The Firm: Core Cardio

Tamela Hastie, Carissa Foster, Dale Brabham
Year Released: 1999

Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance

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I know this is an old workout - but I have doing a lot of it recently because it is on an old Firm Rotation calendar that I had. I just have to comment on how awful this workout is. I read all the previous reviews and was absolutely floored by how many people actually liked it. The cardio is so very boring - I could nod off. The Firm felt that by bumping up the intensity simply meant adding more plyo jumps. Expect to do a plyo jump in every segment. Prepare to plyo jump when none should be done - when in doubt - add a plyo jump. None of this is hard choreography and none of this is exciting either. The thing I really wanted to comment on is the music. HORRIBLE MUSIC!!!!!!! Music that is so bad I turn off the sound during some segments. Its this hard heavy metal sounding stuff - that barely sounds like music - just a bunch of jamming by someone not sure how to play the electric guitar. Not all segments - just a couple - but that's enough. I've always said The Firm can't do cardio - it is always too easy or too too boring. Once this rotation calendar is over I'll never do it again. I'd rather do a Kari Anderson workout.

Instructor Comments:
All were just ok - not exceptional - just ok.

Denise Zoldos


Even though this tape has its flaws (poor cueing - especially during the step, Carissa's constant "this is fun," going to the floor after aerobics), I still love this tape. The music is outstanding, much better than CC2. This is the best of the two - it's got more high impact, which I love, and the constant changing of routines keeps me motivated. I usually do combo workouts, and this tape with All Cardio or Step & Stones II makes for a great circuit that's well over an hour. I find myself saying, "this is fun."

Instructor Comments:
Dale has a great body, Tamela is beautiful with a pleasant voice, and even though Carissa can be a bit enthusiastic, I still like her.

maryann parker


I like this video. I don't mind the high impact moves; I actually kind of like them. The intensity of this workout is advanced, but I found that during the step aerobics and some of the 4 limbed aerobics, my heart rate really dropped. I think this is a good workout for those people who can do and like high impact moves and don't want to deal with lots of dancy choreography. My *major* complaint with this tape, though, has to do with the music and the offbeatedness (OK, I know that's not a word, but humor me. *smile*) of some of the moves. Sometimes, the music and the moves just didn't seem to go together, which made it sort of awkward for me to maintain a consistent groove with the workout. This doesn't totally detract from the quality of the workout, but it definitely doesn't help it, either. I'm also not a big fan of the "cooldown" in this workout, but I work around it. I like the variety in this tape; switching from high impact to step to four limbed aerobics keeps me from getting bored. In fact, the time goes by relatively quickly with this workout. Overall, this is a worthy effort by The Firm.

Instructor Comments:
In my opinion, Carissa is the most enjoyable instructor in this video. She's very energetic. Dale seems sort of robotic and Tamela seems to be overdoing her enthusiasm. All 3 instructors could stand to take some cuing lessons...the cuing isn't horrible in this tape, but it can be sort of aggravating. Overall, they are all adequate instructors, but not the best I've worked out w/.



I'd to preface my comments on these three tapes by saying that I have used the FIRM tapes for the past 10 years. I have tried others, and the only other series of tapes I enjoy are REebok (specifically, The Video, Power Step, Intense Moves, and Extreme Step). I've tried Kathy Smith, Karen Voight, Tae Bo, CIA, The Crunch, and Buns of Steel. Not one of these has motivated me to put them in the VCR more than, at the most, three more times. These just don't do it for me like the FIRM tapes and the Reebok videos I mentioned earlier. Generally speaking, I'm what you would call a FIRM Believer. Overall, I think the concept behind the FIRM tapes is unique--especially when they first came out. The quality of the workouts and the production are usually very high, making nearly all other tapes pale in comparison, even today. However, now that so many others have adopted a similar concept, and after producing so many tapes, I think the FIRM is starting to have a difficult time maintaining it's uniqueness. In trying to do so, they are creating more and more tapes, targeting us FIRM Believers, but some of these tapes are losing their quality. Sometimes it's the instructor, sometimes the workout. Sometimes I think that the FIRM has lost some of it's edge and is working to produce tapes as fast as they can without as much regard to the quality of the workout as they used to have and should have.

CC1 is the BEST cardio workout the FIRM has ever produced. While the segments with Tamela Hastie are not great, which is more of a personal thing because I find her leading technique annoying (too perky and talkative), those with Dale are amazing! She builds a mini-routine by adding one step at a time and they are TOUGH! I did this one for the first time yesterday and am still sore! I will definitely do this one again...despite Tamela, which is personally a lot for me to overcome!

A major problem I have with these tapes is that Tamela, in particular, seems to be using very poor form (more about this in the Comments about the instructor section). Had I not been using other FIRM tapes, like Tough Tape, All Weights, Tortoise, Hare, Strong Heart and Strong Body, for such a long time, I would really have had a time trying to understand how to position my shoulders or move in general.

I also really dislike the way they switch between the short and tall step in each tape.You probably burn more calories moving the steps back and forth so much!

Overall, I am disappointed that I spent almost $100 for these three tapes. Fortunately, though, I saw that the FIRM is coming out with some new compliation tapes...two of them...which will probably include the better parts of these three tapes, and these should (and better) be worth the money, because while I have been somewhat disappointed with some of the recent FIRM tapes, I still believe in the FIRM and think that these tapes deliver like no other workout I have ever done. I just wish they would pay a little more attention to details so that new tapes meet the high standards of most of the past tapes.

Instructor Comments:
Of the three new FIRM tapes, I did Bust and Butt first, then CC2,and finally yesterday CC1. I don't care for the multi-instructor format, but had Tamela Hastie been the only one, I would have wanted my money back! She is too much like a cheerleader and her form is terrible. Her shoulders are almost always raised, as if she is really tense and when she did kicks in CC1, her feet seemed to be flailing out of control. Actually, for each segment she leads, she seems to be trying to go too fast and her body can't keep up with the music. Her cueing is terrible...all of the sudden, her segment is over and you had no idea it was coming. She constantly says "This is fun" with an enormous teethy smile which I find very annoying. As I said above, she's seems like a high school cheerleader at a football game. I prefer instructors like Tracie Long, who is in other FIRM videos.

