The Firm Parts: Tough Aerobic Mix II (aka Not-so-Tough Aerobic Mix)

Susan Harris, Janet Jones-Gretzky, Sandahl Bergman, LaReine Chabut, Jayne Poteet
Year Released: 1996

Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance

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Of the cardio-focused Firm Parts tapes, I really like this one. It is short (which is my favorite thing about a cardio workout) and the moves are not terribly high-impact. There are a few, but it is not as bad a Tough Aerobic Mix which is mostly high impact.

I like to do this one when I don't have it in me for a full Aerobic Weight Training tape. It also gives me a firm that I can do between AWT days.

Like all of the Parts tapes, this one is comprised of segments from the Classic Firm workouts (Vol. 1-6). The "transition girl" is Karen Taylor and she sets you up between segments.

I like this one and keep it in my collection because I think it is a really good,short (40 min) cardio workout that I can incorporate into my Firm rotations.

Instructor Comments:

Cori (ziggy2306)


Despite its age I find this to be one of my most used videos. It's length and intensity level make it perfect for a light workout day or as an add-on to another workout.

This is a cardio workout so the emphasis is on aerobics not weights. There are some segments with heavy weights, but you can always go with a ligher weight if you want to. There is also a good amount of lower body toning with squats on and off the box and some lunges here and there.

In general, I think that FIRM style cardio is underrated. It may not be fancy, but it's simple and effective and I find it fun. Some days I don't want to have to think about complicated choreography.

I'd reccomend this to anyone looking for a lighter cardio workout. It would also be good for people interested in trying the FIRM classics. It gives you a taste of what they're about at a lower intensity level. I decided which full volumes to buy based on who I liked in this video.

Instructor Comments:
Gotta love those Firm Classics instructors!



This one is one of the best, even flow areobics from The Firm videos. It has alot of arm work with weights..i rememeber using this one along with Tough Aerobics for a straight month through with only these 2 tapes and went from 125 pounds to 112 in about a month and a half..doing both tapes a day. Which was tough. this one isnt as high impact but its slower and i actually feel more work because of so many parts using weights with your hands. I love this video...

first part is warmup from Vol 5- this warmup is probably the only one i hate the most since it drags on for so long, but i still love vol 5.

first segment is from vol 2-with Janet Jones doing some march steps with bicep curls and over head presses with some light lunges . You may want to use only 3-5 pounds since the reps are pretty fast.
second segment is Kai from Vol 4-Time Crunch where you march and do some tri-star kicks...low impact and easy to follow..

3rd segment is Kai from vol 4 again on the 8 or 10 inch step (always remember that a 4 inch is also ok!! dont push too hard!) and she alternates step downs with rows and delts and biceps..these arnt too fast but fast enough to where if your begginer please use only 4 inch step.

4th segment is from Vol 6 with Jane Poteet where she does some simple step ups with knee lifts and light leg sweeps with no weights but since im advanced i like to use 2-3 pounds when she lifts her arms...

5th segment is janet again from vol 2 doing some more squats with fast arm reps doing upright rows and front delt sweeps as she alternates leg lifts..all floor work with 5 pounds..

6th segment is from vol 6 again with jane with more step ups with no weights...this one is easy
7th segment is vol 5 with Loreine doing some bicep curls while she steps down and alternate leg lifts on step box..this one is nice and used with 3-5 pounds

8th segment is vol 5 again doing some very light and easy stepping with no weights on box

9th segment is vol 3 with Sandall doing some light fast stepping with lunges and then some over head press and shoulder work..then your done!

overall this is grade B since they have so many box segmemntsbut very nice for beginners.this workout is only 28 minutes not counting warm up or cool down..and each segment is about 4-5 minutes long...i like this one.

Instructor Comments:
Instuctors are always nice to follow...Kai is probably the best since she seems so laid back but hardworking at the same time. Jane Poteet seems serious but i always get the feeling she secretly tells you through the camera that you cant REALLY look as good as her no matter how hard you



This video sucks! The weight workouts are too fast and they don't instruct you on proper form. Most of the wieght exercises were ineffective with the exception of the deltiod workouts, however, even with those, I had to do them at a slower pace to maintain correct form. The low impact aerobics are a joke, and the poses they make you do at the end of a segment are annoying. What were they thinking when they made this video?

