The Firm: Complete Aerobics & Weight Training (BSS2)

Emily Welsh
Year Released: 2003

Categories: Circuit Training (cardio and weights)



Video Fitness reviews may not be copied, quoted, or posted elsewhere without the permission of the reviewer

Show oldest reviews first


As stated below, this workout has already been broken down quite well by other reviewers so I will just offer some opinions. This is a very complete and fun workout. It is predominantly strength-oriented but my heart rate gets up and stays up for most of the workout. It is well-sequenced and well-paced and I am able to use heavier weights than in many of my other circuit style workouts. There are three cardio intervals. The first is floor, which is kickboxing and very fun and my personal favorite! The second uses the low section of the fanny lifter for a fun and well-cued little step routine. The final cardio section is light four-limb (using the twigs) which is the only section I had any trouble learning. This may be because at this point in the workout I am not so fresh :) At any rate the choreography is pretty simple and it is fun to do. The workout incorporates the Fanny Lifter and sculpting stick. I have neither and don't find it to be detrimental. I use a sturdy kitchen step stool in lieu of the short fanny lifter and my full size club step with 4 risers for leg press. When they stack the two I just put my step stool on my step and it works fine. In my opinion the sculpting stick is completely unneccessary. It is used for balance in a few places (which I don't need) as well as during the floorwork. The "twigs" are removed and used during light four-limb; I just used my own light handweights. In fact the stick is the most annoying thing about this workout- moments feel like a commercial for the dang stick with several references to its' general usefulness. ("What a great tool!" Emily says more than once, sounding not at all scripted. Insert eye roll.) Oh, one last thing that bugged me at first was how absolutely choreographed these ladies are. Like when the cardio ends they just stop. And stand at attention like someone flipped an off switch. It no longer bugs me but it used to, but could potentially irk someone else. I like how various modifications are shown throughout. This workout is accessible to all levels, even an absolute beginner- though they would be in for quite a workout! With repeated use this has become a stand-by for me and really is a great workout.

Instructor Comments:
Prior to this I only knew Emily from the Pinks and she rather inexplicably bugged me. I did not expect to like her, or this. I was pleasantly surprised that she is not annoying. She cues pretty well and give good form pointers throughout. She is a bit scripted, but of course, this is The Firm.

Melissa P

12/30/2011

This workout has already been thoroughly broken down, so I am just going to add my impressions here. This is one of the Body Sculpting System II (BSS2) workouts put out by The Firm under the tutelage of Goodtimes. I think this is one of the best Firm workouts that Goodtimes produced. It is a comprehensive 58 minute AWT workout led by Emily Welsh with a strength emphasis (even the cardio is strength-oriented). The set is uncluttered and the theme is blue (all of the master instructors wear similar blue tops and black pants). This workout, like all BSS2 workouts, use the Fanny Lifter and the sculpting stick, which is used at times like a barbell or like a dowel. I have and use the Fanny Lifter for this workout; I don’t have the sculpting stick so I just use a barbell, dumbbells, or dowel as appropriate-you do not need the stick to get the most out of this workout, however you do need the FL or a comparable step.

The workout is very comprehensive and has longer strength intervals (which includes upper and lower work) followed by aerobic intervals. The aerobic intervals included kickboxing, 4-limb, and primarily low-impact floor aerobics. I particularly liked that there was nothing dancy or complicated, and they didn’t overdo the step aerobics like they do in some workouts. The strength portions included two sets of leg press (yes!), hover squats, lunges onto the 8” step, plie squats, two sets of one arm lat rows and one set of double arm lat row, French press (both standing and prone), triceps kickbacks, two sets of biceps-the shoulders were worked by way of the 4-limb work. There was a great ab set at the end-Emily gave lots of attention to the lower abs, not just the upper/obliques like many workouts.