Carissa Foster is a little better, but her cueing is also not as good as it could be.

Dale Brabham is fantastic! She has an amazing physique...washboard stomach I would love to have. Her voice is a little deeper than most FIRM instructors, but she provides excellent cueing and clear instructions without being too perky or talkative. And, you know when she is going to end a segment. She makes these videos worthwhile!

Amie Coxon Ware


I really like this tape right off. I dont know if it was worth all of the money, but I dont regret the purchase one bit. This tape is harder than most of all the other firms and I liked the inensity alot. I do think more stretches are needed in the begining and need to be held longer. The warm up and cool down are almost no existant. Everyone else was gone in to great detail the mechanic of the workout so Ill give my general over view :) I do prefer the abs at the end of the tape. I do like the idea of the stablizing or spinal erectar work. But the lenght of the abs made it so ineffective. I think the time spent on abs could have been better spent with better stretches. Just my opinion. I liked the high impact. It might be hard to modify low while keeping the intesity. But good none the less. I wasnt to crazy about the 'ball' I dont think it increases the 'fun'factor. Its just there. Enought said. I like the segement with dale, but I found the segment with Tamela good, but she showed bad form in some of them. That aside her segments were good too. Carissa's segments were the least fun of all. I found it distracting how she was panting all through the warmup before anything was getting hard. I used to work out in my N. Carolina home in July with no A.C and i never was panthing that hard.

But all in all I love the tapes and glad I spent the money on them. When you figure in the annoying parts with the the good parts, It makes for a great tape!

Instructor Comments:
I found the instructors in this tape so-so. I liked Dale the best first off. Her cueing was a little better, but not much and her style. Tamela seemed a little to peppy and happy A little forced. Carissa I liked least of all.

Susie Frei


Firm Blast Series: CC1, CC2 , Bust & Butt

In my opinion, these tapes were ok. I only did them once, so I'm sure I didn't get the full benefit of each workout. The good thing about them is they are only 45 minutes in length. I felt refreshed and energized at the end of each workout and not wiped-out.

I enjoyed CC1 & CC2 pretty equally. They were good 45 minute cardio workouts with basic moves that are easy to follow. It was a bit confusing the first time through because of the cueing, but all the combos are easy to pick up. CC1 was more intense, probably because it was a lot more high-impact than CC2. The nice thing about the high-impact moves is that you know they will not go on forever. For instance, if they are doing plyo-jacks, they may do 7 of them in a row before going on to another move. That makes the tough moves much more bearable.

The one thing that bothered me is that the Firm seems to use so many props in their videos. This time they came up with the ooph ball, which I felt was unnecessary. In Core Cardio 2 they do a stretch with a dowel - I think a towel would have been just as good.

I often look at all the props as another money-making gizmo for the Firm. I am not trying to bash them, I just think the ooph ball was kind of silly. The one other thing that I didn't like was doing the abs at the beginning of each tape - but that is a personal dislike for me.

Overall, these are decent tapes for a 45 minute workout. I was fortunate to have a fellow VFr lend them to me to try. If I were to buy them myself I would get the Core Cardios but not Bust & Butt. Although, none of the tapes grabbed me enough to spend close to $30 for one. These are parts tapes, so I will probably buy one of the tapes they were made from, when they come out. Those tapes may be easier to follow with just one instructor and the cardio sections will be good and intense.

Instructor Comments:
They were OK. The cuing was a bit hard to catch onto at first but I got used to it. Dale seemed to have the best cueing. The moves are not too difficult, so it is easy to catch on in the Core Cardio tapes. If you do these tapes a few times, I'm sure they are easier to follow.

Janet W.


Wow! I was not expecting this! This video (and CC 2) is on a whole new level from previous Firm cardio videos. The first time I did this video, I thought, "What have I gotten myself into?" I was not prepared for such intense cardio--but this is the first Firm in a long time I've had to work up to, which is good.

The music is all new, and it's great, very motivating! There is a lot of jumps and plyos, compared to other Firm videos, and the instructors say they're using a 4-inch box for step. However, the video cover says 8 or 10 inch, so I use an 8. I'm not quite brave enough to try it with the 10 inch box!

Overall, this video is excellent! It gives an awesome cardio workout, plus a little muscle building and abs, in just over 45 minutes. Usually I feel a little cheated when I don't work out a full hour, but not with this video! My only complaint is that the cooldown/stretch is very short, only 2 or 3 minutes, and it just doesn't feel like enough. Of course I'm perfectly capable of stretching on my own, but I'd just rather have a longer stretch in the video!

Instructor Comments:
I love these new instructors! I had to warm up to Dale, her voice is a little deep and she looks like Debbie Gibson on steroids (that is not an insult!), but now I think she's great. I really like seeing three different instructors with three completely different body types, I don't know why that makes a difference. Their cuing is excellent, and they're very motivating; thumbs up!



Well, it's the same super-intense format as CC2, the same instructors as CC2 and B&B, the same beautiful production values, similar great music, but, darn it all, I just don't like Core Cardio 1. Considering how much I like the other two tapes in the Blast series, it would be a "puzzlement" except in my heart I know the reasons. High impact, high impact, high impact! Oh, and a work-out that seems to go at warp speed 10! ("She's breaking up, Captain! I canna hold her together at this speed") This tape is just too much for my 46 year old bones. I felt like I was coming apart at the seams. Too many plyos, moves that go too fast, plus cuing that is much worse than I am used to from the Firm. Not to mention my pet peeves from CC2- weights used in the warm-up followed by going down to the floor for abs. I tried to modify, but had to give up on this tape the two times I attempted it.

