Video Fitness

The FIRM: Tough Tape

I just got the video after waiting 10 weeks, and have only done it once. So this is more of a description. I'll update my review after I've done the tape for a while.

This is a Parts video -- from Tortoise and Hare. It's the smoothest and best edited Parts video the FIRM has done. Tracie Long does both the segueys and the instruction, and the transitions are hardly noticeable. The music is a little more upbeat that other FIRM videos, although I don't remember it being too loud or noticeable.

The warm-up is really fun and the stretch is good. You start right out with squats with the barbell (or dumbells), and then go into military press, bicep curls and upright rows with the barbell. Then right into leg presses onto the tall box with the barbell. I don't remember the exact sequences, but you do lunges with the barbell, dips with dumbells, more upper body with dumbells, plie squats with dumbells, pec flys, pushups, French press, tricep kickbacks, lat rows.

I'm not sure if I'm remembering everything. All I know is I couldn't make it through the six sets of leg presses, or even all of the arm reps. This really is a Tough Tape; no aerobic segment 'resting' periods here. And absolutely no floor leg work!

This would be a great total body weight training video if only it contained some ab work. The tape is 48 minutes long, and they could easily have included at least 10 minutes of ab work!

I really like the fact that you stretch throughout the video instead of waiting until the end. There is a good lower body stretch at the end, however.

I plan to do this video at least twice a week, and I think it's intense enough to see results soon. I highly recommend this video to anyone wanting to shape and sculpt those muscles!

Instructor comments:

OK. So I was having a bad day when I reviewed Tortoise. Tracie Long is actually a great instructor. Her cueing is excellent, and she actually gives a little more form instruction that other FIRM videos, I think.

Joni O

This one is the newest addition to my video library, and I couldn't wait to sing its praises. If your lower half is the spot most in need of reshaping (always has been for me!), Tough Tape could be your solution, with set after set of leg presses, lunges, dips and squats. Even FIRM diehards will be pushed to the limit. It's actually a great workout for the entire body, except for the abs--the FIRM has chosen to leave them out. While I wish they hadn't made this decision, my abs are my best feature and my lower body my worst, so I won't complain too loudly.

Most of this compilation, with the exception of the warm up, cool down, and some of the leg presses, comes from Tortoise, so Tortoise owners will find it redundant. I borrowed Tortoise from a friend last year and loved the strength work, but hated the ballroom aerobics. Fortunately, Tough Tape includes everything I liked about Tortoise (except the ab section) and none of the silly aerobics.

Tracie Long's instruction is superb--she explains and demonstrates modifications for beginners and for advanced exercisers, and her form pointers rival Karen Voight's. The camera focuses in on the legs on the more difficult moves so that there can be no doubt about proper form.

Wendy Niemi Kremer

Wow! I am a huge Firm fan, so I thought I would like this tape, but I must say that I really love it. I have been looking for a good overall strength video, and I have found it with Tough Tape. The only negative comment that I have is that (as mentioned in earlier reviews) there is no abs section, which is disappointing. I just did 5-Day-Abs after I finished Tough Tape, but it would have been nice to have it all on 1 tape.

Tracie Long is very good - the transitions between snippets (this is a parts tape taken from Tortise & Hare) are incredibly smooth, and very easy to follow. Her cueing is also excellent. The first time that I did the tape, I had no problems following her (I have never done Tortise or Hare, so this was truly a first-time video for me). I thought that she was very good about reminding you about your form, and her comments really helped to get me through the seemingly endless sets of leg presses!

The lower body work (squats, plies, lunges, dips, millions of leg presses), all done with weights, is really killer. My legs are the body-part that I am really trying to work on now, and this tape is perfect for that! The instructor and all of the participants use a barbell most of the time, but I used dumbbells throughout without any problems. But, I would guess that anyone with knee problems might have a little trouble with this tape - there are many (4? 6? I can't remember - my legs were jello by the end!) sets of leg presses with a tall step, which might be a bit tough on the knees for some people. My legs, and especially my glutes, were quite sore the day after doing this tape, mostly due to those presses.

