The Firm: Volume 5: Abs, Hips & Thighs Workout

LaReine Chabut
Year Released: 1991

Categories: Lower Body Strength

I've been doing this video for over a year, so I guess I've gone through it at least 35 times. It's the only one of the Firm "classics" that I like, although I'm also extremely happy with Tortoise, Hare, and Firm Cardio and Firm Strength.

Let me get my only real complaint out of the way first -- the "rewind" option for "double aerobics." They sound so proud of this at the beginning of the tape. Uhmm, guys, isn't the whole point of video workouts the fact that you can rewind the tape? I can get double, triple, quadruple aerobics with any tape at all! This is not exactly revolutionary here. Personally, it kind of bugs me to pay 15 bucks for what is supposed to be a complete workout and then have to do part of it twice in order to really get the complete workout. Too, I have a psychological problem with it -- I enjoy the feeling of doggedly working my way through an entire tape, and to have to rewind and pretty much start over is frankly discouraging.

By the way, has anyone ever noticed that on the back cover there's a picture of LaReine doing a move that is not in the video? Could it be that there used to be more to this workout that was deleted for some reason or another, and some marketing type came up with this bright rewinding idea?

Anyway, in spite of my grumps about rewinding, I really like this tape (I just do another cardio tape before I start this one, and then I don't have to deal with rewinding). The aerobics that are there are easy to do, mostly just step-ups and variations thereon. Other people have reported problems with the cueing, which I personally have never noticed; however, it may just be that the choreography seems so simple to me (especially if I've just done, say, part of a Cathe Friedrich tape) that I don't really need much cueing and so don't notice when it's off.

After work on the short "box" (why does the Firm insist on calling something that is so clearly a stool, a box?) there are leg presses and squats and french press. The leg presses are done in sets of 12, which shouldn't be hard after doing 16 reps on other Firm tapes, but somehow these always really get me; perhaps the tempo's a bit faster here.

The ab section is truly nasty (and I mean that in a good way). Hits upper abs, lower abs, and obliques. You keep your heels elevated on the tall box for the first part. Mostly crunches, reverse crunches, twisting crunches, lifting your hips with your legs extended up (this always kills me), and "leg walks" (which hurt even more).

The leg work is also quite grueling. First there is table work, then lying side abduction and adduction. You can throw on ankle weights and also plop a dumbbell on your leg if you're really into suffering. There are two sets of 8 pushups thrown in during the leg work, presumably to make this a more "total body" workout (but it really isn't -- you want to work your upper body to death, buy Tortoise or Firm Strength). And a little bridgework, which has a drum and some other, ummm, strange sounds keeping time.

I can see why many people find the original Firms cheesy -- the set's really BRIGHT, everybody is SMILING, and the music is, frankly, loud and icky. (There's one part near the end of the leg work, when I'm absolutely dying, where I swear it sounds like that dang saxophone is laughing at me.) But at least with Volume V I got used to that, and now it doesn't bother me. I think the tape offers good lower-body toning that you can keep making more difficult by adding more weight, so I'm not likely to stop using it any time soon.

J. Phelan