The Firm Parts: Tough Cardio Mix

Lisa Kay, Nancy Tucker, Allie Del Rio, Pam Meriwether, Heidi Tanner
Year Released: 2000

Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance

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This workout has already been well reviewed so Iím just going to add my opinions. This is a compilation workout of cardio sections from Fat Blaster, Firm Cardio, and Firm Strength. I particularly like Fat Blaster so I was excited to get this compilation for variety, and it is a tough 45 minute workout. It is organized differently with all step aerobic portions first (for about the first 30 minutes) then the last three or four tunes are floor aerobics. They eliminated some of my favorite tunes from Fat Blaster but it was a good workout. They included most if not all of the cardio intervals from Firm Strength and Firm Cardio. I appreciated the variety.

To make the workout a little tougher, I used the Bosu (dome side up) as a step, which really worked my legs with so many step aerobic tunes back to back. I was relived to put the Bosu away once we got to the floor aerobics! My heart rate was consistently high throughout the workout and I was glad to see the cool down and stretch at the end. I think this one is a little tougher than Fat Blaster because it is less focused on the 4-limb and emphasizes the step aerobics and hi-lo, and because the aerobic portion lasts longer. There is no strength or ab set at the end which is fine with me.

This was a compilation, as I mentioned, and is filmed in the Firm mansion and library sets, with a large cast and a variety of instructors. The production quality is high and the music is awesome! Out of the Firm cardio workouts that I use regularly, I would rate this in intensity as harder than Fat Blaster and Maximum Cardio (with Carissa Foster), and on par with Cardio Killer (with Nancy Tucker). This is a great addition to any BBH-era Firm loverís collection. Like I mentioned, I like the source videos better, but this is good for variety. Done as is, I would say this is intermediate but can be made high intermediate with a Bosu! Overall grade B!

Instructor Comments:
There are so many instructors in this one but I particularly like Allie (rare for me to favor her but she really shines in Fat Blaster), Nancy Tucker (Fat Blaster), and Heidi Tanner (Firm Cardio). I think Lisa Kay and Pam Cauthen can be confusing at times.

Emily B.


This Parts workout is made up mostly of the HiLo sections of Fat Blaster. There are also some of the sections from Firm Cardio and Firm Strength. It is out of print and can be kind of difficult to track down as it seems to be almost a collectible to Firmies, but if you get a chance to nab it, by all means do.

I lucked out and got this one in a trade almost 2 years ago. I should first say that I really did not like Fat Blaster when I had it, but immediately took to this one of all floor aerobics. Figure that one out, considering that this one is practically identitcal...I think I just find the sequence much better in this one. It just seems to flow nicer and I, in turn, find I get a much more enjoyable workout that gets me going and excitred for more!

The instructors in this one are Allie Del Rio, Nancy Tucker, Pam Cauthen, Heidi Tanner, and Lisa Kay. I always enjoyed Firm Strength so I was happy to see Pam Cauthen in this one and find I particularly enjoy her segments. This is one of the Firm videos that I own that will truly never leave my collection.

Cori (ziggy2306)


Let me brake the tape down for you...warm up 3 min (Allie from Fat Blaster)

-First segment of the workout is Nancy Tucker doing a 4-limb dumbell side-step-side curling biceps and stepping onto the 8" box ( i use for if im tired) this part is a good warmup too if i feel like skipping the actual warmup.

-Second part is Heidi Tanner doing some step n' squats from Firm Cardio (aka-Strong Heart). This brings up my heart rate a little faster. Its short and fun.

-3rd part is Nancy Tucker doing a stradle side step with the 8 or 4" step box. This is easy to follow.

-4th part is Lisa Kay doing some steps on the box lifting her knee alternating knee lifts and leg lifts..i really feel this one in my buns!

-5th part is Heidi again (from Firm Cardio) doing some step-ups with calf pumps.

-6th part is Lisa Kay doing a faster box stepping routine with L-steps. This one is repeated so the moves you will get pretty fast if you do this tape enough.

-7th part is Nancy Tucker doing some back lunge dips using your 8 or 4" step while curling biceps, lat rows, and overhead presses, then some front step lunges on the box while doing some delt lifts..this one is more slow and controlled

-8th part is Pam from Firm Strengh (aka-Firm STrong Body) while doing this fun step cha cha' doing delts and bicep curls.

9th part is Allie doing some fun run, jacks and kicks

-10th part is Heidi doing a floor 4-limb with tricep kickbacks and delt lifts

-11th part is Pam (Firm Strengh ) doing some light plyos with leg lifts and rock back hamstring lifts

last part-Lisa Kay with some light step sides with bicep/tricep curls, light squats and leg kicks.

Basically this workout is 38 mintues long (not counting warmup and cooldown) with the first 15 mintues all on the step box and the last 18 with floor 4-limb segments. I enjoy this workout because it goes pretty smoothly and although it isnt very high impact, you can make it high if you use your 10 inch box during the step segments. What i liked about the new Firm Parts is that there was no stopping in between like Tough Aerobics mix and not-so-tough aerobics mix where they have a Firm instructor guiding you in between each workout segment(that really slows down your heartrate ) even though i love those videos as well. I grade this tape an A.

