Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Firm Express -
30 Day Challenge Week 4 and Results

My four-week Firm: Express Challenge is now complete! This series has been such fun, and I'm very pleased with the improvements I've made in my fitness levels.  Thanks to these workouts, things are definitely headed in the right direction.  My short-term goal is to get to a healthy BMI of 24.9, which at my height (5'7") is 159.2 pounds.  My long-term goal is to achieve a mid-range BMI of 21.7, or 138.8 pounds.  

Health and fitness are not just about numbers on a scale or a BMI chart, so I'm not "wedded" to these figures.  They're just goals to aim for, and if I'm at least in a healthy range overall, that is the most important thing.  Other "Non-Scale Victories" for me would include:
  • Doing pushups on my toes every time, not just occasionally, and with good form
  • Not fearing THE BURPEE
  • Drinking more water (I struggle to get in 64 ounces a day)
  • Getting back into smaller-sized clothes lurking in my closet
With those goals in mind, here's the last week of reflections from my Firm: Express month-long challenge!

Week 4, Day 1 –Wednesday, August 22
 Workout – Firm: Target Toning: Zero in Ten – Track 3 – Bikini Body Blaze
Emily leads us through a tough, quick cardio routine with no equipment needed.  After only 10 minutes, I’m already sweaty.  There are plenty of leaps, hops , lunges and total-body moves.  I did pretty well keeping up, and I only had to modify a few times.  There was a full-body lunge move called “Hit the Floor” that was a near impossibility for me to get to the full range of motion, but I still pushed myself. My tuck-jumps are still weak, but I did my best.  This is a great add-on for one of those days when you might not get a lot of cardio in  other routines.

Workout – Firm Express: Pump It Up
I haven’t done this DVD since the 13th, nine days ago.  It’s still really challenging, but I’ve seen improvements.  I didn’t have to pause the video as many times, and my performance overall is improving.  The plank/jump move on the floor is still really difficult, and gets me winded every time.  I’m glad I’m mostly done with cardio today!

Equipment:  Medium weights (6 lbs)

Workout – Firm Express: Cycle 1 Ignite Sculpt

I haven’t touched this one in three weeks.  Wow—what a difference!  It’s still a challenging workout, but I really killed it!  My “mountain climbers” were so much stronger, I moved faster on the interval bursts, and overall I just did really well.  I am really spent and sweaty from all three of these videos today, put I feel really strong and healthy.  Very grateful!

(Forgot to note my equipment on this entry)

Week 4, Day 2 - Thursday, August 23
Rest Day – I took a day off today, but I did take a short walk in the woods near my house.  Nothing strenuous.

Week 4, Day 3 –Friday, August 24
Workout – Firm: Target Toning: Zero in Ten – Track 4 – ABS-solute Core
This one was slightly shorter at 9:40, but it was still tough.  I think the beginning was harder than the ending, which I found to be pretty easy.  Near the very start of the routine, we’re doing hops and burpees.  I wish I had warmed up some more before doing this.  My form wasn’t great.  Rebekah definitely works the core, with crunches, back raises, and stability moves.  Despite her beginning line of, “Get ready for your cardio workout,” this is definitely for toning.  And even though the photo in the DVD menu shows her doing a side plank, there wasn’t any of that.  This would be a good add-on if you haven’t done any core work for the day, and when you’re fully warmed up.

Equipment: Light weights (4 lbs – I could have gone heavier, though)

Workout – Firm Express: Cycle 3 TurboCharge Cardio
Just like two weeks ago on August 10th, I enjoyed this workout quite a bit.  It’s still a challenge, but just a lot of fun.  It’s not quite as high-impact as some of the other workouts, and I can really use that from time to time.  Again, the hardest move is a one-legged lateral jump, but I saw a big improvement from two weeks ago!  My right leg is still much stronger than my left, but I noticed greater strength, flexibility and an increase in movement today. I feel so good, I might even try doing this one again later today!

Equipment: One light weight (4 lbs)

Week 4, Day 4 –Saturday, August 25
Workout – Kelsie's 5-min warmup on Firm: Pump, Jump ' Jab
Did really well.  Right adductor is a bit tight.  Wish my pushups were stronger, but I’m getting there.

Workout – Firm: Target Toning – Zero in Ten – Track 5 - Bun Burn
This one was really challenging, but I liked it!  Emily does a great job incorporating new choreography with old standards.  I’d encourage you to watch it first, just to be ready for the new moves. This has a touch of cardio in it, and it does the bun burning job!