I also really liked the arm workout - I do the Firm Parts Upper Body tape often, and although Tough Tape isn't as hard as Upper Body, I thought it was a very good compliment - lots of bicep and tricep work, in addition to military presses, lat rows, upright rows, and pushups.

I would highly recommend this video to anyone looking for a good, total-body strength workout, especially if lower body is a problem area. I would expect that with regular use of this tape, you will notice serious changes in muscle tone.

Michelle Spina

I was disappointed that the FIRM decided to package the Tough Tape in a plain white box, with a type-written label. But, once I got over the cheap, tacky packaging... I was very impressed with the workout!

Since I own most of the FIRM's total body workouts, I had never considered purchasing any of the FIRM PARTS* series, until I heard about the Tough Tape. In my opinion... this one is worth it! If you increase your weight's poundage, the Tough Tape can be a *killer* workout! (*FIRM PARTS are re-edited segments from the FIRM Total Body series)

If you like the Tortoise and Hare's strength work, but hate its ballroom aerobics... this tape is just what you're looking for. Tough Tape offers set after set of tall box step-ups. Plenty of lunges and dips, too. I love the upper body work in this tape! I use a fairly heavy barbell for the miltary presses (ouch!), curls and upright rows... and for the first time in months, I'm actually feeling a twinge of soreness. Although, the traditonally "aerobic" segments are left out, the standing leg work is enough to keep you in your aerobic training zone.

On the days that I do Tough Tape, I always add 10-15 minutes of ab work. (usually I use the ab segments from Strong Body).

Tough Tape is a weight-training tape, more than any other FIRM tape. I have added the Tough Tape to my routine 2-3 times per week, and I fully expect that I'll be seeing payoffs quickly.

Christine Letsky

I did Tough Tape for the first time this morning. I was prepared for a tape not easy to complete, but found it was not as difficult as I had imagined. There are three sets of leg presses on each leg, lots of lunges and squats, arm work and pushups. The only part I found difficult was after the Hare segment when you do 7, 3 reps on each leg and then she went right into more leg presses on one leg with lat rows and bicep curls sandwiched in. The workout without warmup and cool down is only 30 minutes. So I did 30 minutes of aerobics, and 15 minutes of ab work to complete my workout for this morning. Tough Tape is a great tape, similar to Standing Legs which has three sets of leg presses also, but spaced out more. Tracy Long has a great body. I wonder if she achieved those results doing Firm tapes, or does she work out in a gym? Anyway, I recommend the tape to any advanced exerciser.

maryann parker

I find that the Tough Tape is just that, tough! I would only recommend this for the advanced exerciser, as a novice could injure themselves by not doing the movements correctly. I have all the FIRM tapes, and this is the first new one that I have received in a LONG time that actually made me sore the next day. The series of leg lifts on the 14" box in extremely demanding, and the series of lunges and dips really work your butt and thighs! On a negative side, I don't think this tape is aerobically challenging. I would recommend a couple times a week, or use it together with another tape in the FIRM series. Also, one of the thing that made me like the FIRM so much was that they usually targeted serveral areas of the body in one exercise, or movement. I find that in the past couple of new releases, they steer away from that, and isolate the part of the body they are targeting. When the instructor does military presses overhead, I usually add in a squat evey time I bring my arms down, so I can work several groups simultaneously.

All in all, this is more of a strength training tape and an aerobic tape. Regardless of what your fitness needs are, this tape is a definite must-have.

Lisa Eberting

Thanks heavens this tape is only 42 minutes long because it really is tough. I had a great time, though, burning those calories and firming my body. This is a really great tape if you want to really sweat. I can't say I've ever sweat this much before. Maybe it was the humidity, but I got a "tough" workout using this tape.

