This is a predominantly cardio workout with a lot of power/jumping movements and some strength moves mixed in. It is from the first set of workouts produced by Tracie Long Productions (TLP), and the production quality is not great. The set looks like a garage with curtains hung around the sides, and the cuts between sections are a bit choppy, with appearing and disappearing steps and weights. The camera angles occassionally keep you from seeing the exercisers’ legs at crucial moments, but since the moves are not complicated, you can figure out what to do pretty quickly, and it’s not a problem after your first few times. I’m not a very picky about production values, and I find I can use this workout without feeling upset about these problems. Other people may not find the production acceptable, however, especially since newer TLP workouts with reportedly better production values are now available. The sound quality is fine.
I was hesitant about getting this DVD, because I’ve never liked the Firm videos. These do seem in the Firm tradition, because they move quickly between different segments, mix up cardio and weights, and mix strength training exercises up rather than focusing on one body part per segment as Cathe Friedrich does in most of her weight workouts. However, I liked the “power” idea, as I like to jump around and do plyometrics; this video seemed enough like Mindy Mylrea’s strength/power work (such as Strength Express) that I might like it. I do like it and plan to keep it and use it, though it has some drawbacks.
All of the TLP workouts focus on “functional fitness” which they interpret as combining upper and lower body exercises and/or adding twists/core rotation to exercises. On many of the strength moves, you’re shown a basic option and then given a more advanced option that adds rotation or balance in some way with the instruction to “make it functional”. I guess the intention is to train several muscle groups to work together, as they do in real life, rather than isolating a single muscle group. However, I still find the “make it functional” instruction kind of funny, since I’m prancing around my living room with a weighted ball and a step. It doesn’t really bring visions of preparing for firefighting or construction work to mind!
The video uses a step, some dumbbells (5 or 8 pounds seems to work okay – they don’t go very heavy because of the functional focus that combines various movements at once), and a medicine ball (they use 2 or 3 pounds I think, but I use 6 pounds because it’s all I have! I think it would work better with a lighter ball like they use, though.)
Here’s a breakdown of the sections along with DVD chapters and lengths. There is a scene selection menu that allows you to go directly to any of the chapters. The entire workout is 42 minutes long.
1 Warm Up (2:10)
2 Stretch (3:30)
3 Med Ball Cardio (4:38) - Squats, squat jumps, shuffles, pendulums, rocking horse, jumps side-to-side over the ball placed on the floor
4 Squats, Jumps, Militaries (2:22) [Uses step] Squats with dumbbells, jumps onto step, military press with dumbbells, militaries with squats
5 Med Ball Cardio and Rows (3:10) Quick toe taps on ball, soccer kicks rolling ball between feets, squat jumps, rows with ball and dumbbells – tough and pretty fun!
6 Chops on Step (2:10) [Uses step] Lunges forward and back off of step with upper body chopping motion using ball
7 Squat Thrusts (1:22) [Uses step] Squat thrusts (aka burpees), plyo lunges from step – also tough and fun!
8 Cross Chop Balance (3:18) Squat side to side with upper body chopping motion, abduction balancing on one leg, one leg squats – unique exercises,I like this section pretty well.
9 Hurdle Lunge Cardio (3:38) Lunges moving forward, plyo lunges in place, ski jump back – lots of fun and really tough! This is the most choreographed it gets, but you catch on quickly. Leaves me very winded.
10 Side Leg Press (2:58) [Uses step] Squat and side leg lift on step with dumbbells, side jumps onto step, bicep work with dumbbells, then repeat other side
11 Multi-planar lunges (3:44) Lunges diagonally back, jumps diagonally back, squats with releve – my favorite section, again, unique exercises
12 Chest and Back (2:49) Push-ups with ball, planks with scapular retraction using ball, superman with bal – quick and to the point, but pretty effective for such a short segment.
13 Abs (5:05) – I really like the ab section – kind of yoga and pilates inspired. Some moves use the ball, and I feel like you get a lot of ab work done in only 5 minutes. I pop the DVD in for this section alone when I don’t want to spend too much time on abs after another workout.
