Thursday, February 20, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway: Princess Ever After by Rachel Hauck

Regina Beswick was born to be a princess.

But she's content to be a small-town girl, running a classic auto restoration shop, unaware a secret destiny awaits her. One that will leap from the pages of her grandmother's hand-painted book of fairytales.

Tanner Burkhardt is the stoic Minister of Culture for the Grand Duchy of Hessenberg. When he is tasked to retrieve the long-lost princess, he must overcome his fear of failure in order to secure his nation's future---and his own.

Yet lurking in the political shadows is a fierce opponent with sinister plans to abolish the throne forever. Overwhelmed with opposition, Regina must decide if she's destined to restore old cars or an ancient nation. Together---with a little divine intervention---Regina and Tanner discover the truth of her heritage and the healing power of true love.

*          *          *

Almost a year ago author Rachel Hauck brought us the lovely Once Upon a Prince, the beginning of her Royal Wedding series.  I enjoyed this modern fairy tale, which was predominantly situated in South Georgia, where I now reside.  It was romantic and sweet as well as thought provoking and inspiring. This set of stories now continues with Princess Ever After, now available from Zondervan press.

Although second in the series, Princess Ever After is not a sequel to the first tale. Hauck introduces us to a new set of royalty, characters with their own separate histories from those in Once Upon a Prince. And while Hauck retains a similar romantic and chaste tone throughout the novel, the new main characters of Regina Beswick and Tanner Burkhardt have their own struggles, temptations and lifelong issues that they are wrestling with. The setting is once again in the south (Tallahassee, Florida to be exact), but the story felt less grounded in the location as it was in Prince.

A main premise of the story centers around the notion that the antique car-loving, independent-minded Regina is found to be the heir of a small island duchy in the North Sea called Hessenberg. She’s given the opportunity to take her place as royalty, thereby possibly saving the culture of this land, due to legal reasons in an entail.  At first it was challenging for me to understand the legal justifications of this premise, but this mirrored Regina’s initial confusion as well.  I appreciated the time that Hauck took to bring Regina (and this reader) into clear understanding (and belief) of the presented situation.  Miss Beswick is faced with believing the outlandish story of a stranger, Hessenberg’s Minister of Culture.  Had I been in her position, I would have doubted his claims of my royalty as well.  Regina doesn’t just buy his story outright, hook, line and sinker.  Through legal documents and corresponding true facts from her past, she comes to believe that she indeed is the long-lost princess.

Like Once Upon a Prince, Rachel Hauck builds a realistic, sweet and delectable relationship between the main characters in Princess Ever After.  They also must overcome the contrary motivations of those whose lust for power would obliterate the Hessenberg throne in order to achieve their own purposes.  For the most part, we can see where the plot is headed, but the journey is so pleasant, it’s more about enjoying the ride than being amazed by unbelievable plot twists. 

There are also spiritual lessons interwoven throughout the narrative. Like many of us, Regina wrestles with God’s will for her life.  She has her own personal desires, both in choosing where she will live out her days and regarding the handsome young man who has come into her life.  Tanner has some pretty challenging issues from his past, and he struggles with some of the same feelings that many of us deal with as we look back on poor choices we made in our youth. Once again, the Christian values are evident without being heavy-handed. However, the novel is not filled with copious sermonizing.  It’s simply a charming story, one that any lover of light romantic tales involving royalty would savor.  I’m pleased to say that Princess Ever After is a delightful edition to the Royal Wedding series, and I look forward to more regal tales from author Rachel Hauck.


Rachel Hauck is celebrating the release of her latest "swoon"-worthy romance,  Princess Ever After, with a fun $200 "Princess" prize package giveaway and a Facebook "Princess" party on March 6th. Grab your tiaras and RSVP today!

One winner will receive:
  • A $200 Visa cash card (buy your very own "princess ever after" gown or tanks of gas for your "royal" ride)
  • Princess Ever After, Once Upon a Prince, and The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 6th. Winner will be announced at Rachel's "Princess" Facebook Party on March 6th. Connect with Rachel for an evening of "royal" book chat, princess-themed trivia, laughter, prizes, and an exclusive look at the next book in the Royal Wedding series!

So grab your copy of Princess Ever After and join Rachel and friends on the evening of March 6th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 6th!



