The Firm: Cardio Dance Fusion

Alison Davis
Year Released: 2008

Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance

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I like this work-out. It makes me sweat harder than jogging. It is easy to do it twice a day. Does anybody lose weight doing this or inches? I am not sure because I am on week three, now. I do CLUB Dancing 25 minutes 2times a day. I like the dance moves. I now I have the heart of a pro-athlete!!

Valerie Lynn


This workout has already been broken down thoroughly, so I am just going to add my opinions on the workout. NOTE: This DVD is now titled “Cardio Dance Express.” I am reviewing this workout after having done the entire 45 minute routine twice.

I really enjoy the Firm workouts, from the original classics through the Goodtimes BSS1-4 series to the new Pink Firms. They all very in intensity, music, background settings, and instruction, and I definitely like some more than others, but most of the Firm workouts do provide a solid intermediate workout. I enjoy Alison from some of her other workouts: Bootcamp Maximum Calorie Burn, Ultimate Fat Burning Workout, Core Solutions, and Dangerous Curves Ahead. She has very clear instruction and is enthusiastic about her moves. She calls her background exercisers her “girls” (as in, “okay girls, are you ready?”) which I think is cute. Makes me feel like part of the background exercisers!

With that said, I took a BIG gamble buying this workout. I stringently shy away from complicated choreography (even “moderate” choreography on Collage Video makes me cringe!) and I am NOT a dancer, and with rare exception (I seem to be more adventurous lately) I do not buy dance videos. I even get cranky sometimes when just ONE section in a regular Firm video is dance inspired (like in 500 Calorie workout for instance).

But this being a Firm workout, with Alison who is one of my favorite master instructors, and the DVD having gotten great reviews, I decided to give it a try. I was really worried about not being able to follow along, so I started to preview it, but the music got me so pumped up I decided to just give it a stab and stop when it gets frustrating. I tried the whole 45 minute version, and like Collage says, there is really no distinct warm-up or cool down. It just jumps right in. I was surprised I was able to fairly keep up – at least enough not to get frustrated. This is thanks to Alison’s clear cuing and my limited experience with dance from other Firm workouts which I was able to master with some repetition and patience.

As the other reviewer said, there are four distinct dance genre sections. I found the swing routine with the Charleson kicks to be the most complicated and stumbled over my feet a few times. However during my second go-around I was able to keep up better and thought this section was the most fun out of the four. The final section (ballet inspired) had some very good standing core work and all in all I had a gentle sweat going. I would categorize this as higher exertion than an Ellen Barrett Studio workout but less exertion than an athletic Firm cardio workout (or cardio portions of) Dangerous Curves Ahead, Pump Jump and Jab, or the like. That being said, the two times I did this workout (and will likely continue to use the video this way) I did it as an extra credit afternoon workout session after my regularly scheduled morning session on a weekend day. It was gentle enough to use as a second workout but I would probably be disappointed to use it in lieu of a regular cardio workout because I still prefer high intensity athletic workouts to dance.

The set for this workout was the same set used for Pump, Jump, and Jab, very light and open with colorful walls. The background exercisers included Emily and three others which I have seen before (but are not master instructors). The blonde to the right of Alison (to my right) does some low impact modifications but not consistently through the workout. It’s like Alison remembered to tell you to watch her for modifications but not until about halfway through the workout.

I would say this video is at the intermediate level and has moderate choreography. It was upward to complicated for me, but for most (especially for those more familiar with dancing) is probably at a doable intermediate level. There was some hops and high intensity but no plyos or anything that would fatigue the legs. This is definitely a pure cardio workout with some standing core toning in the final segment.

It was ultimately an enjoyable video for me and I plan to keep it, but it was not so amazing that I plan to run to the store ASAP and buy more dance workouts. I think it’s good for me to diversify and this provides a refreshing change of pace for me. The music was FUN! That was the main reason I decided to give it a try and I was pleased. I give the workout a B+.

Instructor Comments:
I really enjoy Alison. She is my 2nd favorite of the new Pink Firm master instructors (Kelsie is my favorite), I would say she is a better cuer and just more charismatic and fun than Allie, Emily, Rebekah, Annie, or Tina.

Emily B.


This is a very fun dvd – a simple but energetic dance workout.

There is a nice warmup/easier section that I think is supposed to be club dancing (9:20), followed by a Latin dance section (about 10 minutes). Then comes my favorite – a big band type swing routine complete with Charleston kicks (about 10 minutes). My heart rate gets pretty high during the Latin and big band segments – high as it can when I run. Then comes a segment I find bizarre (around 9:30). I think it is the cooldown. Alison does say she wants you to bring it down a tad, I really miss those formerly-annoying chapter titles from Bootcamp. The bizarre segment includes lots of plies combined with lifting your leg, chassees going into lunges (a move that THIS almost 50 year old needs to do very cautiously), and some balance work. I like it, but my hr crashes which I assume is the purpose.

Then there is a very nice segment that is again unannounced but seems to be stretching. It is about 5:30 Again a little balance work which I very much appreciated. The stretching seemed very thorough to me (more so than most Firms) and I really liked it. I feel great after doing this, I get that nice buzzed I-worked-out-but-not-too-hard-and-nothing-hurts feeling.

I don’t really agree with reviews I’ve seen elsewhere that say Alison’s cuing is poor. There is one step I find confusing – it starts out as four taps and then becomes two kicks (IMO). Alison calls this “four kicks”. I think it’s because she’s counting kicking front and kicking back as two separate kicks. Otherwise, I can follow this. I sometimes have trouble with Alison’s accent but not in this tape. There is a lot of TIFT-ing – I enjoy it but an experienced dancer/choreo hound might not. In fact I could do that big band section a few extra times.

I do agree with comments that the production values on the tape seem poor. First, Emily’s makeup is very distracting to me. It is way too heavy and I keep on wondering who she is when she is on-camera – she looks very different and about my age. Alison’s vocal tracks seem not to have had the usual editing during the cool-down – you can hear her breathing heavily. I assume that usually happens and gets edited out. Like a lot of people, I felt it would be helpful to see the dancers’ feet more often. On the plus side, the backup exercisers are NOT wearing matching clothing and have mostly minimal makeup. Alison is wearing enough makeup not to look washed out. The look is mostly nice and not very Stepford-firm at all.

There is some of what I’d call impact – ponies, jumping moves, etc. Maybe this is less impact than plyometric moves? You could make this low impact and I think it would still be a fun, good workout but there is no modifier.

I don’t think this is appropriate for a beginning exerciser at all unless they were very young. Some moves – the chassee into a lunge – were uncomfortable for me so I took it easy with them. You should at least be a confident enough exerciser to know what’s not good for you and modify.

This is much more difficult and the choreography is harder than Cardio Dance Slimdown. Both are fun but this is a less cheesy fun – it seems more like a serious dance video (although I’m not a dancer and I bet it’s too easy for those who really love dance).

Now, there are premixes. There is a club dance, a Latin dance, and a jive dance premix. All are one segment of the workout plus the cooldown and the stretch, and all are about 24-25 minutes long. I find the jive dance routine too intense to do without something a little warm-up-y so I tend to think I would do club dance, jive dance, my own kind of shorter cool down, and a stretch if I wanted a shorter workout from this dvd.

Instructor Comments:
She's great! Alison looks great and does a nice job cueing. When she says “I love this move” you actually believe her. She makes a few comments about weight loss which sound like Gaiam scripted them but mostly seems very natural and likeable.

Coleen (cjo42a)