The Firm: Strength (aka: Strong Body)

Pam Meriwether
Year Released: 1995

Categories: Circuit Training (cardio and weights)

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Strong Body is just that... more strength oriented.

There are 3 sets of lat rows. One is very unique, done with the barbell, but you can use 2 dumbbells if you don't own a barbell. What they did was put a light plate weight at one end of the barbell and a stack of heavy dumbbells on the other. You straddle the barbell and wrap a towel underneath it, stand knees slightly bent, back flat with a slight arch, and pull on the towel, bringing the barbell up in a rowing motion. Wow! I love this exercise. I really felt it, and my form was a lot better than it is with traditional rows.

There are 3 sets of abs and the first one uses dumbbells on the chest for upper body resistance, and then you put them behind your head and bring them toward you while doing upper and lower body crunches. She doesn't tell you what size to use; I tried it with 6's and should have used 5's. There is also the traditional squats, lunges, tall box leg presses and dips, as well as a set of plie squats with rows and biceps. Traditional bicep work, shoulder work, and tricep work, both with french presses and kickbacks. Legs floorwork is for the inner thigh. Pec work is tough, and so are the push-ups! I almost died on the push-ups. I do them straight leg, and on the second set (after we worked triceps with a heavy dumbell - french presses) she says, "you may want to do these on bent knees" and of course I ignored her. I shouldn't have!!

Let's see what else. Oh yes, the aerobics. Fun, fun, fun! I was having a blast learning the steps. It starts with two low impact kicks, one plyo jump legs out, and 2 jumps legs in. You repeat it 4 times. Then you step right on a diagonal and lift the left heel, swinging your arms to the right with bicep curls. You do that 7 times, then sashay to change sides and do them to the left. Then she reduces the reps and goes into something else. Lots of fun. I think it's those sashays. I love them. The very first aerobic section does "sambas", which are really mambos to the front, with delt lifts, then tripple step to change sides and do sambas again with biceps. This interserses with squats and squats with an outer thigh lift. I use 3 lb. dumbbells. The 3rd section is the trickiest of all but not hard to learn. It also uses 3 lb. dumbbells. The warm-up is basic enough, and the beginning stretch uses a short step. I would say that is workout is more strength-oriented, which makes sense since it's called Strong Body!

I like this series better than Tortoise and Hare combined (Hare just isn't intense enough but it's *so* much fun. I need a light workout tonight and plan to do it.); however, I still love Tortoise. Tracey Long, who leads Tortoise and Hare, designed the choreography for all 4 tapes and she's excellent, unsurpassed. I wish she led the Variety series. It's not that I dislike Pam Cauthin, who leads Strong Body, it's just that her cuing is sometimes off and she doesn't always tell you what's coming up next or what size weights to pick up. I found myself yelling at the tv in some sections saying, "What do you want me to do?!" Like anything else though, once you learn the routine you won't have to worry about it.

Roberta Kagno


Once again, Roberta has provided a thorough description of this tape above, so I will stick to my own impressions. Like Strong Heart, this video is a vast improvement over earlier FIRM volumes, which I didn't care for. I love the way that the instructor moves--the aerobic routines are simple, but graceful. I didn't really have much problem with Pam's cuing after the first time through. The ab work in this video is tough. The upper AND lower body work are truly superb. If you like Tortoise, you'll love this one--it's a similar workout but with better aerobics sections. The Variety series has definitely changed my mind about the FIRM!



I think this is my favorite Firm video (or did I already say that about Volume 4?). I got Strong Heart and Strong Body about the same time, and at first, I liked SH much better, but now I look forward to my SB days.

SB is very intense, strengthwise. I it is the first section where you use weights, where you do a set of lunges, then dips, then squats. Then you change legs and do it all over again. This video works the same muscle groups together (as opposed to SH, where you work arms, then legs, then arms, then legs...). You do three long sets of lat rows, and then a few minutes later, do a set of heavy lat rows with one arm. I usually am more sore after doing SB than after SH.

As for the aerobic sections mixed in through the video, I can't say this is a very aerobic video. I think of the aerobic sections as a rest for my muscles, and I suppose it is better than passing out on the floor to rest, but I can't say my heart rate gets in the aerobic zone. This is true of the three most recent Firm videos, SB, SH and the Tortoise. I've never done the Hare, so I can't say if it's aerobic or not.

Anyway, I highly recommend this video, it's tough, but I think it would also be quite adaptable, if you are just starting out, just use lower weights.

Trish Ransom


SH and SB are new and both have Firm's latest innovation in choreography. Very good tapes.

Annie Jen


Comments about Pam Cauthen:

I like this instructor. She's easy to listen to, easy to watch and cues very well. Her voice isn't 'sexy' like some of the other Firm instructors. She's one of my favorites.