The workout is an hour long but the time went by very quickly. Emily kept a good pace between exercises but didn’t go too fast with reps, making it easy to pyramid up in weights. Like another reviewer said, she did a good job at organizing the exercises so not many poundage/equipment swaps were needed. The music was especially good – I recognized many of the tunes from other Firm, 10 Minute Solution, even Ellen’s Studio workouts. It was sort of like a “best of” track! The music that I didn’t recognize was still very good. The production quality was high like all the other Firm workouts.

This workout is a great addition-dare I say a must have- for Firm lovers. While I would say this doesn’t have the intensity of a Firm Classic workout, it does have the charisma. The aesthetics are different (no mansion set, smaller class, more modern) but this is probably the most like a Firm Classic of the newer Firms. At the end I feel thoroughly worked out, but not beaten or exhausted. Like I mentioned, the moves were executed slow enough to be able to heavy up in poundage (a con of the newer Firm workouts, IMO) and Emily incorporated a lot of exercises to make it an efficient and effective hour. This workout is intermediate but can easily be modified up or down to suit your needs. Overall grade A!

Instructor Comments:
I think this is the first Firm workout that Emily leads and she does a great job. She is confident, speaks clearly, smiles, encourages you, gives form pointers, and mirror cues. The exercises and aerobic choreography is basic and straight forward, no complex moves with a learning curve like in her later Pink Firm workouts.

Emily B.

10/29/2010

This workout was released with the 2nd Body Sculpting System (BSS2) put out by the Firm. Emily leads with 4 background exercisers-Suzanne shows the beginner modificaitons. This workout is close to 50%/50% strength & cardio, probably a bit more strength training though. You can definately burn some calories in the cardio portions and a lot of the strength portions as well. You will need the Fanny Lifter, dumbbells, and the Sculpting Stick (optional IMO) for this workout.

Emily includes some heavy four limb, floor aerobics, step aerobics, and strength moves: leg press, lat rows, bicep curls, squats, pliets w/ bicep curls, dips & lunge variations, lying chest work (pec fly, bench press), a nice ab section, pushups, tricep pushups, overhead tricep extensions, tricep kickbacks, front raise. I think the strength work covers all your muscles pretty well. I would say its a bit light on shoulder work.

There are plenty of combo moves that can really get your heart rate up. She combines moves that are appropriate with each other and not awkward. The poundage works well for both moves in a set so you dont have to sacrifice one or the other.

They use the sculpting stick just to use it because they sold it with the set. Beginners could definately benefit by using it though. Its ilght enough for a beginner to feel. They use it for balance/ stability too, which is fine for beginners. She uses the stick in 1 hand and 1 dumbbell in the other for example. I just use 2 dumbbells to get a better burn. I actually didnt even use the stick this morning-just dumbbells

I like this wrokout a lot! Emily is a great lead and cues very well. She doesnt throw in any complicated or confusing choreo like she does in some of her later stuff. She also has some good form tips & pointers in this one. I would rate this an intermediate workout because of the overuse of the stick and resultant decrease in weights. Easy to modify up or down. This is a great workout that I always enjoy and feel the next day.

lindseylu8

02/18/2010

I'm on the fence with this one. On the one hand, I was sweaty and felt pleasantly worked out afterwards, but not beaten or drained. I felt this was more aerobic than weight training, but I didn't heavy up since it was my first time doing the workout. But I liked FIRM Cardio and CardioSculpt better.

First, the good: I loved the upper body moves. Having done FIRM since 1992 and the original numbered volumes, I love that there is more upper body work than delt lift and lat rows. My arms are already showing new definition from BSS1 and now this set, and it's a welcome change.

But I'm not as pleased with thsi workout as with CardioSculpt or BodySculpt. Here's why: The Sculpting Stick was totally unnecessary for this workout. I have the green sculpting stick from a newer workout, and quickly put it aside until it was used for overhead pulldowns near the end of the workout. I could have easily used two dumbbells like in FIRM Strength.

