I did this tape for the first time this AM and the workout is KILLER, Tracie is just in peak form and I really worked hard. I loved the variety and I actually enjoyed bouncing the ball (I used my daughter's play ball) while doing lunges - it really kept my mind off the agony...
I think I'd like to refute some of the misconceptions about this tape:
Oh no, all one side FIRST?
This workout is
entirely split so that you do 25 min on one side, then move onto the other.
After the warm up you do some squats and then about 15min of exercises where you alternate LEFT leg work (non-dominant side) with BOTH side efforts. Left side lunges, then upper body work, then left side step-ups, then more upper body. Then you do squats for about 3min.
Then you do 15min of work on the RIGHT leg but in between lunges & step-ups you do DIFFERENT upper body exercises. So it's not repetitive (FIRM Lower Body Split comes to mind here) where you feel as if you could have just copied the first 15min of film and played it in a mirror to do the other side. There's lots of variety.
What, there's a lengthy stretch RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE?
Not really. Before Tracie moves onto the right side, she does a ONE-MINUTE stretch. Yup. One minute. Could FF through it if it bugs you, really.
Isn't this ball & stick thing contrived and unnecessary?
I really felt like the stick was used for one unique balance exercise and the rest of the time it was used entirely as an OPTION if you needed it for balance. I didn't use it at all during the forward and backward lunges, I think using your balance strengthens supporting muscles more.
The ball was very good for the ab & core work at the end. I liked it in the lunges because it DID keep my mind off the agony - really, you don't "count reps" when you're bouncing the ball.
You probably don't need the ball for the warm-up tosses at the beginning - but to tell you the truth, it got me reaching and squatting more deeply than I would have without it. This might not last, I"m famous for skipping warm-ups. But Tracie got me to warm-up and that's the first time I've done that with a video in years.
I heard the music is new-age and the camerawork and the production quality is shoddy
I thought the music in Weights First was good although I prefer rock music (Cathe's Pure Strength series with the 70's & 80's rock 'n' roll!). It was very well cued and obviously was recorded especially for this workout. Several tracks reminded me SO much of the Tortoise and other FIRM workouts it was deja vu.
In the beginning the lighting varies between cameras on the close shots of Tracie, but this only affects the first few minutes of the workout.
I played the video on my 27" tv and didn't feel that the picture was grainy at all. I'm wondering if some folks got poor reproductions.
This is NOT amateur camera work. It may not be the best lighting, but it's not poor camera work. The camera switches between long & close-up shots, follows Tracie while she moves and occasionally close-ups on her picking up weights so you can determine the size you'll need.
The parts where folks complained about the camera cutting off Tracie's head cracked me up because it was obvious to me that the camera was trying to capture the exercise as closely as possible - for example when she tosses the ball hand to hand in the warm-up. The camera also follows her when she squats and stays on her so you can see her face and trunk and hear her cue.
I think that the camerawork is better than many tapes and it didn't affect my workout.
Here's the breakdown of the tape:
good mornings & squats 2min
15min Left side lunges, squats, tricep extensions & rows on left side, step-ups & upper body (upright rows & some others I'm forgetting!)
15min Right side lunges, squats, triceps extensions & rows on right side, step-ups & upper body (push-ups on the ball & step, bicep curls)
abs & yoga stretch 15min (includes 3min abs with Oof ball, 3min stretch, back to abs with ball & hyperextension lower back & core work, and final yoga stretch 9min)
One comment on safety - I find good mornings hard to do safely with any amount of weight on the barbell and since Tracie alternates with squats, I really did want to up the weights. So I'm going to substitute deadlifts for the good mornings next time and load up.
Also, Tracie does upright rows with a barbell, a known stressor for wrists and shoulder rotator cuffs. I substituted overhead shoulder presses with heavy dumbbells.
This is a unique and challenging workout that really reminds me of some of the better FIRM workouts - I've waited four years for a challenging well-designed FIRM workout and this comes pretty dang close. I'd liken the production quality to that you'd see with a BodyBar workout.
