Functionally Fit: Peak Fat Burning

Kathy Smith
Year Released: 1996

Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance

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This is a nice aerobic interval workout. Not terribly intense for intermediate level exercisers, but good cardio nevertheless. I'm sure you could increase the intensity by exaggerating the movements and adding propulstion. I like the basic choreography and the length makes it a perfect add on workout for after lifting weights.

Instructor Comments:
I have to confess that Kathy is not one of my favorite instructors but I like her well enough to do some of her workouts. I don't like when instructors yell, and Kathy does do this periodically to egg you on, but I can put up with it in some workouts, including this one.

Helen K


Iím reviewing this workout after doing it a number of times since getting it about a year and a half ago.

General workout breakdown: After a 7 minute warm up which includes some static stretching, Kathy leads you through 25 minutes of anaerobic / aerobic intervals (although this appears to me to be a circuit workout rather than an interval, but Iím not 100% clear on the definitions of both). The steps are primarily athletic or functional-type moves (speed skaters, lateral hops, repeaters) rather than traditional hi/lo aerobics moves (grapevines, pivots). The recovery portions are usually lower body toning moves using only your body weight only, such as squats and lunges. Following the last recovery segment, you move to the floor for a 5 minute stretch. This brings the workout total to 40 minutes.

Level: Iíd recommend this to an experienced beginner to a high-intermediate. I think the multiple modifications and exhortations to push yourself to the point where youíre ďbreathlessĒ might be too much for a true beginner; at the same time someone whoís crossing or crossed over into the advanced level of cardiovascular activity would find this too easy. I got this when I was just moving into the intermediate level, and I vacillated between level 1 and 2 for the first few times, then quickly moved up to level 2. I now consider myself a high intermediate and find level 3 a good but not overly challenging or intense workout.
Kathy offers low, mid-, or high impact variations. There are some shuffles, so be careful on carpet.
The relatively uncomplicated choreography shouldnít be difficult for most people to pick up within the first time or two. Kathy does string a couple of moves together, but she never throws more than three or four at you at one time.

Class: 3 women and 1 man join Kathy; all appear to be in their 30s, 40s, or maybe early 50s. 2 show low impact modifications and 2 show high impact modifications while Kathy demonstrates the mid-level impact moves.

Music / Set / Other Production Notes: The unexciting beat-driven instrumental music speeds up during interval segments and slows down during toning. The bright interior set is meant to look like a living room facing onto the backyard. The picture and sound quality are good. There is a clock counting down how much time is left in the interval at the 1 minute and 30 second marks.

Equipment: sneakers. You may want a mat for the cool down stretch.

Comments: This workout doesnít require much space. You need to be able to take one big step front and back and two fairly big steps to each side.
Although this workout is primarily aerobic, less advanced exercisers may want to avoid doing strength training for your lower body the day after doing this workout if that toning involves a lot of squats and lunges. (In other words, Kathyís recommendation of alternating this with her Functionally Fit Lower Body Firming isnít good if you want to give your muscles time to recover.)

DVD Notes: The DVD allows you to choose your chapter, which I use to skip the introduction. Unfortunately, each interval is not chaptered separately; I would have loved the option to program it to play just cardio or just toning.

Conclusion: This is a keeper. In fact, itís the only Kathy Smith workout Iíve kept. Itís great to grow with, as you can increase the intensity when you need more. And itís great to keep on the shelves, as you can also decrease the intensity when you need a lighter workout.

Instructor Comments:
Kathyís cueing is good. Sheís very enthusiastic, which causes her to trip up a couple of cues, but sheís well within my tolerance limits here. She works both sides evenly and mirror cues.



Functionally Fit Peak Fat Burning provides an excellent aerobic workout for advanced beginner to intermediate exercisers. It uses an interval training strategy, which involves alternating high intensity bursts with slower recovery periods; research has suggested that this method burns calories more effeciently than steady-state forms of cardio training.

The workout begins with a warm-up lasting approximately 6 1/2 minutes. I thought that some of the moves felt a bit awkward at first, but they were simple and easy-to-follow. This segment also included some basic stretching moves. The warmup flows smoothly into the interval workout, which starts with a few additional minutes of warming up. During this time, instructor Kathy Smith previews the upcoming moves, so that by the time you pick up the pace, you know exactly what is coming next. Each interval consists of two minutes at a higher intensity followed by two minutes of "active" recovery. Because the workout also is based on the principle of functional fitness, all of the exercises are designed to replicate "real life" movements--eg, leg raises, knee lifts, etc.--and thus the routine is extremely easy to learn. The recovery periods include a large number of squats, so you get in some excellent lower body toning in addition to the aerobic conditioning. Following the 28-minute intervals segment, there is a 5-minute stretching section, and the entire workout clocks in at approximately 42 minutes.