14 Final Stretch (1:06) – Kind of yoga inspired. Nicely put together, but some transitions seem rushed.
The workout goes by quite quickly. It leaves me feeling like I had a good cardio workout with some interval effect from all the power moves and a so-so strength workout. It’s a pretty advanced workout, though since it’s only 42 minutes, it doesn’t leave you feeling ready to die like some advanced cardio/strength/power workouts do. I feel pretty energetic afterwards, which is a good thing in a workout! I think the upper body work is light enough that you could do it back-to-back with a more intense upper body weight workout.
As with the Firm workouts I’ve tried, the instructor seems scripted and a bit stilted. Cindy Thorp doesn’t seem totally comfortable in front of the camera, though she gets more relaxed over the course of the workout. It definitely lacks the natural feel of a class or the relaxed banter of Cathe Friedrich’s workouts, for instance. If you like the Firm’s style though, and find it cuts out unnecessary chatter, than you should like this too.
The background exercisers seem to lack enthusiasm. It would have added a lot for me if they smiled more or seemed to interact with the instructor or with each other a bit.
While I’ve listed all these problems – low production values, unenthusiastic background exercisers, and stilted instructor – I do enjoy this workout, and will keep it to use when I want a change of pace or need a shorter workout that fits both cardio and strength in. I think it will work well for recovery weeks between phases of more intense weight training, or if I feel like doing a cardio-and-power focused rotation using this along with some Mindy Mylrea and Bosu workouts.
If you like Firm workouts, you may well like this one, because I think it has a similar feel to it, in spite of TLP’s new “functional fitness” angle. You may also enjoy this workout if you like Mindy Mylrea’s strength workouts because it combines power moves, cardio, and strength workout, and you don’t focus on any one exercise for too long. It is not as intense as Mindy’s workouts, but then you don’t always need Mindy-level intensity!
August 20, 2004
This is about as bad as I’ve seen in awhile. Why don’t we think of all the different types of moves we can do with a medicine ball and put them all together with no rhyme or reason and, just to make things fun, make sure the transitions are really awkward? And, oh yes, let’s see if we can win The Ugliest Set Award, too, while we’re at it. I’m being facetious, but my first (and only) impression of this was, “Good grief!” I actually did like the instructor, Cindy Thorp, but that was the only thing I liked about this DVD. The workout itself is a mish-mash of “stuff” that seems designed only to be different. The production is lesser quality than Body-B-Fit or Sara City. Grade D – only Cindy Thorp saves it from being an F.
I am a big TLP fan and have all the w/os. Before I did this w/o, I had been doing Core Foundations for about 5 weeks before and had done parts of DS&P from the parts w/o The Whole Shebang. This w/o itself is tough aerobically but really fun. I think that if I ahd not been strengthening my core, I would not have enjoyed this w/o as much. There are many things I can't do, but I modified the moves. The music selection is excellent and it goes by quickly. I had to take a couple of water breaks because I was breathing so hard. There are lots of jumps in this w/o, so if you cannot or do not like high impact, this may not be for you. But I really felt like I accomplished something by completing this w/o!
This w/o is supposed to be done after developing your core strength for 4-6 weeks by doing Core Foundations. Then you begin adding Functional Strength and DS&P into your rotation. My understanding of functional fitness is that this TLP w/os are designed to strengthen your muscles in the way that you use them in everyday life. As a 36-year old working mom of 2 young kids, I personally find this functional fitness way of training to be extremely beneficial to my lifestyle.
Having met Cindy Thorp in person, I find her obvious fitness level and strength to be very inspirational. She looks so great on camera. I like her matter of fact approach - Cindy is all about business & the workout. She looks like she has NO body fat at all, and doesn't even breathe hard during the w/o.
The music is fantastic.
The workout was intense. I do Cathe's KPC without any real difficulty, and this had my gasping at times for breath.
I was using a 3 Kg medicine ball, and I think it was far too heavy for me to use in this workout. At times I dropped down to a 5 pound or 3 pound dumbbell.
It's not sporting of someone from the planet Krypton to lead a workout for us mere humans.
All kidding aside. Cindy is incredible. I really really enjoyed her instruction style - very concise, precise - clearly she knows her stuff.
Described on the DVD as an instructor's instructor, Cindy's form is impeccable.
