The Firm: Maximum Cardio Burn (BSS2)

Allie Del Rio
Year Released: 2003

Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance

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I purchased this set three years ago, when I exercised regurely but still was'nt in top shape -like cathe's fans for exemple.
The set is nice but this video is the least challanging.because the fanny lifter is'nt strong enough all the exercises thatuse it are low impact-which can be good sometimes,but here there were'nt jumping at all,even those who are'nt so hard on the knees.
I feel like this video is missed. it has potential,the exercise is fun and get the heart rate up, but not enough . the leg section has nice exercises,but too short to do something. the AB section is typical to the firm. there're some hard exercises (even planks) but only 6 minutes.

I will not buy anymore FIRMs.they had some fun workouts (I liked the other 2 tapes on these set) but each workout of them has the same flaws : not enough cardio (exept super cardio and cardio burn,but I do'nt enjoy those)and not enough abs.

I apologize if I had many mistakes on this review, I did'nt write anything in english for 2 years and I'm not from USA or UK.

Instructor Comments:



OK, well, a number of peoeple really enjoyed this video, but I'm not one of them. It wasn't very fun, I didn't care for the music, and the stick is mostly used for balance, which I don't really need. It's also used
for the standing leg segment, but in a really awkward way that makes me think they were just trying to find a way to use the stick. Also, I actually found myself over-relying on the stick because it was there, so that I wasn't using good form for things like the standing leg work or the
box climbs. For me it's better not to use it at all. And I wonder if people who start with the stick will ever wean themselves off it to really work their balance abilities.

Additional flaws include the complete lack of kickboxing instruction. Are they thinking that beginners are going to do these? Ouch! I see injuries
waiting to happen. And if I do it again, I'll be using 6" instead of 8" for the box aerobics.

The ab work was surprisingly challenging, and I'm not sure if that's an indication of how hard it actually was or just how long it's been since I've done traditional ab work! (Probably the latter.)

In any case, while I enjoyed the Firm's Cardio Step Mix and Fat Blaster, these days I want more of a strength emphasis from my Firm tapes, so I'll be trading this away.

Renee D


I think this is a fun video and pretty challenging. I would classify myself as a low advanced
for cardio. For instance, I would have to modify impact for Cathe videos (my feet and my
poor heart just canít keep up with her!), but I have no problem with the aerobic level of,
say, Christiís Hi/Lo Heaven. This video is more than enough to keep me in my heart range
throughout the aerobic section. This is strictly a cardio workout, not weight training.

Since my DVD player does not have a very handy time tracking feature (either that or I
am too technologically challenged to use it correctly), I was not able to get the exact time
of each segment or for the whole video. I can approximate the length of each segment, I
hope with some accuracy (may be a little off). The cardio portion clocks in at about 26
minutes, according to my heart rate monitor. The back of the DVD claims it to be a
35-minute interval training segment with 6 minutes of standing leg work after that and
then 6 minutes of abs.

Allie del Rio leads this tape. Emily and Jen are behind her, and Su Mi and Suzanne in the
very back. Suzanne, at the back right side of the screen, shows beginner modifications.
For example, she uses the purple (6-inch) portion of the ďFanny LifterĒ (FL) for the step
routines when everyone else is using the blue (8-inch) portion. She also shows low impact
floor aerobics when the others do higher impact. Su Mi seems to be doing lower impact
demonstrations also, but she uses the blue portion for stepping.

They all wear red tops and black pants. Allie wears a full-length top with shorts. The
others wear exercise bra tops of varying styles, some with full-length pants and one (Jen, I
think) in capris-length. The background has tan and pink panels in the center with white
panels on either side. They exercise on a shiny white floor. The music is okay. I prefer
some of the music used in the other two videos that came with this set, but I didnít find
anything objectionable about this music. I havenít heard it before.

The warmup is indeed approximately 6 minutes total. The blue section of the FL is used.
This segment consists of the following movements:

Calf pumps with arms up from side to top
Body waves with squats
Heel lifts (toe taps) with forward shoulder roll
Step close with backward shoulder roll
Back cross foot with double bicep curl
(The above are introduced and alternated)

Then knee lift with opposite forward punch
Knee lift with arm sweeping side
March in place

V-step around blue portion of FL
Add toe taps and heel digs on the FL
Stretch with heel on FL, then do pelvic tucks, stretch shoulder, repeat stretches for
opposite side
Push-ups on blue portion of FL
Standing back rolls

This is not my favorite warmup. I felt that all the stepping side to side while rolling the
shoulders forward and then back was kind of restricting. I wanted to move across the
floor a little more and swing my arms more freely. Too many shoulder rolls, IMHO.

