The Firm: Hips, Thighs, Abs (BSS3)Pam Meriwether
Year Released: 2004
Categories: Lower Body Strength
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This is one of the Firm BSS3 series workouts, led by Pam Meriwether with the standard BSS3 background exercisers (Libby, Stephanie, Lisa). They use the Firm Death Box and the Firm sculpting stick, neither pieces that I have or would care to use. I used the BSS4 Transfirmer box but felt that I got the most out of just keeping it simple and doing the exercises on the floor, BBH-Firm style. The workout clocks in at about 35 minutes with the first 20 minutes spent on the hips and thighs, 10 minutes spent on the abs, and about a 5 minute stretch. There is also a brief warm up for each section. The set is the BSS3 darkish background with fluorescent lights with each person working out on a different platform, and the music was quite good (pumping instrumental like the other BSS3s).
The workout has already been broken down so Iím just going to give my impressions. First of all, I wasnít planning to purchase this upon preview (which is saying something since Iím pretty generous with my Firm purchases) because it looked like they overused the gadgets and because I have plenty of floor work options with my classic Firm compilations. But I decided to buy it because it was on a good discount (about $3 or $4 dollars) and to add to my purchase to get the free ship (LOL).
As I suspected, they really did overuse the gadgets and it seemed like they were going FAR out of their way to use the equipment in a ďlook what I can doĒ fashion. For instance they did table work ON the 14Ē step (not draped over) which was completely unnecessary and didnít in any way benefit the exercise as far as I could see, and they did outer thigh lifts draped over the incline, using the stick as the weight, which just looked uncomfortable and awkward. But I digress. The actual moves, which I modified on the floor and with ankle weights, were intense and effective. Included were hydrants, inner and outer thigh lifts, and more table work with a weight behind the knee.
The ab work included leg walks and reverse crunches while hoisted on the incline, which I canít decide is just REALLY hard or just exhaustive by way of being awkward. Whatever the reason, it was too much for me and I did the work on the floor, which was intense enough. They did some planks with elbows on the incline, which I thought was quite uncomfortable (I think Iíll try my elbows on the Bosu next time) but the plank work itself was intense. Then there was some floor work for the upper and lower (weighted) and then upper only (unweighted). I liked how they preexhausted the lower abs before working the upper. Usually videos overdo the upper abs and neglect the lower, but not in this workout! I thought the final stretch was nice and thorough.
So in conclusion, I would say that I enjoyed the moves and thought the workout was intense Ė if modified to suit your needs. I thought using ankle weights on the floor was much more comfortable and effective than using the sculpting stick and step (at least at a glance Ė I have to admit I didnít actually try it the way they demonstrated). The workout can be easily modified depending on poundage used. Done as is, I would say it was low-intermediate. I still prefer the old Firm classic compilations better, but this one will be great for variety. I will reach for it semi-regularly. I wouldnít say itís a Firm must-have but what can I say, I got my moneyís worth! Overall B+ if you donít mind modifying.
Pam is a good instructor. She is a little too over-cheerful in the BSS3 series and I preferred her more businesslike approach in the BBH Firm Strength. She also got to be astoundingly skinny in the later Firms which was mildly distracting but certainly not a deal breaker! She gave adequate instruction but really could have given more form pointers, in my opinion. I like other Firm master instructors better but sheís certainly not the worst (at least she doesnít baby talk like Allie).
This is a 30 minute addon from the Firm BSS3 system, which has 20 minutes lower body and 10 minute ab/core work. The workout has already been broken down by other reviewers.
The warmup is done standing and the body of the workout is all floor work. They use the firm box -- I used my club step with a mat on top of it, which works well. I liked the inner and outer thigh raises on the inclined step -- it was different than I had done, and it felt effective. I used an 8 lb body bar resting on my foot while doing the lifts (I think Cathe does this in Pure Strength.) Pam does donkey kicks and cross-backs while resting your forearms on the higher part of the inclined step -- I didn't see the advantage to doing it this way over the usual way (on the floor) but she comments that it is more comfortable -- Maybe for taller people it is, but at 5'3" it is just as comfortable on the floor!
The ab work is done on the incline, and was tough. I like that it's not just crunches, and it felt effective.
It's too bad the DVD isn't chaptered because the ab work is seperate from the lower body, and would be good as an add-on.
The lower body work felt much tougher than Libby's Lower Body Sculpt 2 (from BSS1 addon). It's a nice workout to have in your firm collection.
Pam gives good pointers and tells you ahead of time which exercise she will be doing.
Firm Hips, Thighs and Abs uses the BSS3 incline box and sculpting stick to work your entire lower body. On my DVD (with the original white cover), the workout is chaptered into Floorwork and Abs. I like using it as an add-on to other workouts. There are brief warm-ups for each segment which I usually fast-forward through.
