The Firm: Ultimate Fat Burning Collection

Kelsie Daniels, Alison Davis, Emily Welsh
Year Released: 2009

Categories: Circuit Training (cardio and weights)

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Prior to purchasing this DVD, I actually already owned one of the workouts it includes, Firm Pump, Jump, & Jab. Since I knew I liked this workout, I figured that upgrading to the Firm's Ultimate Fat-Burning Collection DVD, which contains FOUR workouts, would be a good bargain, especially since I discovered it at used book sale. ;) Happily, I was right! I have provided brief descriptions of each of the four workouts below. (For more detailed information, check out my reviews of each of the individual workouts.)

The Firm: Pump, Jump 'N Jab
This 42-minute workout is led by Kelsie Daniels, one of my favorite Firm instructors. The only equipment you need for the workout is a set of dumbbells; Kelsie cues you to use "medium to heavy" weights, but I found that sticking with 5-pound dumbbells throughout was challenging yet allowed me to focus mainly on the cardio benefits of the moves. Kelsie leads this fat-burning routine by combining kickboxing and sculpting intervals. I do wish there had been more kickboxing, as the kickboxing segments are a lot of fun (there are 2 segments, each approximately 5 minutes). The workout concludes on the floor for push-ups, abs work, and a 5-minute cool-down.

The FIRM: Cardio Overdrive
This is a 46-minute AWT (aerobic weight training) workout led by Allison Davis. Each segment of the workout last approximately 5 minutes: Allison alternates weights work with pure cardio sequences, but even the weights exercises are designed to keep your heart rate up. I found most of the choreography to be fun, but sometimes the Firm's arm movements feel a bit "fussy" to me, and some of the moves in this workout felt overly rushed. However, my heart rate stayed within my working zone the entire time, yet I never felt worn out or like I was gasping for breath. Overall, I felt that this was a decent workout that I would rate as low intermediate.

The Firm: Burn and Shape
This workout is led by Emily Welsh, another Firm instructor who I like a lot. It is a cardio sculpting routine of about 41 minutes in length, and here, Emily uses 3 sets of dumbbells, light, medium, and heavy (I used 3s, 5s, and 10s). I found the warm-up to be on the overly long side at 7 minutes and to be a bit difficult to follow. Otherwise, I liked how Emily added some unique twists on more traditional moves--eg, a plie which adds a twisting delt raise, and then she does a traditional rear delt raise with a bit of a twist. The cardio is mostly low impact (Emily does add some plyo moves), and overall, I found the workout to be fun.

The Firm - Cardio Sculpt Fusion
This workout was my favorite new discovery on this DVD! It is also led by Emily, and it was previously released under the title "Total Body Lite" as well. It is a 46-minute "muscle recovery" workout; Emily emphasizes that you don't want to fatigue your muscles. Given this, she uses light weights throughout--either a single 5# or 2 lighter weights (I used 3#). However, this is still a true AWT (aerobic weight training) workout in that you are constantly moving while using the weights, keeping your heart rate up the entire time. Emily alternates standing weights and cardio segments, and she concludes with some brief floor work (she does side planks, moving plank, flying bug, and ab circles rather than traditional crunches) as well as a nice 5.5-minute stretch. Overall, I really enjoyed this workout, and I think those who enjoy Ellen Barrett-style workouts are apt to enjoy this one as well.

So, as you can see, this DVD was clearly an excellent choice for me! Given the price, I think it would be a great deal for most people--especially experienced beginner to intermediate exercisers--and I would definitely recommend it. I do have one caution, however: on the back of the DVD case, it talks about the availability of "Express" options for the different workouts. Although these options WERE included when the workouts were sold separately (i.e., as individual DVDs), they are NOT included on this compilation DVD. The Main Menu of this DVD simply lists each of the four workouts with NO other options. I still think this DVD is worthwhile, but buyers should purchase it with clear expectations.

Instructor Comments:
I really like Kelsie--I think her cuing is great, and I like that she is not a cookie cutter Firm instructor. I like Emily also, but I admit that her cuing could have been better, especially in Burn & Shape. Alison I find to be just okay--she cues fine, but she doesn't seem to bring much of an individual personality to the workouts that she leads.

Beth C (aka toaster)