Now itís time for the first aerobic segment, which is approximately 3.5 minutes. It is
four-limbed movement using the fully-assembled (8-pound) stick held with an overhand
grip and the blue FL portion. The following movements are used:

Squat, then stand and push stick forward
Tap alternating toes to FL
Lunge back with alternating legs (not full dip, just stepping foot back) with what Allie
calls a tricep exercise but resembles a biceps curl more
Adduct legs to each side with biceps curls
Plies with biceps curls
Alternate these moves then end with plies and biceps curls

The second section is about 2 minutes long and uses the fully-assembled (14-inch) FL with
the full stick held in the right hand, right leg leading. *This section will be repeated later
with the stick in the left hand and left leg leading.* Because of knee problems, I have been
using a 12-inch step stool for anything requiring the fully-assembled FL. It would also be
possible to do this segment on an even lower height, which I would definitely recommend
for beginners, although then the slow pace would not keep the heart rate up as much. The
pace is slow, but this still amounts to a stepping routine on a 14-inch height, in my
opinion! The routine consists of the following movements:

Step up right foot tap left toe then exit, step up right foot left knee up then exit, step up
Alternate these moves
Step down, adduct one leg, then alternating legs
Alternate squats with alternating leg adductions
Toe taps on FL to finish (and give hips a break)

The third section is done on the floor, no FL, no stick. It has a kickboxing flavor but not
overly so. Itís about 4 minutes long. Toward the end I would call it ďsurprisingly
challenging.Ē It pooped me out! The following movements are used:

March with ďdukesĒ (fists) up
V-step forward with alternating jab
V-step backward with elbow jab backward
Alternate these
Alternating knee lifts with elbows pulling down
Kick and jab forward and backward
Calf pumps
Change lead leg to do pattern again
Add calf pumps and bunny hops
-Pattern changes now-
2 squats right, 2 squats left
Jab forward with front leg boxer shuffle
Squats side to side, jab forward other arm and leg
Calf pumps and bunny hops
Squats become plyo jumps for advanced
Come back down with squats and alternating leg adductions and kicks

Now comes the fourth interval. Itís a step routine with the blue portion of the FL. Itís
about 3 minutes and consists of the following:

Side step taps, over the top alternating
Pattern of step up straddle, directly into a repeating pattern of one foot to the step, same
foot to the side, same foot back, same foot to step, same foot to side, etc.
Step kicks
Knee repeaters
This is woven into a pattern alternating sides

Time for number five, which is low impact on the floor. I have done this video 3 times and
am just now ďgettingĒ this one better with my mind. For some reason it confused me a
little at first. Iím sure most everyone else will be fine with it! I particularly liked the step
and scoop move in this one. Itís about 3.5 minutes long:

March with side taps
March wide
Heel lifts with arms held up
Foot lifted up and forward with opposite hand touching it
Foot lifted back with opposite hand touching it
Alternating sides
Then one leg front/touch, back/touch with other knee doing repeater
Step and scoop, low jacks
Jump rope (pretend)
Repeat pattern with other leg leading

The sixth section requires your blue FL step. It lasts about 2 minutes and consists of:

Basic step, tap, change lead leg
Step up straddle, step up and back
Straddle, stay down with side-to-side toe taps on step and arms swinging
Add alternating knee lifts on one side of step
Come off and do low jacks, then change lead leg

The seventh section consists of repeating the pattern done from the second segment but
holding the stick in the other hand and other leg leading.

