Fierce Force

Anni Mairs
Year Released: 2012

Categories: Circuit Training (cardio and weights)

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This is a 72-minute advanced strength and cardio workout featuring one minute intervals (15 seconds of rest between sets) and four chapters which focus on lower body, upper body, core, and total body. This workout is structured the same as Anni’s other workouts with the one minute intervals. I think I have another workout of hers (Life Force maybe?) but never really got into it, this one caught my interest because it included strength work, I believe her older ones were mostly cardio. Anni leads (she does most of the workout with you – only walks around to her backgrounders a couple of times) with two female background exercisers, in a very plain white studio. There is a delineation between the wall and floor like Laura said, but I still feel like I’m floating in marshmallow world! I would have preferred more mainstream studio setting, but it’s a very minor complaint. The music is not exceptional (but not the worst). The DVD menu allows you to play circuits 1 and 2 (upper body and lower body), or circuits 3 and 4 (core and total body), or, play all. There is not a mix/match option or premixes but “PLAY ALL” is good enough for me! Each circuit is 15 minutes, the warm up is about 4 minutes (the transition screen says to repeat if needed, I found it to be sufficient) and the stretch is about 8 minutes. I am reviewing the workout having done it once in entirety.

I like that they tell you how much poundage they recommend: for the aerobic work, 1-5# weights, I used 3# which was PLENTY), for most of the strength work 5-15# was recommended of which I found 10# to be plenty, especially at the brisk speed they were executing the exercises. Pretty much all of the cardio work is high intensity and I did not find it necessary to use any weight for several exercises.

Each chapter is sequenced using the 60 work/15 rest style and performing about 5 or 6 exercises (generally one more strength oriented exercise with a more cardio oriented exercise) then repeat all of the exercises again, working the other side as applicable. The only time Anni deviated from this structure was in the upper body, when instead of repeating one exercise, she did another exercise (for one exercise only) but otherwise this was consistent throughout.

The lower body chapter I think was strategically placed first to spike the heart rate and keep it up during the arm/ab chapters. I noticed that just because she focused on one body part, does not mean she did not also work other muscle groups, because many of the exercises are functional, however, it was about 80% focused so it did not feel like a mish-mash either.

The lower body chapter included squat with overhead press, lunge into squat and overhead press (this was also a twisty move which worked the core), 180 degree jumps using light weights into a lateral raise, and (weighted) low jacks. There seemed like a lot of shoulder work for a leg circuit, but I definitely felt fatigued in the legs as well.

The upper body chapter included renegade rows into pushups, mountain climbers, burpees, crab with overhead press (not repeated-triceps press was included in the second round), biceps curls in a staggered lunge staqnce, and another weighted jack variation.

The core chapter included side oblique crunches, plank knee-ins (she called them scorpions but I recognize this more as a ‘spider pushup’ type move without the pushup), windmill, high intensity scissor with front and lateral raise using light weights, and a repeater sequence using light weights for added intensity.

The total body chapter seemed especially hard (or maybe because it was at the end) and was definitely functional! It included a swing-type standing crunch using “the heaviest weight you can handle” (similar to the swing-type woodchops from Katami’s Kettlebell Combos), “Anni’s jacks” which included using one light weight, touching it down the floor in a deep squat and then jacking with weight overhead, weighted side and curtsey lunge (for some reason I found this move to be awkward and did it without weights).

The stretch was well needed and while I do my own thing, enjoyed that it lasted about eight minutes. I really needed the cool down and stretch after that super hard workout!

Because Anni executes the moves very quickly (and because they are functional) it is hard to heavy up during the workout, so I only used up to 10#, however, I would still classify this as a strength-oriented circuit workout. This workout was HARD. I would consider myself low-mid advanced (routinely using high intensity and high impact workouts) and this really slayed me! It is definitely VERY advanced. I think it would be okay for intermediates especially if doing half the workout at once, using lighter weights, not using weights for the cardio exercises, and modifying the impact if need be. It was fun and moved by very quickly though, and despite how grueling it is, I am eager to include it in my regular rotation and am sure this will greatly improve my endurance while also getting major toning benefits. Grade A+!

Instructor Comments:
Anni is very professional and instructs giving thorough form pointers. She does not provide any visual or verbal modifications for low impact. She mirror cued, which is great. She was encouraging, but definitely more reserved than a lot of other instructors. I would definitely buy more workouts from her again, especially strength/cardio combination workouts.

