I found this gem of a workout on eBay. You can also view the videos at www.flexcity.com.
It is an advanced 1 hour circuit workout with weights. Fran does 12 reps of alternating weight exercises in circuit fashion. For example: 12 rep Arnold presses, 12 rep front lunges, 12 rep bicep curls, etc. There are about 10 different exercises per circuit. She did so many exercises I can't list them all (must be 30 in all!)
There is a 13 min warmup (there's no music here so that she can tell you about the program) Then the first 30 min. after the warmup is legs, shoulders, triceps, biceps, and back alternating exercises. She always hits the muscle at least 3 different times. The last 30 min is a floor weights circuit. This includes exercises like crunches paired with pushups, pec flies, dumbell pullovers, low back extensions.
She does LOTS of different ab exercise, pushups and isometric routines. For example: pushups are done 12 regular then next time it's 12 pulsing pushups, 12 isometric pushups and then 12 military pushups.
What's great about the video is that you can give your all then you get to rest it and move very quickly to another weight exercise.
The group uses 2 five pound dumbells but I used my 8, 10, 12, 15 and barbell. The reps are done at a pace that you can go heavy.
I did this video the day I received it and I was sore for 3 days afterwards. I just did this tape again and I love it! I really feel that I'm doing something great for my body and I feel worked out but refreshed at the end.
One drawback is that the music is just in the background and the set looks like something from PBS. But...all in all, the video is clear, straightforward and a great workout!!
I've since ordered Fran's Leg Enghancement video (2 thirty minute leg, butt and thigh workouts) and her Weights II video(one hour body sculpting video covering chest, back, shoulders, legs, triceps, biceps, abs). Will post reviews when I receive them.
Instructor comments: Very likable, "let's get to it" instructor. Fran knows her stuff and is very encouraging!
She puts me in to mind of a combo between Jayne Poteet (Firm VI) and Cameo Kneur (Cory's sister).
Fran uses two 5 pound weights but does mention throughout the workout that you may use heavier weights.
This is a tough video! It is 72 minutes long with a 13 minute warm up followed by about 30 minutes standing upper and lower body work with no compound moves (i.e. no lunges with biceps curls), and then about 20 minutes of abs and chest work with some back thrown in on the floor work followed by a stretch.
The warm up is okay, but the stretches she incorporates are really perfect in my opinion. There is no music during the warm-up, but Fran is telling you what to expect during the workout; she isn't overly chatty though and it is very informative.
During the standing work it's kind of like a circuit, you do about 12 reps for each exercise working your legs/butt, triceps, biceps, shoulders, and back; usually two exercises for the triceps and biceps and lower body each circuit. I think there were three circuits and probably gosh 20 different exercises. She does no compound movements because she wants you to focus on the muscle. She does use I think 5 lb weights, but encourages you to use what is comfortable (either more or less poundage) for you. I used my normal weights for a regular Firm tape, not as heavy as Tough Tape or Pure Strength. There are several variations of lunges, forward, reverse, alternating, and pulsating; wow my legs were burning and my glutes were sore for about two days! There are also four count down and four count up squats which with 30 lbs is definitely killer, and I had had 40 lbs on the barbell so I actually stopped the tape to use my 15 pound dumbbells because I knew I was going to either hurt myself or end up stopping too soon, I had the same feeling with Cathe's sit to stand squats--whoa! She also does this neat combo front raise, then side raise for your shoulders which I found really tough.
After that, you go onto the floor for about seven different types of crunches, reverse, standard, and some more I can't recall the names of. She also does push ups, on knees, miltary, different counts, different angles for the hands--obviously she loves pushups or at least what they do for us.
There is a really unique move for the lower abs. Lay in a crunch position with your ankles on a pretend bench. Put your hands on your knees and while trying to keep your arms straight, push in your knees using your lower abs for a count of 10. I really felt this for some reason. Then try it alternating knees, hold right for 10, go left for 10, etc.
She also does back work to strengthen the lower back, i.e. laying on your stomach, doing cobra-type moves and swimming like in Karen Voight's book where you hold for a count and reverse sides.