Second, there were some moves that I felt were unsafe for me (intermediate) and definitely for beginners. The lunge with the rear leg raise did NOT work for me at all, and my knees were sore from the few that I did. They show a modification of doing a heel raise instead of a leg raise, but frankly a lunge/dip would have been sufficient.

The other unsafe move involved holding the two twigs while punching forward. I used 2 lb. weights for one punch, then put them down immediately. The set reminded me of Project You Push Pull and Foundations, and I didn't think additional weight was necessary. I also had a hard time anticipating the next move, and agree with the first reviewer who said the workout felt a little choppy. I may decide to trade this one when the new FIRM Pump, Jump & Jab workout is released later this year (2008).

It's a B- because of the questionably effective moves.

Instructor Comments:
Emily is energetic and gives good form pointers.

f1mom

07/15/2008


I have had very little experience with The Firm, but lately, I've been enjoying videos that feature aerobic weight training (such as the FitPrime and WHFN series), so I decided to give this a try. Complete Aerobics and Weight Training is a 58-minute workout which combines cardio segments with cardio/sculpt intervals to give you a great workout; it's led by Emily Welsh. Equipment used in this workout includes The Firm "Fanny Lifter," a 2-part step (both the full step and the low position are used here), 3 sets of dumbbells, and The Firm "Sculpting Stick" (dumbbells can be substituted and/or you can use a wall/mop for balance).

The workout begins with an basic 6.5 minute warm-up that quickly gets the heart pumping, especially with the set of push-ups at the end. Next comes 4-limbed toning work, combining squats and dips with shoulder presses and bicep curls. Upper body only work follows, and then it's the first cardio segment, which includes some fun punches and flows nicely from one combination to the next.

More lower body work is next, this time incorporating the bar for balance--you could double up with the weights and forgo the bar, but this section is tough even with it! The stick is also used as a weight for hover squats, but I just substituted heavy dumbbells, which worked fine. The next cardio segment uses the low portion of the Fanny Lifter. Because I don't do step aerobics, I had a little bit of trouble picking up the choreography here, but still, I found the moves to be fun and especially enjoyed the kicks.

Alternating lower and upper work follows with plies and bicep curls. The stick is again used for balance leg presses with abduction. There is also triceps work with the french press and triceps kickbacks--the latter set is short, so you probably want to use both arms for the entire set instead of alternating as shown. The final cardio segment uses the ends of the sculpting stick, or "twigs," but just pick up light weights (I used 3#) and you'll be fine. Again, the moves are kickboxing-inspired, with punches, side kicks, and a fun little hop move.

The final toning work is on the floor and includes a 1-arm triceps push-up, flies, pullovers, triceps press, and chest press. The floorwork finishes with a nice abs section that moves quickly through several different crunch variations. (During this section, I recognized some of the music from the Crunch Fat-Burning Pilates floor segment.) A nice final stretch is performed mostly on the floor; Emily is thorough, but none of the stretches are held very long (although I did really enjoy the final neck stretch!). I felt great at the end of this workout--nicely worked out, but not exhausted--and I was pleased to see on my heart rate monitor that I had stayed in my target zone for a full 40 minutes PLUS had burned 341 calories. I really enjoyed this workout and know that I will use it often; I will be looking to try other Firms as well.

Instructor Comments:
I thought Emily was fine overall--not too bubbly, not too bland. She generally cued well, although I could've used a bit more guidance during the cardio segments and there was one time when she miscued her right and left mirror cueing

Beth C (aka toaster)

03/04/2006

With strength work, I am an intermediate exerciser, who doesn’t really want to move up to advanced work. Most of the time, I do traditional strength work with weight. However, I have enjoyed branching out into Pilates and workouts on the ball as well. As far as the Firm goes, I prefer the “middle age” Firms – the Cross Trainers, Maximum Body Shaping, Super Sculpting, etc. Most of the newer Firms, I just haven’t enjoyed as much. Complete Aerobics and Weight Training was a pleasant surprise and exception.