The only thing this tape is really missing is an ab section. Since it was just 42 minutes long I think they could have added an ab section, but I just pulled out another ab tape after I was done and completed my workout.

I feel pretty proud being able to complete this tape. I am really becoming a "firm" believer!

I thought the cueing in this tape was especially good and the balance between lower and upper body was equal. However, I use a body bar instead of a barbell and my neck was getting pretty tired by the end.


This workout consists of clips from the Tortoise and the Hare workouts. It's mostly Tortoise. There are no ballroom aerobics, thank heavens! As the name says, it's tough. But I don't think its as tough as Tough Aerobics or Upper Body. I do like it, though! Tracie uses a barbell, but you can substitute dumbbells.

It comes with a plain white cover, and it looks like the label was printed on a dot-matrix printer. I know the cover doesn't have anything to do with what's inside, but I want a nice cover! At the very least, the FIRM should discount the ones with these plain white covers.

Instructor comments: Tracie introduces each section, and she seems more animated than she did in the original Tortoise and Hare workouts.

Annie S.

I think Tracie Long is a powerful instructor very easy to follow, but hard to keep up with because she is so strong, I have done her tape 4 times now and already my body feels stronger.

Toni Richmond

This is the strength training tape I reach for most often! It motivates me to work hard, and is the least boring workout I have ever done. I feel like I've really accomplished something when I'm done! I also like the fact that this is a Parts tape, so all the short (useless) aerobic portions from Tortoise are gone. I have to admit that, if give the choice between MIS and Tough Tape, I will choose TT every time. MIS just seems like work and drags on forever, while TT just flies by! I just tack on a segment from 5-Day Abs at the end to get every body part. This is a superior workout that I would recommend to everyone.

Instructor comments: Tracy is very clear and relaxed - this style of teaching is the least irritating in the long run, after countless viewings. No hype or cutesy comments, just form pointers and cueing. Greatly appreciated.

Serena Schlueter
April 27/98

I got the Tough Tape because I really wanted a "tough" upper/lower body workout. Wow! I am impressed. I have SL (which I find tougher) but TT incorporates more upper body work which is my weak point. I tend to do cardio and lower body strengthening five to six days a week (although of varying intensity) so I wasn't worn out with the leg presses; however, I only used 16 lbs. Also I don't own a barbell--yet, so it was all dumbells. The toughest part of the tape for me was the second set of pushups! I nearly died when she said four more. I wish they would have added abs onto the tape, but I just tack on another video or do my own crunches. I consider myself at the intermediate level, but with more weight this tape could definitely be advanced or little to no weight for beginners. Also the transitions were quite smooth compared to the other Parts tapes I have.

Instructor comments: I think Tracie has extremely good form and pointers. She is upbeat and keeps track of the reps, something I love about doing videos because then I can concentrate more on form.

Stephanie Bridges

This is another tape that I think belongs in the Video Fitness Hall of Fame. It is simply one of the two BEST STRENGTH WORKOUTS that have so far been made- and it is NOT boring, like MIS can be. I agree with Serena- I would always pick this tape over MIS anyday! I'm really dripping with sweat when I am done with this one- I push myself to give this workout my all! Yet, I always wish that it was just a little longer- I think it needs just a little more upper body work. Give this one an A+++++++++!!

Instructor comments: Tracie Long is the best instructor that the Firm has. I like her even better then Susan Harris. Her cueing is excellent and she has NO annoying mannerisms- a rare thing for any instructor, much less the Firm!


I LOVE this tape. It is total body minus abs. It is all of Tortoise minus the ballroom aerobics and one of Hare tall box section( the first one). The warm up is from Hare and the cool down is from Hare. This workout is more rounded then Standing Legs because it focuses on upper body as well. But Standing Legs is still tougher when it comes to lower body because it has more lunges and many, many more squats.

