Strong Women Stay Young

Bonnie Falbo
Year Released: 1999

Categories: Total Body Workouts

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I just did this video last night (after previewing it a few days ago) and I think it would be a very good intro to weight training for women (and men!) Based on Miriam Nelson's book of the same name, the video leads you through 8 exercises designed to strengthen all major muscle groups.

The workout is listed as 35 minutes, but the total time from warm-up to final stretch is closer to 41 minutes. There is 5 minutes of intro at the beginning of the tape, and 5 minutes of testimonial from the background exercisers at the end.

After a 3 minute warm up of marching in place, knee lifts and chair raises (I did squats, instead)you begin the workout. (I preceded this with 15 minutes on my exercise bike, so I was plenty warmed up. They do suggest doing alternate or additional warm-ups if you want to.)

The exercises are seated leg extensions to work the quads, standing side abductions (ow, the side of my butt), standing hip extensions (squeeze those glutes!), upright rows (feel those shoulders), bicep curls (slow down!), overhead press (Am I gonna make that last rep?), calf raises and heel raises (I have shins!). You do 2 sets or 8 reps of each exercise (except you do only one set each of calf raises and heel raises). Each rep is done with 4 counts up and 4 counts down so you really feel it and can't let momentum do your work. There is a 45 second rest between the two sets of each exercsies. During this break, Miriam Nelson appears on the screen with a tidbit about the benefits of exercise and strength training, such as how weightlifting helps prevent osteoporosis. It's good info. It might get old after a while, but I used this time to get a drink of water, or march vigorously in place. There is a few minutes of stetching at the end. There is no ab work, but you are reminded to keep your abs tight at several points throughout the workout, so your abs do get a little bit of work. (I followed up with Abs Yoga).

The women in the video are a pretty diverse group and have average bodies, no turbo-babes. (Bonnie Falbo, the instructor looks good, but not intimidatingly so). I'm guessing they were all upwards of 40, with one woman who was consistently using heavier weights than anyone else who was in her mid 60s. The weights they used ranged from 3 lbs up to 10 (I think that was the heaviest I saw.) During the seated and standing leg work, each exerciser (there were about 6) had a different kitchen chair, which was nice so that folks at home know you don't need the special patented "Strong Women Stay Young Chair" to do the video! The exercisers on screen were using *major* ankle weights! They didn't say, but I know the book advocates 20#! I strapped on 2 pairs of 5 lb ankle weights and could have gone heavier except on the abductions. I used my 10# dumbells for all of the dumbell exercises, but would probably go to 12# for bicep curls next time out.

While an advanced-ish exerciser like myself (I bought the tape for my mom) might not be overwhelmed, it is a solid beginning weight workout which allows lots of room for progress with the weights. There is no aerobics, no choreography. It's not a workout party, but it was ok. I think the ankle-weight work with the chairs would be especially good for someone who lacks the balance and strength to execute lunges and squats. I imagine this would be a very user-friendly workout for older women who have never strength trained before but don't want to join a gym and are intimidated by hardbodies. Although there are no male background exercisers, there's no reason why a man couldn't do this workout with good results.

Ordering information is available from There is a Strong Women Stay Slim video in the works as well. The major differences between the workouts (as listed in the books)are that the "Young" workout advocates working out twice a week, and the "Slim" workout advocates working out 3 times a week, and includes different exercises (no ankle weights, the addition of bent rows and delt raises, and something else, I think.)

Instructor Comments:
Bonnie Falbo is very encouraging, and gives good form pointers during the video, going from student to student and helping them improve their form.

To learn more about Bonnie Falbo, you can visit her Web site -

Renee Drellishak