The Firm Express: Kick Start Your MetabolismJennifer Ray
Year Released: 2010
Categories: Abs/Core , Circuit Training (cardio and weights) , Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance , Strength Training (Total Body)
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This is the ďbonus DVDĒ of the Firm Express workout system, which includes two, 10 minute workouts on one DVD. Jennifer instructs with two backgrounders (was it Alison and Emily? The one to the viewerís right modifies but not significantly), in the same set and style as the other Firm Express workouts: a small but brightly lit hardwood floor set with the FIRM logo on the back wall. The back wall is lighted a faint blue for most of the workout but changes to faint red when you go through the bursts. Unfortunately you can only choose each chapter, it would have been great if there had been a ďplay allĒ option.
Pump It Up!: This 10 minute workout packs a PUNCH in just 10 minutes. Like Lindsey said, nearly the whole thing is made up of 8 second bursts, and the dumbbells are held the entire time (even though the bursts). Jennifer didnít offer what poundage she was using, but it became clear to use light bells, at least for the bursts. I found it a little too fast paced to try to switch weights for the strength in between. Alternately, you could use heavier weights for the strength, and just drop the weights for the bursts (either way is great-they donít show the second option but you can modify it yourself). The four sets of bursts (each set had 4 bursts) were plyo squats, plyo lunges, plank moguls, and skaters. The second two bursts in each set could be made harder by adding arm movements. The other work included squats with overhead press, side lunge with triceps kickback, renegade rows, and dips with biceps While this is definitely more of a cardio workout, it was nice that each muscle group was touched upon briefly! It felt balanced. My only complaint is that the third cycle moved to the floor (renegade rows & plank moguls) before returning up for the final cycle. I would have preferred that to be the final cycle and finish on the floor. But itís such a minor complaint, this workout was GREAT! My heart rate got up quick and stayed up, and it did not irritate my knees like Cycle 1 did (the only other one Iíve tried so far). Iíll be using this work out a lot as an add on to strength or cardio.
Shortcut to Flat Abs: This is a fast moving 10 minute ab and core workout. Jennifer uses one dumbbell (I used a 10# which was a little heavy but doable, and 15# for the windmills). The first 2.5 minutes were standing (wood chops and windmill), then down to the floor for about 2.5 minutes of upper/lower crunches using the weight as resistance, then side to side knees with opposite chest fly, pilates roll over, and finally, rolling side planks, and spinal erector raises and scorpions. The weight is used the entire time, except for the final spinal erector work. I would say this is an effective little intermediate workout. Beginners could go without the weight and follow along fine. There were no cardio bursts in this one Ė all toning and all done at a slow, controlled pace (less frantic than the other FE workouts). There is really no warm up or cool down here, better for an add on IMO than as a standalone.
Final thoughts: this DVD is a gem. I would agree with Lindsey that PIU! is low advanced, while STFA is a great intermediate ab and core workout. The workouts move very quickly, like the other Firm Express workouts. You could make PIU! easier by going low impact, but you would have to follow your own modifications because they donít offer any. While nothing could replace my love for Anna Bensonís Firm workouts, these are refreshingly new with updated exercises and I think they complement the older ones nicely. Production value is very high and the music was really good on these too! Iíll be using both of these frequently as add on workouts. Overall grade A (would be A+ if it had a play all option).
Note: Both of these 10 minute workouts can be found for free on youtube.com as the Firm released them to promote the Firm Express set.
This is Jenniferís first DVD as lead and I think she did a great job. She does have a Pink Firm master instructor style Ė professional, minimal form pointers but does mirror cue. Sheís more subdued than the other instructors (Emily with her ďlazyĒ talk and chattering, Rebekahís whooping!) which is fine with me-welcomed in fact. Iíd like to see the Firm use Jennifer Ray again as lead, I really liked her style.
This is the (awesome) "bonus" dvd in the Firm Express kit. It contains a 10 minute ab workout and a 10 minute AWT w/o. Both are led by Jen w/ 2 backgrounders. The set is really cute-kind of a basketball court floor w/ nice wood & light colors in the background. You will only need dumbbells for the Firm Express series.
Pump It Up!: This is an awesome 10 minute AWT workout. In this w/o you do one set of 8 second bursts (w/ 12 seconds of recovery) then a strength and/or cardio move and repeat. So literally 1/2 of this workout is bursts- loved it! The bursts were all weighted and include: plyo jumps & then she adds in OH press, weighted lunges & adds in bicep curls, and plank moguls. The rest of the workout includes: ski w/ weights & alternating reach, side lunge w/ tricep kickback & dumbbell floor touch, squat- clean & press- abduction, dips & bicep curls, and pushups & renegade rows.
Shortcut to Flat Abs: This is a fun 10 minute weighted core routine. You will need 1 dumbbell for all the work in this. Standing moves include: standing weighted crunches, squat w/ a chop & swing, and windmill. Floor work includes: clam shell crunch w/ a pullover, side knee drops w/ pec fly, roll ups, bridge w/ sky marches, V sit while rowing, supermans, scorpion low back work, and plank into side plank w/ hip raises.
I absolutely LOVED Pump It Up!- if all the dvds in this set were structured like this- I would be in heaven (well probably because they'd have killed me). I would rate Pump It Up! a low advanced-if it were 20 min I would say advanced. Shortcut to Flat Abs is a great solid intermediate ab w/o. Jen is a great lead- good curing, nice demeanor. She didnt always use all 8 seconds in the bursts though.
These workouts move right along. No wasted time and you will work up a nice sweat in the 10 minute AWT w/o. These (like all Firms) are really easy to modify up or down in impact & intensity. These contain fun new moves and the time really flys. The intro is quick and says "I am Gaiam" and moves right into the menu- so combining w/o's is pretty painless! I received these dvds to review.