I donít have an incline box or sculpting stick, so I use a club step (on 3 pairs of risers for outer thigh work and on an incline for abs), ankle weights, dumbbell, and padded barbell.
I actually feel a little silly doing this workout WITH shoes, since everyone in the workout is barefoot. I did use my padded barbell for the inner and outer thigh work, and it was uncomfortable without shoes, but other than it was fine.
Sandra gave a good breakdown of this workout. I agree with her that you could easily do this without a step or sculpting stick. It took me a while to figure out exactly what to use, but adding ankle weights really made the workout challenging. You donít do a whole lot of reps, but you do hit every area with a few different moves.
I find the ab work to be pretty challenging. The leg walks and lower ab crunches on an incline really are harder than on a flat plane, as Pam says. I donít use weights at all during the ab work, though they hold the sculpting stick with their legs while lying on the floor and hold the twigs in their hands.
I hope the Firm comes out with another floorwork video. I tried Lower Body Sculpt 2 and just couldnít make it worthwhile, even if I added ankle weights. Hips, Thighs, and Abs is a little more unique. It good well with the other BSS3 workouts, or even some of the Firm cardio-oriented workouts, since there isnít floorwork in most of the newer Firms.
I really like Pam. Iím sure itís partially nostalgia for the old Firm. She seems different to me than some of the other instructorsómore authentic, less scripted? She does make some comments about how well the sculpting stick or incline box work for certain moves, but the comments really didnít bother me. Sheís cheerful and encouraging throughout the workout.
There are no reviews of this DVD so I thought I'd do one, since there are few workouts out there featuring lower body floor work. There are two workouts: 20 minutes of lower body floor work followed by a 10-minute ab routine. Libby provides modifications. Although the workouts can be done separately, there is no chaptering on the DVD.
The workouts themselves are pretty good. The main problem with this DVD is that it features two of The Firm's least popular gadgets: the Sculpting Stick and the convertible "death box." However, the workouts can be easily done without either one. For the Sculpting Stick you can substitute a dumbbell (you will need regular dumbbells for some of the exercises anyway) or a body bar. A regular club step with risers, Fanny Lifter, High Step, plain weight bench or just the floor will work in place of the box (which I don't own). Whatever you use, you will want something like a folded towel or yoga mat to pad the surface (for some reason this isn't mentioned until we hit the ab work).
The participants do this workout barefoot, which I don't think is a good idea with weights. I suspect the main reason was that it is easier to balance the SS in the arch of the foot during side leg raises.
After a short warm-up (which includes static lunges and squats -- I just keep these shallow), lower body work begins with the box in the full upright (14 inch) position. We do the following (1) front leg raises while supporting the upper body on the step or floor; (2) kneeling while holding the SS overhead (a little like Lotte Berk knee dancing); (3) bridge work with feet up on the box; (4) table work atop the box, raising the leg out to the side (can be done on the floor -- just less ROM); (5) side leg lifts with the SS while lying atop the box (I moved to the floor for this one, and I used a dumbbell held on my thigh because I kept poking myself in the stomach with the SS -- LOL!).
The box is then changed to the slant position. With a club step you can recreate the slant, but after trying this once I didn't think the slant really added to the workout for me. Next we lean over the high end of the slant for rear leg lifts (I did these on the floor on my elbows and knees). For the last exercise you lie sideways on the slanted box for more side leg lifts with the SS (I again used a dumbbell and just did these on the floor). A few stretches conclude the lower body work.
Ab work begins with elbow planks, alternating knees to floor -- challenging! Next we lie supine on the slanted box for loer body crunches, leg walks and leg pulleys. I did these on the floor because I am cautious with my back.
Next are upper and lower body crunches on the floor. The SS is disassembled, with the middle part held under the knees, and a "twig" in each hand (for pushing overhead or rib cage pullovers during some of the crunches). Libby modifies this section by using no weights. Some of the crunches are done laterally. The abs workout concludes with a side stretch, but nothing for the abdominal wall, so you might want to add that in.
Overall I liked these workouts, although I don't usually bother with a workout requiring much modifying. The length of the workouts make them good add-ons. I especially like that lower body is done separately from abs (unlike Tracie's Sculpted Buns, Hips & Thighs). However, I doubt I personally will ever use just the ab workout alone, since it is not separately chaptered and I'm too lazy to use the time search function on my player.
Despite its drawbacks, this DVD should be considered by anyone wanting lower body strength work without squats, lunges or tall box climbs.
Pam looks very different from her old Firm video, very thin and muscular, but led this workout in a clear, professional manner.