Meet the author:
Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, best selling author of critically acclaimed novels such as RITA nominated The Wedding Dress and RITA nominated Love Starts with Elle, part of the Lowcountry series, the Nashvegas series and the Songbird Novels penned with multi-platinum recording artist, Sara Evans. Their novel Softly and Tenderly, was one of Booklists 2011 Top Ten Inspirationals. A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, she worked in the corporate software world before planting her backside in an uncomfortable chair to write full time in 2004. Rachel serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and leads worship at their annual conference. She is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, and conference speaker. Rachel writes from her two-story tower in an exceedingly more comfy chair. She is a huge Buckeyes football fan.

Connect with Rachel:






Check out the other stops on the Litfuse Publicity Blog Tour for Princess Ever After:

Kindle Edition
Once Upon a Prince
A copy of this title was provided for review purposes only. No other compensation was given.

Book Review: The A-Z of C.S. Lewis by Colin Duriez

Last year marked the 50th anniversary of author C.S. Lewis’ death in 1963, bringing about a new crop of titles related to this prolific writer.  Many are familiar with Lewis’ work in The Chronicles of Narnia, as were portrayed most recently in films produced by Walden Media. While the general public’s awareness of these films has increased the visibility of this beloved novelist, his work went far beyond a magical wardrobe and a Christ-like lion.  True, Lewis was known for fiction titles such as the Chronicles, his space trilogy and The Screwtape Letters, but the vast majority of his work was in nonfiction.  As a noted Christian apologist, he produced numerous titles that explained and defended many aspects of his faith. Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain and his literary criticisms are highly regarded in Christian and academic circles alike.

Author Colin Duriez, a scholar who is well versed in all things C.S. Lewis, has compiled a volume which he has titled The A-Z of C.S. Lewis.  Within this 350-page assemblage are dictionary-like entries of facts, names, literary titles and just about everything related to Clive Staples Lewis. From “Abhalljin” (a fictional island) to “Zardeenah” (a moon goddess), Duriez defines and explains scores of topics, linking many of them with cross references.  Most of Lewis’ books are summarized or described, which is an effective way to educate the reader who is unfamiliar with particular titles.  Biographical entries are also included, giving us background on who he was and the life he led.

While The A-Z of C.S. Lewis appears to be a standard reference book, I found it to be oddly addicting as I perused its pages.  A great number of the listings have the aforementioned cross references, and as I would enjoy one entry, the cross reference would lead me to examine a related one.  That next listing would be linked to yet another item, leading me on again into Lewis’ world.  Many readers of this title may not choose to read it straight through from the first page to the last, but over time it would be fairly easy to cover the majority of the content through the cross references alone.

In 1998 I made my first online transaction with  By book of choice was The Quotable Lewis by Martindale and Root. I loved reading each entry, getting nibbles and snacks of Lewis along the way.  It remains one of my favorite Lewis-related titles to this day.  Duriez’s dictionary is much in the same vein.  It can be used as a research tool for one who is looking for information on specific topics in Lewis’ life, but reading it for pure pleasure is also a likely choice.  The A-Z of C.S. Lewis is excellent for the novice and will be a delight for seasoned Lewis fans. Duriez’s work is not only a labor of love, but a resource for the world as well.

About the Author
Colin Duriez is a writer, editor and frequent lecturer on the lives of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and the Inklings, having spoken at a variety of conferences in the USA, Canada, Spain, Italy, Poland, Finland and the UK.

His books include The A–Z of C.S. Lewis, C.S. Lewis: A Biography of Friendship, J.R.R. Tolkien: The Making of a Legend, J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis: The Story of Their Friendship, Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings, A Field Guide to Narnia, The C.S. Lewis Chronicles, The Inklings Handbook (with the late David Porter), A Field Guide to Harry Potter and AD33: The Year that Changed the World. He has also contributed to The Tolkien Encyclopedia and a number of other tomes.

Duriez has appeared as a commentator on extended version DVDs of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Walden Media’s feature, Dreamer of Narnia with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, BBC television’s The Worlds of Fantasy, PBS’s The Question of God, a documentary about Focus on the Family Radio Theater’s audio dramatization of The Screwtape Letters, among others. The author makes his home in the Lake District of northwest England.

For more information about Colin Duriez and his writing, visit or follow him on Facebook (Colin Duriez, writer) and Twitter (@colinduriez).