The eighth and last aerobic segment is four-limbed movement using both ďtwigs,Ē the
2-pound weights from the end of the stick. I stayed in the lower end of my training heart
rate when I tried it with twigs. When I used my own 5-pound dumbbells, my heart rate
was up a little more. It would be possible to use 3-pound weights also, if you wish. This
lasts for about 4 minutes:

Plies with medial delt lifts (arms bent and lifting to sides)
Static dip to one side with hammer curl
Back to plie with lateral straight-arm raise
Static dip to other side with bicep curl
Turn to one side with one leg forward, one back, and lift back knee with triceps
kickbacks, slow then fast
Turn front with side-to-side bicep curls
Turn other side to lift back knee slow and fast with rhomboid pinch

The ninth section is the standing leg section. I think itís about 6 minutes, and although it
isnít long enough or thorough enough to stand alone as the only weight training you do in
a week, it was challenging for me and I enjoyed it. This segment consists of holding the
fully-assembled stick in one hand and resting the other end of the stick on the outer side of
your leg. Then you lift that leg in an abduction, fairly slowly. I donít remember the number
of reps. You do that for the other leg as well. Then, still holding the stick in one hand, you
cross it behind you and rest it on the back of your opposite heel, then bend your knee to
raise and lower your foot behind you. Allie states that itís important to keep your knees
together, and when I do I really feel the work in the hamstring! Then you also thrust your
foot backward for severalk repetitions. This is then repeated for the opposite hamstring.
Suzanne, as I recall, uses the stick for balance in this segment while the others are using it
for resistance.

The tenth and final section is abdominal training. I did not keep track of specific
movements in this one and have only done this segment a couple of times. I found it pretty
challenging, but I am just getting back into abs after having shamefully neglected them for
a long time, so I follow Suzanneís modifications. I donít remember any specific moves,
but I donít remember it being anything super surprising.

I have the DVD version. It is not chaptered at all, which is a disappointment, but the
production quality is good and Iím happy with it. Allie is a pleasant instructor, fairly
typical Firm style, and I found the workout quite effective (effective = heart rate up), if a
bit short. A-.



This video was a keeper. I didn't expect to like this one much, but I did. I found it fun and interesting without being hard to follow. My only complaint that the standing leg work for inner & outer thighs would have been tougher done on the floor. It reminds me of Firm's "The Hare" with 4 limbed aerobics and targeted trouble areas & abs at the end.

Instructor Comments:
I think this is her best job done yet. She still has that baby cute voice in parts, but she quit the "breathing pretty" acting that she did in previous Firms. Sorry, but her & Jen seemed to be competing who could look best blowing out their air in the past. She cues well, too.



I haven't tried a Firm video since the Tri-Trainers, and was very pleased with this video which I received in a trade. As a high intermediate/low advanced exerciser, it is a perfect workout to raise my heart rate, while being done completely low impact. Unlike Charlene's videos which offer some of the only low impact around (and which I also like), this video has great variety. There is a combination of floor work with the stick that uses large muscle movements to raise the heartrate while also working the shoulders, back, and triceps and biceps. I used my 12 lb. body bar, and could hardly make it through the arm work. They also intermix step and floor work, including kickboxing. The moves are fairly basic, but since the segments are so short, and they make small changes throughout the combo, it held my interest. Next time I do this video, I'm going to try doing the tall box climb section with my body bar on my shoulders. It's not fast enough to be considered aerobic, and it's controlled enough to have weight - it moves much slower than Mindy does with weights on Awesome Strength. The leg work segment included kickboxing moves and some inner and outer thigh work (although I question the effectiveness of this as mentioned by another reviewer). In addition, there was a short section with weights or twigs that worked the bicep and back. The ab work was pretty basic, but did include two sets of planks - my favorite. The music didn't stand out, but wasn't annoying either. This is a workout that I can see myself reaching for often, because of the low impact, ability for modification, and constantly changing activity.

Instructor Comments:
Allie still has the same winning personality that showed in her earlier video. She cued ahead of time, although very little instruction was offered. I find her very motivating in this video.

Lynne M.


This tape is fun and unlike BSS1 from the Firm, the sound quality is fine and the set is light and welcoming. As with the other videos in this set, intermediate to advanced exercisers will need to have heavier dumbbells on hand. The "twigs" from the body bar offer no resistance and I can't see how they could possibly help anyone "sculpt" their muscles. The body bar was fine for leg work and I enjoyed using it during the aerobic segments, but heavier weights are needed if you want a challenge from this or any of the other BSS2 tapes.

Instructor Comments:
Allie keeps improving with every video. She has just the right level of enthusiasm without being annoying and her cueing is right on target.