Comments about the video:

Well, here's an almost on-the-spot review of this video. I just finished it for the 11th time about 10 minutes ago and I feel GREAT!!! I do this video every Monday morning at 5 AM before work and it's just what I need to jumpstart my week! On Wednesday I do Strong Heart and on Friday Volume 4 (although I just bought Tortoise and it looks good, too). On Tuesday and Thursday I do cardio work, either my treadmill/Nordictrack or The Firm Tough Aerobics 1 or 2 or Kathy Smith's Aerobox.

When I do a video for the first time, I usually either love it or hate it. I loved this video the first time, love it now, and I will never get bored with it (I tend to get bored VERY easily). It's a super total body strength workout and wipes me out. As The Firm promises, I saw tiny little changes in my body in less than 10 workouts. The changes are slow and subtle, but they're definitely happening.

The aerobics segments are a welcome rest from the dumbell work and are low impact and low intensity. My heartrate gets much higher during the strength training that during the aerobics. The entire video is a good cardio workout.

I'm not sure that the floor inner thigh work really does much, but the ab workout is a killer. Be careful if you have any lower back problems. You may want to remove the ankle weights before doing the abs and put them back on to work the other inner thigh. There are a lot of lower ab raises and the ankle weights add stress to my lower back.

Both the warmup and cooldown are great. I'm not usually one to lavish praise easily, but I think this is a SUPER video!

Joni O


I really like Pam's leading style. She doesn't seem "bouncy" or fake. Also, when you look at her muscle definition... you know she has worked very hard to achieve her level of fitness.

I think her cueing is adequate. She uses perfect form, and encourages others to follow. One problem I have with most of the FIRM tapes is that they just don't give you enought time to put on ankle weights. body: I think Strong Body has a terrific variety of exercises. I especially like the focus they place on working back muscles, often neglected in other videos.

I love doing the leg presses on the 14" box! I also think the ab work is really well-planned and very challenging.

I occasionally use a heart-rate monitor during exercise to be sure I remain in my training zone. I was glad to find that Strong Body keeps me at about 70% of my maximum heart rate.

I love the FIRMS set and filming style. Also, I really like that the FIRM use strong, fit women.

Christine Letsky


I purchased this video as a result of carefully analyzing the comments on this website. I must admit that paying $30 for a video was a new challenge for me since I like to get "good deals". It most definitely has proved to be worth every penny. I have worked up to very heavy weights for the lower body work which has given my thighs and back-side definition that I haven't had before. This video has also done wonders for defining my arms and shoulders. I had always shyed away from sleeveless shirts because my arms were not defined. Now, I enjoy wearing outfits that show off my arms and shoulders. I highly recommend this video for the results you will see as well as the classic moves that are used (lunges, squats, using the 12"-14" box for step downs, push-ups, bent-arm rows, lat rows, bicep & tricep curls, etc.) which will give you awesome results!

I think Pam does an excellent job cueing her viewers as well as being much more down to earth than earlier FIRM instructors. Her well-sculpted figure also serves as a motivation for me.

Rachelle Trigueros


This is fun. Pam seems like a person you'd really like and have fun with if you knew her in person. She smiles a lot without looking like she's faking it. Her cueing and form are very good.

The video consists of weight work with some aerobics (floor) mixed in. The aerobics choreography is very good. Most of the weight work is for upper body. Toward the end, you do some inner-thigh work with ankle weights (killer!), but there's none of the traditional "get on all fours and do hamstring curls" stuff. There are some squats and leg presses in the standing portion, but those don't really do a whole lot for me anymore.

So, when you're looking for an upper-body aerobic workout, this is a good choice. I give it an "A".

Annie S.


I know this is redundant, but this is my favorite of The Firm videos I've tried. The tricep shoulder work is particularly killer! I like Pam quite a bit! She's cute and energetic without being annoying.

The only complaint I have about this tape is a minor one - I don't care for those lying-on-your-side leg lifts. But big deal, I just ff through it. I think you get enough leg work from the box press and squats and lunges anyway.

Jennifer M. Blaske


I have had this video for about 3 months and I can say that it kills every time I do it (which is about every other day). I really enjoy doing it. Even though it is very tiring, it seems to me that it is relaxing at the same time. That may sound crazy, but that thought goes through my mind sometimes when I do it. My shoulders and arms and back really have gotten some good definition. And my leg muscles are stronger than my husbands!!!! No kidding!

This is a really good tape and I want to try some other Firm Tapes because of it.

Melanie Higgins


I love this workout! I have used Firm videos for 5 years and this is one of my favorites. It has one of the toughest series of triceps work of any of my 8 Firm videos, as well as a killer inner thigh set. The aerobics work is fairly minimal and easy to follow. I saw it more as a time to give my burning muscles a break than as a time to really raise my heart rate. I was a little disappointed with the stretching, particularly in the beginning, but everything else about it is great! I will definitely be buying the Strong Heart companion video - if it's half as good as this I will be pleased.

Instructor Comments:
I liked Pam Cauthen. She has a couple of cueing mistakes and I would have liked more information in terms of what weight range to use for each exercise, but overall she has a pleasant manner that comes across on camera.

Anne B.