I tend to avoid most aerobic videos because they leave me feeling overworked and exhausted, so this routine was a pleasant surprise. Although Kathy does stress the importance of pushing yourself during the high intensity segments, repeatedly stating that you want to "make yourself breathless," the fact that each segment was only two minutes long made it easy for me to stay motivated. Furthermore, Kathy was very encouraging throughout the workout, reminding you of the time left in each segment (an on-screen clock showed the 1-minute and 30-seconds points) as well as how many intervals were left in the workout. Kathy works with four background exercisers, two of whom show lower impact modifications and two of whom kick it up a notch for those wanting to go even more intense.

I'm excited about discovering this video and hopeful that engaging in interval training will boost my fitness progress; highly recommended to anyone looking for a new and different type of aerobic workout.

Instructor Comments:
Kathy Smith is very motivating and encouraging her, with none of the over-the-top behavior from her Timesaver videos. Generally, her cuing is very good, although it seemed a bit off at certain points. However, she offers flawless mirrored cueing, a definite plus.

Beth C (aka toaster)


Peak fat burning was one of the first dvd's I bought after a loooong break from exercising. The first time I did it, it pushed my limits....truthfully, it kicked my tail. After the second workout I noticed a difference in how I felt. I wasn't as worn out and I felt great. The intervals really work you if you push yourself. I'm no where even close to having good coordination but I definately didn't have any problems doing the exercises. Peak fat burning is a great video. Don't let the 25 minute cardio session scare you off because you think it isn't long enough. Believe me, you work hard for each high impact interval and the cool downs in between let you catch your breath while continuing to do strength training on your lower body. Great video for beginners like myself and for intermediate/advanced.

Instructor Comments:
Kathy Smith does a good job in this video. She's upbeat but not annoyingly perky. She's also great at cuing.



I love this video. I keep coming back to it and have gotten my choreography-challanged DH to love it too. It's short (30 min. approx), effective (high-intensity interval training), and the set is a clean living room with enough small details to keep your attention (for people as set-addicted as I am) and it doesn't seem dated to me.

There are 4 background exercisers who show the beginner and more advanced variations of the exercises. There is some jumping and leaping from side to side, but two people stay low impact the entire time. A+

Instructor Comments:
There is exactly one whooping sound here. The rest of the time Kathy is her usual professional, upbeat, informative, and motivating self.



This is a nice 40-min intermediate cardio intervals tape. It requires no equipment and not an enormous amount of room. The set is pretty. It reminds me of the Slim in Six/Slim Series set - a spacious living room with hardwood floors and a large window overlooking a green back yard.

There are four very-easy-to-see background people, who do extra-intense or beginner modifications. One of them is a guy; I recognize the other three from other Kathy Smith videos.

The format is six 2-minute hard intervals with a a couple minutes of active recovery between them. The active recovery consists of some marching and step-touching, some "previewing" of the intervals moves (the intervals moves done at a slower, less bouncy pace), and some standing leg work, such as squats, plies, and one-legged squats. These moves are not nearly so intense that I feel like a can't do them in between lower-body strength days, although they would be challenging for a beginner. They don't bring your heart rate down anywhere near resting heart rate.

The intervals moves are easy-to-follow but not entirely boring. They consist of sports-drills type moves, such as shuffles, leaps, and hops, with a few knees up and hamstring curls. They are nice because the intensity can easily be modified, so that they would be doable for a beginner, but an advanced exerciser would not be completely wasting their time.

The video ends with a hamstring, quad, hip, lower back and calf stretch done lying down on the floor.

Instructor Comments:
Kathy Smith is plesant in this tape. She does some typical Kathy Smith things, like start a sentence and not finish it, or whoop at a strange time (this only happens once). But overall she is encouraging, not too hyper, but still energetic. I like her in this tape. She gives you reminders about pushing yourself during the intervals and bringing it down during the active recoveries.



This workout combines 2 minutes of aerobic exercises followed by 2 minutes of recovery anaerobic exercises.
I really enjoy doing this workout. I prefer doing aerobics with weights (Firms)and I have trouble finding straight cardio workouts that I enjoy. This is a great tape to throw in between Firm days.

