The Firm: TransFIRM Your Trouble Zones

Kelsie Daniels
Year Released: 2008

Categories: Kettlebell

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NOTE: This review is for the DVD alone, NOT for the 5-lb. kettlebell included as part of the "kit."

I have been practicing kettlebell workouts for over two years now. I decided to try this DVD even though I recognized that it was not a "real" kettlebell workout--i.e., it uses only a 5-lb. kettlebell, which is MUCH lighter than what is recommended for performing ANY type of traditional kettlebell exercises, even for beginners (more on this below). However, I really like the Firm instructor who leads this routine, Kelsie Daniels, and so I thought that by subbing a 5-lb. dumbbell, I could consider this DVD just a general strength workout and make it work for me.

The Main Menu for this DVD offers the following options: Full Workout (48 minutes) - Express Workout (20 minutes; same footage) - Bonus Features. The Bonus Features include 8 Minute Core: Strong Back & Abs - Learn the Moves - Behind the Scenes - Preview the NEW FIRM Workouts - The FIRM Believers Club.

For the main routine, Kelsie is teaching live with four background exercisers, one of whom, Alison, shows some modifications, although Alison still uses the small 5-lb. kettlebell. The kettlebell is used throughout the workout with the exception of the warm-up (4-minutes) and the four short (about 3 minute each) cardio intervals; Kelsie describes the second two of these as "power" intervals. The cardio is mostly lower impact, with Alison modifying the few higher-impact moves.

For the kettlebell work, Kelsie keeps things quickly and constantly moving. She starts with "swings," but these are NOT true kettlebell swings as they would be taught by any certified kettlebell trainer--i.e., they are performed too slowly, there is no explosive hip pop, the form is too much like a squat, and finally, the arms move above shoulder level (something that most KB trainers discourage). On the plus side, I had no problem doing Kelsie's version of this move with a dumbbell. Kelsies also performs a move that she calls a "side swing"; this move does not exist within traditional kettlebell work, at least not that I have seen so far.

For the most part, Kelsie uses her light kettlebell to provide a dynamic aspect to more classic strength moves--e.g., a side lunge reaching the KB overhead, a curtsey lunge with a delt raise, etc. The one exercise which Kelsie performed that WAS quite similar to a "true" kettlebell exercise was the windmill. (At the end of the workout, she does what she terms "Turkish Getups," but her move was QUITE different from an actual Getup--which uses one forearm as a lever--and more similar to another kettlebell exercise, the Deck Squat.) Finally, this workout also includes a variety of push-ups, mainly performed with one hand on the kettlebell. (When push-ups/rows are performed with one hand EACH placed on a kettlebell, this is called a Renegade Row, but usually very heavy KBs are used for this to provide increased stability due to their larger size.) Kelsie concludes this routine with approximately 3 minutes of standing stretches, including stretching the hamstrings and side stretches.

The Bonus Core routine (7:43 minutes) features Kelise alone on the floor. She uses the kettlebell for some moves (a dumbbell also works fine) such as crunches, seated twist, and passing the kettlebell under the knees; she also performs bicycles, side plank lifts, and brief superman-type moves. The "Learn the Moves" segment is brief (2 minutes) but covers some basics of the kettlebell work.

As noted above, this DVD does NOT offer a true kettlebell workout. I would NOT recommend it to anyone who has never tried kettlebells before, especially someone who wants to eventually move on to other kettlebell workouts, as learning kettlebells the WRONG way can actually wreak havoc on your form once you attempt a "real" kettlebell workout. (For reference, most certified KB experts would recommend that those just BEGINNING with KBs start with a weight range of approximately 4-8 kg for women--that's 9-18 lbs., depending on pre-existing activity level--and 8-12 kg for men, or 18-26 lbs. Five pounds is just too light!)

On the other hand, this routine works just fine with a dumbbell, and in fact, I would recommend performing it this way. Unfortunately, I found that I still did not particularly enjoy this workout. The light weight wasn't enough for me to feel like I got a significant strength session in, but I think that given the fast pace of the workout, it would be difficult to increase the weight. I was also disappointed that the quick tempo of the routine was not enough to keep my heart rate elevated, so in that respect, I felt like I didn't get a good cardio session in either. I will note that this workout did leave me feeling a bit sore the next day, which was somewhat of a surprise. I can see how some might enjoy this workout as an AWT (aerobic weight training) routine, especially those looking for a light weight, light cardio effect, but overall, this DVD just did not click well for me.

Instructor Comments:
Kelsie is one of my favorite Firm instructors; she was not the problem here! I think she instructs well and does a good job. Unfortunately, there's just no way to turn this routine into a true "kettlebell" workout.

Beth C (aka toaster)


This 48-minute workout was included with a 5# super cute purple kettlebell and was of course the only DVD issued by Gaiam that utilizes the kettlebell. The AWT kettlebell lite workout is led by Kelsie Daniels and filmed in the darkish background set that you might recognize from Firm Dangerous Curves Ahead. There were four background instructors including Alison Davis, who demonstrated beginner modifications. The workout infused traditional toning (lunges, overhead press, squats, pushups) with kettlebell moves (such as swings, snatches, Turkish getups) and incorporated cardio intervals for a very intense workout! The fast beat techno tunes that they chose for the music was a very good choice-kept me motivated.