The only thing I didn't like or rather may have been apprehensive about was doing side bends (the very last exercise) with weights, but that was a minimal thing that you could easily either skip or do without weights.
Like Lesia said the set is PBSeque and music as well, but I think you could put on your own music (nothing too fast) in the background and do very well like you can do with Reebok's Intense Moves (I hate the music in that one for some reason). There is a minimal 4-5 minute stretch at the end which is very useful as well, but you could stretch longer on your own.
I have done this video twice now and both times I was surprised at how fast it goes. For me it is a workout you can go really heavy with because she moves slow, and it was designed that way from what I understand. I have also ordered her leg enhancement tape (which I plan on doing today) which is two workouts 30 minutes each and her ab tape as well.
Instructor comments: Fran has a very pleasant voice and isn't a whooping kind of instructor, which would be strange in a weight tape anyway. She seems very knowledgeable about the body and what exercises work to tone it up. She talks a lot about preventing osteoporosis and that's one of my top reasons for weight training especially coming from a family of women who all seem to get it. She's not too chatty. Also all the women in the video have different body types, all are fit looking, and remind me of the Cathe Trippers, all in shape but not too intimidating.
I won't go into great detail about the workout itself as some other people have done an excellent job of it already. Just want to add that this video is a completely different workout than her previous Weights II in that it is a circuit workout. The first half is all standing work that gives you a great upper and lower body workout. The participants use 5 lb. dumbells but the pace is definitely slow enough to increase or decrease the weight as needed. The second half has you laying on the floor doing pushups, abs, & chest. Fran has put lots of variety into this workout so you are constantly changing exercises. I really liked this approach because I could concentrate on my form alot better for each exercise. The music in the background is very low and slow. The set is very plain and not fussy. I really like this tape alot and think it's a terrific pure weight workout. I'm sure it will become one of my favorites. Oh, and the background exercisers were "real" women. They were very fit but not skinny. I like to workout with tapes that have realistic body types that I can strive to be like. But Fran is in fabulous shape in this tape. She was in good shape in her previous tapes but is in excellent shape in Weights III. Would give it a grade A!
Instructor comments: Fran is a very down to earth & likeable instructor. She gives very good form pointers throughout her videos and is always very encouraging. She has a very soothing voice and manner that makes it a pleasure to work out with her.
A great weight tape, which can be used as an alternate to Cathe or the Firm (kinda in between). Francesca is very down to earth, gives good instruction, and the workout can be tough if you go heavy with the weights. I used 8-10-12 lb. weights (you can use the barbell in some exercises). It's more of a circuit weight workout, alternating twelve counts of different upper body movements, followed by lunges, followed by more upper body, followed by squats. The floorwork is different - alternating abs and pushups. One ab exercise is very tough - isometric holds while on your back, pushing your knees against your hands. I usually like to do abs continuously, but this was different and felt effective. The music is pretty mellow - soft piano in the background. Total workout without the warm-up and cool-down is a respectable 53 minutes. I ordered Weights II and look forward to that one. Hopefully this video will catch on and other VFers will buy it (thanks Lesia).
Whew, this is not an easy tape!
There are already a few reviews out for this one but I just had to add my 2 cents. I'm a Cathe/PS fan who also does the Firm, so I like them tough.
It's all weight-training and I like the way Fransesca breaks up the body parts so that you do one exercise for each body part, then come back and circuit again until you've done four exercises for each body part. I think that system breaks up the "work each part to exhaustion" routine so it's not repetitive or boring, and I actually did more reps and heavier weights with each successive round.
She simply does NOT stop! Like my sister says, "This woman does NOT sit down!" You don't use a bench to sit so it just keeps moving!
She uses 5lb weights, I used between 6-10lbs, the reps are slow enough you can pyramid up.
During the workout, the old cynic in me was looking for flaws (yes, the music is soft jazzy piano, but I actually liked it!). There I was, "Sure, but there's no calf work, whoa, looks like some calf pumps here... OK, so where's the chest work, you can't do that standing up... Oh, so now we go to the floor for chest then abs then chest then abs, then chest and abs....Help me..." and so on.
