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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