The Firm: Crosstrainers - The Tortoise

Susan Harris, Tracie Long
Year Released: 1995

Categories: Circuit Training (cardio and weights)

The Firm says the Tortoise is good for older exercisers or beginners, because you use heavy weights and slow movements (as opposed to the Hare, with lighter weights and faster movements). HA! I disagree! If you do go with heavy weights, it's a killer!

You start the tape with a quick warmup, then do abs. It's a little strange, but I like it because I like variety. For most of the rest of the tape (the killer part), you alternate slow moves with heavy weights with ballroom aerobics segments. At the end of the workout you do pushups, those weird "pelvic floor contractions" (which I don't get so I do bridge work instead), some pec flies and some more ab work.

Some reviewers have mentioned that they don't like going back and forth between the strength work and the ballroom aerobics. That's actually one of my favorites things about this workout. The strength moves on this tape are quite standard, and the way in which they are combined is pretty basic too. For example, you do 16 lunges on one leg, then bicep curls, then 16 lunges on the other leg. Alone, I think I would get really bored with the strength work and I just wouldn't enjoy the workout. The ballroom dancing is fun, though, and gives me a break in intensity and style. In fact, I think doing the ballroom aerobics lets me push myself harder on the work with weights.

The Firm says you get 38 minutes of aerobics, but I find that when I do the arm work, I fall out of my target heart rate zone. Maybe I get aerobic benefits when I do this workout, but I do it primarily for the muscle conditioning.

Because of the more basic choreography, I don't find this workout to be as "fun" as other Firms, and I can't do it too often or I get bored with it. On the other hand, because of the simplicity, it's very effective. Grade: A.

Instructor Comments:
Tracie is a no-nonsense instructor with excellent form, great cueing, and a well-toned physique. Perky and bubbly she's not, but that's just fine because it wouldn't suit this workout.

Mary Truscott