Burn & Firm

Karen Voight
Year Released: 2002

Categories: Circuit Training (cardio and weights)

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And here I should title my review: A Moment With Ennui. Why? Because this workout kinda bores me, yet leaves me oddly detached and apathetic. Let me explain. Coffee? Check!

OKay, this is a circuit workout of warm up, cardio, upper body, cardio, upper body, cardio, legs, abs, and stretch. The warm up is fairly low energy. Karen takes a while before she really gets you moving your legs. I don't want to start out with tuck jumps or jacks, but you basically only sway and move your arms for close to 4 minutes before she adds another motion for the legs. The cardio segments are okay, but repetitive. She uses the same leg patterns and arm motions over and over. Some of the hops she says she's adding aren't obvious and are superfluous. And I really hate the double time arm motion that basically is fanning the rump. I feel like a flatulent idiot.

The upper body toning is pretty good. She uses some more unique moves with standard ones. The first arm section is on the floor, and the thing that bugs me in this section is that she instructs you to do some of the push ups at a fairly high tempo, to do more push ups without talking more about form or what tempo is too fast. I also wish she'd give more time between exercises to adjust weights. She goes circuit style with the same weights for every exercise, which I find doesn't work for me.

The lower body section is a joke. No weights? Mostly just pulses of squats and some odd bends she seems to think are deadlifts. And some standing leg lifts. Yawn.

The ab section is okay, as is the stretch. Overall, I do kinda like some of the cardio sections. And if I tinker with my weights, the upper body section is okay. The lower body section is a waste though. The DVD is well done with pre-programmed options for cardio only, full workout, double circuit, just lower body, just upper, etc. I think I'm more critical of this workout than it may deserve because I had such high hopes for it based on her earlier Firm Arms and Abs, Lean Legs and Butt, Your Personal Best, and Energy Sprint. This seemed like such a back slide in quality-- the form instruction is lacking compared to her earlier workouts, the choreography is less interesting, and she miscues a lot. I expected better from her.

Instructor Comments:
I like to say she's extremely professional and capable as an instructor based on many of her past workouts. Here, she's off on cues, doesn't talk about form that much, encourages doing some of the toning moves at a fairly fast pace, and isn't that motivating overall. If this were my first workout from her, I'd probably not try another. She seemed uninspired and so did the workout. Like I said-- ennui.



In the past year, I have gotten into circuit workouts - a type of workout I just didn't see the use for before because I alternated cardio days and strength days. So now, I am going back and trying some older circuit workouts to find some forgotten or never-tried gems. This DVD was one of those DVDs.

I did the workout and enjoyed it somewhat. It is a very well done workout technically. Karen's cueing is stellar, as usual. Her form pointers are useful and (for me) needed at times. She is serious, but not grim. And, there is another exerciser who does some modifications (harder) in a few places.

There are several segments alternating basic cardio moves with strength moves. My heartrate was elevated throughout the workout, but it wasn't intense.

As I said, I enjoyed this workout somewhat while I was doing it, but at the end of the workout I was unenthused about doing it again. I kept it for about a week and then decided that I would probably neve do it again, so I posted it on swapadvd.com (where I got it from to begin with).

Instructor Comments:
Karen is one of the best instructors in the business. Her cueing and form pointers are so good. Yet, I find that although I admire her workouts, I don't really enjoy doing them.

Laura S.


Type: Circuit
Intensity: Low Intermediate
Length: 48 minutes
Music: Instrumental Dynamix
Set: Brightly lit yellow room with modern art placed about. Annoying art that looks like a chili pepper hangs from the ceiling. (Whats up with THAT???)

Workout: This is a circuit style workout done in 5 minute circuits.

The first cardio circuit is side to sides, grapevines, etc. and is all low impact.
The first weight circuit is upper body weight work done on the floor. This includes pushups, flyes, tricep presses ad the like.