Some very interesting moves -- dumbbell flye circles where you do kind of a pullover, go into a flye then come together, all in a big circle. Try THAT with 10lb weights!. And Squats in every variation -- the slow ones will kill you. And static lunges starting in the lowered position (!).
She does some killer ab work, with some unique moves... lower body V-ins supported on your back with your hands under your lower back. And upper abs -- I think she called a crunch variation a "punch crunch" where you try to punch the wall between your legs while crunching up. She has great pointers -- "eyes are where the wall meets the ceiling" Bingo!
All in all, a pretty good workout -- the whole body in 55 minutes. No simple way to break this one up, save it for your Sunday AM when everyone else is asleep. A great tape to do when you're on vacation or at someone else's house and can't use a lot of equipment (or make a lot of noise!).
All you need is one or two sets of weights (you double up, two weights in one hand for rows, etc.) No benches, no barbells, no steps, no noise!
I give it two thumbs up!
Instructor comments: Fransesca is very good, straight-forward and non-intimidating, enthusiastic but not Denise Austin-perky, has excellent pointers and feedback. She does this funny little sigh of relief at the end of a tough set that I started to look forward to because then I'd know I wasn't alone!
I was a bit skeptical when I previewed this tape. I read all the reviews and it sounded great. But the workout itself did not seem very challenging during the preview. Boy, was I wrong! Aside from the cheesy set (someone else called it "PBS-style"--that pretty much nails it!), the so-so production quality, and the strange warm-up/cool-down (more on that later), this is a great workout.
I think the reason the workout doesn't seem tough when you preview it or even when you first start doing it is because it is very low-key. By that I mean that the music is very soft, there is no whooping or hollering or talking about how sexy we'll look in a tank top on the beach, or any of that other junk to get you pumped up (yes, some people need that--I don't, though) before or during the workout. Fran just starts the workout, and before you realize it, you're huffing and puffing as you lift those weights.
The pace of the workout is fairly fast, but it's not warp-speed, like Cory's GHAS (I love that workout, but her pace just annoys me in that tape!). Fran keeps you moving the entire time; you don't get much opportunity for rest. If you use heavy weights (depending on your fitness level, of course), you will get a good pump in every muscle group. I was surprised to be mildly sore in all my muscles the next day. My quads weren't really sore, but that little area right under the glutes (between the cheek part and the hamstrings on your leg) was nice and sore--I think it was those super slow (4 counts up, 4 counts down) squats!
This tape also features a great abs/chest superset section. Wow! I loved it. She has you do all kinds of pushups, and some interesting circle flyes. They were unique but I really felt them!
About the warm up and cool down....they should have been switched! The warm up is very long and incorporates some long, thorough stretches, while the cool down is pretty short and only has some brief stretches. Also, in the warm up, she only does some very slow side-to-side touches and marhcing in place. This did not seem to be sufficient before all those long stretches. Then, after all that hard work, I felt cheated by the short cool-down stretch. In the future, I'll do a warm-up from another tape, do the weight work from this tape, and then rewind the tape and do the long stretch section from the warm up AFTER I'm done with the workout, skipping the chintzy cool-down stretch altogether.
A word of caution: if you are interested in any of Fran's tapes, I would recommend either getting them off the exchange or buying them from e-bay (I have read several posts stating they are being sold there as well) for no more than $15. Because of the production quality and the bare-bones set, I don't think they're really worth the $25 (including S&H) price they sell for on flexcity.com. I think many VFers will be sorely disappointed in the tapes if they pay that much for them. That said, I don't regret paying full price for them at flexcity.com, because I really enjoy them and things like production and set don't really bother me.
Instructor comments: She is friendly and likeable and cues well. However, she did not strike me as an oustanding or dynamic instructor. No problems with her instruction, though; and she cracks me up when she says (during bicep curls) "No! Don't answer that phone! You're doing double curls!"
This is a keeper! Weights III is a total body weight workout....and it is not easy. Fran uses 5 lb weights throughout the video, but because of the slow reps, you can use *much* heavier weight. (I even used my barbell for the leg work) The workout is a "circuit style" workout. The first half of the workout is standing work (leg and upper body work), and then she moves to the floor for chest and ab work.
