FitPrime Crunch Time

Susan Harris
Year Released: 2003

Categories: Circuit Training (cardio and weights)

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This workout has already been broken down, so I am just going to add my own opinions. I am reviewing this workout after having done it once (the same day I received it – I waited forever to catch this one on Amazon!) The updated Crunch Time from WHFN is my all time favorite workout EVER, so I was excited to try the original for an extra challenge and because I love Susan Harris (of Firm Volume 1 fame).

WOW this one is tough. It clocks in at 45 minutes, and like many original Fitprime workouts in comparison to the newer WHFN workouts, it is very similar to the remake, BUT Crunch Time has enough differences (and many cleverly challenging tweaks) to keep it interesting, feeling new and different. Actually a lot of the exercise tunes were sequenced differently, and some tunes had entirely different exercises, that it really felt like a different workout! Which is great, because some of the other remakes (like Strong Bear) are just about exact to the original which makes it sort of boring. (In my opinion, no reason to get both the old and new Fitprime/WHFN).

Even with Susan as the lead, I wasn’t sure how this would measure up because of how much I adore the WHFN Crunch Time. While I still love the remake more, I was astounded at how the original really kicked my butt hard! There were three four limb aerobic sections (one of them replaced a kickboxing sequence from the remake, which I missed, but the 4-limb work is tough!) I used 5-6# dumbbells for these sets, and will probably only use 5# for future use because 6# got to be exhausting. There was an additional cardio/endurance tune (completely nonexistent in the remake) of standing oblique and outer thigh extensions (with ankle weights) that was really quick, intense, and fun! That was a major bonus! The tall box climb set was somewhat different, the stomps were the same but she jumped on the tall box. I liked the move but did NOT feel secure using the Fanny Lifter so I would recommend caution. I felt like the tall box could/would easily topple at any moment. The hopscotch segment used plyo jumping squats instead of skaters, which was fine with me.

Many of the strength segments were the same, with subtle (and more challenging) differences. The lunge/bicep curl set used single arms alternating with both arms instead of completely both arms in the remake; the tall box press did not incorporate a knee lift like in the remake; the triceps/good morning segment was harder in that you had to balance on one leg with the triceps kickbacks instead of standing in the remake. The arm work was clearly more extensive in the original, which I thought was great, because the remake is somewhat weak on the upper body. The original had two sets of heavy French press instead of one, the 4-limb sections were longer and more extensive, and the yoga set incorporated several triceps pushups which was sort of glazed over and shortened in the remake. The plie sequence worked military press, upright row, AND biceps instead of just lat squeezes in the remake. I used 12# bells for the heavy strength work (arms and legs) and I would not recommend going any higher than this, due to the compound moves and functional fitness feel.

The warrior pose yoga work was at the beginning of the workout instead of the end, which I didn’t think made sense logistically. I like stretching the muscles after they have worked hard and are more pliant. However the floor work for the core was at the end in the original, instead of the beginning in the remake (to me the end would have been preferable), so I suppose both Crunch Times have their own quirks and nuances. The core work was similar (if not exact) as the remake, but Susan had you put on ankle weights, so the original was more intense. The final stretch was more traditional and athletic than the ashtanga(sp!) yoga that the remake featured. The warm up was nearly identical, with aerobic-speed chair pose variations and rib cage shifts.

One notable difference between the original and remake is that the original is not “woo woo” – most of the moves are the same (or similar) but Susan does not use the names for some of the moves, like the crouching phoenix, or being able to feel your “wings” or “build out of your foundation” or using the “fire breath,” or some of Tamela’s joking like “calling all muscle fibers” and that sort of thing. I actually enjoy the woo woo but it is hardly a deal breaker. But for those who don’t like Tamela’s quirky attitude, you will probably appreciate Susan’s more professional personality. Susan does make a comment at one point about the workout being better than dieting, which reminded me of her Firm Volume 1 days!

Like the remake, this workout is definitely FUN and the music is awesome. I really like the variety of moves and get a great sweat with both volumes. But the original has so much more intensity, and more balanced upper/lower body strength work, that the exertion is comparable to a classic Firm workout (except shorter) in my opinion. The original was definitely TOUGH where the remake is more just fun than anything else. However it wasn’t so tough as to develop a dread factor, definitely doable for anybody in the intermediate spectrum. With heavier weights (up to 12# bells for the strength and 5-6# bells for the 4-limb cardio) this is definitely high-intermediate for sure – whereas the remake is intermediate at most, even using the same poundage. The original would be preferable for somebody who cannot do high intensity because the only jumps were in the hopscotch segment (the remake has much more jumping).

