The Firm: Volume 4: Time-Crunch Workout

Susan Harris, Kai Soremekun
Year Released: 1990

Categories: Circuit Training (cardio and weights)

I am a lifelong PE Refugee who would still be a slug if it weren't for my "party animal" aerobic tapes. But this year I turned 40. It was time to get serious! While I had dabbled with other toning tapes, I really wanted to try the FIRM tapes. Thanks to Christine Letsky and some of the other FIRM Believers here, I started this tape three months ago. One month after I'd been using it, three or four people asked me if I'd lost weight. (I hadn't--but my clothes were a little looser). The only other workout that's ever done anything like that for me is Kathy Smith's Weight Loss Workout (which is 35 minutes of aerobics and 16 minutes of toning with light weights). This summer I'm going to rotate these two tapes and see what happens! But even more than the changes in my body's looks, I'm excited about how this workout has increased what I can DO! My upper body and my back are stronger than they've ever been--even though the heaviest weights I've used so far are 10 pounds on each side. My knees are better able to handle step aerobics and my 2-year-old daughter's horsey rides :) Man, this is living!

The workout itself is about 40-42 minutes in length, which should appeal to the leisure-challenged among us:) Susan and Kai take turns leading different sections, plus you rotate five minutes of heavy weight work with five minutes of very basic aerobics or slow-paced step aerobics. The repetitions for most of the heaviest moves such as squats are broken up and rotated with other exercises. Nothing like a little variety to keep you interested! You're busy ALL the time, so the workout seems shorter than it really is. But don't let the short length fool you. You can make this as easy or as hard as you want by the size weights you choose for the moves. As Trish Ransom said, if you use the heaviest weights possible, you will definitely know you've worked out. Or if you're not up to par, you can always go with lighter weights for a day and still maintain your exercise habit!

The set is beautiful, and so is the cast. I'm usually too busy moaning and groaning to pay attention to them, though. The music is pleasant--some jazz, a little new age or neo-classical, sychronized very nicely with the routines. There are a couple of numbers, though, that sound like 1950's burlesque music. One of them is performed by a horn section with more brass than class. Apologies to tuba enthusiasts everywhere, but I think tubas sound hilarious. All you have to do is say the word "tuba" and I start cracking up. Well, guess which instrument has the flatulating solo on this song? But at least it comes at the end of the toughest sequence of the tape, when I'm ready for a good laugh. For only $17.99 or so at the major discounters, you can have a 40-minute workout that gives you real bang for the buck, and an unforgettable tuba selection at no extra charge. What more do you need?
Grade: A+

Both Susan and Kai are very elegant and classy-looking. Kai is a joy to watch--she even looks good doing squats and hoisting those heavy weights. I happen to love Susan, too--and her wonderful accent. (It's nice to see and hear a fellow Southerner in action!) However, she has multiple personalities that change with the workout segments. She's really sweet and soft-spoken during the stretches and cool-down, a drill sergeant during the pushups--"PUSH!!!"--and serious most of the rest of the time. I must warn you--there are a couple of places where she really seems to get an endorphin rush--or something--from working out. If this were a 1940's movie, I'd expect her to light up a cigarette in the next frame!

Melissa Cooper