I have to agree with the others that the aerobics in the video probably should not be considered to be an aerobic section. My heart rate doesn't reach the zone but they do give my muscles time to warm up (ie after doing back work the "4 limbed aerobics" warm my leg muscles up before working them). There are lots of squats and lunges so if you like that you'll love this tape. They use a barebell for rows and this is such a great way to do them, I can really feel it with the barbell. The ab work is intense but somewhat lacking for the obliques as she only does a few reps on each side, however the lower ab work with leg weights by far makes up for it. This is a great tape. Pam is a likeable instructor who quitely leads you through the workout. Her cueing and perfect form really enhance the workout.



The other reviewers do a very good job describing the routine; I will only add my positive comments and constructive criticism. To the positive: This is my first FIRM video, and I am impressed with how thorough the workout is. I would not call this an aerobic workout, no matter what Collage says; I don't think my heart rate was in the training zone for any significant period of time. But, my muscles loved it! The hour flew by. At first, I felt somewhat self-conscious during the routines, since they all seem to end with some kind of silly flourish. However, as I got down and sweaty, I just enjoyed being pressed by the various exercises. Pam Cauthen's form is impeccable, and toward the end, when I was getting tired, I appreciated her words of encouragement.

To the less-than-positive: I previewed the video before I did it, and couldn't help but to notice that a couple of the women in the class seem to be heaving around more weight than they can comfortably handle. I think the instructor could spend a bit more time reviewing proper form for the exercises, for everyone's sake. Also, I found it a bit annoying to have to set up and juggle through and not trip over so much equipment (two steps, body bar, towel, ankle weights, four sets of dumbells - oh my!).

Overall, I'd call this an impressively thorough strength workout.

Instructor Comments:

Uses lots of jargon; perhaps the terms are familiar to "Firm Believers," but at several points in the video, I found myself wondering what she was talking about. However, she is very fit and inspiring!

Lesley B


Just my own comments to add to the many posted reviews: I agree with Wendy and others that this is much better than the early FIRM volumes, though I like Vol. 6 about equally. The biggest improvement is that SB is less stagy and more natural - some people actually SWEAT, and make faces while lifting (I always suspected the people in the old tapes were using "weights" made of tinfoil, and showered between each shot!)and Pam Cauthen is so much more human and likable, besides giving lots of form tips. SB really lives up to its old name "Variety"; there's enough variety (even toe-touchers!) to keep it interesting, fun and most of all moving along quickly. The only real downer for me is the floor part. I don't find much value in floor legwork and I cannot keep my balance in the position they use. And unlike some reviewers, I think the abs are too easy! Maybe I'm just too used to doing the same ab exercises in health club classes. I also wish there was more heavy barbell work like Vol. 6. I like to alternate this with Vol. 6, because 6 seems to work the shoulders more and SB has more arm work. Another FIRM hater has been converted! Grade: A

Sue B


My partner has suggested on several occasions that I purchase one of The Firm tapes to add to my collection. He said his ex-girlfriend loved them. So, I bought this one. I must say I was severely disappointed. This prompted me to find a review site to see what people out there might think. Now, I'm disappointed and shocked to find that I am the only one who is displeased with this tape.

The exercise routines are superior. My problem is everything else. Everybody on the set seem fake, plastic they have to smile all the time? The painted books on the faux library wall are laughable. The persian rugs are over the top. The music seems as if it was produced for a porno.

It was scary to read all the positive reviews for this tape. Yes, the exercises were great, but no one really seemed to mind the production set. I found everything to be distracting and too colorful.

Christina Hall


I don't understand why all your reviewers love this tape so much. I think the sequencing of the exercises is TERRIBLE -- there are too many back-to-back sets of exercises that work all the same muscle groups, with no respite in between, and I can't possibly do them all! (For instance, pushups, then French press, then more pushups, then kickbacks, etc.) And I hate the warmup -- I think a lot of the moves are awkward and contrived, as are some of the exercises (like the towel-barbell rows which I think are totally dopey).

Instructor Comments:
I like Pam Cauthen fine -- it's the workout I don't like (see below)!

Anne Powell


This has to be my absolutely favorite Firm. It is a video filled with exercises that will target all the trouble spots that we all hate. Pam starts off with a great warm up to super upbeat music and then a nice stretch set to jazzy music. The only time you need a 8-10 inch box is during the stretch. If you don't have one, you can really do the stretch on the floor. This is a fun circuit video which alternates heavy weight training with floor aerobics ( low impact).

The first segmant is aerobics using 3-5LB dumbells. You do a fun chacha with a triple step and then some squats. You do a bicep curl and side delt raise with the chacha. Then some lunges, dips and squats are next with heavy dumbells. You can make it easy ( no weights) or tough ( heavy barbell). Some other unique features in this video includes some excellent back work using a barbell and a towel. I would highly recommend getting a barbell for this workout but if you don't have one, you can still use dumbells because Pam switches to dumbells as well.