The production quality is just adequate…the remake’s quality (all of the WHFN DVDs) is definitely better. The set is small (only Susan, no background exercisers) and sort of bare, somewhat colorless and not interesting to look at, but the camera work is fine and the instruction and music of course is excellent. I am usually pretty picky on production values but I love Anna Benson workouts, and the filming, while not stellar, is still okay (not poor quality) so it is only a small deterrent. Actually I worked so hard in the workout that I barely noticed the barren background. I have the DVD version and it is very well chaptered (every tune gets its own chapter). I would highly recommend this workout to anybody who enjoys Anna Benson productions (and original Fitprime workouts in particular), AWT workouts, combination moves, 4-limb aerobics, and/or functional fitness workouts. Grade A!

Instructor Comments:
Susan is wonderful. I loved her in Firm Volumes 1 and 4, and would have loved to see her make more workouts. Even 20 years later (than her classic Firm days) she is still an inspiration to look at and she still has all of the qualities of a great lead. She speaks clearly, gives good cues and form pointers, and has a professional and down to business, but still enthusiastic and warm, personality.

Emily B.


To start with some background information on me, I haven't yet tried a FitPrime that I didn't like; something about the quirkiness of these workouts just works for me. At just over 44 minutes, Crunch Time is a bit shorter than some of the other FitPrimes, but it still kicked by butt! For this workout, you'll need both light and heavy weights (I used 5# for 4-limbed cardio, 8# for most of the strength training--I didn't feel I could go higher given that it was mostly compound moves, but I did use 15# for the one-armed lat rows), a high step, and optional balance dowel and ankle weights.

Susan starts the warm-up with some simple stretches and then begins raising the heart rate with fast squats. Following this, she returns to stretching with some recognizable yoga postures, including warrior 1, warrior 2, side angle, and triangle; she doesn't offer much info about form, so those unfamiliar with yoga may wind up a bit off here.

This first 4-limbed cardio segment comes next. The moves felt a bit awkward to me here, and it didn't raise my HR into my target zone--but no problem since the strength work soon did! Susan starts with compound toning work, doing dips/hyperextensions combined with upper body work and then staying in the same position to do toe raises that really work the glutes! Before repeating on the other side, there is a nice little cardio interlude consisting of hops, skips, and little jumps; this was fun and DID get my HR up.

Next comes some upper body only work with lat rows and french presses (this was the only time I went heavier than 8#). Then it's on to leg presses, making it tougher by adding bicep curls, and another move that's tough on the glutes, a sort of squat on one leg (there's actually quite a bit of balance work throughout). Again, Susan inserts a cardio segment before moving on to the other side; this time it's fun, 4-limbed moves which incorporate side touches, kicks, a rocking move, and delt raises.

After repeating the leg press on the other side comes the final cardio segment performed on the box--this is what wiped me out! You start with simple chugs but then jump up just enough so that your chugging foot comes off the box--wow! I could barely make it through the second side. Plies with combined upper body work follows.

Susan then leads you to the floor for a few brief stretches, but you quickly move into tough triceps push-ups; not only does Susan do a lot of them, but also she does TWO sets! Then it's back to standing for triceps, again combined with balance work, and plies combined with both standing abs work (twists) and abductions. Calf raises finish the standing work, and then you put on your ankle weights to prepare for the floor work.

More upper body work comes first, with pec flies and pullovers alternating with an inner thigh squeeze. The abs work incorporates several Pilates moves, including rolling like a ball (performed very slowly), single leg stretch, and a teaser variation. Susan concludes with a final stretch that she barrels through at a pace too quick for my liking.

Although overall, this workout was a bit more traditional than some of the other FitPrimes I've tried, I still liked it a lot, especially the fun 4-limbed cardio, the use of the tall step, and the addition of balance work. Although this is more of a strength workout than a cardio one, my HR was in my target zone for 22 minutes, which was a nice bonus; it also showed that I burned about 250 calories. This might wind up having a slightly higher dread factor for me than my other FitPrimes just because it's so tough, but not enough of one to prevent me from using it often.

Instructor Comments:
My only previous exposure to Susan has been in the Firm Parts videos, where she seemed a bit over-the-top to me; I found her to be more toned down and thus more likeable here. She cues well using FitPrime's non-dominant side first principle.