Others have already given a good description of the work-out, so I won't do that here. I did enjoy the low-box work. I wish the Firm would come up with more routines for the 10" low box and forget the high-impact. One of my favorite Firm "Cardio Combos" is the first 20 minutes of Vol 5 followed by Not-So-Tough-Aerobics on the 10" box. Lots of low box work with that one and I get a very decent aerobic workout! So to the Firm I say, "Go back to the lower impact format of Strength, Cardio, Tortise and Hare, Vol 4, Vol 5, and Vol 6. That format was safer and gave a very good weight workout, with aerobic benefits as well. So what if some people complained that these did not have enough Cardio. Some people are not happy unless they get 40 minutes of cardio. There are plenty of tapes for that. The Firm does not have to "be-all and end-all" for every one."

Oh, just a reminder for those who need a reference. I consider myself to be a mid-level advanced exerciser. I regularly do Cathe F on a 6" step (for my knees' sake) as well as other tapes labeled advanced by Collage. I am also a Firm Believer who generally likes their "minimal" cuing style, so my feelings on this tape were a real shock to me. I can't wait for the Split tapes. From what I can gather, those are sure to be lower impact tapes that really work your upper and lower body! Right up my alley!

Instructor Comments:
I still like them all, but their combined cuing was terrible on this tape. Though I imagine it is tough to cue when moving at the speed of light! JEEZ!



Core Cardio 1 is the most advanced level cardio tape the FIRM has ever put out! Personally, I found CC1 to be much more challenging than its companion, Core Cardio 2. It was a solid 38 minutes of heart-thumpin' cardio. The first couple times I did it, I was nervous about learning the choreography and my heartrate skyrocketed into my anaerobic (interval) training zone. The last two times I've done the workout, my heartrate has stayed at 65%-75% of my max. This workout is somewhat of a departure from classic FIRM-style choreography. It is definitely taking me some time to learn the moves. After four times through, I still haven't mastered all the segments.

CC1 starts off with a 3-minute warmup and then goes directly into ab work. Unlike other reviewers, I found the warm-up/stretch to be adequate. I've never been a fan of long warm-ups. I really didn't care for the ab work in this video at all. It feels awkward to me. I usually fast-forward through it, and tack on ab work from another tape at the end. I would have preferred that they skipped the ab section and just added another cardio segment.

The aerobic segments in the workout are pretty evenly split up between hi-lo,step, and plyometrics. Some of the moves are extremely high impact (like the "hopscotch", "ski-move" and of course... all those plyo jumps!) If you're weak in the knees, I can see how this video may cause you substantial pain. Some, but not all, parts can be modified to lower the impact. The step (short box) segments were my favorites! They were so much fun! I also like Dale's segment with the shuffles, V-steps, etc.

There are also a few segments that use light weights or the OOOF ball. I decided to forego the extra weight. I found that I was much more comfortable and focused without weights. Also, I think holding weights (even very light ones) during plyometrics is quite risky. During one segment, you could see Tamela Hastie's knees buckling during weighted plyo jumps. OUCH!

CC1 was a lot of fun! The music is really catchy. Lots of the music is reminiscent of pop music I've heard on the radio. It's not a real song, but it sounds sort of like something you've heard. Hard to explain. But, it's very creative for aerobic music. I like it much better than the kind of stuff used in Cathe and CIA. Also, the 45 minute workout length is great!!! The FIRM has definitely delivered a real advanced-level cardio workout! Overall, I give Core Cardio 1 a B. (yes... that is a higher grade than my preliminary grade -- I guess the workout has grown on me!)

Instructor Comments:
I liked all three instructors just fine. Tamela Hastie was by far my favorite. She seems so friendly, natural, and down-to-earth. Carissa Foster was a very typical FIRM instructor -- very polished, straight forward and professional. Dale is the most muscular of the three instructors. She was O.K., but wasn't my favorite. Something about her demeanor made her seem very abrupt. Although, I do like her better now than I did when I first got the Blast tapes.

Christine L.


As a long-time fitness professional and studio-owner myself, I often need strong videos to take with me on vacation or when travelling to our vacation home where I don't teach. With that in mind, I purchased the trilogy of The Firm's new videos, expecting something good. That's what I got - something good, but not terrific - nowhere near the calibre of Cathe Friedrich's videos.

As an advanced exerciser, I did work up a good sweat in Core Cardio 1, but the workout was shorter than I'd have liked. People with severe time-constraints will find this a good short-ish workout.
Here's what else I liked: the workout was varied, the music was good, but it should have been a tad louder so the beat could have been heard over the barking of one of the instructors. The other two instructors modulated their voices just fine.

I liked the workout my calves got - most videos give short shrift to calves but that's probably because calf-work, like hamstring work, is so deadly dull.

I liked the "tall box" work (a step with 4 sets of risers will do) but it wasn't long enough.

Here's what I found unnerving about this video, and I join the others who don't care for it:

The abs segment had the right idea, but the wrong spot in the video (after the warmup) and not enough of it to matter. They could have just as well omitted it for all the good it did.

There were two fatal errors in anatomical information: one was when she said that the "hip swishes" trimmed the waistline (they don't), and when a reverse crunch she was doing in the abs segment was designed to work the "spinal erectors". Nope, sorry - it works the lower area of the rectus abdominus.

You went from high-impact/high-intensity cardio work directly to the floor for final stretching. This is downright dangerous.

The use of the ball is contrived and probably designed to sell more product, but in fairness, the video did state that other props could be used in its stead.
With my expansive library of exercise videos spanning the spectrum from old Kathy Smith videos, through CIA videos, to the more current Karen Voight "Energy Sprint" (a superb video), to old Cathe vids (she's honed her style almost to perfection by now), to Jodi Cohen, and Classic Firm videos and Jane Fonda (remember her?).....I believe the Firm is on the right track with CC1 but their editing department and instructor-training rigidity needs a bit of work to appeal to the advanced exerciser.

Beginner-to-intermediate exercisers and even some advanced exercisers who haven't tried the Friedrich or the Voigth vids, will probably enjoy this video from The Firm. As for me, it sits on the back burner for when I want a change of pace. That's about it.

