The Firm Parts: Tough Aerobic Mix II (aka Not-so-Tough Aerobic Mix)

Susan Harris, Janet Jones-Gretzky, Sandahl Bergman, LaReine Chabut, Jayne Poteet
Year Released: 1996

Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance

Equipment required: a set of 3, 5 and 8 lb. dumbbells, a short, 6 to 10 inch step, a towel to stretch.

Apparently, the FIRM is now calling this tape Tough Aerobic Mix II. Most people call it Not-So-Tough Aerobic Mix. I bought it when it first came out it was called Light Aerobic Mix. It's compiled from Volumes 2 through 6 (there's nothing from Volume 1). I bought this tape when I was looking for a "fast and light" low impact workout that I could sandwich between "Total Body" FIRM days workout (back then I bought only FIRM tapes), and I enjoy this tape and have done this tape many times over the years.

After a brief introduction from the guest instructor, Karen Taylor (the FIRM calls her "your personal trainer"), the tape begins with the warm-up from Volume 5. Here's the run-down for the rest of the tape:

the first aerobic segment from Volume 2 (with weights)
an aerobic segment from Volume 3 (with weights)
the aerobic segment with the tri-star from Volume 4 (no weights)
a step segment from Volume 6 (no weights)
a step segment from Volume 4 (with weights)
a floor segment from Volume 2 (with weights)
a step segment from Volume 6 (no weights)
the last step segment from Volume 5 (with weights)
the first step segment from Volume 5 (no weights)
a series of quick lunges from Volume 3 (with weights)
a cool down from Volume 3
the stretch from Volume 4

In all, the tape is 41 minutes long, with about 29 aerobic minutes. The choreography is very basic with athletic, non-dancy moves. I would rate this as an intermediate workout, and now I use it on days when I want a short, lighter (but not too light) workout. I've also used it after extensive layoffs to help me get back into exercising. I use mostly 5 lb. dumbbells, and heavier dumbbells for a couple of moves. I have no desire to use heavier dumbbells because many of the moves are quick and, in my opinion, not designed to be used with heavier weights. That means that unlike other FIRM tapes, there's a limit to how far you can progress with this tape. I find that the many short segments with different instructors makes this tape go by quickly. I usually add a FIRM ab segment at the end. A word of warning: if you don't like the "classic tapes," you probably won't like this one.

Production comments: The set for the main segments is the mansion set used in Volumes 1-6, which I have always enjoyed. The instructor for each segment stands in front of a mirror facing a "class" of extremely well-toned, carefully coiffed women and men who never seem to sweat. I personally find it inspiring to watch such fit-looking people in video tapes it makes me work harder. It uses the synth music from the "classic" volumes which, in my opinion, has held up pretty well considering how long ago it was composed. The music/voice mix and the overall sound are excellent. I found the transitioning from segment to segment pretty smooth, considering that this tape was patched together as an afterthought.

Instructor Comments:
Karen Taylor doesn't really instruct but rather, she tells you what equipment you'll need and gets you into the correct position for the upcoming segment. She's warm an friendly, but like all FIRM instructors, sticks to her script. She has a slight "Islands" accent which is very pleasant. As for the other instructors, I like them all to varying degrees.

Karen P.