I love the music in Tough Tape!!!! Especially the lunge sequence. With this tape, you start off with squats and then you bring the barbell overhead for overhead press. Same with upright rows. I found myself being stronger in my lower body so I needed a heavier barbell to get to failure then my upper body needed. But as I kept consistant with this workout, my upper body got stronger and I could use the heavier barbell to challenge not only my lower body but my upper body as well. If this is the case with you, try to do as many reps as you can with the heavier barbell and stop when you can't do anymore. You eventually will be able to do one more rep and then the next time two etc.

I like this workout also because it is constantly changing, changing, changing. The music changes from one section to the next. The workout format changes. It keeps it from being boring.

One other great thing about this tape is that it is only 37 minutes with a 7 min warmup and 4 min cooldown. It is short, intense and it gets the job done. I mean, I don't have a lot of time. I want a video that is quick, effective and gives results and is fun! This tape is all four. If I have the time, I do Firm Lie Down and Workout (Sculpted Buns, Hips and Thighs) for some extra leg work on the floor and lots of ab work.

The tall box work is very tough in this tape. It works you hard!! This workout keeps my heartrate way up there. So I feel like it works my heart as well as my muscles. It is a truly wonderful tape.

I highly recommend it!

Instructor comments: Tracie does an excellent job on form and cueing. Her lunging is unmatched. This is the first Firm instructor that really sweats with you. She has an incredibly toned body that you know she worked hard for. She has a real business-like disposition. She's totally the opposite of Denise Austin.

Mandy Lee

This is one of my all time favorite workouts. I love this one, because it's challenging and fun, but also a serious workout. I'm definitely finished at the end!!!

Instructor comments: Cues to perfection, friendly, down to earth. Tracie really is THE best!


Ok, I know I'm a little behind the game on this one, as I am reviewing it about a year after everyone else! However, I only recently stared working out at home. Previously I had been doing all my weight training and aerobics at a gym, and let me say that this tape gave me a great workout. To be honest, I wasn't expecting much since I am an advanced exerciser who had been using VERY heavy free weights to work out. But Tough Tape surprised me!! I think the main thing that does such an excellent job of exhausting the muscles is the very short to no rest period betwteen each move. I like this, because it makes the workout fly by. I find this workout very fun to do, and I really like the's not as cheesy as the traditional Firm music. I noticed the earlier comments about Tough Tapes vs. MIS, and I must agree, to some extent, that I would normally choose TT over MIS, but I personally use TT as one of my "medium" day weight workouts, and MIS is a "hard" day, so to me, there isn't much of a comparison.

I do wish that TT had more upper body work, especially back work-there is only 1 set of lat rows! And an ab section would have been nice, but I just do 5 Day Abs after.

Overall, I really love this tape. It is so fun and effective, and the time flies by because you are 1)having so much fun and 2)working and sweating like mad!

Instructor comments: I like her. She was motivating without being too perky or "whoopy". Her cuing is very good, compared to the cuing by some of the other Firm instructors I've seen.

Renae Brock

I love this video! The first time I did it I could barely walk for the next 3 days! For a long time I have wanted a video which would work both my upper and lower body with slow moves and heavy weights but have no high-impact or step aerobics. This is the tape I have been waiting for! I feel so engergized and strong when I am finished with this workout. It definitely lives up to its name. The leg press segments are very challenging to me and I know I have done my duty when my legs start wobbling! I usually add a few segments from 5 Day Abs when I finish Tough Tape because I never feel that I have done a complete workout if I don't do abs. Tough Tape is a winner.

Instructor comments: As always, Tracie delivers. Her incredible body inspires me to keep on going even though every muscle in my body is begging me to quit. Aside from her friendly manner, the thing I appreciate most about Tracie is her perfect form. I know that if I will follow her lead I won't hurt myself. I haven't always found the same assurance with other instructors. Tracie is my all time favorite Firm instructor.

