Firm Total Body Makeover

Allie Del Rio, Alison Davis, Rebekah Sturkie, Robyn Johnson, Emily Welsch
Year Released: 2009

Categories: Circuit Training (cardio and weights) , Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance

I picked this up at a used book sale; I probably should have known better! :p To be clear, none of the four workouts offered on this DVD is new: each was previously released on a prior Firm DVD as an "Express" version of the full workout. I purchased this DVD because I had not tried any of those prior releases, and so I thought that this might be a good deal. Unfortunately, I found all four of these workouts to be uninteresting, uninspiring, and generally too easy for my high intermediate level.

The Main Menu simply lists the four routines, each of which are approximately 30-35 minutes long. I have provided brief breakdowns below.

The FIRM Total Body Time Crunch (25:14)
This short, all-strength routine is led by Rebekah Sturkie. The 5-minute warm-up includes moves such as step-touch, step-squat, low jacks, and knees. There are three total strength segments, each 5 minutes long. The first consists of biceps curls, squats with knees, bent over rows, and dead lifts. The second series includes standing chest work, plies, overhead triceps press, and one-legged squat. Finally, the sequence involves "corkscrew" (front lunge with a twist), pec flies and pelvic raises on the floor, and abs work. Rebekah does add some compound work on the second set; she repeatedly states that you are doing "3-in-1" moves. The workout ends with a 5-minute cool-down with lying stretches for the hamstrings and quads as well as seated stretches.

Sculpt-ilates (31:15)
Robyn Johnson instructs this Pilates-inspired workout, the only section of the DVD which uses the included band. Robyn starts with a standing warm-up without the band, performing moves such as knee pull, roll down, standing spinal twist; she flows into more challenging movements such as standing saw, swan, criss-cross, and mermaid. Moving down to the floor (at 11m), Robyn adds the band for Pilates row but then drops the band again for side-lying work, including star, inner & outer leg lifts, and mermaid. More rows and biceps curls with the band follow, and then Robyn moves through the Pilates series of five without the band. Final stretches include hip flexors, gate pose, seated spine stretch, seated spine twist, and diagonal stretch. I enjoy Pilates, but the time really dragged during this routine, and the music was WAY too loud and jarring for me.

The Firm: Hard Core Fusion (35:47)
This is a cardio/strength circuit workout led by Allie Del Rio. The 5-minute warm-up starts with marches, step taps, side taps with "funky" biceps, and v-march with speed bag arms. Each interval is about 5 minutes long. Allie starts with strength and performs plie rows, hammer curls, and side lunges with triceps press. Next comes a cardio sequence with jump rope, balance leg lifts to the rear, punches, lunges, and kicks. Some of the transitions in this segment felt very awkward to me, and the cardio wasn't sufficient to keep my heart rate up. For the next strength interval, Allie introduces "heavy" lunges, one-arm rows, triceps presses, and plies with side delt raises. The second cardio segment was a bit more enjoyable, with some interesting moves such as plies with twists, side kicks, front-back kicks, and knee holds with front kicks. However, I thought that Allie's cuing was surprisingly poor here. The final section is strength-based and focuses on core: Allie performs standing side bends, knee crunches, and squats with twists, and then she goes to the floor for ribcage pullovers, reverse crunches, and "triceps tummy toner" crunches. The workout concludes with a 5-minute cool-down stretch, but I HATED that planks were included as part of the cool-down! The stretch portion offers seated twist, cat/cow, and standing stretches.

The Firm: Cardio Party (31:47)
This workout features various instructors, including Rebekah, Allie, and then also Alison Davis and Emily Welsh, both of whom appear as background exercisers on the above workouts. What bothered me here is that they are all teaching routines that they offered on DVDs PRIOR to the release of Cardio Party, so this is more like a "Firm Greatest Hits" compilation. Alison is up first, instructing the 4.5 minute warm-up (marches in/out, etc.) Her 3.5-minute sequence includes ski back step with bounce, repeater knees, and side leg raise with knees. Emily is next for a kickboxing-inspired routine that will look familiar. She starts with a standing crunch, adding a twist and then a kick. Next comes a jab-cross to the side, moving into jab-cross-knee. This is followed by squats which turn into plyos and finally, repeater knees with a twist. At 7.5 minutes, this segment felt MUCH too long. Rebekah's series (8.5 minutes) is supposed to be more "funky," as she introduces Latin-inspired moves such as samba and salsa. Added on to these are a touch-side-rear and a low lunge wrap. Finally, Allie states that her dance is going to be a "fiesta" party. She begins with a cha-cha, adding in a triple step and arms. Allie fancies up the cha-cha with a butt kick; she also performs a cross step with heel lift, shimmy, and drag step. Her sequence lasts about 6 minutes, and then she moves right into the approximately 2-minute flowing cool-down (rib shifts, plies, leg circles).

Overall, I found the workouts on this DVD to be just so-so. My least favorite was the Sculpt-ilates; the others were okay; there just was not anything particularly different or interesting about any of them. This DVD would probably be best suited to experienced beginning exercisers who 1) enjoy the newer Firm workouts (but have not tried any of the prior DVDs from which these routines were taken), and 2) who are short on time and would appreciate these shorter offerings.

Instructor Comments:
Typical Firm instruction. I probably liked Robyn the least, but I liked that workout the least. I tend to enjoy Emily; sometimes I find Alison too wooden, but she was fine here.

Beth C (aka toaster)