Check out the other stops on the Litfuse Publicity Blog Tour for The A-Z of C.S. Lewis:

Kindle Edition
Quotable Lewis
A copy of this title was provided for review purposes only. No other compensation was given.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Mr. Darcy's Promise Blog Hop and Excerpt

Introducing: Mr. Darcy's Promise by Jeanna Ellsworth  

Jane Austen’s classic Regency story comes alive again in a tale of pride, prejudice, and a promise. Georgiana Darcy makes her way to Netherfield Park to meet the woman her brother so admires. While at first Georgiana’s presence smooths the course of true love between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, the ghosts of her past appear to wreak havoc on all of them. Unhappily, Elizabeth finds herself placed in the care of the Darcy family at Pemberley. Assuming he knows the cause of Elizabeth’s distress, Mr. Darcy makes a promise on his gentleman’s honor. The promise, although made with good intentions, becomes nearly impossible to keep for Mr. Darcy, and somewhat vexing for Elizabeth. Some promises are made to be broken but will the ever-trustworthy gentleman let go enough to secure Elizabeth’s heart? 


For all my fellow fans of Austenesque fiction, I'd like to alert you to an author whom I just discovered: Jeanna Ellsworth.  For a limited time, her novel Mr. Darcy's Promise is on sale for an affordable 99¢ in ebook format on and Amazon.UK.  Want to sample Chapter 1 right now, as well as enter to win a paperback copy (U.S. only) or the ebook edition (International)? Stop by each segment of the Mr. Darcy's Promise blog hop for Chapter 1 excerpts and chances to win!  The Calico Critic is hosting Section #5 of 7, so if you want to start from the top, visit Addicted to Jane Austen to begin.


Mr. Darcy's Promise - Chapter 1 - Blog Hop Section 5

“Miss Darcy and Miss Bingley,” Mrs. Hill announced. Elizabeth and Jane stood and welcomed their guests into the sitting room.

Jane coughed delicately into her handkerchief. “Welcome Miss Darcy, Miss Bingley.” Jane said.

Georgiana took her seat, “Please call me Georgiana, after spending three days with the two of you I feel like we are almost sisters! I would not know though, as I have no sisters, only one brother.” Georgiana was nervous and knew she was not being the most refined guest. She was perhaps even being a little awkward.

Elizabeth smiled at her, “Well Georgiana, then you shall call me Elizabeth. And although having sisters can be wonderful, quarrels over whose bonnet looks best on whom can get tiring and I cannot always recommend it!”

Georgiana felt herself relax and laughed. “Someday I hope to have a sister, and until then I shall tell you every day how lucky you are to have them. I imagine sisters are closer than friends.”

Tea was brought in and they all discussed the weather and Elizabeth asked Georgiana if she had mastered the section she had been struggling with on the concerto she was practicing. Miss Bingley commented with faux concern on how Jane’s cough had not improved. It was during this lull in conversation that giggles and laughter could be heard from the front door.

“I am sorry, that will be my two youngest sisters. They walked to Meryton this morning.” Elizabeth knew this would be the first of many apologies she would make to Georgiana regarding her family; she seemed to be doing that a great deal with the Darcys of late. They all turned their heads as the door opened. Lydia came walking in holding tightly to the arm of a tall, lean, and handsome officer while Kitty did the same with a shorter but still-handsome officer. Giggles and squeals of laughter echoed throughout the house. Georgiana, most peculiarly, started making a ridiculous amount of noise with her tea cup.

When Elizabeth looked towards her, she was surprised to see Georgiana pale as a ghost; the tea cup rattling against the saucer in her shaking hands. Georgiana placed the distracting tea cup down and Elizabeth turned her attention back to her sisters and the officers, but she continued to wonder whatever could be the matter with Georgiana.

Lydia saw that they were not alone and put her hand up to her mouth to stifle the latest giggle. “Oh! These must be the callers you were going to have this morning! This fine officer is Mr. Wickham, and Kitty there is on the arm of Mr. Denny. Are they not so handsome in their red coats? They offered to walk us home!”

“Of course,” Elizabeth said, still concerned about Georgiana, “Allow me to introduce you to Miss Darcy of Pemberley, and Miss Bingley of Netherfield Park—”

With a bow and a tip of the hat Wickham interrupted, smiling, “I believe I am quite acquainted with Miss Darcy. We are long family friends, are we not? And how are you, Miss Georgiana? You look mighty fine this morning!”

