The Firm: Burn & Shape (BSS5)

Emily Welsh
Year Released: 2007

Categories: Total Body Workouts

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I recently purchased The Firm Ultimate Fat-Burning Collection, and this workout was one of the four selections included on that DVD. Emily Welsh leads this workout with 4 background exercisers (surprisingly, although Sue-Mi is in the cast, it's Allison who shows modifications) in the Firm's newer set with wood floors and fake windows. This is a cardio sculpting routine, and Emily cues use of light, medium, and heavy dumbbells (I used 3s, 5s, and 10s).

The workout begins with a fairly long (almost 7 minutes) warm-up. Although the moves themselves are relatively simple--e.g., double side steps, v-steps, low jacks, double taps with squats and rear dips--the choreography is a bit tricky, especially for a warm-up, and I found Emily a little hard to follow at times. On the other hand, it did get my heart up quickly, so that was good. Following the warm-up, Emily cues medium weights to move right into squats with shoulder press. Next is a short front lunge with glute lift/row and then a biceps curl. Moving onto light weights for shoulder work, Emily starts with a unique move, a plie which adds a twisting delt raise, and then she does a traditional rear delt raise with a bit of a twist (I liked both these exercises!).

The first cardio segment comes next (about 4 minutes total). Again, the moves themselves are pretty simple: a front-back-front step, a hamstring/knee combo that adds repeaters, and a lunge front with small hops to switch. This is followed by rear dips with triceps overhead extensions, push-ups, lat rows, wide squats with wide bicep curls, and a second set of push-ups. For the second cardio segment, Emily starts with a side step, circling the arms and adding a knee up on the end. She then moves into a squat-front kick-dip combo on each leg and does some plyos; this entire sequence is repeated several times.

Emily has you pick up your heavy weights for side lunges with sweeps, but then it's back to the light weights for deadlifts with triceps kickbacks. This is followed by a walking lunge with a clean and press (forward)/biceps curl (backward) and the final standing move is a "seesaw" to work the abs. Coming to the floor, Emily does a held plank and then goes right into triceps push-ups and chest flies, which concludes the dumbbell work. She next performs about 2 1/2 minutes of crunch variations for the abdominals. The final stretch is short (about 2 minutes): Emily begins on the hands and knees for cat/cow, a calf stretch, a triceps stretch, and a hip flexor lunge, and she moves to standing for hamstring and neck stretches.

Overall, I enjoyed this workout. There were a couple of places where I felt the choreography was a bit unnecessarily complicated and/or where Emily could have cued better, but I liked the fact that my heart rate stayed up the entire time, even through the weight sections, and I found the mostly low-impact cardio segments to be fun. I would rate this workout as low intermediate, but it would be appropriate for experienced beginners (or even new exercisers following Allison for modifications), and it could be modified up for high intermediates using heavier weights.

Instructor Comments:
Emily is actually one of my favorite Firm instructors, but I felt that her cuing could have been better here, especially during the lunges (i.e., she didn't always say which foot should be first, and it was hard to tell since she was moving sideways). However, I thought she cued the cardio segments well.

Beth C (aka toaster)


This dvd got pretty bad reviews but really its not that bad. The w/u and one section are a bit *odd* but overall its a pretty good AWT w/o.

This is a 40 minute cardio alternated with strength w/o led by Emily. There are 4 background exercisers, Alison shows the beginner modifications. The set is the wooden floor w/ white walls kind of generic look set. You will only need dumbbells.

After a longish warmup you do some stretching and move into a strength set. She alternates cardio segments with strength segments but the strength segments actually got my heart pumping too. There is a lot of heavy 4-limb work in this so I really think its a pretty effiecient workout. The moves are combined well so you can actually use appropriate poundage for all moves involved.

She doesnt move too quickly and I didnt feel rushed at all but there is also NO downtime in this one. I enjoyed this workout and felt my muscles were worked pretty darn well and was pretty sweaty by the end. As usual, I modified the cardio up but w/ that mod, I got a great w/o!

There were a few *odd* sections-the warmup-it was a bit long and she moved pretty quickly on the choreo. Then one of the cardio sections seemed a bit scattered but besides that-a great w/o! I would rate this a solid intermediate that is easy to modify up or down to suit your needs.



I wasn't sure what to expect of this workout after completing the warm up because I was totally lost and missed more than a few steps on what I thought would be an easy workout with no step. Luckily the rest of the workout made up for a rather rocky start. It's a good intermediate short AWT workout labeled as a Cardio + Sculpt.

I wanted to have more fun with the cardio portions, but I can't get with all the sections. The steps weren't intuitive, and I got lost more than once, which I found frustrating. I like to zone out with cardio, and some of the newer FIRMs definitely get you out of your rut, requiring some thinking power.

The good news is that the sculpt sections made up for those earlier missteps. Another bonus: no special equipment other than 3, 5 and 8 pound dumbbells. There are some great compound moves like walking lunges with overhead presses that got my heart rate up there and gave me a break from trying to think about cardio.

The set was nice and bright with hardwoods and white walls, and the music was rather average. Still, I got a great workout in 40 minutes.


Instructor Comments:
Emily is a fun instructor, but I did get lost a few times because of cuing.