Emily Walsh is a pleasant and organized instructor. One of the things I really liked about this workout is that they managed to group exercises for which you used the same equipment, so there seemed to be a few less equipment changes than usual. Emily leads four background exercisers. One of them, Suzanne, is the designated modifier and they manage to keep her on the screen much of the time. The workout lasts 58 minutes.

The equipment you need for this workout is a tall step, a short step, various sets of dumbbells, a light bar. I don’t own any of the Firm equipment (Fanny lifter, sculpting stick) and I did fine. I did have equivalents for everything though.

Here is a breakdown of the workout:

Warm-up
Squats w/ one foot on step w/ overhead presses
Lunges off step w/ bicep curls
Lat rows
Push ups on step
Cardio combo – Steps with upper body moves and punches
Lunges onto tall step
Plie squats
Bent over lat rows w/ both arms
Tall box step ups
Lat rows
Hover squats
Squats with kicks
Cardio combo – Step glutes, L steps w/ leg lifts
Plie squats
Bicep curls
Step squats
Leg presses French presses
Tricep kickbacks
Cardio combo – Kickboxing kicks and punches and tri-star
Step squats
Lateral and front raises
(Go to floor work)
Tricep pushups
Chest flies
Rib cate pullovers and lying French presses
Chest presses
Abs – Combo of upper, oblique and lower abs crunches
Cooldown and stretch

Instructor Comments:
She has a pleasant, but straightforward manner. She gives lots of form pointers throughout the workout.

Laura S.

10/25/2004

This video incorporates kick-boxing, step, free weights and the new body bar. As with the other two videos in Body Sculpting System 2, intermediate and advanced exercisers will need to heavy up on most of the routines. Overall, I felt that I got a decent workout that was face paced and fun. I enjoyed the new movements on the tall step that work the inner and outer thights as I was getting a little tired of the usual "step-ups."
I would recommend this and the other two videos in this series over any of those in Body Sculpting System 1 - they may not be as challenging in terms of the weight work, but they're more innovative and fun.

Instructor Comments:
Emily can be a little repetitive in her cueing, but overall she does a good job. Usually I don't like lots of "Whoo, that was GREAT!" from an instructor, but she doesn't bother me for some reason. Her form is good, she's enthusiastic and it's always nice to see a new face in Firm videos.

AnneO

10/24/2003

I don't understand the positive comments left at Collage video about this tape. The exercises felt sloppy to me, eg. a lunge with a rear leg raise (which really doesn't do a whole lot for the rear leg and you lose control with your form) and same with the dragging your feet during wide leg squats. There are other less effective forms of regular weight work for the sake of being innovative like uneven squats, or kicking then squating. I've never felt those do much and I'm not at an advanced level.

I didn't like the music in this tape of the 3. The rest of this workout is OK. I just felt after doing other Firms that I couldn't wait to do this again or "what a workout!" but didn't get this from this tape at all.

Instructor Comments:
She repeats that the sculpting stick is the perfect tool and that following the beginner is key too much.

anonymous

08/01/2003

A great toning workouts that keeps the heart rate up for the entire standing section.
I like this one better than my old Firms because she does new moves with the step and the stick ,and I feel it working on my hamstrings and inner thighs better than the regular leg presses and lunges.
I also prefer the low impact aerobic than all the pylo moves. the step section is really fun!
the cardio isn't that hard but the heart rate is up from all the lower body work.
I thought it was tough. sometimes she used the stick and it was too light so I just used weights or heavier bar instead.
I didn't like the fewer reps for the triceps. there were 4 exercises for the triceps , but not enough reps. that was a little disspoitment for me.
I also hoped that at least one of the sculpting tapes on this set will include floorwork for the legs but there was'nt any . the last minus is the shoulder work .neither TS or CAWT works the shoulders hard.
All in all, it's fun and effective, but still have a room to improvment.
A--

SHANI

(no date)