Georgiana stood and said, “Elizabeth, Miss Bennet, it was a pleasure to see you both again. It appears that it is now time to take our leave. Good day, Mr. Wickham.” Georgiana could not move quickly enough out the door but she made it before her tears came. She didn’t even realize she left her gloves and pelisse at the door. All she cared about was getting away from Wickham. Why was he here in Meryton? And how could he speak to her as if nothing had happened between them? All her memories of his charm and deceit flooded over her and she broke down in sobs. She climbed into the carriage and hoped that Miss Bingley would soon follow.

An astonished Miss Bingley collected their things and entered the carriage. Although glad to be gone so quickly, she soon came across a tearful and sobbing Georgiana who became quite inconsolable on the way back to Netherfield. By the time of their arrival, Georgiana was in near hysterics. Miss Bingley had no idea what to make of her behavior and so decided to get Mr. Darcy. She exited the carriage alone.

 Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley were just dismounting their horses when they noticed Miss Bingley step out of the carriage. They were back so soon? Odd, Darcy thought, where was Georgiana? Then Mr. Darcy heard the sobs. Georgiana! He ran all the way to the carriage and climbed in with one fluid movement. Her face was wet and pink, her eyes swollen and red. “Whatever is the matter, Georgie? Did something happen at the Bennet’s?” He knew he should not have let her go; those Bennets were insufferable! Well, his mind amended, all but the two eldest daughters.

The thought was stricken by his next realization. He had only seen her like this one other time— Ramsgate! “Please tell me, dear Georgie; it pains me to see you like this again.” Suddenly she was in worse hysterics and mumbling something incoherently. She stumbled out of the carriage in such a hurry that her pelisse caught on the handle and was pulled from her shoulders. She stripped her arms free of the confining garment and ran inside blindly.

Mr. Darcy exited the carriage and turned infuriated, to Miss Bingley. “What happened?” His voice was low and full of suppressed fury. “I have not seen her like this since . . . well, for several months. And that . . .” pointing after Georgiana, “is not how she left here this morning!”

Feeling the full baritone wrath of Mr. Darcy upon her, Miss Bingley was quick to come to her own defense. “Mr. Darcy, I can have no idea. We were having tea when the younger Bennets came in with some officers who had escorted them home. No sooner had Georgiana been introduced that she exited the room! I confess she was very nearly rude! I am sure I do not know what to think!”

“Do you mean to tell me that she is like that because of Miss Bennet’s sisters? How dare they! Bring me back my horse! I will get to the bottom of this.”

Mr. Bingley had never seen his friend quite so irate. He reached for Darcy’s arm and tried to calm him. He reminded Darcy that Georgiana needed him now and it was not right to head to Longbourn so angry. “You do not even know what happened. You could say things that could leave lasting damage . . .”

Mr. Darcy looked angrily at Bingley and said, “I do not care about you and Miss Bennet right now, Bingley. Can you not see their family is beneath you? Look what they have done to Georgiana in the space of half an hour!” Bingley continued to calm him and remind him of the necessity of caring for Georgiana. Slowly, ever so slowly, Darcy conceded. He then ran the few steps into the house to check on Georgiana.

Darcy didn’t linger to see the smile on Miss Bingley’s face or hear her say, “Thank goodness we will never have to call on them again!”

Mr. Bingley shot a quick look at his sister. “Caroline!” he said sharply, who returned his gaze with a puzzled look.

She had never seen her brother look so stern, and certainly not with the flash of anger that she now saw. Was his attachment to Miss Bennet more than she had realized? “What? What did I say?”


The story continues... hop on over to the next stop in the tour, My Jane Austen Book Club!

For the full blog hop information, scheduling and more from Jeanna, visit her website:

If Mr. Darcy's Promise has been enjoyable for you so far, check out Jeanna's next novel, Pride and Persistence, to be published this spring!  Here's a descriptive preview:

Undaunted by a threatening storm, Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley insists he must deliver his letter to Miss Elizabeth Bennet–– then tragedy strikes. Riddled with guilt, Elizabeth comes to the aid of the comatose Mr. Darcy and stays by his side until he regains consciousness. She soon learns that although Mr. Darcy has awoken, he has not returned to himself. And with no memory of his first disastrous proposal, he has concluded that there is nothing he wants more than to propose to Miss Elizabeth.

This humorous journey of love leaves one asking, does persistence pacify prejudice? Can Elizabeth see the real gentleman behind the injury, a man who persists in professing his love to her every chance he gets? In this Regency variation of Jane Austen’s beloved
Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet both learn the value of persistence. 