Most of the exercises are done in reps of 12, and Fran uses a much slower speed than many of the other videos on the market. I LOVED that! I would use this video as a slow/heavy workout to alternate with my endurance workouts.
I think much has been said about the production quality of this video. I did not think it was that bad. It did not take anything away from the workout, and I found Fran to be very pleasant.
If you are looking for a fancy set, thumping music, and lots of "woo-ing", this video is not for you. If you are looking for an effective weight training video...I highly recommend this one. Some day I will rid myself of these squirrel arms.....
Instructor comments: I thought Fran was very pleasant and gives great form pointers. She knows what she is talking about.
I really like this strength workout – it’s very tough. The whole tone
of the workout is different than Cathe or the Firm though. It’s a
no-nonsense, serious workout; the background exercisers rarely even
smile (probably ‘cause they’re working so hard!). If you’re looking for
high energy and whooping, this is not the video for you. In fact, I
wouldn’t describe this video as fun, but it’s very effective. I have
been sore the next day each time I’ve done it.
Another word that comes to mind to describe this video is “plain”. A
very plain set, plain outfits, plain music (the music sounds like
elevator music or music you’d hear being on hold on the phone).
Something to be aware of is that Fran does not go with the beat of the
music at all. Usually this would drive me crazy, but with the whole tone
and “mellowness” of the workout, it works OK.
I really like the pace of this workout. The exercises themselves are
slow enough for me to use fairly heavy weights, yet the transitions
between them are quick (though thank goodness she gives water breaks
just when I need them!). Fran says you will get cardio benefits because
you never really stop, but I think the main thing you’ll get from this
video is strength.
I agree with people who’ve said the warmup and cooldown are weird. I
do a warmup from a different tape, and then use Fran’s warmup as my
cooldown because she holds the stretches a nice long time.
Instructor comments: Fran is warm and does smile and use some humor
to lighten the seriousness of this workout somewhat. Generally I like
her, although every so often she talks about how difficult the next
exercise is (“get ready for some killer legwork”). That doesn’t help me.
But, that’s a minor thing. Also, she gives some form pointers but not a
whole lot. I think that’s because her target audience with this video is
people who are experienced using weights.
I like the circuit format of this video a lot. I appreciate that Fran
keeps the reps slow and always does 12 reps, and I can go relatively
heavy for the exercises. I also enjoy the variety of the exercises and
the overall quick pace of the workout. Yes, the set is plain and the
music is nondescript, but on this video that doesn't bother me. The time
really flies for me when I do this tape.
However, it seems as if no matter how much I challenge my muscles
with the heaviest weights I can handle with good form, I don't feel
fully worked out after this one. I'm no superwoman; I just feel more
wiped out overall after Cathe's MIS or after some Firm tapes. It may be
the structure of the workout; maybe I do better with prefatiguing and
supersetting, I just don't know. Fran keeps the pace moving by taking
only very brief rests in between sets; she says that this is to
increase the cardiovascular benefit of the workout. I'm not an expert,
but I'm not sure how much of a cardiovascular workout you could get from
this video. This is a weights workout, there are no cardio segments, and
your heart rate may not stay elevated consistently for any length of
time (I consistently am in my THR zone for about 20 minutes total during
this tape). I really like this video for a change of pace, though, and
I'm hoping that the lack of real fatigue or muscle soreness afterwards
isn't an indication of the effectiveness of the workout.
Instructor comments: I really like her! She seems to be so friendly,
and is a real person. I appreciate her low-key style of instruction, but
she is far from flat and boring. She is informative without being too
chatty. Some of her comments really crack me up, like, "Don't answer
that phone, you're doing double curls," "This is a real video filmed in
an hour, not like some other videos where the girls go powder their
noses between sets," "We don't want osteoporosis," "Don't fast forward
through these pushups," "You want nice legs? Well, you're going to get
them!" Somehow, no matter how often I do this video, I don't get tired
of hearing the comments, which is unusual for me.