Instructor Comments:
Kathy is great, very motivational without being overly excited



I won't go into the contents or structure because that's already been done. I just want to say that I enjoy this workout a lot and sweat every time I do it. I'm high intermediate/low advanced and I work up a good sweat following the advanced exercisers. The moves are athletic and simple enough to modify so you can create a higher or lower intensity workout. I like that fact that the active recovery phases include some toning work -- I think that's more useful than doing grapevines or step-touches while your heart rate comes down.

This workout has been compared to NAC Interval Challenge by other reviewers, and I'll do the same. I like them both and get about the same level workout either way, but they're very different. With the rotating instructors on Interval Challenge and the banter that goes on among them, I feel a lot like it's their show and I'm the audience. Although the choreography is more interesting on that tape, I get a better feeling from Kathy, as though she's providing instructions to ME and encouraging ME, rather than focusing on the people around her. It may seem silly, but I especially like her encouragement during the intervals, where she verbally pushes you to exert until you're "breathless." Her form is great and she gives good pointers throughout.

The only thing I'd criticize about this tape is that Kathy doesn't provide low-impact alternatives for some of the interval moves. It's certainly possible to push your heart rate up there without high-impact, but that's not addressed in her instructions.

Finally, I find the length of this video perfect for combining with others. I've done a 20-minute Pilates workout afterwards and felt just great!

Randy Pollack


I bought this video after I injured myself this week and realized I had really no floor tapes except for kickboxing/boxing type tapes. I have tried Kathy's step tapes and didn't care for them, but really enjoyed her kickboxing and walking audios, so that's how I ended up with this. While this isn't as intense IMO as Reebok's Intense Moves or Cathe's Interval Max, it's definitely a keeper for those days I want an interval-style workout, don't want to drag out the step, and want to get it done in less than an hour. I really like the emphasis Kathy puts on the lower body during the recovery phases of the six 2 minute intervals and I enjoyed the stretch at the end. Four of the intervals did get my heart going when done at the advanced level, but heck I can always modify. This tape was definitely worth the $10 I paid for it and has shown me that maybe I'm missing some good floor tapes.

Instructor Comments:
Kathy cues well and her moves are simple and easy to follow. Her voice is very pleasant and her demeanor is not at all intimidating.

Stephanie Bridges


This is the only Kathy Smith video I have kept. It is an beginning to intermediate-level interval-style floor aerobics video with no surprises, just straightforward, well-cued, athletic moves that anyone can do. Modifiers are demonstrated by various team members (people in green work hard on a more advanced level, people in blue do the modifiers for the beginners, and Kathy stays somewhere in between). While it's not nearly as much fun as the NAC Interval Challenge, it provides a good workout for an easy day and is an excellent use of time. After a brief warm-up, there are six minutes of regular aerobics, followed by six two-minute intevals interspersed with two minute recovery phases in which you can get your heartrate down. Kathy previews each interval during the recovery phases. Recovery work also includes lots of squats and balance work. At the end of the interval phase, there is a cooldown and a good stretch. Not bad for 40 minutes! I keep this tape on hand for days when I'm really tired, recovering from illness, am pressed for time, or need a good warm-up prior to doing a weight tape.

Instructor Comments:
Kathy Smith is a good instructor, cues well, but has a grating voice and an annoying tendency to yell "Ow!" just once too often. She also "cheats" on one interval by breaking off suddenly to run around and point at her fellow exercisers' form. No nonsense, but not intimidating.

Paula Weber


I love this video - it's perfect when you don't have a lot of time, but want to get in a good sweat. I'm not in the advanced arena with videos yet, and this video fits me perfectly. I think it would be a good workout for someone who hasn't worked out in awhile and wants to get back into it, or someone who is moving out of that beginner range. The choreography is easy to follow and the squat intervals are a great lower intensity workout for the glutes. It could be a bit longer, but all in all it's a great short workout.

Instructor Comments:
I like Kathy's approach - her focus on form and cueing are always great. Although some would like to see Kathy "lighten up" in her videos,I prefer a more low-key personality than someone who is just way too perky and chatty.

Susan Moore


The video is a great workout. The 2 minute calorie bursts are great, because they're only two minutes and she does some great recovery exercises in between. I always feel like I've had a good workout when I'm done with this tape.

Instructor Comments:
Kathy Smith is my all time favorite instructor. She is very easy to follow, and very pleasant to listen to. I have quite a few of her tapes, and really enjoy them all.



I won't describe this video since other people have already done a good job doing that. This is a good introduction to interval training for beginners and intermediates. I also make it more intense by jumping really high during the intervals. This tape is not as tough as Intense Moves. It is similar in intensity to NAC Interval Challenge. But I actually like this tape better than the NAC tape. I like that Kathy puts lower body toning exercises during the recovery phases. I feel this gives my butt and legs an additional workout. However, I would still count this tape as a cardio and not a toning tape. The movements are not complex and Kathy does cue well so this tape is easy to follow.