The aerobics are fairly simple to learn. Nothing complex. There is 2 sections of tall box ( 12-14inch) work which are very great for the glutes, hamstrings and quad muscles. This workout includes also is a killer workout for those awful drooping triceps muscles. I say this because it is one of my trouble spots. Pam keeps the workout fresh by doing pushups then French press then some more pushups and then French press again. My triceps are really burning at this time! Whoa! Then she does some plyo hops but when I was 9 months pregnant and doing this workout, I just did quick low impact squats when Pam jumped. Then when you think your done, nope, Pam does a final set of tricep kickbacks. This workout has really toned this area let me tell you. There is a great set of squats at the end of the final standing leg work that really puts the finishing "burn" on the workout. I am dripping with sweat at the end. Then she does some great arm work for the shoulders.

Oh , my absolute favorite part is the lat rows with heavy dumbells and upright rows. The music has a latin flair to it that I will never tire of. Also speaking of the music, it is excellent in my opinion. I never seem to get tired of hearing it.

The floor work starts off with my favorite. Inner thigh raises and then she goes into some more tricep work using dumbells. The ab work is very unique because you use dumbells and ankle weights for resistance. The cool down is relaxing and I feel well deserved! I would highly recommend this workout to anyone! A+

I also really like the set of the workout. It's in a library with white statues and paintings. The colors of the set are deep purples and pink and the background exercisers are wearing pink, purple, yellow, blue. Such great colors. Pam is wearing creme with black. They are working out on beautiful multicolored rugs that match the set.

Instructor Comments:
Pam is a perfect instructor for this video because her body reflects the title. She is very Strong looking. Her form is perfect especially during the tall box and she has a gentle way of teaching with her quiet voice. It goes to show you that you can still be feminine and muscular at the same time. Pam shows this throughout the workout. She is very tan and more toned compared to when she was in Firm 6 ( one of the background exercisers). Her blonde mane is pulled back into a nice braid and when she does her final Firm 1 "pose" at the end, she reminds me of Susan Harris a little bit.

Mandy Lee


I love this workout. Itís one of my favorite Firms, and of the Crosstrainers, it is my favorite, although StrongHeart is a close second. Weight work is alternated with aerobic segments, but there are only three aerobic segmentsÖthe video is primarily weights. I use very heavy weights (at least for me), so the aerobic segments, which are pretty simple, are breathers for me. The part that I think is the toughest is when pushups are alternated with French presses. Every time, I wonder how Iím going to make it through. Then thereís a brief set of jumps, which are followed by triceps kickbacks. Another part that I think is really hard is the shoulder work. During the overhead presses, Iím always wondering if Iíll have to pyramid down. One thing that I particularly like about this video is that thereís not a lot of floorwork. Thereís some inner thigh work, which is killer, and some ab work. During the ab section, you use ankle weights and light dumbbells. I just did this workout yesterday, and Iím reminded again this morning how effective it is!

Instructor Comments:
I really like Pam Cauthen as an instructor. She has excellent form and she gives form point reminders throughout the workout.

Melissa F


Next to MIS, this is the best strength video I own. The tricep work is very intense, there are a lot of lat rows, bicep curls, the works. Two sets of leg presses, tons of lunges and squats. I do find the ab work not so difficult, and using the ankle weights felt awkward. I usually do this tape until she goes to the floor, then I pick up with Lie Down and Workout - a great combination. Strong Body is a great workout.

Instructor Comments:
One of my favorite Firm instructors.

maryann parker


I love this workout. I like most of the Firm workouts, and this is one of the best ones.

When I do this video, I do it purely for strength training and don't even worry about the aerobics - I think of them as being there just for fun and as a break from the grueling strength training. This is a very thorough workout for the lower body, upper body and abs.

One thing I like best about this workout is that, kinda like in Cathe Friedrich's Maximum Intensity Strength, you work one body part pretty completely before moving on. For example, you do lunges on one leg, then squats, then lunges on the other leg. Then you do pushups, then French presses, then more pushups, then tricep kickbacks. It makes it hard, but effective.

I highly recommend this video and give it and A+!

Instructor Comments:
I really like Pam Cauthen and wish she made more videos! She has a very gentle, calming voice, so even when I'm killing myself I feel relaxed. Her form is very good, and her body shape is very inspiring; muscular without being bulky.

Mary Truscott


I just had to put in this review after reading that so many people liked this tape!? I have to say that it is definately my least favorite Firm video if not my least favorite exercise video of all time.

First of all Pam's cuing is off, almost as off as LaReine Chabot's in Firm Volume 5. Maybe she is just not very musical. The routines aren't put together very well: I agree with the other writer who said there was too much emphasis one one muscle group for too long at a time.

I couldn't stand that idea of doing the lat rows with a barbell pointing downward. Whose floor or carpet can withstand that abuse?

One of the things that got me addicted to Firm videos was that you could see the instructors lifting heavy weights yet neither they nor the rest of the class looked "bulked up", which made me beieve all that stuff they say on the 20 Questions video that most women simply can't bulk up the way that men do. On this tape, however. almost everyone looks excessively bulked up, even some of the students from prior videos who looked simply toned and trim before, now look like they could be stand ins for Stallone.