This was my least favorite of the BSS2 set when I first got them, but now that I've advanced a bit I actually find myself reaching for it on cardio days. The fact that it combines a bit of strength training with the traditional aerobics helps to break of the monotony of an hour-long all cardio workout, and I still find it gets my heart rate up there!

The segments have been broken down well, so I'd just like to add a bit of personal experience to the pool. First of all, I all but stopped using the sculpting stick once I graduated to bigger weights, so I use five pound weights for the tall box step ups and four limb segments. Doing so, I find that first four-limbed section to be hard on my arms, especially my forearms, by the time it finishes. However, this allows me to modify somewhat the moves (I don't see a difference in her bicep and tricep curls, so I do them more traditionally with the free weights and add some delt work if my forearms begin to get too tired).

I really appreciate the tall box step ups. They are in fact slow enough to add weight, and I can really feel them in my legs. I wouldn't say it's the same thing as adding a set of leg press to the workout, because I mostly feel a deeper burn in my quads, but I feel like I'm doing more than the tall box step up in Maximum Body Shaping, for example.

The aerobic segments themselves are alternately uninspiring and different. I have almost no emotion for the kickboxing-inspired first segment, or for either of the step segments, though they are tiring and keep my heart rate up. The hopscotch-style jump up and down third segment is the low point of the workout for me, I usually just try to grit my teeth and get through with it. There's nothing wrong with it aerobically, I just seem to have an intense dislike for it.

Many people have complained about the standing leg work as ineffective and an excuse to show off the sculpting stick- I had so much trouble getting the sculpting stick to work for me that I just decided to forget the whole thing and do a short, heavy set of floor legs. I go with heavy dumbbells and then do a set of outer thigh lifts and pulses, a set of inner thigh lifts and pulses, and then some bridgework. I don't know if it's all that effective, but I doubt it's any less effective than the standing leg work!

The ab work, on the other hand, is great. It's a long set and includes pulleys, which I love, and planks, which I desperately need to do more of. I'd say the ab segment is on par with Emily's from CAWT in length, and definitely as difficult, as long as you really concentrate on putting your all into it.

Overall it's a good, hour long cardio workout with some incorporated strength "stuff". It might not be for the cardio purists, but for those of us who only do our cardio because it's good for us, it's nice to have a variety like this which is interesting and gives you enough breaks to keep you from quitting.

Instructor Comments:
Ali is cute and generally decent. She's not overly inspiring, but she's not annoying, either. Her cueing in this video is good enough that I neither remember it nor remember the video being hard to follow. I realize this makes it sound like I don't like her, and that's not true. . . I do like her, but she doesn't inspire a tremendous amount of loyalty or emotion in me.



This is my second Firm video from BSS2. I should mention that I am a relatively newbie to both The Firm and to step aerobics (although I'm familiar with using the tall box, aka "Fanny Lifter," for toning work). This workout is led by Firm master instructor Allie Del Rio and is about 52 minutes long. The only equipment besides the Fanny Lifter is the Firm Sculpting stick, which is sometimes used for balance, sometimes for weighted resistance. I don't have the stick, so my substitutions are described below.

I found the 6 1/2 minute warm-up to be a bit long and repetitive; it ends with a set of push-ups on the box. 4-limbed cardio with the stick comes next, and I found this to be a bit awkward without a stick--my 5# dumbbells were too heavy, and just using a dowel felt too light, so I'm going to need to experiment more here. Then comes toning work with tall box climbs on the step. I really enjoyed this segment, feeling it both in my glutes AND my outer thighs. Allie uses only the stick for balance, but you could try holding weights to make it even more challenging (I found it challenging enough without!).

Then it's back to cardio with a kickboxing segment performed without equipment. This was fun, and I liked the little hops added in towards the end. Step aerobics with the short box follows. As I said above, I'm a newbie to cardio with the step, and so I had a bit of trouble with the choreography here, but I slowly started to pick it up--Allie's great cueing helped. Then it's more low-impact aerobics without the step; this wasn't as fun for me as the kickboxing moves. Next, Allie does another step aerobics segment, and this time, I found it a little easier to follow along.