Hopefully others will judge this tape for its own merits. I'd like to see more tapes like this one produced and I hope the production budget and quality get more consideration in future projects.
This new video from Anna Benson (co-creator of the FIRM) is a breath of fresh air. True to the original form of aerobic weight training, Weights First has a nice, modern edge to it that incorporates refreshing yoga asanas and interesting choreography. The video is a total-body workout, but there is slightly more emphasis on leg toning with lots of lunges. The types of equipment used in the video include a barbell (dumbbells are also used and can be substituted for the barbell), a balance stick, a medicine ball, and a tall 12" to 14" step-up box.
The video begins with a very fun warm-up with the medicine ball. Here is where concentration on your core (torso) muscles helps make the segment more effective. Then you transition into a variety of lunges, dips, squats, upper body work, and a tall box leg press. There are some heart-pumping sprinkles of cardio in between the resistance training, as well as the yoga asanas that are very easy to follow. The abdominal section of the tape at the end is innovative and makes great use of the medicine ball and a balance stick. Again, concentration on the core and abdominal muscles really make these exercises work.
Because this tape has a heavy emphasis on the legs, I feel that it would be best suited for intermediate to advanced exercisers. I have been doing aerobic weight training videos since 1994 (specifically FIRM videos) and Weights First was tough on my legs. But it is a good kind of tough because after you finish the entire tape, you feel lighter, refreshed, and ultra-toned. Overall, this tape gives you a great workout.
Tracie Long returns to lead Weights First. She is a familiar face from the FIRM videos and once again she brings her talent to the home exercise scene. She is easy to follow and has a charismatic personality that the exerciser can feel. Her cuing is great and she has some moments that are very motivational.
Since others have done an adequate breakdown of the workout, I will add just my thoughts and opinions.
Firstly, this workout is a killer. If leg work is your thing, here is your tape! The first time I did this workout, it whipped me totally in the lower body and gave me some decent upper body work too. To my surprise, The next day I was quite sore in the upper body. The upper body work is the right moves, in the right amount, at the right time.
The whole workout is different than anything else I have ever seen or done. I love the ball work, however, I am not co-ordinated enough to do the ball bounce with the lunge/plies (yet). The stick is my best friend. For anyone who scoffs at it, I challenege you to pick it up and do the lowest, most perfect dip you have ever done, then tell me the stick isn't useful! The stick allows for deeper, stronger standing leg work. I won't workout without it. I love the cool-down, the "sway" is so cool! It may even rival my favorite cool down of all time-"hips and Ribs" with Susan. I NEVER skip either of these cool- downs
The set is lovely-looks like a Pier 1 store! The music is perfectly suited for the workout and instructor.
This is a cutting edge workout. But what else would you expect from Anna Benson?
Traci is a master instructor. She demands everything from you BUT sweats along with you. Her form is immaculate and her cueing is perfect. Her delivery in this workout is the closest thing you will ever have to having a personal trainer in the room with you, live!
I wanted to like this tape. I think it is a mediocre workout because it has too many of some exercises, and too few of others. The attempt at yoga falls flat. The two cardio sections are practically non-existent with a few marches and jumps. There are lots and lots of forward and back lunges, some tall box climbs, some squats and not much for upper body. There is one set of biceps, upright rows, french press, and lat rows. There are 2 sets of triceps pushups, done on the box, and also a set of pushups with one hand on the box and one hand on the ball. There are some good mornings and clean and press. The ab work is short and uses the ball and stick. The rolling like a ball with the stick behind the knees is fun, but not very effective. Lying supine and throwing the ball up was awkward and possibly dangerous (with a weighted ball). One exercise which is done prone with the arms outstretched and lifting the chest while doing a hamstring curl was awkward, and Tracie never explained what the purpose of the exercise was. I appreciate tapes with stretching, but the yoga segments seemed out-of-place and almost funny. The exercises with the ball and stick seemed contrived. It seemed like Anna Benson is just trying to figure out something to make her tape different in some way.
