there is a really great upper body balance sequence where you stand on one leg to do military presses, french presses, and shoulder work. Although this definitely works the core, there is not much other abs work, but the workout finishes with a nice stretch. Below is the chapter menu breakdown from the DVD:

Step Warm Up
Step Stretch
Step Dig
PliČ Squats
Step PliČ
Plank Jumps (Tracie calls this Boot Camp!)
ND Leg Press + Lats
ND Dip + Pecs
1 Leg Arms
D Step Dip + Pecs
D Leg Press + Lats
ADD ankle weights + Soup Bowl
ND Leg Abduction
Chest & Triceps
D Leg Abduction
Butt Pops
Core + ND Leg Adduction
Core + D Leg Adduction
Core V Straddle
Flex Yoga

For the most part, I was able to match the weights that Tracie uses, but I sometimes had to go lighter than she does, especially for the compound moves. I found Tracie's cues for push-ups with one hand on the box to be extremely helpful; this move has always confused me a bit in other videos, but Tracie provides detailed information, including showing you what NOT to do, and so I felt the exercise much more than usual. In other places during this workout, however, I was disappointed that Tracie did not give more in depth setup instructions. Many of the exercises in this video were new to me, and thus I would've liked greater assistance from Tracie about how I should be positioned as well as exactly where I should be feeling the work. Finally, regarding the production values: as with all of the older FitPrime videos, you can clearly see the editing cuts. This did not bother me, but what WAS a bit more noticeable to me was that in a few spots, Tracie works the two sides of the body unevenly (eg, she does a final set of slow reps for one bicep but not the other). Also, although I generally enjoy the music in the FitPrime videos, it got a little weird at times here, suddenly lapsing into a few bizarre spoken vocals.

Overall, however, I found this to be an excellent, unique strength workout. Despite the fact that there wasn't much cardio, the relatively fast pace of the moves kept me in my target heart rate zone during most of the standing work, and I felt a nice burn in my inner thighs the next day. Fans of Tracie's newer workouts are likely to enjoy this as well (so long as they are prepared for the lower production values). Definitely recommended as a solid, distinctive full-body workout, with my final rating being 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Instructor comments: Those who are familiar with Tracie know that she is an excellent instructor. She never fails to correctly mirror-cue and generally gives great form pointers (with the exceptions noted above). She is professional and low-key yet warm and personable.

Beth C (aka toaster)

July 13, 2007



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