Instructor Comments:
As a former Firm Believer, I find the monotone, studied and rigid teaching techniques used by Firm instructors to be annoying, and at times (especially with this video), cloying. If she said, THIS IS FUN!" one more time, I was going to ralph. Little-to-no instruction is given, especially where it's needed; during the weights segments. Cueing is often late or absent. They cannot follow traditional 8-counts, which may not bother many exercisers, but drove me nuts. I don't care for these instructors' techniques.

Meriam Matthews


Am I the only person without a glowing review for this video? I thought hi-impact moves like this went out with Jane Fonda and leg warmers. At one month shy of 40 my joints were screaming in pain for at least 24 hours after this video. I consider myself an "experienced intermediate". I have been working out about three years and can keep up a good pace for nearly an hour of cardio. I have no problem getting through all the other FIRMS and found Cardio 2 to be a much better video and much more interesting. If they said PLYO's one more time I thought I would scream. I do love the way the FIRM is offering separate cardio and strength tapes. Anyone try the new split tapes yet? I feel I get a better workout separating strength work from cardio. I'd say Cardio 2 much easier on the middle aged bod (and more varied). Also love FAT Blaster and Maximum Body Sculpting.

Instructor Comments:
I found all the instructors adequate although Tamela Hastie is a little too happy!

Sandra Mascio


I almost died, but I loved it anyway. Again, I wasn't too impressed with the abs section but the aerobics were very intense, more so than any older Firm video. You gotta get it, baby.

Instructor Comments:
Same as I said before. I thought they all cued well and came off as likeable, but Tamela gets too happy.

Lena Yester


While I will probably keep this video in my Firm collection, and give it a few more tries (mostly because I want to feel that I wasn't a sucker for paying $79.95 for three tapes), I've got to say it's not one of my favorites. When I pay "extra" (more than the standard $19.95) for a video, I expect it to be something special. This video isn't even a complete workout: too-short a warm-up, ineffective ab work (during which the instructor says that an obvious "abs" exercise is for the spinal erectors!), a complete lack of cooldown before going supine on the floor (unless one is supposed to be in such great shape that doing power jumps--plyo moves--while holding weights is considered a "cooldown" move!), and a rushed final stretch where positions are held only 5 seconds! Well, perhaps the "extra" is included in the excessive high impact moves (I agree with Anne P's assessment of the impact), some of which are done WHILE HOLDING WEIGHTS (be still my aching joints!).

To me, this tape represents a step back in Firm progress. I've always thought the aerobics moves in the "Classic" firms were hokey, but they seemed to be getting better and better with each tape, starting with the non-ballroom moves in "Tortoise"and "Hare". I hoped that Cardio I and II would follow the same line as "Tough CARDIO Mix", a tape which proved to me that the Firm CAN do cardio that is interesting and intense, but lower impact. Unfortunately, while they've upped the impact (and risk to joints), they haven't done the same for my interest. Running in place while doing bicep curls, hopping for 4 counts on one leg (let's put as much stress on those knees as we can!), with some "bunny hops" and "tri-stars" thrown in, is not my idea of "innovative" aerobics. Add this tape to my list of reasons why I would never refer to myself as a "Firm believer", but rather as a "Firm sceptic"(but I WANT to believe!).



Hang on, folks! Anna and Cynthia Benson had a reason for including all those pelvic floor contractions in previous videos, and this tape is it! This video has A LOT of high impact moves, and if you modify to low, you will be modifying a lot during this workout. Dale shows low impact modifications for a V-step move, but other than that, modifications are not given. Most of the steps are simple enough, so those used to modifying will be able to substitute without much problem.

While I liked this video, I didn't love it. I did enjoy the variety in this workout. Tall box climbs, four limbed aerobics (more intense than in previous videos), LOTS of plyo jumps, short box aerobics, ball aerobics (I substituted a 2 lb. dumbbell held sideways with both hands for all of the ball work and found that it worked nicely), hi/lo; there is a great variety of exercises. The instructors do not cue much or teach the moves, but after a time or two through the video that probably won't be an issue since the steps are not that complicated. The transitions between instructors were generally smooth (except for the few bloopers that previous reviewers have mentioned).

I liked the classic set, the music, and the intensity (it's not quite as intense as Cathe, but it's definitely more intense than Fat Blaster; it's similar to the intensity of the classes at the Firm studios). You will also get some bonus shoulder work, too (lots of delt raises with light weights). There was a good variety of different body types in the class--very motivating. There were some parts of the workout that I wasn't crazy about. For one, there was a lot of equipment switching. You will need the Oof ball (or substitute--a play ball, light dumbbell, a canteloupe (NOT!), a sofa pillow, or anything else you can think of--extra credit given for creativity!), a tall box, a short box (8-10"), a very short box (4"), and light and medium dumbbells (am I forgetting anything?).

The transitions were fast, and I found myself pausing the tape more than I would have liked. I'm sure that will improve after doing the workout several more times. At least my HR wasn't dropping like it does between segments in Fat Blaster. While the warm up with the ball (dumbbell) was fun, I would have liked to see a bit more of a warm up stretch. I found it a bit odd to go straight from a fairly vigorous warm up (by Firm standards) to a reclining position for abs. I liked some of the ab work, but I didn't get the "swivel" move at the beginning. I wish it had been explained more. There was also not enough ab work to be effective (about 2 1/2 minutes). I'm not even sure it was worth putting in.

During Tamela's 4 limbed plyo section, I felt a little uncomfortable doing high impact plyo jumps holding 5 lb. weights. I think I'll use 3 lbs for this segment next time. I also saw Tamela's knees kind of "knock" together a little when she was doing the plyo jump turns. It looked like she was stressing her knees using form like that. I also found it a bit troubling that you go straight from fairly intense 4 limb aerobics with plyo to stretching. And you start out reclining, no less!

I wonder if The Firm missed an edit--this video does not include an aerobic cool down at all! I paused the tape and marched in place for a couple of minutes until my heart rate went down. I also would have liked to see a bit more of a stretch at the end. Everything said, I do like this video, although it's certainly not without its flaws. For me it's a keeper (I'll just have to remember when to modify and when the fast equipment changes occur). It's a good advanced, not killer, cardio workout for when you are short on time and need some variety. For cardio work, the Core Cardio videos are the most intense that The Firm has released to date.