I was a little nervous about trying this video, as I had heard rumors that it was one of the hardest workouts ever. It was released by Tracie Long's former company, Tracie Long Productions, and it was instructed my Cindy Thorp, who also appears in one of the newer Tracie Long Training videos (Strength in Movement). This is a mostly cardio workout that uses a low step, light weights, and a medicine ball (ideally, one that is able to roll easily). I've tried the workout with both the top (6") and bottom (8") portion of my Firm Fanny Lifter; both worked, although the higher step made some of the double-footed jumps impossible for me. I started off with 3# dumbbells but had no problems moving up to 5# my second time through the workout, and I used a 4# medicine ball. Finally, this is a functional fitness workout, which means in mimics moves that you use in your daily life; as a result, there are a lot of twists and balance work.
Cindy begins the warm-up doing twists and lunges with the medicine ball; this short segment (2 minutes) moves smoothly into a dynamic stretch (3 minutes), also using the ball. The first cardio segment (4.5 minutes) also uses the ball, and it begins with squats and some plyometric jumps. Also, included are shuffles, pendulums, and a fun rocking horse move; the segment ends with side jumps over the ball. Next comes a short cardio segment (2.5 minutes) using the step. Here, squats with dumbbells are interspersed with squat jumps on and off the step, starting slow and then speeding things up (but staying at a reasonable, measured pace). More ball work follows (3 minutes), and it's a lot of fun! This time, you'll put your ball on the floor for some toe taps and soccer kicks, then add in some squat jumps and rows.
I found the next segment 1.5 minutes), which uses the step, to be tough: holding the medicine ball, you'll lunge forward and back, eventually adding a "chop" with the ball; this really tired out my stationary leg. Following this comes a segment which includes a side-to-side squat with the chop and a balance hold (3 minutes). Next, you'll need some room to do "hurdle lunges": holding the ball, you'll lunge forward, bring the back leg around to follow, jump lunge in place, and the speed skate back with plyos to finish (3.5 minutes). Then it's back to the step for some squats and leg lifts with dumbbells. Although this work is more toning-oriented, you do jumps onto and over the step in-between, so your heart rate definitely stays elevated (3 minutes). The final cardio segment (3.5 minutes) includes multi-planar lunges (i.e., lunging to 4 and 8 o'clock) with hops and squats with releves, all using the medicine ball.
Cindy then brings you down to the floor for some chest and back work; this segment is short (<3 minutes), but quite tough! First, you'll do push-ups with one hand on the ball, eventually rolling the ball back and forth for power push-ups. Next, you'll hold the ball under both hands for some planks with scapular retraction and triceps push-ups. You finish in a prone position for some "superman" work, still using the ball. You're not done yet, however: some KILLER abs work using the ball follows. Cindy begins with the "roller coaster," a move that is reminiscent of the Pilates teaser but made even tougher by rolling the ball down your legs in the elevated position. You'll also do some weighted twists while balancing in the yoga boat position. The workout concludes with a very short (1 minute) but nice stretch on the floor that includes reclined leg stretches and pigeon pose. The entire workout clocks in at just under 43 minutes.
Overall, I really loved this workout! It was definitely challenging, but the variety of unique moves made it a lot fun. I particularly liked that the workout was intense enough to keep my heart rate elevated during the cardio portions (about 35 minutes), yet the moves are never executed too fast or out of control. I also really enjoyed the music, which is fun, upbeat, and sometimes vocal (one of the songs included is the theme song for Tracie Long's new company, Tracie Long Training). Instructor Cindy Thorp is a superwoman, breezing through the workout as if it were nothing; the three background exercises are fine, although less expressive/enthusiastic. My one (minor) criticism of this workout would be the production values: the workout looks like it was filmed in someone's garage, and the transitions between segments are somewhat choppy, with the step magically appearing/disappearing. However, these issues did not bother me at all and did not detract from my enjoyment of this workout. Finally, the DVD is very well-chaptered, so you could easily break down the video into shorter segments if you wished to do so (personally, I enjoy doing the whole thing!). I highly recommend this fun, athletic-inspired, functional fitness program to experienced exercisers looking for an advanced cardio workout.
As mentioned above, Cindy is like a superwoman who flows seemingly effortlessly through the workout. She is friendly and pleasant but does not engage in any extraneous chatter. I thought her cueing was better than Tracie's in the Yorktowns, although as with those videos, the camera angles sometimes make the moves a bit difficult to follow at first.
Beth C (aka toaster)
June 26, 2006