This past week, I started something new in my rotation of workout videos, The Firm Express.
Over the years, my relationship to exercise has been an interesting one. At times, I have been extremely gung ho and dedicated to exercise, with a weight loss goal in mind, and, as dedicated I was, still allowed life to get in the way and to gradually get out of my habits. Now, I am attempting to get more in the mind frame of a lifestyle change rather than a yo-yo dieter.
I have been back in a good exercise pattern for a while now and decided to intensify it, at least twice or three times a week. Some of the workouts I have seem a little easy now and not as challenging as they could be, while others are still a bit challenging. I was already familiar with other workouts from The Firm and had a lot of success with them in the past.
13 DVDs, Four Cycles of Three Weekly Workouts
The Firm Express is a 13 DVD workout. There are four cycles, a new one for each week of the month, three different workouts per week. These are Cycle 1: Ignite, led by instructor Emily Welsh, Cycle 2: Accelerate, led by Rebekah Sturkie, Cycle 3: TurboCharge, led by Alison Davis McLain and Cycle 4:Overdrive, led by Kelsie Daniels. Click on the image below to see on Amazon.
For these workouts, you will also need a set of dumbbells. The instructors recommend 3, 5 and 8 pound dumbbells to start. The set below has exactly those weights with a nice rack for storage. Again, click the image to see on Amazon.
Each workout is only 21 minutes long but is pretty intense. You get a cardio workout alongside strengthening/sculpting exercise. This combination should be very effective in improving fitness and burning fat. You work every muscle and do a lot of full-body exercises that work arms, legs and core at the same time.
Whenever I view anything on Amazon, I like to look at both the highest and lowest reviews. For this DVD set, the biggest complaint among the one-star reviews was that these are not workouts for beginners.
I think these workouts are definitely challenging and may not be the best choice if you haven’t done any form of exercise in ages or if you have a lot of joint or other physical issues, but I don’t really agree with the one-star critics.
I have to say that, due to the challenge, I did not execute everything perfectly in the first cycle of workouts, but I am not discouraged. I actually pause the video if I need more of a breather, and I don’t think I or you need to feel badly about that. Even if it’s not perfect, you are still getting a better workout than if you had not tried at all. There are modifications to make things a little easier and lower impact, and Emily always pointed out one of the instructors who demonstrates the modified moves. Conversely, I’m sure the instructors probably use heavier weights themselves than what they recommend for beginners. These workouts can be done on many levels.
I really like that there are 12 different workouts and that each one is varied and not too similar. I seem to like endless variety in both exercise and eating. Once I have an exercise routine memorized and it begins to feel easy, it also becomes less interesting.
I won’t give you a breakdown of every exercise, but I’ll show you a few to give you an idea. Below is one exercise from the first workout, a dumbbell row with leg lift, so you are working on balance as well as strengthening all sorts of muscles at once.
Then there are lunges with arm rows.
Then, there were alternating pushups with arm rows. You can see the woman at the right is demonstrating a knee pushup, which is what I did.
Each video also has periods of eight second minibursts of intense exercise, which are followed by 12 seconds of rest, just toe tapping. I may have paused the video occasionally, but I did make it through all of the bursts. Often, there was a series of rounds for these bursts with each new one intensifying the exercise a bit. So, these squats below …
became squats with little hops and then squats with bigger jumps. The woman at the right never came off the ground. I did something in between, little hops and then little hops again. I didn’t attempt any big jumps this time through.
In the second video, there was a cool little move called a hitch kick, which I don’t feel I mastered but would like to improve. You pull one knee up, then kick with the opposite leg as you pull the knee down.
There were also some kickboxing moves in the second Cardio video, like this jab punch below and some kicks.
In the third video, there were kicks with an overhead press. You can see you use a lot of different muscles at once in these exercises.
In this one, there was a series where you alternated a plie, twist to lunge to the side and twist to the front again to do an upright row.
I definitely had sufficient challenge, and I am feeling good. I am feeling stronger, more energetic, more flexible and just really good. Some of that is not just a result from this one week of exercise but a cumulative effect from my recent efforts to intensify my workouts, including using some of my older workouts from the Firm. I’ve had some soreness but not unbearable soreness. I developed really bad, almost crippling soreness after trying out HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts twice before.
Some Amazon reviewers expressed their disappointment that the Firm seems to promise you will lose 30 pounds in 15 days with these workouts, since that seems to be almost an impossible feat. I’m sure that this promise works, supposedly, if you are following their diet plan as well. I am reducing calories but am not following any official diet plan from the Firm. I will be very, very surprised if I lose 15 pounds in 30 days. I do expect that, if I keep this up, I will lose weight and improve my condition in a variety of ways.