I give this tape a D+.

Instructor Comments:
The queueing is way too fast and jumpy and the instructors offer no motivation or comments throughout.



I should state from the outset that I am not generally a FIRM fan. I have always found their workouts too fussy, requiring many and numerous equipment changes.tall box, small box, light weights, heavy weights, dowels, straps.and to top it all off, the dreaded c-word---choreography. This workout was suggested to me as a relatively non-threatening routine, with minimal choreography, and a pared-down equipment list: a step, one or two sets of weights, and a strap for the stretch. As an added bonus, the workout is broken down into neat little sections that make the time go faster and allow you to stop early without feeling like you're shutting off the workout mid-routine. For die-hard FIRM fans, this means yet another dreaded parts tape of recycled footage. But since this is my only FIRM tape.well, I didn't mind. And I was very pleasantly surprised and impressed by this workout.

Karen Taylor offers a framing introductory cue for each of the ten-odd sections. We then get Janet leading a back lunge section with biceo and delt work, Kai leading a very short march interval, Sandahl leading a squats and hops thing, Jayne leading a brief section with some basic box (step) stuff, Kai doing more step work with delt/biceps add-ins, Janet leading a very long lunge and kick section, Jayne doing some knee-ups on the step and 2 step off the side sections, Sandahl doing some "cha-cha" moves, then some more, then some more with lifts, and finally a cool-down stretch with Susan.

I generally don't handle compound moves very well, even if both moves are ones I know well (e.g. squats and biceps curls). But these guys use music with a very defined beat, and choreograph the moves so precisely to this beat that somehow I managed it. I fumbled a few times with the quick changes, but the combos are repeated so many times that I caught on. It did not get boring. In the longer sections, there would be two or three combos taught one by one, then repeated from the top. It was long enough ago that I wasn't thinking "oh great, this again" but not so long ago that the moves were hard to remember. As someone who does not get choreography easily, I appreciated this set-up.

I also liked the fact that this workout allows you to pyramid the weights, and tells you exactly when to do so, and how much to use. So many tapes periodically say "oh, you can up the weights now if you want to" or some other such vague directive. But this tape is very clear: it says "use light weights and medium weights" then essentially says "this means start with this weight as your light and this as your heavy. Then move up to that one as your light and that one as your heavy." So when they cue, you know exactly what you should be using. Since it is primarily an aerobic workout and you aren't meant to go heavy, it is very difficult to get confused.

By the end of the routine, I was starting to wonder when it would be over. The box said half an hour, but it just seemed to keep going and I get more familiar with the tape, I imagine the time will seem to go buy quicker as I am better able to remember how many sections there are and who follows whom. There were a few annoyances here: in some sections, the music felt bossy and some of them definitely cue better than others (Janet's and Sandahl's choreography took me a few tries). But overall, this tape blew me away. I could do compound moves, which I can't usually. I could do plyo moves, which I don't usually. The squats didn't hurt. The delt/biceps work did not overwhelm me. And more importantly, I conquered my FIRM phobia. If you are a FIRM newbie, this is an excellent tape to start with. I never thought I would be endorsing a FIRM tape, but this workout was fun and I liked it. So there :-)



I'm at a beginner/intermediate level and I had to work my way up to this one. Great low-impact moves, you will need a step and most particular body parts that get fixed are your butt and arms. Lots of squats. But no jumping around, or running in place, which is good for me, anyway. Total aerobics time is about 45 minutes. I see a difference in my arms and legs from doing it. A nice way for beginners to get into aerobics without worrying about picking up the moves or running and jumping around.

Instructor Comments:
The tape is a combo of a bunch of other firm tapes. I find LaReine Chabut hard to follow, but I love Jayne Poteet and Janet Jones (they cue well, lots of warning, good moves).



I really enjoyed this video alot! It gives me a very intense workout. When I do this tape, I know I am really working hard. I have done tons of other videos, and I can't remember the last time I sweat and worked so hard. I really love this tape. I think it is just the right combination of aerobics and toning moves all in one. After doing this tape the only thing I add to it, is the firm 5day abs. To me that is my total body workout.