Michelle Haun

AWESOME!!! I have never had the opportunity to do a Firm video, and for some strange reason I picked this video at the store. I am 5'4"; 177 lbs and determine to lose 40lbs. I have been doing Tough Tape twice a week for a little over a month and is a KILLER WORKOUT. Its to bad that there is no abs work but the video is so good that I dont mind to pop in 5-days abs. I do this video with a 23lbs barbell, and I pyramid using 5 lbs up to 20 lbs, and I use a regular step bench of 8" and I put on top another bench of 4" its hard, but excellent for those legs and arms. I recomended to anybody who is interest in shaping the whole body.

Instructor comments: AWESOME!!! There is nothing like seeing the instructor sweting, that its when you know that's a real workout.

Maria Munoz

I purchased this tape a few months ago because of all the great reviews here and I'm glad I did! This is a great strength tape for your upper and lower body, and what's more, it's under 45 min (including warm up and cool down). I use this tape, MIS, and Standing Legs & Cory in rotation for my "strenght" days. It's shorter than the others, but it's fine for days I don't have a lot of time. I know TT doesn't include any ab work. I usually just do 5-Day Abs, or sometimes I'll do Sculpted Buns, Hips, and Thighs after TT. Now that's a great overall strength workout! I find that I have to use 7 1/2 lb ankle weight to feel any of the floor leg work in SBH&T, but that's another review!

All in all, if you're looking for an intense, relatively short upper and lower body strength workout, this is the perfect tape. Also, because the reps are done at a slower pace than previous FIRM tapes, it's easier to pyramid up to heavier weights. When I did that with this tape I got even better results than before, and a lot quicker, too! I know Target carries it for $6.99 - you can't beat that!

Instructor comments: Excellent instructor! Great cueing and personality.

Diana Mason


I have a confession. I've always belonged to a healthclub and, yes, I was very arrogant. I stumbled across this forum in 1998, sniffed, and asked, "How can these little workout videos compare to my $110-a-month healthclub?" But I needed something to do on the weekends, when I didn't always feel like driving to the gym and didn't want to run. This forum told me that maybe I should try Tough Tape -- it was a Hall of Famer. So I did. And that, my friends, was the end of my gym arrogance.

I've since acquired many weight training tapes but this is still my absolute favorite strength tape. There are already numerous reviews about this tape, so I'll keep it short.

I'm always dripping at the end of this workout and my endorphins are going wild! This is basically a strength workout and cardiovascular workout rolled into one. Its place in the Hall of Fame is well-deserved. It is, arguably, the best Firm tape ever produced. And, at the further risk of hyperbole, I want to add that Traci Long is one of the best fitness video instructors around.

Michelle Easton
October 26, 2000

Tough Tape

Tracie Long

I do really like this tape, it is one of my favorite Firms. It is very lower body intensive, but there is upper body work as well. If you feel that you don't get enough tall box work in your other tapes, this one is for you.

The only complaints I have are the fact that she has you doing military presses with the same weight you do squats with. I can squat much more then then I can press with. Since there is so much more leg work in the tape, I don't try to stop the tape and switch, but instead I just use a lighter weight and consider the squats warm up sets for legs. My other complaint is that the chest work is at the end. It just felt like an afterthought. Like others have said, there are no abs in this tape, but that didn't bother me. I'm not a big fan of the Firm's ab work, so it was just as easy to abs from something else or on my own.

Rose Smith

This was my first strength tape that showed me lifting weights could be fun and help me lose weight. Iíd tried lifting weights at the gym and tried lifting weights at home but I went with the traditional sets and reps form of lifting. What that got me was great, strong muscles but I didnít lose any fat. My body responds very well to The FIRMís version of weight training Ė a little faster reps and a few more of them but still able to use up to 20 and 25 lb. dumbbells. I tended to get very bored in the gym and at home trying to lift in a more gym-style, traditional manner.

In this tape, I enjoy going from one exercise to the next without much of a break, if any. I also enjoy going between lower body and upper body exercises. I like giving my legs a break while Iím lifting for the upper body and vice versa.