Beth C (aka toaster)


I bought this as part of a DVD compilation. I just tried it. I wasn't sure that I would like it. It was an excellent workout. I don't think it is that easy, though. She does one move where she does a step hop onto the tall step. Ouch! Next time I'm lowering my step to 10 inches for that one. That move for me is a calf injury waiting to happen. I liked the music. If you like FP workouts in general you should like this one.

Instructor Comments:
I am in awe of her. She doesn't look buff but is as strong as you remember her in Firm V.1



With strength work, I am an intermediate exerciser, who flirts with advanced work, but find I’m content staying at an intermediate level. I have really enjoyed getting into workouts on the ball and Pilates as an alternative to traditional strength training. I wanted to try a FitPrime tape because I had heard so much about their creativity and effectiveness. After reading the reviews, I chose this workout because it seemed like it would be a good total body strength workout.

Susan Harris leads the workout by herself in what looks like a studio to me. The music is good, good enough for me to notice it. With standard Dynamix type music, it usually doesn’t even register with me. She gives form pointers and directions throughout the workout. The workout includes a lot of compound moves and strength moves that are put together differently than a standard Firm or Cathe workout. Balance is a component of some of the moves.

Overall, I came to two conclusions. First, the workout is well done. The production values are good and the workout obviously was planned and it flows. Second, I did not enjoy it. There was just too much “creativity”, seemingly for creativity’s sake, for me. The balance component was something I did not enjoy. And, I just kept looking at the TV and saying either “You want me to do WHAT?” or “Yeah. Right.”

This workout will strongly appeal to some people. Others will hate it. I’m not sure there will be a lot of middle ground.

Instructor Comments:
She is calm and knowledgeable. She exudes confidence.

Laura S.


I just did Crunch Time for the first time this morning and I LOVE IT! This is a challenging, total body, aerobic weight training workout with tons of variety and the coolest music of any workout video (all of FitPrime's videos have the best music in the industry).

In 45 minutes you get a full workout. I was dripping with sweat and felt totally worked out at the end of this workout.

I highly recommend this one!


Instructor Comments:
Susan is great in this video. Her cueing is perfect and she is really an inspiration to workout with!



Jen gave an excellent breakdown of the moves in this video so I see no point in rehashing. I will say that the almost schizophrenic mix of moves in this workout - from yoga to light weight 4-limbed cardio to heavy weights to cardio bursts and back to yoga - seem to me to be designed differently just for the sake of being "different." By that I mean that there is no real focus here. I just finished and I feel refreshed, yet not terribly worked out.

I'm thrilled as punch to have Susan in front of the camera again ... as to the workout, let's say I enjoyed it and will certainly keep it for light days.

Instructor Comments:
As always, Susan is extraordinarily motivational and inspiring. She's always been my favorite Firm instructor and now, at 38 (or whatever) & the mother of four, her body is even more beautiful than in the Firm's Classic Vol. 1. She moves with the grace of a ballerina and her cuing is awesome. Anna Benson has been crazy to not use Susan before this!



Crunch Time Review


~ Side stretches
~ Rib cage reaches (Volume 1 anyone? )
~ Rib cage with knee flexion
~ Squats with twists and knee raises
~ Warrior pose
~ Downward-facing dog


~ Side squats with weights
~ Squats with abductions and curls & overheads

Dip Sequence on weaker side

~ Balance dips with knee lifts and bicep curls, hyperextensions with rows
~ Releve’ (sp?) on the toes with the stick in slight lunge position – lift stick to the shoulders, then over the head – great balance move (remember this from HH!)


~ Hips side to side with jump roping arms
~ Slow jumps
~ Hopskotch (Lots of FUN!!), march back
~ Step and Pull-in for flexibility (increase range of motion!)
** I did this whole routine on my new rebounder!

Dip Sequence on dominant side

Upper Body

~ Lunge out with the legs and lat row
~ French press balancing on one leg (great balance move!)
~ repeat on other side

Leg Press weaker side

~ Classic leg press
~ Leg press with single, then double bicep curls
~ Sinking down on one leg toward the tall box – lots of balance – lots of reps – umm….ouch!!