Emily B.


Full disclosure: I received a free review copy of this workout.

Years ago, I got Life Force and LOVED it. I still have it and do it occasionally. I loved the format of doing an exercise for a minute and then moving on and doing the next one. There is no TIFTing in Anni's workouts and that variety makes for a fun workout. Since then, I have tried to find another Anni Mairs workout I like and it just hasn't happened, including with this this workout. However, I think it's well done and that other exercisers might like it a lot.

I am an intermediate workout who can do some advanced segments as long as they are modifiable. When I was watching the clip for this workout, I just automatically figured out how to modify every move and thought that it might be one that would challenge me to work hard while being fun. That was true to some extent; I could modify a lot of the moves and I was motivated during Workout 1. But, overall, I found the workout hard on my joints and it wasn't one I enjoyed. I should have paid attention to the Advanced designation - and I'm sure that people looking for an advanced workout could definitely enjoy this workout.

This DVD gives you more options than some of Anni's earlier workouts. There are three options on the main menu. You can choose Workout One - Circuits 1 & 2; you can choose Workout Two - Circuits 3 & 4; or you can choose Workout 3 - all 4 circuits in one workout. There is a menu option that lets you access additional workout options and from there you can play any one of the 15-minute circuits. Each circuit is 15 minutes long, so Workouts 1 and 2 are 30 minutes long, for a total of 60 minutes of material. Each circuit is comprised of moves you do for one minute, followed by a short (15 second?) break; then you move onto the next move. Cardio and strength moves are alternated throughout the circuits. The moves in each circuit are done twice. The pace is not fast, or frantic as with some other circuit workouts and that means you can go heavier with your weights than with other similar workouts. Annie's cueing is really good and she keeps you with the exercisers. Sometimes, Anni will mention a modification you can do, but not regularly. It felt like, as a modifier, I was on my own.

The set is all white. There is a delineation between the wall and the floor, so it's not like Charlene Prickett's old set where they looked like they were floating in a marshmallow world. There are two background exerciers with mats beside them for moves on the floor. I don't remember the music, so it obviously was not memorable. I think it was standard techno-beat music.

The DVD presents several options for working out on this DVD. However, it is NOT chaptered within the workouts. If you hit the Back button (as I did) to go back to the beginning of an exercise, it dumps you out of the workout. I cannot understand in this day and age how exercise DVDs can be made without putting in chapter points within a workout to make it easier to navigate. But, that seems to be my current pet peeve.

Instructor Comments:
Anni is highly competent and motivating.

Laura S.


Believe it or not - this is Anni's best yet! Hard to believe seeing how much I love her previous workouts! Annie works out in a white set with 2 backgrounders. You will only need dumbbells for this fully chaptered workout. Total running time is 80 minutes and that includes two 40 minute workouts with the warmup and cooldown.

She keeps with the Force format of 1 exercise performed for 1 minute, followed by a 15 second break. I was able to use heavier weights in this than her previuos workouts making this a thorough strength and cardio workout. Each workout contains 2 circuits and you perform the exercises in each circuit twice.

Workout One: After the warmup you move into circuit 1(lower body focus), exercises include: squat & overhead press, weighted running, row -lunge-squat-press, & 180 hops & lat raise. Then onto circuit 2 (upper body focus), exercises include: renegade rows & pushups, burpees, 1 arm crab hold w/ clean & press, static lunge & bi curl, weighted & squat jacks w/ floor touch.

Workout Two: After the warmup you move into circuit 3 (core focused), exercises include: oblique double crunches, plank to pike hops & plank side knee pulls, scissor jacks with dumbbells, windmill, and weighted knee pulls. Then onto circuit 4 (total body focus), exercises include: shuffle & overhead pulldown, rock the baby (dumbbell), weighted squat hops, side lunge to curtsy, weighted crisscross jacks & floor touch.

This is an advanced dvd! Both 40 minute workouts are booty kickers but the time really flies because of the one minute increments and short rest periods. Anni really makes the most of your time - I was drenched with sweat and my lungs were on fire by the end! Love the format, excellent cuing, and unique & fun exercises. Love that each circuit is focused to one body area but also includes other muscle groups as well. I received this dvd to review.