Instructor Comments:
The cueing of these instructors is on par with that of most Firm videos. The choreography is not broken down, although once learned the steps are not complicated. Not many form pointers are given, but that may be because this is a cardio video. I sure felt old watching Carissa--she looks so young! Dale is really buff--love those abs. Tamela seems very friendly. She reminds me of Alison Sweeney (Sami) on Days of Our Lives.

Kristin Aziz


This workout is easy to follow and definitely gets the heart rate up there. I like the addition of the ball, and am glad I purchased it. It is also a nice break from continuous stepping videos. It's not as intense as some cardio videos I own (Cathe), but is a nice change of pace.

The production is absolutely exquisite. The sound impeccable. The Firm is absolutely the most beautifully produced, elegant workouts on the market.

All in all, I like this workout and am completely satisfied with the variety and intensity. It is a nice workout for my intermediate days. Not too easy, not too hard. I also like the fact that I can get a good workout, even when time is short. Kudos to Anna for listening to her Firm Believers!

Instructor Comments:
Bring back Susan Harris! Enough said!

Amy Steppe


First I have to say that this workout was a fantastic cardio blast!! It was much tougher than I expected it would be and much more varied and complex in choreography than any of the previous Firm videos. But the moves are not tricky or too dancy so they are easy to learn. They move very quickly between took a time or two doing the video to really learn it, but makes it much more interesting to do on an ongoing basis. The transitions between segments and instructors is very smooth and quick! (I like this because I felt the transitions on Fat Blaster were too slow). Oh by the way the format (not to be confused with intensity!) of this video is very similar to Fat Blaster (All Cardio) in format. The set is like the Tri-trainer videos with the large studio and the large group of exercisers. There are the trademark Firm classical pictures and statues around the room and the walls are painted bright, light pastel colors (aqua, peach, etc) and changes between segments. The music is very similar to previous Firm productions in that it was specially produced and synchronized with the movements and was very upbeat and energetic...I really liked the music a lot! It was a nice blend of jazz, rock, pop, and classical music.

I will go through each segment briefly below and tell a little more detail about them...

Warm-up (Carissa) She uses the ball throughout the warm-up which I felt really did help warm-up my body faster than without it since it is lightly weighted. She does a lot of overhead presses and front presses and circles with the ball to warm-up the upper body as she is doing lower body movements and light stretches to warm-up the lower body.

Abwork (Dale) This is not your typical abwork but I really liked it a lot. It was more pilates based and focused on stabilizing the midsection. The moves were very slow and controlled and I could really feel my abs working. I also do some pilates and yoga so I enjoyed seeing this type of abwork in this video. The moves work the upper, lower and oblique muscles in slow controlled motions. Cardio sections:

1.Tall box climbs (Carissa) this is a very short first segment doing L-steps, knee lifts, along with step and flexes (biceps). 2. Ball aerobics (Carissa) uses the ball (doing overhead and forward pressing motions with the arms) while doing mambas, running in place, and small squats to get the heart rate up fast. 3. Hi/Lo (Dale) Heel shuffles, plyometric hops, ski hops and a lot of higher impact in this section. V-steps with hops and higher impact knee-ups. 4. Short box (Dale) Box pivots with kick and punching moves, knee lifts, triples and step ups with glute lifts while punching overhead. 5. Short box & 4-limb aerobics (Carissa) step ups done on the box along with upper body moves with light weights (they suggest 3-5 pound hand weights) such as lunges onto box with glute lifts and bicep curls, V-steps around box with upright rows. 6. Short box (Tamela) this section has lot of power moves on the box, hopping over the box, squat presses to each side, plunger move to each side (very tough), lots of energetic arm movements and power moves. 7. Hi/Lo (Tamela) wide and narrow calf pumps, running in place, lots of hops and higher impact. 8. 4-limb aerobics (Carissa) with light weights...side squats with overhead presses. 9. Hi/Lo (Dale) plyometric hops, bunny hops mixed with pivots and tri-star moves. 10. 4-limb aerobics (Tamela) with light weights....shoulder laterals with front raises with side and front laterals with plyometric jumps and spins (FUN!) 11. Hi/Lo (Tamela) pivots, power jumps, plyometric jumps, running in place and hip swishes. 12. Short box with 4-limb aerobics(Dale) with light weights...lunges done onto the short box with upright rows, lunges with glute lifts with bicep curls. 13. Ball aerobics (Dale) moving ball overhead and forward with arms while doing hop skotch moves, kicks for the legs. 14. 4-limb aerobics (Carissa) with light weights...knee lifts and marching while pumping arms (works the biceps), also power jumps while holding the weights to keep heart rate up.

I noticed the last several sections slow down in pace but use more lower body squat and lunge type movements to keep the heart rate up. Then after the last 4-limb aerobic segment you quickly go down to the floor to start the stretch. I felt it moved too quickly and some people will need more recovery time so will need to pause the tape here and march in place. The stretch is a combination of yoga inspired and athetic type stretching and although its very short it does hit all the major muscles. I will probably add a little more stretching or yoga after this workout.

All in all this is an excellent workout and I loved it!!! For those of you wondering about modifying the high impact moves I felt it was easily done because the first time I did this workout I modified because of some foot and lower back problems I was having at the time and I still sweated like crazy :)! The toughest move to modify is probably the plyometric jumps but you can modify by barely lifting the heels off the floor. I think it is easily modified for most fitness levels...except for the beginner. But I know I can make it as hard as I like with all those power and plyometric moves.

Instructor Comments:
There are 3 instructors....Carissa Foster, Tamela Hastie, and Dale Brabham. They all did an excellent job with form and cueing...I just noticed the first warm up section Carissa was cueing to the wrong side so there are a couple bloopers but nothing that will affect the workout. But I usually learn by sight so it didn't bother me too much...after getting used to the workout this shouldn't be a problem.