Equipment: All you need is the kettlebell (i.e., no dumbbells required) and while you could substitute a dumbbell for these exercises, nobody demonstrates this alternative: they expect you to buy the bell. While I think the kettlebell was nicely made, I also have the Kettlenetics 4# bell which I think was better shaped as it has a much wider handle Ė I donít have a problem with the Firm bell but from the forum it seems like a lot of people scrape their knuckles in the space between the handle and the bell which is very narrow. I find that using a 10# bell for most moves REALLY intensifies the workout, and I once tried a 15# bell for some moves, but that was really too much.

The workout consisted of a warm up, several strength sets balanced out by cardio sets throughout, and finished with a short ab segment and the final stretch. One of the things that made this workout so challenging was that the cardio was very strength-focused (lots of unweighted lunges and squats along with some high intensity cardio) so you didnít really get a break from the strength, like you would expect from other Pink Firm workouts. Wow! The strength included two sets of swings, one at the very beginning and one towards the end of the workout. Also included were a variety of lunges and squats with upper body moves, like a low lunge with lat row, curtsey lunge with lateral raise (if you choose to use a heavier kbell, I would recommend still using the 5# for this), lunge with overhead press and triceps kickback, and dead lifts. Also include are several sets of pushups with kettlebell under one hand (then alternate) and later, a pushup and plank segment with a one arm reach to work the back. Challenging! She finishes with Turkish getups, starting with partial floor only versions which transition into the full floor-to-standing versions-hard! The final stretch is well needed, I am simply exhausted by the end.

Like Lindsey said, the workout provides more of a leg-intense workout (and subsequent DOMS) but donít discount that the arms are still very well worked by the end. The core is worked throughout for balance and to aid in the swinging motions that work your body differently than with traditional strength training (which also requires that you use lighter weights than what you normally would for traditional strength training). Your heart rate will stay up the entire workout making this very cardio intense.

All in all I would rate this solid intermediate while using the 5# kettlebell, and low advanced when using the 10# kettlebell as I prefer. This AWT workout would be good to alternate with more traditional Firm workouts, to add some variety, and while it is AWT, if I had to choose it for a cardio or strength day exclusively, it would definitely be strength. I think this would be a good video to break through plateaus for those who are exclusively doing strength training, because your body really needs to adapt to these different moves. Iím confident that kettlebell purists would NOT like this workout, or even come near the DVD with a 10 foot pole, but that was expected. You definitely need an open mind and allow some fusion into your regime to appreciate this workout. This is one of the most challenging Pink Firm workouts to date and I think would be very well received by Firm lovers like myself (especially for Kelsie fans!) Grade A.

Instructor Comments:
Kelsie is by far my favorite of the Pink Firm workouts and I have all of her workouts (Pink Firm and classic Fitprime). Iíve always got my eye out for any new workouts of hers, because I will get them hands down. Sheís just that good! She cues nicely, is enthusiastic and smiles the whole time, she is a natural instructor, and you can trust that she will deliver intensity into Pink Firm workouts, unlike some of the other instructors. As an aside, I read on the VF forum at some point that Kelsie did this workout using a 10# kettlebell at a fanís request on the Firm forum (well after the DVD was distributed), and that Kelsie deemed it safe, but thatís just what I read secondhand.

Emily B.


This is a 46 min cardio + strength workout featuring the Firm 5 lb kettlebell. The dvd also has a 20 minute premix and a bonus 8 minute ab workout on it. Kelsie leads with 4 background exercisers, Alison showing the beginner modifications. You will only need the kettlebell for this workout. You could easily sub a heavier bell for most exercises and probably even a dumbell would work. The set is the blue tile floor with foggy glass in the background.

I use this workout as a lower body workout since the 5 lb bell isnt enough to really work the upper body in the few upper body moves that are included. While the bell is light, you are also using your own body weight for the lower body moves (squats, lunges, etc.) so I do feel it a bit in my lower body the next day. There is some ab work and plenty of cardio intervals also included in the workout and I always work up a nice sweat in this one.

The format is kettlebell strength work alternated with power cardio intervals. The strength work does get your heartrate up because you are using large (mostly) lower body muscles.

I would rate this solid intermediate. I am not a kettlebeller so I cant comment on that aspect of it. But as a nice lower body + cardio workout-I like it! Kelsie is a good lead and though her cueing in some of her other w/o's is spotty-its good in this one. She is super fit and motivating in this as well. Its a good and unique workout IMO and definately worth having in my collection.



I've been curious about Kettlebells for months, and I lunged at the first FIRM Kettlebell workout, called TransFIRM Your Trouble Zones. The 5 lb. kettlebell is too cute, but don't let the cute factor scare you off.

This is a solid intermediate cardio + sculpt workout with cardio sections interspersed with classic kettlebell moves like the Swing and Turkish Get Ups, the hardest ab move I've ever had to modify.

Advanced exercisers and folks who have been using heavier kettlebells the whole time will probably find this workout too easy. For those of us who are using poundage in the single or very low double digits, this is a fun way to try something different.

The DVD offers an express option and a preview of the moves, which I highly, highly recommend watching before trying the workout for the first time.

The set is not my favorite of the new sets. I think I loved the TransFIRMation set the most, and just don't want to see anything different for awhile. The cool gray tones didn't flatter the instructors and exercisers, I felt, but after the first set of KB moves it ceased to matter. The music was standard techno-workout fare, which I think was a smart move because it was non-distracting. The tuba song from Vol. 1 definitely wouldn't have worked with this workout. ;-)

I give the workout a solid A.

Instructor Comments:
Kelsie is a wonderful lead: tough, thorough and doesn't miss a cue. She's also very, very cut and an inspiration to look at.