Instructor Comments:
Allie brings in the high get you up there feeling, while Nancy is the one that keeps you patient. Lisa gives you a warm feeling as does the 2 cross trainers Heidi and Pam. They all cued very well.



This parts tape is easy to learn; the steps are not at all difficult, so you quickly become familiar with the routines and can put plenty of energy into them. (Melissa F. has broken down the tape, indicating where the segments originally came from.) An advantage of FIRM aerobic routines is that you don't need a large workout space. The music is very upbeat. I really enjoy the cooldown, with its classical music. It makes me feel so graceful (I live in hope). Having the step aerobics and the floor aerobics separate so you don't have to move your step back and forth, as in many other FIRM workouts, makes this one flow well and helps keep my heartrate up (although some days I wouldn't mind being interrupted by a guest instructor!). There are some high-impact moves, but I modify them to low impact and still get a good workout. I'd say this is an intermediate to advanced workout, depending on how high your step is and whether or not you do the high-impact moves. I don't have many step aerobics videos (I prefer floor aerobics), and the ones I have are beginner/int. level. I find The FIRM's step aerobic routines intense enough for me with my step at 5", and I don't mind that they are fairly simple and repetitive. The variety of instructors and changing settings seem to make the workout fly by and keep me interested. I know some people are getting a bit fed up with parts tapes because some segments are being used quite a lot. For the moment at least, I'm still happy with them (I also have four of the Classic parts tapes). I enjoy finding favourite routines from original tapes, and the chance to see snippets from tapes I don't have.

Glynis van Uden


I recently acquired Tough Cardio Mix from the exchange (thanks, Lorrie), and I can say that I definitely like it better than Tough Aerobic Mix and Not So Tough Aerobics. I have Firm Cardio, Firm Strength and All Cardio, so I had done the routines before. I felt that the intensity was somewhere between TAM and NSTA, probably because TAM has more high impact. I would rate the intensity as intermediate/advanced. I really enjoyed the way The Firm edited the tape--doing all step, and then floor aerobics. This video is very smoothly edited, with minimal scrambling for equipment. I also liked the way this video did not have a "guest instructor" introducing the segments--to me, it made for smoother transitions between segments. One thing--I usually do the step segments in the total body volumes using a 10" step since they are rather short, but with this video I will be using an 8" step in the future since there is 20 minutes of continuous step. I felt it in my knees after using the 10" step. I'd have to say that I prefer doing Cathe Friedrich or other fun step videos to this one, but Tough Cardio Mix is great for a change of pace. It would make a great tape to do in conjunction with strength training, and you get some light toning with this tape, too.

Instructor Comments:
All of the instructors are very fit. Their cuing is adequate for the workout. They show good form and offer some form pointers.

Kristin Aziz


I think the breakdown of the video has been given exceptionally by Melissa. I really liked how they had all the box work at the beginning, and then went to the all floor section. I'm one of the few who really like All Cardio to begin with so if you don't like that video, you won't like this one. Just about all of the "aerobic" portions are from All Cardio with the majority of the box work coming from Firm Cardio and All Cardio (confused yet)? I liked the music a lot and I just felt like I got a great workout. It's not the most challenging workout, but I definitely felt good after I was done. I recommend this tape!

Instructor Comments:
I really liked ALL of the instructors. I know All Cardio has gotten quite a bit of talk on it, but I thoroughly enjoyed each segment.



I think this video is more intermediate than advanced. My heart rate did not go up. Since the title is Tough Cardio Mix, I expected the level to be as tough as Tough Aerobic Mix. But it's not even close. However, I did have fun doing this video. I like how the Firm put the step portions before the floor aerobics. Choreography is easy to pick up. The change in instructors makes the workout go faster too. I'm going to keep this tape to combine it with other tapes. I can also use it when I'm tired from a previous day's workout.

Instructor Comments:
Each instructor is different. I found that the Firm Cross-Trainer instructors, Heidi and Pam, had better cuing. But the steps are not complicated so it was easy to follow. I thought Allie had a really cute personality.

Helen Stephens


Those familiar with my video likes and dislikes and my FIRM preferences will not be surprised to hear that this video bored me to tears. Well, not to tears, but enough to hit stop on the VCR well before the workout was over.

I gave this one a shot because I'm recovering from a knee injury and can't do my favorite workouts with all their jumps, twists, and turns.

I barely worked up a sweat, and the generally wooden instructor personalities turned me off. Even the segments from FIRMs that I like (Strength and Cardio) seemed to lack the life they had in the original.

Well, I don't expect diehard FIRMies to agree with me on this one, but that's my opinion. This one goes on the exchange.



This is a fun video, and I actually like it better than the new Tri-Trainer All Cardio. When I pop Tough Cardio in my VCR, the workout just seems to fly by. You get a new segment every couple of minutes, so there's lots of variety. That's one of the things I really like about the FIRM Parts series. Melissa F. did a great job of breaking down the video- and I want to add that I also really like the way the video is broken down into step/floor aerobics. No dragging your step out of the way and bringing it back out 3 minutes later.