What is good about the tape is the music. The production quality is not the worst and it's not the best. The set is visually interesting with colorful wall-hangings and lamps, and the zebra rug.
I would have liked to have seen a more balanced workout, covering all parts of the body more equally. This tape is not nearly the same quality as some of the better Firm tapes of the past. I would rate it a B.
Tracie has been one of my favorite instructors. She is usually serious, but in this tape, she smiles more. She does the best she can with this workout, sort of like a great movie actress with a mediocre script. She seems to be working pretty hard in this tape, which I've never noticed in the Firm tapes.
March 25, 2002
This is a great leg workout w/ some upper body interspersed throughout. If you loved the Firm Classics, you will probably love this workout because it is both an aerobic and toning total body workout.
Although there are very few pure cardio segments, I find that if I use a heavy enough barbell (30 lbs), the lunges, dips, and tall box climb get my heart rate up the same if not more as would a hi/lo cardio workout.
I really loved the stretching throughout the workout rather than just at the end.
The ab section wasn't
too challenging, but that'
s okay with me, since I don't
need to work on my abs as much as I do my legs. I'
ve heard people complain that there isn't
enough upper body work. I agree, but I'
ll also say that if you use very heavy weights, you will get a good upper body workout. Again, my main problem areas are my butt/legs, so this didn't
I liked the music on this workout - it really flows with the movements, much like other Firm workouts, and makes the workout go by quickly.
This is a workout I'll do at least once a week.
Great cueing and form pointers - Tracie is a fave of many. She is encouraging w/o being too chatty.
May 13, 2002
After reviewing what the others have said - I won't break down the workout either. I thought the tape was super hard. Amazingly enough the first time I did it I didn't think it was nearly as difficult as the second. I thought I would settle into the yoga segments and have them become almost like second nature but everytime I do them all I can think is that they are happening way too fast. Yoga, in my opinion is a little slower than this - more time worrying about breathing and so forth. In this workout they are stuck in between other segments and its like you just rush through them. Overall, I really did like the tape - I generally really like hard workouts and this certainly was that. I thought the "dowel" or "stick" was a good thing to have if you were actually going to use it. Personally, when she says pick it up and balance I generally do - so you're left doing the lunges or dips just holding it - so it really isn't necessary. In parts I thought the ball stuff was just annoying. I hated throwing the ball up and catching it while doing squats during the warm-up. I thought doing the lunges and bouncing the ball - a good diversion. Otherwise, its just a prop - completely unnecessary to getting a good workout. It doesn't make or break the video. My first impression of the camera work - its not that they cut off Tracie's head - its just that they were a little too close all the time. I kept wishing they would pull back a little more. I felt like they were right up in her face. That was actually kind of distracting. I was glad Anna Benson was doing these new videos especially since The Firm seems to have taken this vile dive into commercialism. FitPrime focuses more on the workout than anything else and in the end that is all that matters.
Tracie Long does an excellent job cueing, as always and is very motivating.
I did Weights first this morning for the first time so here are my very fresh impressions.
FIRST THE BAD: Before I did the video, I watched about 15 minutes of it and at first, I was HORRIFIED by the terrible production quality. Compared to the Firm videos, this video has the appearance of being filmed with a hand-held camcorder (and I am only exaggerating slightly). The camera person moves the camera up and down which made me feel a little dizzy at times - very bouncing camera work. The lighting had a "home-made" quality to it and the overall picture is less crisp and sharp than the Firm videos. Also, there were many times where the camera was cutting Tracie's head off which was annoying. The editing was a little choppy and not very professional and neither was the lighting. The set looks like it was filmed in somebody's living room with a large mirror on one side.