The complete Chapter 1 of Pride and Presistence is available here.

Jeanna has also given her readers another chance to win! Here are the details:

Enter to win signed paperback copies of Mr. Darcy's Promise
and the upcoming Pride & Persistence!

Here's how to enter: Purchase an ebook copy of Mr. Darcy's Promise. Send proof that you purchased the e-book of Mr. Darcy’s Promise for 99¢ from Amazon or Amazon UK during February 8-14, 2014. 

Here's how you offer proof of purchase: Forward your confirmation email or a screen shot or a photo of a receipt, or you can even copy/paste the confirmation email in the body of an email and send it to You will be entered to win signed paperback copies of Mr. Darcy's Promise and the upcoming Pride & Persistence.

You have until February 18 to send in the proof of purchase.

So that's lots of chances to win!  To recap, here are the options:

1. Enter to win a paperback copy (U.S. only) or the ebook edition (International) here on The Calico Critic by filling out the Rafflecopter form below.

2. Visit the other 6 stops in the Blog Hop and enter to win the same giveaway on those sites as well.

3. Enter to win signed paperback copies of Mr. Darcy's Promise and the upcoming Pride & Persistence by sending in proof of purchase using the instructions above.

About the Author

Jeanna is a mother of three daughters, all of whom are well versed in all things Pride and Prejudice. She most definitely would say they are her best friends. She shares her best and worst days with them and they share theirs with her. She also proudly states she is the eighth of thirteen children. When she isn’t scrapbooking, quilting, or cooking, she is thoroughly ignoring her house for a few hours at a time in order to read yet another fan fiction novel. Somewhere between being a mom, a sister, a cook, and a best friend, she squeezes in three 12 hour shifts a week as a Registered Nurse in a Neurological ICU. She raises chickens, helps her daughter run a rabbitry, and gardens as much as she can. In all her still-under-forty years, she has never claimed to be as happy as she is now. Out of this mindset came a surge of creativity that simply had to be written down. Since she finished her first book, Mr. Darcy's Promise, she has stated several times that she has gained something no one can take away from her; hope for her own Mr. Darcy. More than anything, she hopes to prepare her three best friends to look for their own Mr. Darcy and to settle for nothing less.

Calico Critic Contest Guidelines
  • The contest period ends at 12:00am EST on Wednesday, February 19, 2014.
  • Contest is open internationally for ebook, but only open to U.S. entrants for paperback.
  • Make sure you leave your email address in the one required portion of the Rafflecopter form. Should you win, I will contact you on Wednesday the 19th. Please take measures to ensure that my email will make it past your spam filters, lest you miss my message. ( You'll have 72 hours to respond before I pick another winner.
  • All entries must go through the Rafflecopter form. If you leave an optional blog post comment, in order for it to count toward your contest entry, be sure to indicate that you commented through the "Leave a Blog Post Comment" button on the Rafflecopter form.
  • The award distribution will be administered by Jeanna Ellsworth, author.
  • Entries will be verified.  If a fraudulent entry is detected for the winning name, another winner will be drawn.

Thanks for stopping by, and good luck all our contest entrants!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kindle Edition
The Original Classic

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Workout Review, Part 2: The Zip Trainer by the FIRM - Cycle 1

Today’s post continues my evaluation of the all-new Zip Trainer from The FIRM.  In the first post last week, the Zip Trainer system was generally introduced, and I offered my thoughts on the Jump Start workout.  That routine is a great lead-in to the following workouts:

CYCLE 1: Rev!
The main workout program begins with Cycle 1, the first phase for newcomers to the Zip Trainer system.  Included in the Trainer’s kit of materials is a Fitness Guide with some very helpful rotation calendars to guide you in choosing which workouts to perform.  In following the Cycle 1 calendar, you build a strong foundation and prepare for the next level. Here are the three workouts included in that phase:

Cardio I – Allie Del Rio, who looks fitter than I’ve seen her in years, leads a cardio workout that’s fun and has easy to follow moves, holding and stepping onto the Zip Trainer. The ZIP Trainer Core Ball is also featured to work in strength training that also boosts the cardio. Much like the Jump Start workout, this includes four short-burst training intervals of 30 seconds of high intensity work, followed by 30 seconds recovery period.  As is recommended, try this video first without the ZIP Trainer and Core Ball to learn the moves. You’re given three levels from which to choose as you progress in your fitness.  Emily Welsh performs the beginning level, Allie leads in the middle with moderately difficult moves, and the super-fit Kelsie Daniels performs the tough advanced work.
Cardio I features choreography seen in other FIRM videos, like squat/plyos, mambo/cha-chas and grapevines.  The addition of the ZIP Trainer and the Core Ball brings an added dimension to the workout that made it not only challenging, but fun.  This video really pushed my abilities, and I was pleasantly surprised to wake up the next morning with a bit of delayed onset muscle soreness.  We really worked it!