Cheryl Shakespeare


I guess I must be the world's biggest oddball, in terms of liking the Firm tapes that no one else likes and vice versa. I just got my package of the CC and T&A tapes and tried CC1 first -- and am PRAYING that I'll like at least one of the other two and not have completely wasted my money! IMHO:

#1, the choreography is BORING, uncreative and too high-impact (especially for someone like me with chronic plantar fasciitis) -- seemed like most of the workout was running in place, plyo jumps, bunny hops and jacks. Seems like the objective was to appeal to the Cathe market for high intensity, boot-camp-style cardio, and to hell with having any fun. In fact, my hunch is that the reason they added the ball to the workout is to give the illusion of "fun" because the tape is basically a lot of boring jumping up and down. But I don't think the ball really serves any purpose at all -- it's just kind of "there" and they don't do anything particularly fun with it.

#2, the only instructor that I kind-of like is Carissa Foster. Tamela is like LaReine Chabut all over again -- sounds like an airhead, her smiles seem forced, and I get sick of her saying "This is fun!" every 5 minutes. And, sorry to be catty, but Dale is just too butch for me -- that's all I can say.

#3, I think the cueing is lousy and it bugs me that they don't break down any of the steps or demonstrate them at a slightly slower pace; it's just race, race, race all the way through it.

Sooo-- any of you who are still sitting on the fence about ordering these workouts -- maybe you'll want to wait for more reviews to come in, esp. if you're not ultra-advanced or you don't like high-impact. In the meantime, it's back to the old Firms and Tri-Trainers for me!

Anne Powell


Core Cardio 1 was shipped with a hard, plastic cover like the old Firms used to come in. These hardcovers are wonderful - they really make a quality statement!

As usual the quality of the tapes is above any other video workout that I've ever bought. The set on this tape is light and the outfits are colorful. Everyone looks wonderful. These are the trademarks of the Firm and now they've returned to a truly advanced workout! Quality + results = a winning combination!

And yes, I was a skeptic about what the intensity of these workouts would be and I can say Cardio One is tough! I couldn't keep up. My exercise clothes were soaked with sweat afterwards. The Ooof ball makes a big difference. It's hard holding on to that thing. I imagine it really works different muscles. I agree though that you could substitute and the Firm clearly tells you that at the beginning of the tape.

I thought the music was a lot of fun also. I really liked it. The transitions flowed together and there was no down time during instructor changes. A lot of the moves were different and fun. They have some interesting abdominal work in the beginning of the tape that I found to be really difficult. To make a comparison this tape was much harder then the Tri-Trainer Cardio (aka FatBlaster) and is something that I will have to work up to to complete at full intensity. I've only done it once, but I feel I can safely say it's a winner and if you get it, you won't regret it. Just wait until you try the plyometric turns!

Instructor Comments:
I enjoyed all three instructers. They are new master instructers. They were friendly, warm, and gave clear instructions! I must say I particularly noticed Tamela - her smile just lights up the screen. You feel like she's right in the room with you, very photogenic!

Sally Moore


This one is for core cardio and ive done this tape twice and watched it last night to write my notes.

For anyone doubting the toughness, speak now and forever hold your peace !!!!! youve heard of the (excuse my french) f-word.....i have a new one....the P- WORD !!!!!!!

Thats plyo, but say it around me and I'll break out in a sweat ! im now suffering from p.t.p.s.which stands for post traumatic plyo syndrome. theyve got plyos everywhere !!!!! Lisa (fitbabe) should get a medal for doing this !!!!

I again concentrated on her and Sue Mi Ppowell as well as the instructors for perfect form !!!! This tape is a cardio killer, no one will be disapointed.

Start with a warm-up (long) with the ball. they have this great tricep stretch with the ball that I love this sequence is fast and fun.

Next is abs....i call them global abs ,reaching from one side to the other. slow and controlled. then theres a 4 count move where you lift the lower , then upper ,then upper to intensify. A spinal erector lift and a new move where you extend both arms over your head and lift, I love this one. It's led by Dale.

Next is a quick tall -box step with l-steps and knee lifts

Then on to a shallow lunge with the ball, triple step running in place with calf pumps, squats and a dancey pivot step lead by carissa whose legs go on forever. these move (s) are the kind that I will be working on to master ,but thats what I like, I would be bored if I "got" everything right away.

Next is dale and the start of the plyos............(jaws music in the background, please) this is a fun and TOUGH sequence of moves that we keep adding on to. you have a shuffle with heel lift, plyos , adding on the ski move which is a sideways bunny hop adding on a v-step with hop, (eves legs are burnin a little) add on v-step with turn, double jacks, a leg kick, and a knee lift all of which have arm movements too......... this is a long and killer set of moves !!!

Next is the short box step with side kicks and punch (this is another set for me to master) you add on a mambo step, then a glute and arm lift this is alos lots of fun and lead by dale.

No breaks, no stretching (which I would of liked) all cardio thru and thru

Carissa leads the next set with the short box with do a v-step around the box, alternating up-right rows while v-stepping. add on a calf pump, ham -string curls and delts, then a "prep-step" which is a calf pump with a slight romboid pinch, then add on a lunge /glute lift with a bicep curl.

Think your getting near the end of the tape, THINK AGAIN !!!!

We continue with tamela the smiling firmanator !!! with a short box step we do an over the top move with a squat on the side add on a lunge and punch this is fast and tough (youll be seeing more and more of that word) this then changes to a quick up and over, with 1 squat with the lunge and punch.

(I have now called 911 and have them on stand-by) now we do high impact, (I thought wed done it already.......ha ha) running, with wide (legs apart) calf pumps, which is a real burner. legs in and out like a little jack with a hammer curl v-step with jazz hands and hop add on front kicks, a double kick add on knee lifts, double knee lifts with biceps and finish with the pony (a dance from the sixties for all you youngins reading this) I call this set the "this is fun" set, because that's what tamela tells me I'm having !!!!

Carissa leads next -- squats with weights, a variety of squats with over head lifts, squat pulses and a long set of continuous side to side squats staying in squat postition. This set has some music that has a man talking in the background, I kept thinking I had an intruder !!!!