THE GOOD: Fortunately, there is so much GOOD about this video that I can honestly say the good far outweighs the bad. After watching 15 minutes and feeling really disappointed, I though I wouldn't be able to get past the poor production enough to enjoy the workout. Well, I was wrong. 5 minutes into the workout, I totally FORGOT about the bad production and really enjoyed this very tough, innovative and thorough workout! I won't go into all the various exercises because others have described them well, but I will just say that this video is as tough as (if not tougher than) the Firm's Tough Tape, only more creative and innovative with new twists on old exercises and some brand new exercises as well.
I love the innovative exercises in this video - unlike any I have done on other video's. The ball is a nice distraction and I think adds a unique quality to the tape and keeps it from being boring.
In my opinion, the music is GREAT in this video!!!!! One of the things that has always bugged me about Firm videos is the cheesy music. The music in Weights First has a very modern edge to it - most of the upbeat music has an "electronica" feel with new age flavors mixed in (including some Middle Eastern influenced music). I was soooo pleased with the music - I kept thinking "if only the production was a good as the music!".
To give you an idea of how tough this video is.....usually when I set up to begin a workout, I fill up a tall glass of water and that is enough to get me through the workout. I needed 2 glasses of water to get through Weights First and the sweat was POURING off me. Although it is a weight training workout, my heart rate was up the entire time and after finishing, I felt completely worked out.
If you think you can get past poor production, I would say this video is a worthwhile investment.
Tracie is excellent AS ALWAYS! She's my favorite instructor and she's just as good in this video as in the Firm videos she's done.
This was a great workout! Although the set is a bit busy, once I was doing the work, I didn't notice it at all. The music is very good. I enjoyed working with the ball, and thought it provided a diversion. It is very tough, but a lot of fun. I can't wait to do it again!
Excellent, as always.
February 6, 2003
Much has been written about the Fit Prime videos - there is no question that the result is a tough and effective workout, but a bit of a strange trip along the way. (I'm not convinced about the 'non-dominant' theory, either.) I am a Firmie going back to the beginning in the 80's, and I really wanted to like these but found them just a tad odd (awkward positions and movements) and they ended up on the shelf. Having said that, I wanted something a little different the other night, so I pulled this one out and found I really enjoyed it! It is a tough workout particularly for the legs. I guess my main criticism is with the abs section, which I really did not care for, however we can always modify (I kind of think that throwing a 2 lb. ball over your face while on the ground is probably not a good idea - you could do some damage!) I believe there has been some criticism about the short cardio sections, but I think they are there just to loosen us up a bit between weight segments, which is the main focus, after all. Also, I liked the yoga cool down. All in all, this is is a rewarding workout for intermediate -- advanced exercisers who may want to modify in places, but then again, I would recommend doing as much as possible "as is" because that's probably the point - to get a different workout from all the rest. You will most certainly feel it in your legs the next day. Oh, and there have been some comments about the New Age music -- personally, I find it to be refreshing for a change, and seems to somehow fit the overall experience. Give "Weights First" a try!
It's always great to have Tracie back, and I like the one-on-one instruction - I wish more of these workouts could be done without a class.
I found this terribly boring and extremely repetitious. This was the first video FitPrime put out, and I would say they improved on the later ones. This one had lesser production quality and was just not all that fun. The workout itself concentrates mostly on lower body and although there is upper body work, too, it is minimal. There are tons of lunges and plenty of squats. Enough to bore you to tears, as a matter of fact. I like the concept and innovativeness of these workouts, but this one just didnít make the grade.
This video kills you softly and it's really quite challenging. It goes from exercise to exercise in such a smooth flowing pattern and they're so different and varied that at the end you really feel worked and balanced. This one's a keeper.
Tracey is so calm and cool in this video (but I think that is her demeanor). She's just so smooth. I say that in this video, she kills you softly! :-)
At a few points in the video she says things like, "I know it hurts, you have to work through the pain, you're starting to feel it now" and for some reason, you really believe in her and it works. Probably b/c she's so serious.