I give this tape an A+

Instructor Comments:
I think my favourite instructors are Janet Jones-Gretzkey, and Sandahl Bergman. I think all of the instructors did a pretty good job though. However I must say either I am not in nearly as good of shape as I thought I was or it is 45 degrees in there, because not one person in the video breaks into even a light sweat!

Kelly Brunelle


This gets my vote for Most Boring Firm Video. To be fair, I have lost much of my enthusiasm for the Firm over the last year or two, in favor of strength tapes by Cory and Cathe. But I think even if I still liked the Firm, I wouldn't care for this tape.

Both the toning and the aerobics are very light. I don't like the Firm's style of aerobics and never have, but I had hoped for some better strength training than what's here. Grade B-.

Instructor Comments:
Several of the instructors from the Classic Firm videos are on this tape. But come to think of it, I don't remember seeing Susan Harris. I'd have to watch it again to make sure, though.

Annie S.


Although this video is not intense enough to do on its own, I really enjoy the music, the change of instructor, and the quick pace. The 35 minutes goes by very quickly. This is a great workout to add to a CIA or a short Kari Anderson aerobic workout or doing it as a combo with Tough Aerobic Mix I. In a nutshell: It's different and it's fun.

maryann parker


I bough this video along with its sister video, "Tough Aerobics Mix." Since I didn't know what to expect, I did this one first because the title led me to believe it was easeir. I was able to get through the entire video, barely! Towards the end I kept looking at the clock to see how much longer I had. I actually dreaded doing "Tough" the next day, but for some reason I find that one easier. Overall, this is a great workout. I've only had it a few weeks, but it got easier after a week or two. I still feel whupped after I do this workout, but I suppose that was it's intent.

Instructor Comments:
There are several different instructors since this video contain aerobic segments from the six Total Body workouts. Janet Jones is my favorite, with Kai Sorensen (?) a close second. For some reason I do not like the instructor from volume five, although there's nothing wrong with her segments.



Equipment required: a set of 3, 5 and 8 lb. dumbbells, a short, 6 to 10 inch step, a towel to stretch.

Apparently, the FIRM is now calling this tape Tough Aerobic Mix II. Most people call it Not-So-Tough Aerobic Mix. I bought it when it first came out it was called Light Aerobic Mix. It's compiled from Volumes 2 through 6 (there's nothing from Volume 1). I bought this tape when I was looking for a "fast and light" low impact workout that I could sandwich between "Total Body" FIRM days workout (back then I bought only FIRM tapes), and I enjoy this tape and have done this tape many times over the years.

After a brief introduction from the guest instructor, Karen Taylor (the FIRM calls her "your personal trainer"), the tape begins with the warm-up from Volume 5. Here's the run-down for the rest of the tape:

the first aerobic segment from Volume 2 (with weights)
an aerobic segment from Volume 3 (with weights)
the aerobic segment with the tri-star from Volume 4 (no weights)
a step segment from Volume 6 (no weights)
a step segment from Volume 4 (with weights)
a floor segment from Volume 2 (with weights)
a step segment from Volume 6 (no weights)
the last step segment from Volume 5 (with weights)
the first step segment from Volume 5 (no weights)
a series of quick lunges from Volume 3 (with weights)
a cool down from Volume 3
the stretch from Volume 4

In all, the tape is 41 minutes long, with about 29 aerobic minutes. The choreography is very basic with athletic, non-dancy moves. I would rate this as an intermediate workout, and now I use it on days when I want a short, lighter (but not too light) workout. I've also used it after extensive layoffs to help me get back into exercising. I use mostly 5 lb. dumbbells, and heavier dumbbells for a couple of moves. I have no desire to use heavier dumbbells because many of the moves are quick and, in my opinion, not designed to be used with heavier weights. That means that unlike other FIRM tapes, there's a limit to how far you can progress with this tape. I find that the many short segments with different instructors makes this tape go by quickly. I usually add a FIRM ab segment at the end. A word of warning: if you don't like the "classic tapes," you probably won't like this one.