4 Limbed Cardio

~ Side Toe with biceps and triceps (where she says, “This is definitely better than a diet.”)
~ Side toe and kick with a delt
~ Rocking horse type move (hip lift rear, knee up) with biceps and triceps
~ Finishes with LOTS of side toe and delt raises

Leg Press on dominant side

Tall box Cardio

~ Chugs
~ Slow jumps off the tall box – very fun! (Susan says you can sub leg press – I went for it all the way!).
~ Slow climbs

Plie’ Sequence

~ Plies with overhead press, alternating lifting the heel on either leg, lots of variations (e.g., slower, faster, one arm, both arms, etc.).
~ Plies with upright row, same variations
~ Plies with bicep curls

Plank Sequence

~ Downward-facing dog
~ Into plank
~ Runner’s lunge type stretch
~ Back to plank
~ Into tricep push-up (tough!!!)
~ Plank into down-dog, repeat

Upper Body

~ Triceps – really cool move where you lean over, pull the knee in (sort of like a good morning) then do kickbacks. Lots of balance here! Several sets.

~~ Put on ankleweights.

Lower Body

~ Squats with the stick on shoulders and twist side to side
~ Squats with abductions
~ Calf raises with stick on the floor

~~ move to floor

Floorwork – chest, legs, abs

~ Pec Flies
~ Inner thigh work lying on the back – similar to Strong Bear
~ Pullovers
~ More inner thigh
~ Roll-ups into a teaser variation
~ Crunches with variations
~ Single leg stretch move (similar to pilates move) – like a pulley- but pulling the leg in one at a time
~ More roll-ups

Final Stretch with yoga

Music: What we’ve come to expect from FP – only the best!

Set: Redesigned – different colors of paint, new artwork, pedestal statue – very nice and clean looking!

Editing: Picture is bright and pristine; editing is silky smooth.

Overall Impressions:
I loved it, of course! The first thing that comes to mind about this workout is: it’s straightforward. It gets the job done in a short amount of time with effective exercises.

This is a workout that I will do often; there is absolutely no dread factor. I loved every minute of it. I feel great now – nicely worked out!

Instructor Comments:
The "yellow girl" from FIRM Volume 1 fame has returned, and she is just as inspirational as ever.



I've been hoping that one of the fitprime workouts would click with me since I bough an 8 pack of dvds. Alas, they have yet to impress me. In fact, I'm beginning to think I wasted my money.

This isn't a bad workout, it just isn't particularly good either. There's a real hodgepodge of stuff here- yoga, four limb, tall step, hopscotch steps, balance work- if you like variety, you may like this. I do like variety, but found this disjointed and random. It almost seemed like Anna and company have been reading Shape and other mags and have seen all the articles on recess cardio, balance, yoga and so on and thought it would be a good idea to mush them all together. When I have a workout with variety, I went the different components to link up in some way and progress logically, and I didn't get that feeling here. I felt like we were doing things for the sake of doing them, not because it made the workout better.

What really disapponited me was the lack of instruction. Because there are some new moves, instruction is necessary. And Susan had some form problems. just a few examples- her heels come off the step when she does these jumps on the tall step, which as I far as I know is wrong. Her shoulders lift during shoulder exercises and french press, another no-no. She straightens her elbows during chest flies, making a hybrid press-fly, and her lower back seems to arch off the floor in the flies and ribcage pulls. I found myself wondering if I was doing the tall step hops right since she doesn't discuss them and she says not to pull on your neck during squats with rotation but she gives no pointers on how not to do so. In short, I was disappointed with her form and instruction. If I want to do a 45 min cardio weights hybrid workout with Susan, I'll pick Firm vol.4 (the Time crunch) over Fit Prime (the crunch time).

On a more general note, I've been very dissapointed by FitPrime. First, I've had a hard time being able to try all the workouts since some of the dvds were defective.

I also question the package claims. Fitprime has packed their box covers and ads with tons of claims and buzzwords, much of which don't match up to the workout or are not substantiated by independant research. And the certifications and credentials of the instructors (except Tracie Long) are never mentioned. Anna promised results in 10 workouts with the firm, and now with fitprime, she promises results in 6. I wonder if her next venture will promise results just from opeing the box. I sometimes get the feeling that Anna's ventures put more effort into marketing than into creating great, safe workouts that are well instructed and logically assembled. I have 5 fitprimes to work through, and I just hope I enjoy at least a few of them.

Instructor Comments:
She's never been a favorite, but she's not a deal breaker either. Her cueing is okay but she doesn't instruct much. Her form is questionable to poor on some of the moves in this tape. She says some of the same lines she used in Firm volume1, including one about the workout being better than dieting. I grow less impressed with her each time I see a new workout she leads.