This video has already been described in great detail. It's true that
Fran Gern provides careful form pointers make this worth the price of the
video alone, particularly if you are just becoming acquainted with weight
training. She does some unique exercises, too.
But I'll be honest. I exchanged last winter and now, two seasons later,
I just got another copy back. I'm attached to this workout, yet ambivalent
about it, too.
This tape bills itself as a circuit workout, but it fails to get me into
my training zone for very long. I use the heaviest weights I can use with
good form, too. I'm such a THZ Nazi, that this proved to be a fatal flaw for
me. I also read that circuit workouts provide few strength benefits! That
was it! No cardio effect and no strength benefits? So I traded Weights III
back in December.
Then, in the spring, I read that if you do 8-12 reps at your heaviest
poundage while still maintaining good form, you CAN get strength benefits.
Talk about confusion! With this new information in mind, I realized I missed
my Weights III and got it again on the exchange.
I'm glad to have it back. I forgot how RELAXING this workout is! It's
the only relaxing weight workout video I own. Don't know why. Is it the
low-key Muzak? The quiet down-to-earth manner of Fran? This workout is
certainly different from my other weight training tapes! Time flies by, too.
Tremendous variety of exercises. I just heavy up and hope I get results!
Look at Fran, after all.
Aside from my own confusion and ambivalence about this workout, I do have
a tiny problem with Fran. I don't like her obvious (however veiled) dig at
The Firm. Fran's style is quite different from the Firm and stands on its
own. She doesn't need to cut the competition down to give herself validity.
She is admirable in every other way, so I just plug my ears when I get to
October 26, 2000
For me this video was a pleasant change of pace from several other strength videos which incorporate compound movements and numerous repetitions per set. While I have not joined the 100 club, I have well over 100 videos, including all of Cathe’s strength videos, Cory’s Get Hard Abs and Basic Sculpting System, Joyce’s Bottoms Up series, Rachel’s In Shape and 12 Firms. I have used Weights III in my rotations and have found that I was able to increase my poundage with it over the course of several weeks. I do not use this workout for cardio, but rather to increase muscular strength. The last time I did this video, I was using 8, 10, 12, 15 and 20 pound dumbbells, a 40 pound barbell for forward lunges, and a 50 pound barbell for squats and static lunges. As stated in the previous reviews, Francesca uses dumbbells throughout the workout.
This is a complete, well-structured circuit style workout. I like the fact that it can also be easily modified to add an extra set or more, or to substitute sets of an exercise from another workout. For example, I have added a couple of extra sets of bench presses. Another time, I replaced 8 leg sets with 8 sets from Cathe’s Leaners Legs (LL). (Spreading the LL sets throughout the Weights III workout did step up my heart rate, and I could still maintain the heavier poundage.)
The background setting is not a factor for me, because I become too busy concentrating on lifting the weights and using proper form. While this video may lack the bells and whistles of some of the more popular strength videos, I recommend it for anyone who wants to shake up their weight training routine. Thank you Lesia for bringing this video to my attention!
As stated by the other reviewers, Francesca is very pleasant and likeable. She explains and displays good form throughout the workout. I hope she makes more weight training videos in the future.
I really enjoyed this video. It was soothing and really allowed me to get into each movement and focus on it. I did the whole thing with 5 pound dumbells as is demonstrated in the video, and while I think there are some places I could go higher, for someone just starting out on serious weight training videos - it really worked all my muscles. The triceps and chest were especially tough - the tricep pushups were a real killer.
I liked the fact that the background exercisers had very real bodytypes, I found it very motivating. If they can do it, so can I! But the video was deceiving at first - the warm up is so wimpy and everyone looks so unassuming - you start out thinking it can't be that hard. But then it just keeps going and going! I didn't find myself looking at the clock though, as the circuit style kept things interesting.
I borrowed this from the library and now I'm going to have to go buy my own copy.
Her accent reminded my of Frances McDormand's character 'Marge' in the movie Fargo. ("And I guess that was your accomplice in the woodchipper?") When I closed my eyes there was this motherly, no-nonsense mid-western type telling me 'Yes, you will do those 12 military style pushups.' So I did them.