Instructor Comments:
Kathy Smith is a lot like Karen Voight. Both are good instructors when it comes to cueing. However, both instructors need to lighten up a little. They could use some lessons from Gin Miller or Jennifer Mills. Now those two instructors make a workout fun.

Helen Stephens


I bought this video. I previewed this video. I put it on the exchange. I never even worked out to this video, because I was so turned off by the intro that claimed this was a new way to burn fat in less time. I've been around the block a few times, and I know nothing works like a FUN workout! That's the one you'll keep and do over and over and over! Maybe Kathy Smith needs to take a lesson from Donna Richardson or Jane Fonda. These two I do strictly for fun; but, you know, I think I get a pretty darn good calorie/fat-burning workout from them.

Instructor Comments:
My first introduction to Kathy Smith was "March to Fitness." I soon was bored with the tape, and bought "Secrets to a Great Body" -- both upper and lower body videos. I thought she was a perfect instructor for these videos. This was serious body-shaping time, and Kathy was there to help me through it. But now, with Peak Fat Burning, I just feel as if she's that dreaded second-grade teacher who's making me learn the multiplication tables. Lighten up, Kathy! I'd really rather just work up a sweat with Gilad or Charlene Prickett. Neither of them is particularly bubbly, but at least I have a good time with them. Kathy's making my workout seem like work.

Lilly Anderson


First, I have to tell you, I went into this with a very bad attitude. I had my mind made up that I wasn't going to like this and it would be boring. That had been my experience with the two other Kathy Smith tapes I'd done. So I really had the deck stacked against this one. Well, surprise! I DO like it! Despite my bad attitude, the workout quickly one me over.

This is an interval workout, alternating 2 minutes of regular aerobics with 2 minutes of very high intensity aerobics. It goes by very quickly. The total tape, including warmup and cooldown, is 40 minutes.

For each interval, lower-intensity options are shown. So you don't have to do the higher ones if you're not ready for them. I do the high intensity options, and they are very good "pumpers" for your heart. I don't think I get anaerobic, with the possible exception of one of the intervals, but I'm still working very, very hard. This is not nearly as intense as the new Reebok Intense Moves, but it's still extremely good.

For "fun factor," I would have to say the NAC interval tape is better. I think the two are about the same intensity-wise. This is a keeper for me, with a grade of A.

Annie S.


This is an interval training workout. For two minutes you perform high intensity aerobics as hard as you can, afterwards there is a two minute recovery period in which Kathy instructs you through some lower body exercises designed to take your heart rate down so that you can get ready for the next interval. There are a total of six intervals.

The high intensity aerobics consists of both basic (not dancy) high and low impact moves. These are real basic moves as Kathy says "you use in everyday life." I don't like real dancy moves so this workout was perfect for me. I found the basic choreography both fun and challenging There are two other women working out behind Kathy in the video. One shows you the beginner's moves and the other shows you the more advanced moves which are higher impact.

I consider myself to be at the intermediate/advanced level. I followed the moves of the advanced level instructor and I find that I get a good workout. This video is a great introduction to interval training and I prefer this one more than the NAC's Interval Challenge video because in Kathy's, during the recovery phases, you also get a good lower body workout consisting of lots of squats which I like.

The workout is only about 40 minutes total and I tend to do it on days when I don't have a lot of time or I don't feel like killing myself. Some at the advanced level have commented that this video is not hard enough for them. Since I have bought this tape, it has become a little easier for me too but to make it harder, I add more high impact moves to the workout and increase my range of motion and I find myself dripping at the end of the tape.

This tape will always hold a special place in my heart. I have lost 40 lbs and when I was at my halfway point I hit a plateau and could not get over it. I bought this tape and did it 2-3 times a week and it pushed me right off it. I highly recommend this tape.



This tape is a great introduction to interval training for beginner/intermediate exercisers. Kathy leads a routine which consists of six 2 minute, high-intensity intervals; which alternate with "active recovery" toning intervals. After the intervals there is a cool-down and stretch.

Kathy's cueing is excellent. She gives lots of pointers on form and tells you how you should be feeling at various points. She stands in the middle demonstrating an intermediate routine. Directly to her left is an advanced excerciser and to her right is a designated beginner. This makes it very easy to pick out which exerciser you want to model yourself on; and you can easily shift back and forth if needed. A digital timer flashes at the start of intervals, and a couple of times into them. I found this really motivated me to push myself.