April 4, 2007
The FitPrime workouts were created by Anna Benson, co-founded of The Firm workouts. When these videos were first released 5 years ago, there were many debates about whether the workouts were innovative or just plain weird. I've always been in the former camp, as for me, the FitPrime workouts contain mainly uniquely effective moves, and I've always found them to be a lot of fun. However, only recently did I have the chance to try Weights First, the very first video in the FitPrime series. It's led by Tracie Long, a former Firm instructor who has since moved on to her own line of workout videos. In this workout, Tracie uses a barbell, dumbbells, a tall step (The Firm Fanny Lifter works well), a medicine ball (one that bounces), and a stick or dowel (primarily used for balance, so you could make do without).
Tracie begins using the ball for the 6.5 minute warm-up sequence. In the first half of the warm-up, she uses the ball and dowel for a toss/catch series, and in the second half, she moves the ball out to the side while doing a 1-legged squat/back extension. I enjoy medicine ball work, and so I found the warm-up to be fun. Tracie then begins the weights work using the barbell, performing a series that includes good mornings (which some people consider to be unsafe), squats, and clean and press.
At this point, Tracie begins a sequence of lower body work, staying with the left leg only. Exercises include a front lunge/dip combo, 1-arm tricep french press (also on the left), another front lunge/rear dip sequence that includes ball bounces (if you have non-bouncing ball like I do, you'll have to modify here--tossing the ball instead works well), and a leg press/single leg squat sequence (2 full sets of this series are performed--very tough!). Next, Tracie leads you through a brief cardio burst which combines marches with little hops while holding light weights. Following this, you'll continue to work the left side with yet another front/rear lunge series and then move on to biceps work with the barbell. More upper body work follows, including a 1-arm lat row, push-ups with one hand on the box and one on the ball, and triceps pushups on the box. At this point, Tracie performs some very brief yoga stretches (<1 minute).
Going back to the lower body work, Tracie has you do side squats with abduction (both sides) and then plie squats with a biceps curl. Finally, it is time to switch to the right side of the body, starting with the first lunge/dip combo, then the tricep french press, then the second lunge/dip combo with the ball, and then the tough leg press sequence. Following this, there is another brief cardio interval which Tracie calls "light cardio": using no weights this time, she performs marches with jumps in and out. She then continues with the last lunge/dip series and upright rows with the barbell (another move which some consider to be unsafe, as the barbell prevents the arms from their natural rotation).
With about 15 minutes left to go in the workout, Tracie begins a nice abs segment. Using the stick under the knees, she does roll ups/roll downs, and then with the ball between the knees, she does upper and lower crunches. Finally, there is a crunch with ball toss--this was tough but fun! Tracie does about 3 minutes of abs work on one side, spends 4 minutes stretch, and then does another 3 minutes of abs work on the other side; the little break in the middle felt nice. One thing I did NOT like about this workout was the final 6 minutes of yoga stretching. Tracie seemed a little stiff here, and it moves a little too quickly, so I will probably do my own cool-down in the future.
Overall, this is a nice addition to my growing FitPrime collection (I now have 8 of 12), despite the fact that the production values aren't quite as good as the later FitPrimes (eg, the set is too busy, the camera angles aren't always the best, etc.). There is a definite lower body emphasis here--the first time I tried it, my butt was sore for days afterward! Although the many lunge/dip sequences might look overwhelming, because of how they are broken up, they are very doable, and thus I don't have a high dread factor for this workout. This is definitely a workout for intermediate to advanced exercisers who enjoy the quirkiness of the FitPrime workotus, want to blast their lower body, and don't mind VHS (Weights First was never released on DVD).
This is the earliest video that I've seen Tracie in to date (I've never tried any of her Firm videos). Although she is professional, she is not nearly as polished as in even the later FitPrime workouts. Also, as mentioned above, this video doesn't look quite as good as the later FitPrimes: the set, which includes a zebra rug, is quite busy, and the camera angles tend to be a little jerky, with too much zooming in (ie, so that you can't see Tracie's whole body). On the other hand, I didn't notice any editing glitches. Finally, there is are some nice musical selections, including some pieces that Anna re-used in her WHFN series.
Beth C (aka toaster)
October 5, 2007