Workout – Firm Express: Cycle 2 Accelerate Cardio + Sculpt
Again, big improvement in performance since I last did this workout, back on August 7th. I’m still sweat-drenched and really breathing hard, but I feel so much stronger than last time. My form was better, and I was able to perform the V-jumps better as well. There’s a climbing/kneeling move that is a real intimidator for me, but I powered through and didn’t embarrass myself! I stuck with 6 pound weights again, but I probably could have gone to 7 pounds.  Maybe next time.  I feel like I really accomplished something with this today!

Week 4, Day 5 –Sunday, August 26
Rest Day – Did a whole lot of nothing!  It was nice to have a restful day!

Week 4, Day 6 –Monday, August 27
It's the first day of school for my boys, who are beginning 7th and 2nd grade.  It was nice to have the house to myself and to work out with no interruptions!  In the morning after I dropped them off from school, I walked home the long way, going around a lake that’s near my house. It’s about 1.2 miles—a great way to start the day.

Workout – Firm: Target Toning: Zero in Ten – Bonus Download
Rebekah leads us through a 10-minute total body routine.  She does a decent warmup, and then we hit all the major body parts.  There wasn’t any specific cardio, but the effort required to do the moves got my heart rate up.  There were all the basics:  squats, bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, pushups, planks, dips, etc.  Nothing revolutionary here, but it really covers the whole body.  A great add-on.

Equipment: Whatever medium/heavy weight you’d use for bicep curls or tricep kickbacks.  I used 8 lbs.

Workout: Firm Express: Cycle 2 Accelerate Sculpt
This one previously came up in the schedule on August 9th, eighteen days ago.  As has been common lately, I did see improvement today.  However, for some reason, my energy just wasn’t as high as I wish it could have been.  I just felt more weak somehow, like I needed a jolt of caffeine or something.  Still, I pushed as hard as I could, performed better than on August 9th, and I’m happy with my workout.  The number on the scale isn’t moving a whole lot, but I know I’m getting smaller.  People who haven’t seen me in a couple of months are noticing, and that’s great encouragement!

Equipment: Heavy weights (8 lb), medium weights (6 lb) and one light weight (4 lb)

Week 4, Day 7 –Tuesday, August 28
Workout: Firm Express: Cycle 4 Overdrive Cardio
I still felt a little  nervous about doing this 4th level (in the Firm: Express series) cardio workout, but after reviewing my notes from two weeks ago on August 14th, I knew I’d love it again.  I did about 10 minutes of warmup time on my own, just getting my body ready to move.  Thankfully, I had another great experience with this routine. It’s fun and challenging, with lots of kickboxing and movement that I can handle.  Again, the hinge-kick is still the most difficult thing for me, but I did see a bit of improvement this time.  And while I did have to pause the DVD a few times to catch my breath in between sections, I didn’t have to do it as much this time.  Honestly, the workout flew by, and I loved it!

Equipment: Light weights (4 lbs)

Workout: Firm: 5-Day Stretch, Day One
This is a really old video from the early days of the Firm.  They’ve compiled footage from a number of vintage workouts to pull together 5 days of stretching, with each day being 9 to 10 minutes long.  I felt a little tight this morning, so I wanted to end out with a nice long stretch.  The music and wardrobe in these videos is very dated, but if you can get past that late 80s feel, it’s still good material. I did Day One today, which is about 10 minutes of stretching, and I feel great!

End of Month Check In – Wednesday August 29 in the A.M.
I’ve now come to the end of my four-week Firm: Express challenge. On the morning of the 29th, I weighed in at 172.2, or another 1.2 pounds down for the week.  I also took readings with a tape measure, and while I didn’t have a massive change overall, I did see improvement.  So here’s how it all came down:



Upper Chest



Upper Arm


Upper Hip

Lower Hip

Upper Thigh

Mid Thigh


As you can see, these numbers aren’t overly dramatic, but every little positive change is one step closer to my goals.  Losing 1-2 pounds a week is generally considered to be a reasonable amount, and my loss was 1.35 pounds per week. And aside from this data, I have other victories of gained fitness—increased stamina and strength, which I can certainly build on as I continue to improve.  I truly enjoyed the workouts in the Firm: Express video collection, and they have been inspiring tools that have pushed my abilities and improved my quality of life over the last four weeks. These DVDs will certainly make repeat performances in my household, and I can’t recommend them highly enough for yours.  Take the Firm: Express challenge today!


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