Everyone is clad in athletic type gear which fits the theme of functional fitness. There is nothing exciting about the music but it does set the pace. Production quality is excellent.

A couple of cautions. Intensity is increased primarily by changing from low impact to high impact moves. This would make it difficult for those who avoid high impact because of joint or other physical problems to grow with this tape. Also, Kathy recommends you do this routine 3 times a week for best results. I'm certainly not an expert, but I have read interval training should be done only 1 - 2 a week.

Denise B.


This workout is an interval session. I've found that after using it for 6-7 months, I still select it at least twice a week. I indeed did start by following the two people demonstrating "low impact" moves. Eventually I modeled myself on the 'advanced" Robin. Now, I've adapted by making larger arm movements, adding "plyo" to the low impact moves, etc., with the result that this is still a fine interval training tape. If you want to extend the workout, do your favorite floor routine while other videos are being previewed. Or, add the companion Functionally Fit: Lower Body Workout.

The intensity and difficulty of the two minute intervals seems to build (as opposed to the NAC Interval Challenge, for instance, where the middle intervals seem "easier" than the beginning and ending ones).

The tape is excellent in other ways. You can insert an interval from this into other tapes that have become "too easy". I have learned to add muscle and intensity to all sorts of activities.

I'm someone who doesn't want to buy a lot of tapes, and I highly recommend this.

Beth S.


The video is set in a "living room" type atmosphere. The music is upbeat. Kathy talks a lot through the workout reminding you what comes next, what your form should look like, and where your heart rate should be. The video consists of six two minute intervals. You work hard to get out of breath for 2 minutes, then she brings your heart rate down by toning the lower body with squats (one leg, two leg), and other lower body firming exercises. There are advanced and beginner modifiers giving you an option of high or low impact. Great video for beginners and those moving up to intermediate. Choreography is very basic, there are no dancy moves. No weights or bands needed. This video leaves me dripping wet. I really SWEAT!



I'll be short with this one, but basically, I really enjoy doing this video on days where I don't feel up to a vigerous workout. The intervals get me sweating and during the recoveries Kathy focuses in on lower body toning. I would definately recommend this video to any beginner, or to an intermediate exercises looking for something to do during a "day off."



This is the second video in the two-part Functionally Fit series. I previously reviewed the Lower Body, which consisted of mainly squats (my personal favorite) and plies. This video is called Peak Fat Burning, which is more aerobic. All levels, beginning to advanced (their term, not mine) are demonstrated, with Kathy taking the middle as she usually does. The workout is short, about 30 + minutes, and consists of 2 minute 'intervals' of 'high intensity' aerobic moves, with 'rest' time in between. There are 6 intervals all together. The moves for the next interval are demonstrated during the 'rest' period. Many of them are duplicated the Lower Body video. As with any Kathy Smith video (or any workout for that matter), you can make the workout more intense by making the moves bigger and increasing range of motion. I did not find this video very intense; for some of the moves I used lunge/squat moves instead of the step-out or step-back moves on the video. There were several repeater moves, similar to what you would do on a step but these were on the floor. The Lower Body workout is definitely more intense although shorter.

I ended up doing this video along with one of Kari Anderson's Step videos to feel like I got a complete workout. I would rate this at the low end of intermediate, stopping just short of a beginner's workout. It's not bad, but not enough for me.

Barbara Paola


Consists of two sections of lower body toning; a regular workout and the "challenge". Am gearing myself up to try doing both tomorrow.. I have been using the first half in conjunction with walking, Yoga, and using my Health Rider for about one month, and SUCH a difference!!

The first time I did the routine, I was in agony the next day.. my butt didn't know what had hit it! But it was a wonderful ache, reminding me that those muscles were getting stronger! The workout consists mostly of one and two-legged squats, some plies, and other toning moves. I really appreciated the modifiers the first couple of times through, when I couldn't maintain the highest level. The "floor-touch" does such a job on the glutes!!

I would rate this video: A

Lorna Burden


I am recovering from surgery, and have been reduced to an intermediate level again. But this actually gives me a chance to do some new videos, so it's not all bad! I am surprised that I liked this video, since I don't like Kathy Smith, but this is a good, solid workout with basic, athletic movements. I intensified some of the intervals with plyometric variations (ie. huge lateral leaps instead of side skates) and boy, was I huffing and puffing! I think this is a very useful, shorter workout that still provides the benefits of interval training

Instructor Comments:
She is pretty annoying, especially when she's trying to "whoop" - luckily she doesn't do much of it!

Serena Schlueter