The steps are also very simple so this is a workout you can do on auto-pilot. I love choreography but sometimes I need a break!

One last thing--although I love this tape and get a good workout with it, really advanced exercisers will probably not find this tape much of a challenge, but might be able to combine it with another tape for a more strenuous workout. The workout is not as intense as a Cathe tape and I would classify it as intermediate/"low" advanced.



Tough Cardio Mix is comprised of the aerobics segments from Tri-Trainer All-Cardio (or Fat Blaster as it's called now), Firm Cardio (Strong Heart), and Firm Strength (Strong Body). I'm sorry, but these name changes are ridiculous!!! How long will it be before they change the name Tough Cardio Mix?! (Okay, my rant is over.)

I actually do like this workout. It's structured a little differently from the previous Firm Parts aerobics workouts (Tough Aerobic Mix and Tough Aerobic Mix 2). The first part of the workout is entirely step (or short box), and the last half is floor aerobics, primarily low-impact. I'll give a rundown of the segments that it includes: The warmup/stretch is from Fat Blaster w/ Allie Strickland. Nancy Tucker does 4-limb w/ weights on the step. Heidi Tanner does the step-up/squat segment from Cardio. Nancy Tucker does box work from Fat Blaster, followed by Lisa Kay who also does box work. Heidi Tanner does the other step segment from Cardio -- the one w/ the calf pumps and rock step. Lisa Kay does box work. This is the one w/ a lot of over-the-tops, so I turn my long step so it's horizontal. That way I'm working much harder. Nancy Tucker is next w/ dowel dips off the step using one weight. After the dowel dips, she does lunges onto the step. Pam Cauthen does low-impact aerobics -- the segment w/ sambas and step squats. Allie Strickland does a higher-impact segment. Heidi Tanner does 4-limb aerobics (w/weights). Next is Pam w/ low-impact aerobics, Lisa Kay w/ 4-limb, and finally Allie w/ the cooldown. Nancy Tucker does the stretch.

I think I like this workout a little better than Fat Blaster (or All-Cardio as I think of it), because the cardio section is longer, plus you're not switching equipment around constantly. Overall, it moves pretty quickly from segment to segment, so my heartrate doesn't drop that much, although I haven't worn my heartrate monitor w/ this workout yet. I wish they would have included a couple of the other higher-impact segments from All-Cardio, but I don't mind that they didn't include the tall-box climbs, just because that's one more piece of equipment. As it is, I use both my Step Co step and my 10" Firm box, because I'm used to doing the segments from Firm Cardio (w/Heidi) on the 10" box, so my heartrate just doesn't get up as much when I do those segments on my 8" step. I need to do cardio at least 5-6 days/week, so this is a great video to use right after I've done my strength training.

Instructor Comments:
All the instructors do a good job during their segments. The first time I did the higher-impact segment with Allie Strickland, I had kind of a hard time following her cuing, but this IS the Firm we're talking about, so it didn't take long to pick it up. I think Nancy Tucker is wonderful (especially in person), and I also really like Heidi Tanner.

Melissa F


I felt Melissa F. did a great job breaking down this video and letting you know what to expect. I enjoyed working out to this video. It is very basic stepping and floor aerobics using light weights. No CIA or Cathe to have to rewind and figure out the choreography. I thought the Firm did a good job picking out the fun aerobic sections from the Crosstrainers Strength and Cardio and also using some of Firm Tri Trainer All Cardio( or Total Body Fat Blaster).

I liked how the stepping was all in one segmant( I think 20 minutes) and then you go to the floor for aerobics and forlimb aerobics using light weights( 15 minutes)

They used all of Nancy Tucker's segmants in Tri Trainer All Cardio and used her cool down stretch too. She has a nice relaxed feeling about her where Allie is just a bundle of Energy for the warmup and her hi/lo section. They use all Heidi Tanners aerobic sections in Firm Stronheart( Cardio) and they use 2 of Pam Cauthen's aerobics sections in Firm Strongbody( Strength). It is nice to have a variety of instructors. It just doesn't get boring when doing this workout. The workout changes, the instructors changes. I was having so much fun sweating away. The only thing I wish is that it was longer and the stepping had high impact. After doing Cathe Friedrich workouts, I feel like I miss the jumping. You can always add the higher impact if you need to get your heartrate up.

Another plus to this workout is you get some good light/high rep toning for your upper body. Toning for your biceps, triceps, shoulders ,delts and lats. It is a nice workout to do the next day after a heavy weight day. I really like doing this workout more then the other Firm Part Tough Aerobic Mix and Not So Tough Aerobic mix video's. But if you want more high impact, you might want to alternate this video with the Tough Aerobic Mix which has more high impact.

Instructor Comments:
Each instructor brings out there own style which gives this video a nice variety. I like every one of these instructors!

Mandy Lee