Well, I hated this tape so much that I won't even try Strong Heart, because I'm afraid I'll dislike it just as much.

Instructor Comments:
Her cuing isn't good.



I bought this tape after I bought FIRM Crosstrainer: Cardio. My first reaction was "Oh no, MORE leg presses." (This, of course, was before I got Tough Tape. Now the Crosstrainer series is a cake walk.) I really like this video. It goes by really fast and it is very thorough. Every muscle and body part is worked nearly to the point of fatigue. I also like the order of the exercises, but like with most FIRM videos -- I really hate the warm up. It's really just not enough! You've got your leg presses, squats, (dreaded) push ups, tricep work, biceps, shoulders, back, sit ups, inner and outer thigh work and a good stretch. All of this is mixed in with that funky FIRM music and those fun, but odd "aerobic" intervals. I really like the "basic training exercises" (straight leg toe touches with a squat at the end). This is a great strength video for beginners as well as advanced exercisers because - as with most FIRM workouts - the stronger you get the more weight you can handle. I give this one an A-

Instructor Comments:
I love Pam's accent. It's fun but not annoying. She's also very perky, and really beautiful, but down to earth looking. Her instruction is, for the most part, on target but there are a few mis-cues and a couple of times she explains the move AFTER she starts it which can be sort of confusing (and annoying). You start to not notice that after you do the tape a couple times.

Tami Skelton


I purchased this video as a result of seeing all the positive comments from other reviews, and can see why this tape made it into the Hall of Fame. I have to say this is one of my all-time favorite tapes. It really works your muscles, and makes you feel like your time was well-spent. Already I can feel my arms and legs becoming stronger and I no longer have aches and pains in my lower back. And for the first time ever, my triceps don't jiggle, thanks to killer tricep work. I don't think it will become boring, because paired with Firm Cardio (which I like a little less than Firm Strength), there is always ways to improve, to push yourself with heavier weights, or deeper leg presses, french presses, etc. At the end of a long, hard day at work, I actually look forward to doing this tape, because I know it will make me feel so much better. =)

Instructor Comments:
I liked Pam Cauthen very much. She seems very genuine, very warm and friendly. Many times when I am doing a set and am feeling tired, her words of encouragement help me to get to the end. Had a few cueing mistakes, but hardly noticeable once you do the tape a few times.

Catherine B.


Need motivation? If you have the Firm Vol. 6 , there is a blonde next to the Marine. That's Pam Cauthen. Also in the Firm Vol. 6 is Firm video veteran Narty Waters. Now look at them. This is the reason why there are so many Firm believers: you not only see great improvement in your own body, you see dramatic changes in their own intructors, you know, as if they really practice what they preach.

I think this video is superb! You should watch it all the way through first becase you need to have your barbell ready for the lat rows midway through the video. If you choose to use your barbell again, you will have to pause to adjust it.

I think the Benson sisters must have being reading various Joe Weider publications when they designed the Variety series. It seems as if every so- called Weider bodybuilding principle is here: muscle confusion, supersets, giant sets, pre-exhausting the muscles.

Strongbody emphasis heavier weights than Strongheart with Heidi Tanner. There are few reps. Each muscle is worked starting with lunges to warm the legs up. There are two sets of push up/french press combinations for the triceps. This is finished with triceps kick back. There is more triceps work later in the video.

Often one side will work, with other exercises interspersed than you will work the other side. In between there are the famous weighted 4-limbed aerobicss. More legs presses and squats. The squats can be done with a barbell or dumbells. The toe-touch deep knee bend precedes each set and conditions the legs.

In both tapes, the muscles are worked over and over throughout the video so you think you lats are done, more lat work keeps popping up. Biceps are paired with lat work, shoulders are paired with triceps work. This technique is effective ; working a large muscle group then working on the supporting muscles (lats/biceps or chest/triceps).

Pam's form in excellent. Some of the exercisers need to use lighter weights but they really sweat.

About the video, this is a nice change, it's still in a mansion but this would be the library as opposed to the recption hall of the same "mansion." The set's colors are classic Town & Country, wood paneling, rich burgundy, oriental carpets, a triomphe l'oeil bookcase, and marble busts. The workout gear picks up colors that are found in the carpet and bookcase case.

This is one of my desert island videos. I now have Cathe's Bodymax, which is a step up from this. so I hope the Firm will put out another series of this quality.

Instructor Comments:
As I said previously, I remeber how Pam Cauthen look in the Firm Vol. 6 with Jayne Poteet. She is very ladylike without being coy or cutsie. She has a pleasant demeanor and looked as if she was wnjoying herself. Her cuing wasn't really a problem for me since the Firm has really simple steps and isn't hard to follow. Speaking of instructor, I would love to see Narty Waters lead a Firm video. She's awesome in the Variety series.