The second cardio circuit is jumprope and a lot of knee-ups The jumprope is minimal impact, and the sole background exerciser shows the no impact modification
The second weight circuit is standing upper body focusing primarily on shoulders, biceps and back. As in the first weight circuit, she does supersets with 5 pound weights.

The third cardio segment was so similar to the first two I can't even remember what it was!!
The third weight segment is standing unweighted leg work. There are no lunges. She does squats, mambos (I think I would substitute something else for those) and leg raises. The leg work was pretty weak, in my opinion. Since she does move her arms around a lot I would add light weights to further work the arms, or Id add a bodybar to challenge the legs a little more.

The last section is abs, which is pretty traditional ab work, she challenges the obliques well by doing lying side crunches raising both legs.

The final section is called the cooldown but it is actually a very good stretch.

Overall impressions: I have only previewed this DVD, but it seems too be very light on the leg work and the cardio. This could be good for a day you want a lighter workout. The music was ok, not great. The DVD includes several premixes upper body, abs, circuit twice, etc. Because abs and upper body seem to be the best part of this tape, Id be inclined to do those premixes and tack on some more serious cardio. Overall, B+

Instructor Comments:
Karen is a little less wooden in this video, particularly in the introduction. Her form, as always, is perfect. She is in amazing shape. The consummate instructor.

Peggy Elliott


As someone getting back into the exercise groove, this video is perfect for me. Not too long, not too short, and it works the whole body. What more could I ask for? It mixes weight and cardio circuits and even throws in a little ballet. A definite keeper.

Instructor Comments:
Karen is her usual self. She cues well and even smiles more than usual. And of course she looks fabulous!



(the following review refers to the DVD version)

This is a very good DVD with great chaptering. Here are the chapters:

*Karen Explains this DVD
*Full Circuit - 45 mins.
*Double Circuit - 77 mins.
*Just Upper Body - 12 mins.
*Just Cardio - 24 mins.
*Abs, Thighs, & Butt - 23 mins.
*Extras (video clips of some of Karen's other videos)
I haven't done this workout as a circuit yet, but I have done the parts and I really enjoy them. The cardio is an excellent low impact floor workout with easy to follow moves. Karen uses large leg and arm movements to keep your heart rate up. The upper body section is good, but it is also very short. Karen does keep things moving along quickly, so she packs a lot into the time. She uses 5lb. dumbbells for all of the moves. The 1st part is a standing upper body circuit with bicep curls, hammer curls, delt raises, and some different shoulder and tricep exercises. The 2nd part is upper body work on the floor with pushups, flyes, pullovers, tricep work, and a few others. I really like Karen's upper body work because she has some unique moves. For example, when you do the flyes you rotate your hands in as you push the dumbbells up. She also does variations, like holding a move in the middle and doing small pulses. She also seems to hit the shoulder from every possible angle. For the lower body work, (Abs, Thighs, & Butt) she does not use any weight. She does squats, hamstring curls, mambos, leg lifts (standing and lying down), crunches, and a few other moves. Overall this is a great intermediate workout. The set is great - very bright. The music is also very good. I am almost positive that the minutes for each chapter (listed above) include the warm up (same for every section), and the cooldown, making the sections even shorter than you would think at first. But, the great thing about DVDs is that you can do one section several times without rewinding in between, or you could pull out a different DVD and tack one of those sections onto your workout. (I had to do this for upper body work)

Instructor Comments:
I enjoy Karen Voight's instruction, she is cheerful and motivating, and has great form when she lifts weights.



See also reviews of Sleek Physique, Karen's DVD which contains all the footage from Burn & Firm.

I really liked this workout! It was challenging (I'm an intermediate exerciser), fun, and absolutely flew by. The moves changed so often, I never got bored. The strength sessions used exercises I've not encountered before (I "only" have 31 videos) and they were fun as well. I am actually looking forward to doing it again!

Instructor Comments:
Very likeable, *very* fit, and very easy to follow.