Sculpt I - This workout incorporates Peripheral Hard Action Training, which focuses on keeping your blood pumping while also training your muscles.  Stephanie Huckabee leads this routine with her excellent cueing and positive, but not too perky attitude.  Stephanie has not participated in a FIRM workout in a few years, and I’m thrilled to see her back in the cast.  As a 40 year-old mom of two, she looks amazing.

Because this workout focuses on sculpting the muscles, lots of strength training is included. Of course the ZIP Trainer and Core Ball are used, but medium and heavy hand weights are a part of the routine as well.  It’s up to the individual exerciser to decide what “medium” and “heavy” is for them.  In my case, I used 7 and 10 pounds.  Beginners could start with 3 and 6 pounds, or whatever is comfortable for you.

Like the Cardio I workout with Allie Del Rio, Stephanie also utilizes the concept of Short Burst Training. Interspersed within the strength training are short 30-second segments of quick movement and heart-pumping work.  As they say in these workouts, “You can do anything for 30 seconds!”  I would agree.  You may not get in as many repetitions as those on the screen, but doing your best and pushing your body for that half minute can really bring on results.  The next time you do the DVD, try to get in one or two more reps than you did the last time.

The first time I did this workout while using the ZIP Trainer, I had to pause the DVD a few times to get my body situated on or around the ball.  The positions aren’t difficult, but if you’re not too familiar with them, it’ll take a couple of tries to get yourself straight.  As with all of these workouts, it’s important to view the DVDs ahead of time and start out with no equipment as you are observing the new routines.

Sculpt I is not as intense as some of the other workouts, but it can be just as effective when the correct weights are chosen.  Stephanie does a great job in leading, and the choreography is fun, while challenging as well.

AMP Reps 1 - AMP Reps stands for As Many Possible Reps.  The workout consists mainly of eight, 60-second exercises, followed by about 30 seconds of recovery.  Master Instructor Emily Welsh first gets us warmed up for a few minutes, then leads us through the eight cycles, and then follows up with a cool down stretch. 

The eight AMP Reps require not only strength, but cardio stamina as well.  Emily uses the ZIP Trainer, both in open and closed position, the Core Ball, and sometimes both.  In all cases, she encourages you to go at your own pace, but to push yourself more than you did yesterday.  Allie Del Rio is featured as the modifier, giving less experienced exercisers options as they are first starting out.

I was surprised at how much this track challenged me.  I frequently followed Allie, and even sometimes had to go at a slower pace than she was going. But due to Emily’s encouragement, I never felt self conscious about my lack of speed.  I was pushing myself, and that was the most important thing. By the end of almost every 60-second period, I had done all the reps I could possibly do.  I kicked up a great sweat, and the 8 segments just flew by.  Using the ZIP Trainer makes the workout very interesting, as we’re using this tool to push our bodies in new ways. 

Cycle 1 Overall Impressions
The workouts offered in this first stage of the Firm Zip Trainer nicely done.  There is something for everyone, whether a beginner or a more advanced exerciser. While the videos are relatively short, much is accomplished in a short amount of time.  And as the user’s abilities increase, multiple routines could be done in one day, as the rotation calendars suggest. The Zip Trainer and Core ball are innovative, fun and effective tools.  The soft nature of the Trainer really challenges your Core, improving balance, back and abdominal strength.  The Core ball is also interesting—I found it easy to grasp and unlikely to be dropped during fast movement.  Allie, Stephanie and Emily are excellent instructors, providing positive, motivational attitudes and superb cueing.  Cycle 1 is a great start to the program, laying the groundwork for what is to come.  Stop in soon for my next review, which will cover Cycle 2!

For even more information about the Zip Trainer, view the 6-minute video below.
And be sure to visit the FIRM’s website,



Zip Trainer kit provided for review purposes. No other compensation was given.


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