Jean L. Wakefield


I LOVE this video! This is the 1st strength video I ever purchased (because of the reviews here) & I haven't been disappointed. I actually look forward to doing this. I love the set, the workout, the music, and Pam's encouragement. The 4 limbed aerobics with the sambas & triple steps is lots of fun w/o being complex (good for a klutz like me).

The pushups, french presses, & abs work are killers, while the lunges & dips - and even the floorwork - have slimmed my thighs (my husband has noticed!).

I'm one of those people who always hated abs work, but not in this video! I actually *look forward* to it :), esp. since I can now actually do the holds with my legs up (thanks FIRM!).

The set it also nice, with rugs on the floor (it looks like some rich person's living room!) And the women in this tape (incl. 1 who looks like she's in her late 50's - she looks fab!) didn't have smiles plastered on their faces all the time, they actually grimaced quite a bit, just like I have. I do admit there is 1 on the tape who looks like she's using too high a weight; she looks like she's really straining & should have used a lower weight (not that I'm an instructor, but I know what it's like to strain a muscle after using too-heavy dumbbells).

All in all, this deserves to be a Hall of Fame video.

Instructor Comments:
She's great! Encouraging without overdoing it, especially when I'm having a tough time doing pushups, etc. Love her voice. Her cueing is off from time to time but not terribly so.



This has never been my favorite workout for two reasons: the aerobics are boring, the music is lame and, most importantly, it KILLS me! The last reason is the one that keeps me doing the workout again and again. One question though. Why before the final set of abs does Pam say to prepare for lying side adduction on the left leg right after finishing that very exercise? That must be somekind of editing error. But, ignoring the coma inducing jazz and the "I could do this in my sleep" aerobics, I rate this tape right up there with the other goodies like Firm Cardio, The Tortoise, Tough Tape, etc.

Instructor Comments:
Pam comes off as an actress. I don't believe her when she says, "what a tough sequence." Also, her thong is a bit of a distraction (I never understood that look). And what is that arm sweep thing she does at the end of the tape when she says, "wonderful workout"? Cheeeeeeeeezy.

Lena Yester


I've been reading all the reviews for The Firm Videos and finally broke down and bought both the Firm Strength and Cardio. These are my 1st Firm videos. I just finished with Firm Strength using 3# and 5# weights. Wow! I did not preview it, so I wanted to be cautious.

I am impressed. There is so much variety and great abdominal work. I get bored easily and wanted a change from my regular workout. I'm looking forward to trying Firm Cardio now. Thanks to all of you who submitted previous reviews.

Instructor Comments:
Calm soothing voice and a great body. She's inspiring!



I have used the video many times of the past few months. I think the video provides great upper body and lower body work. However, I think the ab section could be slowed down a bit. The upper body section really exhausts the muscles. I also wish that the music was more funky and upbeat.

Instructor Comments:
Instructor appears to be in great shape, uses great form. I wish she would provide more info on proper form though, such as how to do squats, lunges, backwork, crunches without injurying your back.



Even though there are many newer Firm tapes (and I have all of them), I seem to keep on reaching for this one, time and again. Lots of reviews have been written on this video, but I just wanted to write one in 2001, because this tape is timeless. I was trying to think of a body part that wasn't well-worked afterward, and I honestly couldn't think of any. This workout thoroughly works the legs, buttocks, calves, biceps, triceps, abdominals, chest, back and shoulders. I found myself sweating and breathing hard, especially after the leg presses and dips, which are consecutive. Even though the cardio is not much more than some dancey-type steps and some plyo jumps, I liked the transition time and thought it was fun. Pam Cauthen is a good instructor, straightforward and a good fitness role model (great definition). The thong was dated, but looked good on her anyway.



This is a good total body workout that I really like. I like the flow of exercises, the stretches, the triceps work, the inner thigh work, and simple yet effective abs work. I do not like the music, but can definitely tolerate it and at times even like it. I do not like the last aerobics segment where she does not break down the moves and although there is nothing complicated in there, it somehow took me too long to get the moves right, and once I did I still didn't like this segment too much - boring and not intense; I often substitute their cardio with jogging in place or high-impact athletic moves to make the workout more intense cardio-wise; this seems to work great. The cardio in general is not intense in this tape, but this is to be expected this is a strength tape. Overall, I like this tape and usually do it once a week.

Comments about instructor: I like Pam, she is very pleasant. Several times her cueing was off on this tape, but it is usually easy enough to pick up the moves and the flow/order of moves is pretty "natural".



Lets see - what exactly is it about this video that I don't like?

First of all - it isn't the instructor. Pam is a pretty good instructor, can't complain there

It isn't the workout itself. I have and love "Tough Tape 2" and "Tough Cardio Mix" - both of which use parts from Firm Strength. I really enjoy those parts as they are worked into those videos

So what is it?