Now we have the "I WANNA LIVE " set ....(ya know, the old susan hayward movie). Dale leads us thru plyos, plyos, and more plyos.......and just when you think no more p......theres more !!!!! theres also step touches to the side, a pivot move and a tri-star. then theres more plyos disguised as squats and a bunny hop.

I'm now in "cardio arrest " !!!!!! I have taken a break here, mainly because this is a killer, and I do have a cold and I'm not 100%.

On to a 4 -limb set tamela leads us thru delts with moving legs i used the suggested 5 lbs and this set shows that light weights are very effective. we alternate with anterior delts, legs moving then plyos, (not a typo!!!!) with hops, plyos with turns and finish.

At this point ive decided to change my name to gomer plyo.......

Now to my favorite set and favorite music we run with a bicep curl, add on a double run, great for the ham-strings a pivot turn a power jump (aka plyo) and a hip swish this is fast and fun

Next is a short step lunge with weights, an up-right row.... then a lunge with glute lift and bicep curl then a ham-string stretch.

Then were on to ball aerobics a dancey step with back cross overs, hops, and plyos !!!!!! add on over head lifts with leg lifts and squats dale leads this set, the ball is great to work with and even dale is a little ? I want my mommy !!!!!

Next is 4 -limb, a wide march with bicep curl (using weights), a triple step and power jumps

Finally we have the cool-down to swan, I'm waiting for barbra streisand to waltz on the set in a chicken suit ala funny girl...I do love the music, they just happened to use the same parts as in that movie ! we do a slow and much deserved stretch, I wish it was a little longer though.

This is cardio to end all cardio...a great tape, and I enjoyed doing it.

I liked it much better the 2nd time after I had picked up more of the moves. I cant wait for the everybody to get these



THANK YOU, ANNA B!!! I'm sending you a FIRM hug!!! These are GREAT!!! They are fun and have lotsof variety, so I don't think they'd ever get boring. They have the most complex choregraphy of any FIRM, but it's not intricate or dancy.

I won't even try to list the different segments; I'd get lost! I will say they move from one to the next verrrrry quickly. The heartrate is raised from the warm up and never comes down. It's wonderful! They both are really intense, and are definitely what was promised!

To compare these to AC/FB.......These make that one look like a nap!!! TCM runs a distance behind the intensity of these new ones, too. To compare to TAM or NSTA, well, I didn't care for either of those all that much even though they are decent workouts. My HR always dropped during the segment changes when the moderator came on and did her "Phew!"

CC1 has lotssss of high impact, but the sections are divided somewhat, so it's not consistent thoughout the workout. Plyos out the wazoooo! Tall box work, short box work with some fun variations, hi lo, everything!

CC2 seems to have a bit more light dumbbell work, and not as much high impact. I don't think it's *quite* as intense, but the difference seemed minimal. The workouts are similar but have their differences. This one has hover squats using the 2X4 under the heels. It uses the dowel only for the final stretch. (Sorry, I don't care for the dowel....Glad this is all it's used for.) I LOVE using the ball! It does "do" something! (I think a perfect sub would be a soccer ball.)

A couple things: The warm up in CC1 throws me because left and right are mixed up. It's quick-paced, so the cues are important. I'll probably be alright when I know the warm up better.

There's a segment where we put one knee on the opposite foot and crunch the lower, then the upper, then both and release. We never change to the other knee. I don't see this as a problem because we're not working the obliques here, except as stabolizers.

I don't anyone will be the least bit sorry they've ordered these tapes. If you're choreographically impaired, you may struggle a little, but with some practice, I think you get the routines. They seem easily modifiable to low impact. In fact, on CC2, I noticed one of the cast marching during a running segment. Maybe she was modifying everything....I didn't notice. All three workouts are great, and what a wonderful rotation! Between all of them, you're hitting everything! I love the ball! WOWOWOWOW!!!! Two more biceps up! YUMMMY! I'm a happy FIRMie!

Love, Apryl = )

Instructor Comments:
The instructors, Tamela, Dale, and Carissa all do an incredible job. Tamela seems like a natural (She says "That was fun" quite a few times......), and seems to enjoy herself. She looks so good! Carissa is working hard and you can tell! I love it. She's a great instructor, as I found out in Charleston. She has a pretty body! Dale is more no-nonsense and serious. She's a pro, and is really good. She has some great abs going!!!



Well I think the Firm owners listened to the Firm believers. One thing we asked for was more pure cardio and this tape definitely has it! Blast is an appropriate name.

The music in the warmup was very lively and got me going (I tend to "relate" to music; if it is like molassas, then so am I) and really put me in the mood to work out. I recognized Patty in the back, in a blue leotard. She met us Firm trippers in October, and is also in a couple of other videos.

The 3 leads are Carissa Foster, Dale B., and Tamela Hastie. And of course our own Lisa Jackson (aka FitBabe) is in the cast!! She did a wonderful job!!!

The warmup was about 4-4 1/2 minutes long, then a short ab section, different abs then what we see with the Firm - "swivel left then right" very slowly done to really engage the muscle. I did notice a blooper! Right when abs was ending she said "preparing for stablization" then the next instructor (now I forget which ones!!) said "get your tall box for tall box climb". So it felt familiar right away! For some reason the Firm's bloopers are very endearing to me!

Then came a few aerobic segments, LOTS of plyo jumps! On the short box there was a segment of knee, low kick, knee then kick, low kick, kick (alternating legs) which is reminicient of kickbox moves. I really enjoyed this. Another segment which really stands out is the lung-glute-lunge on the short box with light weights.

This tape seemed to have several floor aerobic segments together sometimes with the same instructor, then several box segments, then several floor aerobic segments again, similiar to Fat Blaster, but Fat Blaster does more alternating of floor vs. box and also alternates instructors more so it is more "choppy"; Core Cardio 1 flows more smoothly. There is no "introduction" of the next instructor like in FB which takes time and allows your heartrate to go down.