Production comments: The set for the main segments is the mansion set used in Volumes 1-6, which I have always enjoyed. The instructor for each segment stands in front of a mirror facing a "class" of extremely well-toned, carefully coiffed women and men who never seem to sweat. I personally find it inspiring to watch such fit-looking people in video tapes it makes me work harder. It uses the synth music from the "classic" volumes which, in my opinion, has held up pretty well considering how long ago it was composed. The music/voice mix and the overall sound are excellent. I found the transitioning from segment to segment pretty smooth, considering that this tape was patched together as an afterthought.

Instructor Comments:
Karen Taylor doesn't really instruct but rather, she tells you what equipment you'll need and gets you into the correct position for the upcoming segment. She's warm an friendly, but like all FIRM instructors, sticks to her script. She has a slight "Islands" accent which is very pleasant. As for the other instructors, I like them all to varying degrees.

Karen P.


I really am loyal to the FIRM because I enjoy weight training, but I decided it was time for me to work on my aerobic capacity for endurance and fat loss. So, not wanting to stray too far from the FIRM I bought this tape. I really enjoy the fact that its still good weight work inside of 30 minutes of continuous aerobics, and all low impact.

It was easy to follow,(I very much prefer athletic moves to dancy ones) but not an easy workout. I really feel that I've worked out thoroughly after this tape. The only negative points is the fact that your biceps get worked like crazy, but its not balanced with any tricep work to speak of. Since its short (about 40 minutes), I just add some tricep and ab work when I'm done.
I don't especially like the warm up (too much footwork, and I don't think it really warms me up), but its not bothersome enough to change my opinion of the tape. I think the little clips with the "guest instructor" (who does nothing but pose) between each section are a little hokey, but it doesn't take away from the workout. Overall, a good aerobic workout that doesn't leave out weight work.

Instructor Comments:
This is one of the FIRM parts series, so you get a glance at all the FIRM Classic intructors. I really liked that fact that I was able to get an idea of what the Classics were like. I own volume 2 and 3, and after this tape I was convinced to buy volume 4 and 6, but not 5. The instructer from volume 5 is odd in a way I just cannot put my finger on. I like Susan Harris and Jayne Poteet. They are neither too stern nor too bubbly.



This is the video that made me love the Firm and start doing their tapes regularly. It provides an excellent start for a newcomer to the Firm tapes: the moves are low impact, with the emphasis on aerobics (no "toning only" segments). Compiled from FIRM volumes 1-6, you'll begin with a simple, easy to follow warm-up, then go into some basic step moves with weights, as well as lunges, cha-chas, etc. - easy to follow, with great instruction, and much of it done while using weights. It ends with a great stretch routine, like all FIRM tapes.

Don't let the title fool you - this isn't a piece of cake video! If you've never done the FIRM before, it will really give you a great workout, and you'll sweat like crazy; if you have done the FIRM, it still provides a really good workout for days when you don't want as strenuous a workout as some of the tapes, but you want an effective one.

Approx. 42 minutes long, including the stretch.

Sally Waters


I actually got hooked on at home tapes through this video. It's great to start out with. Unfortunately, a beginner may injure themself because of the lack of instruction on squats and lunges. The tape is not "not so tough". The title is deceiving. It gives you a great fat burning workout and challenges any level with the option of adding weights. The segments are short and that keeps it from getting boring. You may want to fast forward through the host, her presence is still a mystery to me. Overall, it's a great, motivating workout for any fitness level.

Instructor Comments:

The instructors on this tape vary, as does my opinion. Unfortunately, all of the instructors skip an explanation of proper form. This is what makes me withold giving this tape a perfect score. It is so important to give complete instructions on form when you put "for beginners" on the outside of the tape. Most people don't know how to do a proper lunge and this tape is full of them. This is what makes this tape have "injury" written all over it. Hint: when doing the lunges skip the 90 degree angle and only bend slightly. Do this until you strenghthen the muscles in your knee area and the rest of your legs. The instructors should immediately inform all users of this tip. The instructors are pretty easy to follow. One, from the Quick Workout Tape (#4) is confusing at times You get confused on her cuing-if she means change legs this time or the next time. The instructor from the 3rd video is totally annoying.Sorry, but I don't look forward to her segments at all. Her moves are weird and I can't figure out what they actually do for my body. The Cha-Cha's are completely ridiculous! The segment I fear is Tape #2 (Janet Jones) she gives your upper body a killer work out. It's great! The instructors on the step are easy to follow.