First of all, I prefer my cardio to be cardio and my strength to be strength. Don't let the name fool you, you get both cardio and strength in this workout. Some people may enjoy mixing between the two, personally, I do not

Second is the length. Its an hour, which isn't bad, but it feels long. I can't describe why, but this video just feels like it drags

Third, the parts that are exclusive to Firm Strength (ie are not in TT2 or Tough Cardio)to me, are not worth getting the video on its own. On a different note, I have Firm:Better Body and Buns, parts of which are used in TT2, and I LOVE that video.

As you can see these are emotional reactions to this video. I don't have concrete reasons not to like it. But I don't like it, and I don't think I'm alone as I notice it showing up on the exchange a lot.

Instructor Comments:

Deanne (DD1)


When I was first introduced to Pam Cauthen in some of the Parts tapes, I fell in love with her instructional style and personality. She has a really strong and beautiful presence and I really enjoy her as an instructor. I was immediately drawn towards purchasing the whole Strength video and I have never been sorry I did.

The workout is filmed in the library set that was also used for Firm Cardio. The workout, itself, is aerobic weight training.

The breakdown is as such:

Warm up/Stretch: 6 min
Aerobics: 10 min
Bodybuilding: 32 min
Abdominals/Inner Thigh: 8 min
Final stretch 3 min

Total: 59 min

It uses the following equipment: Dumbbells, fanny lifter, Barbell (optional), ankle weights (optional) and a towel (for the stretch)

The best news of all...this one was recently released on DVD...I see it entering my collection very soon! (That and Pam's new workouts from BSS3).

Cori (ziggy2306)


I didn't get this workout until 2004, why I waited so long to get it I will never know. It is one of my favorite Firms, in the top three for sure. It is an hour long, but I find that it flows very well and is structured nicely. The two aerobic sections are nice little breaks just when you need them and the rest of the hour you are working all your muscles hard. Very thorough. I personally do not mind the library setting, at first I didn't understand why the Firm would choose that particular setting but I find it cozy actually. I also actually like the music, most of it anyway. Some don't care for the music and I can understand why as it is a bit jazzy but I think it suits the workout very well.
My only regret is not picking this one up sooner, but at least I have it now. If I was told that I could only keep one Firm video, I think this would be it.

Instructor Comments:
Like her a lot, she looks great, is encouraging, has great form. She is very inspiring, the perfect person to lead this workout.

Tara W


This is my favorite FIRM workout. I have almost all of them, but this is the one I consistently treasure above all others. It's a tough workout; my triceps are screaming by the time I reach the pullovers on the floor. The music is great, I love the library set, and combined with FIRM Cardio, I get more than a total body workout; I get a total bun, hip, thigh, ab and arm burner. And let's not forget the t-bar rows using the barbell, a welcome change from sets and sets of lat rows that hits a slightly different section of my back. I also like that this one does not go overboard with delt flies like a lot of the earlier Classics volumes. This workout is easy to modify by using less weight. I also sometimes use only the 8" portion of a Fanny Lifter instead of the 14" box. A definite keeper, and a must for anyone who is interested in the FIRM. It's a part of the VF Hall of Fame for a reason: it's the best of the FIRM workouts.

Instructor Comments:
Pam is nice, friendly and in incredible shape, a joy to follow.



Pam Cauthen-Meriwether, 1995

This is a 59 minute mostly strength workout led by Pam in the library set with a large group of background exercisers. You will need a variety of dumbbells, an optional barbell, a tall box, and a pair of ankle weights for this workout.

I like this workout and it thourghouly works all your muscle groups. You will do a few sets of leg press, dips, lunges, sqauts, pliets, plenty of upper body work including back, shoulder, tricep, and bicep work with various different exercises for each body part. After about 40 minutes of standing work you go down to the floor for some lying inner thigh and ab work. My abs were definately feeling it by the end!

Pam intersperses some cardio sets into the strength work to get/ keep your heartrate up. It is all basic athletic cardio and is easy to follow. There are also a few light 4-limb sections.

Pams cueing is good and I was never lost or wondering which leg now??? I like her as a lead. I would rate this workout a low advanced strength workout if you really heavy up. She does go slow enough to allow for pretty heavy poundage (as far as Firm standards go). There are enough exercises to fatigue your muscles IMO.



This is one of my favorites. The library set is different from the original mansion set. The music is both soothing and energizing. I feel like I have a "Strong Body" after I do this workout :-)! It's tough, but very effective.

I call these old Firm videos "The P90x of the 1980'-1990's"

Instructor Comments:
Aside from her black thong, I like Pam. Her form pointers and cueing are spot on. She also has a very nice body!

Garrie A.


Firm Strength (originally known as Variety: StrongBody) is a 57 minute cardio + strength (AWT) workout led by Pam Cauthen-Meriwether (in this workout, sheís known by her maiden name only). Itís part of the 1995 Variety series later named the Cross Trainers. This workout takes place in a faux library/study setting that is different from the usual Classic Firm mansion. Pam is accompanied by several women, including some Firm instructors who went on to lead their own workouts (Allie Del Rio and Kelsie Daniels). For the workout, youíll need several sets of dumbbells, an optional barbell, a short step (6 to 8 inches, just for the post warmup stretch), a tall step (12 to 14 inches), and optional ankle weights. Pam and crew use wooden steps, but if you have The Firmís Fanny Lifter or TransFIRMer, or the High Step with Risers, that will work too.