You then repeat the initial leg press series on the opposite leg before moving on to the final cardio segment, which is 4-limbed cardio using the "twigs" (ends of the sculping stick)--my 3# dumbbells worked fine as a substitution here, but some of the moves felt a little awkward to me. Before going on to abs, Allie does a nice segment of standing leg work, which was great for me since I hate floor work! The sculpting stick is used for resistance; I plan to use ankle weights next time. Allie does some nice brief stretches for the legs and then moves on to the floor for abs work. Although the abs exercises appeared pretty standard--mostly basic crunch variations--I was SHOCKED by how tough they were--I consider myself to have a pretty strong core, but I had to modify here! Allie finishes with a nice, full-body final stretch.

I did like this workout, although I was a bit disappointed that I was only in my target HR zone for about 22 minutes; this might improve as I become more familiar with the moves. Also, there were segments of this workout that felt a little too much like traditional hi-lo floor aerobics for my liking. Overall, however, I felt that I got a good workout, and I do plan to continue using this video.

Instructor Comments:
I found Allie to be a bit on the serious side, but I thought her cueing was excellent. Also, I loved that she is muscular rather than skinny!

Beth C (aka toaster)


Well, I was ready to put the entire BSS2 series on the back of my shelf but this workout redeemed the entire series. "Cardio" was a little misleading, at least to me, because I got quite a bit of muscle shaping from tall box climbs and ab work that never seemed to end. I'm an intermediate exerciser who started over after a hiatus, and after 2 months I'd call myself "low" intermediate.

Abs were pre-exhausted from standing core moves so that by the time I reached the floor, the first set of upper and lower had my abs on fire. I ended up sitting out the final set of "hiccups", which long term FIRMies will recognize as the serratus works from FIRM Vol. 1.

Since other reviewers have already given break downs of the workout, I'll say that those cardio segments were quite challenging, and my heart rate was up there for the whole workout. To me this workout was every bit as challenging as the original volumes; if you're an advanced Cathe junkie, cut us beginners, intermediates and re-entry types a break. Cardio is something I really don't like, which means I need to do more of it. :p

I used the green sculpting stick from the Gaiam kit, and found it might actually be a little too heavy. My upper body got quite a workout, even though I used my 2 lb. dumbbells instead of the twigs. Beginners, either skip the stick or use the BSS2 sculpting stick.

The music was interesting, at least to me. Tunes like Funkytown were done Kraftwerk early techno style, and I liked it. It was retro, but not. The cardio moves struck the right balance between too easy and too complicated for those of us with two left feet, though I did choose to use the shorter part of the Fanny Lifter since it was my first time using this workout.

Some familiarity with kickboxing moves would come in handy since there was no instruction, and I think the workout presumes that we'd all done Tae Bo. I recommend Kathy Smith Aerobox or even Project You Foundations before -- it will help you actually do jabs and crosses without injuring yourself.

Overall, an A workout.

Instructor Comments:
Allie did a good job leading this workout, though a little more attention to cuing would have been welcome. Form pointers were good, and she was able to create the right mood -- not to laid back, not too hyper.



This is a 52 minute workout that uses the Fanny Lifter (FL) and Firm Sculpting Stick (SS), you wont need dumbbells for this workout, but you could use them instead of the stick IMO. The workout is mostly cardio but includes a standing leg tune and a long & quite tough ab workout at the end. This is from the 2nd Body Sculpting System released by the Firm (BSS2) and the set is white walls & floors w/ some colored glass in the background. There are 4 background exercisers with Suzanne showing the beginner modifications.

After a warmup and stretch you go into about 25ish minutes of moderate intenisty cardio. Allie does some tall box climbs using the SS for balance. To up the intenisty I use the SS for curls, overhead press, etc. She does some squats and pliets with the SS, you can sub plyos in for the squats to modify up. There are box aerobics, floor aerobics, a kickboxing-esque routine, and some four limb with the twigs (the ends of the stick come off and make 2 lb dumbbells)

After the cardio you do a "standing leg tune" that uses the stick. I usually add ankle weights to this section as the stick only weighs 8 lbs. Then there is some stretching before she moves into a tough ab series that includes lower ab, upper ab, obligue, and some plank work. This is followed by the final stretch

I enjoy this workout though it is definatley not all that challenging. Its good for a lower intenisty day or you can modify up (or down) pretty easily. I would rate this low intermediate as many of the cardio moves are pretty low intensity.

Instructor Comments:
Allie cues very well in this one and I like her as a lead. No babytalk- I think this was before her babytalk days started.