The choreography is not complex by most standards, but it is probably more complex than most Firms. I had absolutely no problems following along. Frankly I do find most Firm choroegraphy to be boring especially in the classics, getting progressively more fun with each tape. Tamela said "This is fun" alot, and she was right. There are alot of calf pumps, and the dreaded bunny hops are back!! (I like bunny hops.)

Near the end, the aerobics slows down and does some four-limbed and plyo moves. There is a lunge onto the low step with upright row, switch to glute lift with bicep - I loved that section!

I really liked all the instructors; they were all great, different personality types. Carissa is more bubbly, Tamela is into it! did I read that she has 2 kids? Wow. Dale is very buff and very no-nonsense.

The music is upbeat and lively. A few songs I would call "funky new age" not funk, not new age, but funky new age-y. I liked it. The stretch had music from (I think) Swan Lake. Even the closing credits music I really liked!!!

And Tracie's sister, Julie, is also in the cast but I didn't know that till I read the credits so I'm not sure whose segments she is in. I met her in October (she looks just like tracie) and think she might have had a black leotard on...not sure if that is her.

All-in-all, as Apryl says, "2 biceps up"!!! I can't wait to do the other tapes!!

Barbara Paola


YOWSA!!! The FIRM has just ICED their cake!!!! They have added to their #1 high quality videos a KILLER of a cardio workout that will ROCKET your heart rate right up there!

Before I get into my review however, I want to make a few comments on the filming.

With most Firm tapes you "join" a class for a workout. Though the instructor may "change off" with another, you are in the same room with the same students, etc. These tapes are different. As the instructors switch off, some of the students and props change. Each instructor probably filmed an entire class. Then segments from these were linked together to create these videos. They are different from the Firm Parts videos, however, in that there is no guest host making comments between sections. Because the transitions in the new videos are so smoothly done, and the backdrop is so famliar you still have a one class feel with no downtime and no uneasiness during the instructor changes. The only blooper here was, as Barb pointed out in her review, at the beginning of CCI when Dale says prepare for stabilization and the next instructor says almost immediately get your tall box!

I found the instructor transitions smooth and preferred them to the awkward changes in Fat Blaster BUT I would have enjoyed keeping the same students etc. so I could feel like they were getting tired with me!!! Yes indeed when the sweats rolling down my face, I want to see it rolling down theirs!!!

It will be interesting to see if other tapes evolve from the filming of these.(I hope so!!!!).

Carissa begins the warm up with a standing ball workout. The BALL was FUN!!! I really loved working with it!!! Though only 2 pounds it does work the muscles and aids in providing a nice range of motion stretch. Though a soccer ball might work. A soccer ball weighs 12 oz and is not as heavy as the OOOF Jr. I do feel substitutes could be found however. But I did love the little OOOF Jr. and I know from learning about it, that it will be a very long lasting piece of equipment.

I thought Carissa's leotard top was neat, very pale lime green and very sheer, worn with black briefs. Carissa has a youthful Jen Carmen type voice, lets move her voice says. As opposed to the measured tones of say Jayne Poteet. Her voice fit the quick movements in the warmup. By the way she also has very beautiful long legs which make one work harder (to get them also!) I really love the warm up. The ball provided a GREAT change of pace, from the usual move left, hand up etc.

Next Dale takes over with a short ab section. The new ab movements consist of swivelling type motions that are INTENSE and really TARGET the GUT! I loved the movements!!! It was a very short section, though. I would have liked longer ab work, as that is a problem area for me. Dale does not have 6 pack abs. She packs a case!! Her abs are absolutely ripped! She has a deep, no nonsense voice and is determined to whip you into shape! After some short box & 4 limbed aerobics led by either Dale or Carissa it was Tamelas turn.

Tamela has the facial expressions and twinkle of a new Firm Video Fitness Star. Like Jayne Poteet (one of my favorites) Tamela really relates to the camera and you feel like you are in the room with her. She does the little eye rolls and makes the quips, "That was fun". so well and so effortlessly that you feel like she is watching you and applauding your efforts!!

I think that Cheryl covered the movements in each segment in her review in depth. But I do want to say a few words about the movements. Mainly the FIRM has DONE IT once AGAIN!! They have updated some moves and added new ones that are fun and effective to make for a WODERFUL CARDIO BLAST! I loved watching and trying to copy Dales neat, muscular body as she did the "ski". This is a side to side jump with your elbows going up in the air, mimicking a skiing motion. LOVED IT!!! And Carissa's ball warmup was pure FUN! Tamela's box aerobic section was truly a JOY!!! There are lots of new movements that will INTENSIFY your workout pleasure here!

As far as the choreography goes it is not too complex but just the right amount so it stays lively and fun. I really enjoyed it. As far as intensity. THIS IS INTENSE!! As an intermediate exerciser, I had to modify some of the hi-impact moves to keep up (quite a bit!)! The music was lively, perfect for the workout and to add to the pleasure one of my favorite exercisers was doing a GREAT job as a member of the cast!! Hi Fitbabe!!!

All of the Firms tapes, even the ones made years ago seem fresh today. And this tape will be as I said earlier more ICING on the FIRM CAKE! Cus its DELICIOUS!! It's FUN!! It keeps your INTEREST!

And ROCKETS your heart rate right up there!!


Lee Mellott


This is higher impact than Core Cardio II, but the high impact segments are short enough that I can stay on my toes, so my knees did not bother me at all (and I work out on concrete!) I used a junior basketball instead of an oof! ball, and it worked fine, though I am not overwhelmed by an extra "fun" factor working with the ball. The abs section is useless, so ff past it, but the rest of the workout is quite intense. I object to doing the "hopscotch" move (8 hops on one leg - ouch!) and just do a run instead. I also leave out the weights for the very last segment with Carissa - marching and power jumps do not need dumbbells! I have found that I do keep the 3lbers for Tamela's segment with plyos - in spite of the fact that her knees look like they will collapse, I have not had any trouble doing those few plyos with weights (under control and landing softly, of course). I will use this tape quite often, because I get a great sweat going, and the variety of moves keeps it from getting boring.

Instructor Comments:
They are all bad, but Tamela takes the cake. Her form is awful, and "this is fun" seems to be her only line.