After a brief warmup to some nice funky music, and stretch to jazzy music (using the short step as a prop), Pam begins the main workout with the first of three cardio intervals. Itís a four-limb tune (using light dumbbells), consisting of samba steps with delt flyes and bicep curls, and step squats with hammer curls (later adding a leg abduction, or side leg lift). Your first strength tune is next, and focuses on the lower body with short sets of lunges and dips, with a set of squats to change sides. The toughest strength set is next: a superset of pushups and triceps French press, performed twice. After a brief set of plyometric jumps and marches, you finish off the triceps work with a short set of tricep kickbacks. A series of tall step leg presses is next (on both legs), followed with a short set of squats to finish. An unusual upper body exercise follows this: T-bar rows, where a barbell is loaded heavy on one end, and a towel is wrapped around the top end of the bar. You straddle the barbell and pull the bar towards you using the towel. Before doing another set of these, Pam does two sets of bicep curls, one medium weight set, and a slow set using ďvery heavy weights.Ē After your final set of T-bar rows, Pam picks up dumbbells for a set of double arm bent rows.

Your second cardio break is next, and requires no equipment. It consists of marches, kicks, plyos, hamstring curls with a sashay step to change sides, and a march-march-triple pattern. After this, itís time for the second set of leg press, supersetting with dips (reverse lunges). Ready for more back work? This time, youíll perform one arm bent over rows. After working the right side, Pam performs a set of upright rows using a barbell (with other cast members using dumbbells) before doing rows on the left side. The final cardio break is next, and is another four limb tune using light dumbbells. It consists of a step knee, cross mambo and triple step, with a three knee repeater to change sides (itís not as complicated as it sounds). Overhead presses and tricep kickbacks are added to this pattern. Once this pattern is performed several times, Pam picks up heavier weights for a set of plie squats with bicep curls, changing the arm movements to upright rows at one point. Following this, you return to the light weights for the original four-limb pattern. Your final standing lower body tune is next, consisting of ďbasic trainingĒ (toe touches and squats) alternated with a set of squats (using the dumbbells or barbell). Before going down to the floor, Pam performs a tough series for the shoulders: side lateral raises, front raises, and overhead presses (all done with little or no rest between exercises).

After adding ankle weights to both legs, the floor work begins with inner thigh work on the right leg. More tricep work follows, in the form of supine tricep extensions. The first set of ab work follows, consisting of basic crunches and an interesting ribcage pullover/reverse crunch combo (using the dumbbells on the pullover). Following this is the second set, which is a standard series of basic, reverse, and combo crunches (nothing special). Pam then proceeds to doing the inner thigh work on the left leg before removing the ankle weights. Your third and final set of ab work is next, and consists of isometric reverse crunches and reverse crunches with oblique twists. A well deserving two-part final floor stretch concludes the workout.

This is one of my favorite Firm workouts, and has withstood the test of time for me (Iíve used it off and on for four years). Itís one I come back to time and time again. The pace is slow and methodical, allowing you to use your heavy weights. Pam performs various rep tempos within most sets (3 counts down, 1 up, 2 up and 2 down, singles, etc.). I also love the jazzy music in this workout, as it puts me in a calm mood while Iím working hard! That said, there are a few quirks Iíd like to point out. First, the barbell is used in two different configurationsóthen loaded heavy on one end and light on the other (for T-bar rows), followed with evenly balanced weight (for upright rows and squats). The changes are not done in real time, and you must decide whether you want to use a barbell for just the T-bar rows or for the other exercises. If youíd like to use both, pause the DVD before the second cardio break, and quickly change your barbell. If you donít have a barbell, you can do either one of two things during the T-bar rows:
-Do both sets in the double arm bent row position, or
-Do a set of 16 one arm rows with the right arm, perform the biceps work, then do 16 rows with the left arm (keep count yourself, since Pam does rep tempo changes on the second set of T-bar rows).

The rest of the workout can easily be performed with dumbbells. Regarding the cardio breaks, they are fairly low-intensity, and primarily there to help you catch your breath and flush the lactic acid out of your hard-working muscles. Finally, the first two sets of ab work are performed with ankle weights. If you have back problems, be very careful with using ankle weights. You may want to forgo them entirely, and just use a dumbbell on the upper inner thigh (during the inner thigh work). If you donít mind the slightly dated look of this workout, itís one I highly recommend for intermediate and advanced level exercisers. Beginners who have familiarity with basic weight training moves can use no weights or light weights, and build up to using heavier weights.

Instructor Comments:
Pam has a nice physique, a low-key, friendly demeanor and cues well. She gives an ample amount of form pointers, but not enough for those new to weight training (in my opinion).

Garrie A