I wish the pushups were much earlier in the workout before the shoulders and triceps get toasted. I also wish that either more chest flyes were included or a set of bench press or rib cage pullovers was added. Other than that, I absolutely love this video and I give it credit (along with Coryís GHA&S and FIRM Standing Legs) for completely changing the shape of my body.

Grade: A

Instructor comments: Iíve met Tracie on a number of occasions and I love her dearly. Sheís very inspiring to me both on video and in person and she really knows her stuff.

Sharon Muha

This is the only video I have that consistently gets me sore for days afterward. Incredible lower-body workout. Also incorporates the upper body to a good degree, but really goes after your buns and quads.

Do NOT do this tape if you don't like leg presses - there are about 5 sets of them, and some of them are back to back (one is also back to back with dips, which is a similar movement). The last few sets take sheer willpower, especially the first time through. Great workout

Deanne (DD1)


I am wondering if I should review a tape which is out of print and already has a lot of positive reviews. I am going to just because this workout has really stood the test of time for me, which is extremely rare. I usually end up liking newer workouts more because I am bored with the old ones. Actually, I did get bored for a while with Tough Tape, because it was one of my first strength training workouts and I used it weekly for a long time. I don't do it very often now that I have a larger collection, but when I do, I always appreciate and enjoy the workout.

The thing I like most about this workout is its efficiency. It is a total body workout (without abs) in 31 minutes. It is perfect for the days when I want to get in cardio and strength on the same day. I haven't done the warm-up to this workout in years, which I never really enjoyed. This is pretty much an add-on workout for me, even though it is good enough to stand on its own.

It is true that not every body part is worked extensively, like the back, however I do feel like every body part gets worked enough for a such a short workout. One reason it is so efficient is that it is mostly sequenced by doing a lower body exercise followed by upper body. You are rarely resting at all between sets, and when you do, it is for a quick stretch.

The quick changes between exercises does make it more difficult to switch your weights, but I keep all my dumbbells lined up for easy access. I don't like being stuck with one weight while switching between upper and lower, and for this workout to be effective for both upper and lower body, I need to switch. Sometimes I miss a rep, but that doesn't bother me.

This is parts tape, and I am not a big fan of parts tapes, but because it is led by the same instructor, Tracie Long, I don't notice the parts aspect of it.

Tough tape is mostly responsible for me starting to like strength training. If I had to rely on MIS only, when these were my only two weight tapes, I might have never stuck with it, so I am grateful for this workout.

Lisa C.


With strength work, I am an intermediate exerciser, who dabbles some with advanced work, but doesnít want to become a hard-core advanced strength exerciser. I have really enjoyed getting into workouts on the ball Pilates as an alternative to traditional weight work.

This is a Firm strength workout led by Tracie Long. I know this tape is an older one and is out of print, but it has stood the test of time and I wanted to add my two cents.

It is like other Firm tapes in that Tracie leads a class of background exercisers and has little interaction with them. Her cueing is good and she gives form pointers throughout the workout. The music was apparently forgettable, because I canít tell you a thing about it.

I like this workout when compared to later Firm workouts because you switch equipment less often. You do several exercises with the barbell and then switch mainly to dumbbells. I used three sets of dumbbells. On the other hand, the fact that the barbell is used for both lower body and upper body exercises has meant that Iíve had a difficult time deciding on a weight for my barbell. I can handle more weight for lower body exercises than the upper body ones interspersed between them.

There are a lot of leg presses. However, given the high number of leg presses in later Firm workouts and Cathe workouts, I think the impact of their sheer number has probably lessened over the years. Given the leg presses, plies, lunges and dips, it is a very good lower body workout. There are also upper body moves, but they are less intense to me.

Instructor comments: Tracie is her usual calm, competent self. She gives form pointers throughout the workout.

Laura S.

September 11, 2004

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