Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tracie Long's Longevity Series & More

Tracie Long, former FIRM video instructor and fitness expert, has some new functional fitness dvds out called the Longevity Series. If you're not familiar with functional fitness, see the end of the post where I copy Tracie's response to someone on a forum about how she started incorporating functional fitness into her workouts.

I started working out with Tracie in 1997 when I ventured out from my Denise Austin videos into some FIRM workouts (which guaranteed visible results in 10 days!). Tracie has led a multitude of fitness videos. She led the Cross Trainers workouts, called the Tortoise and the Hare (Tortoise had more weights, Hare had more cardio). From those workouts, the FIRM made "Parts" videos called "Ballroom Aerobics" (yes, they had ballroom dance on the step -- it was actually pretty fun, but it's one of those videos that people either loved or hated) and "Tough Tape" (which had the weight work from Tort and Hare -- my personal favorite of the bunch).

She later was the master instructor (a FIRM term) in the FIRM Basics series for "Sculpting with Weights." This was geared to beginners, but I always enjoyed doing it after recovering from an illness or after having a baby. Top notch instruction.

Tracie led a similar video "Maximum Body Shaping" (also called "Maximum Body Sculpting" should you ever see one at a garage sale and wonder if it's the right one -- actually I think its first release was with a completely different cover and the name "All Weights"), which was more intermediate to advanced (if you heavied up on your weights). I really loved that one.

After the FIRM was bought out by another company, Tracie made the FitPrime workouts with FIRM founder and fitness innovator, Anna Benson. I didn't love the FitPrime workouts as much as her FIRMs, but I did like Weights First and have used G-Force (her only rebounding workout -- it has cardio, weights, and yoga) dozens of times. (It's now called G-Force 1 because another instructor, Carol Miller, later led a similar workout).

After working with Anna on FitPrimes, Tracie branched out on her own producing functional fitness workouts. Her first set are known as TLPs (or Tracie Long Productions) and they are led by 3 other instructors (Jeanne Anne Copleston, Bonnie Geer, and Cindy Thorp). I bought mine on 3 separate dvds. They were later sold as a set. I don't think they're available anymore unless you find them used. Jeanne Anne's workout, Core Foundations is probably the best workout I've ever done for the core or abdominals. It's tough, but really effective. Here's one woman's success story where she specifically attributes her results to this workout. I've found that when I do Core Foundations, I'm able to do the Pilates exercises that usually are impossible for me or even more push-ups (which takes lots of abdominal strength).

I also love Functional Strength with Bonnie Geer. Yes, the set is bland and Bonnie NEVER smiles, but she is an excellent instructor and I love the workout. It's a well-planned, well-sequenced cardio/weight circuit workout using balance and functional moves. Dynamic Strength and Power was too impactful for me. I didn't try that one more than once.

In Tracie's next set of TLP workouts (this time called Functional Foundations), she led them both (and showed a new name on the cover -- Tracie Long-Matthews). These workouts, Core Cardio and Core Strength are similar to Functional Strength, but with more cardio in one workout and more weights in the other. The set is much better in these workouts. They filmed aboard the USS Yorktown in Charleston in front of an aircraft. These workouts are often referred to as the Yorktowns.

Tracie produced her next set as Tracie Long Training. These were filmed with real windows with a real view (as opposed to so many sets where the "windows" are just framed photographed scenery) of the harbor and bay in Charleston. Every once in awhile you get to see a ship moving in the water. Always fun. :) Tracie leads 2 of these workouts, Endurance for Movement and Better Burn, Better Buns (not my favorite title, but it's a really good lower body workout).

Jen Carman (former FIRM instructor for Super Cardio and FIRM Basics Fat Burning, amongst others, instructs Strength in Movement and Susan Harris (first FIRM instructor ever) leads Finding Your Core (FYC). I didn't love FYC as much as Core Foundations, but I think the workout genre is similar. You don't have to buy these in a set like the picture shows. I really like these workouts, but I haven't done them enough to find out what they can do for me. I'm sure I will eventually though.

Tracie's newest workout series, the Longevity Series, was released just a few months ago (now listed as Tracie Long Fitness instead of TLT or TLP). I wasn't sure if I wanted to order them at first since my TLTs were sort of buried beneath all the Cathe Friedrich workouts I was using. But the more I heard about them and what the intention was to get the strength built from the core out with enough cardio to keep your heart working too, I decided to give them a try. (Tracie had a great pre-order incentive too).

The four workouts in this set are Defining Shape, Back Up, Staying Power, and Step Forward. Tracie leads all of these workouts alone, without a cast. I kind of missed the cast at first, but I like the one on one feeling too. Tracie gives superb instructions and form points that I really didn't really need anyone else there. In Step Forward, Tracie teaches basic choreography with the step horizontal for the first few segments, then vertically for the last few. I love Cathe's complex dancy choreography, but it was nice to have Tracie's more athletic steps for a change. Staying Power was probably my least favorite (but if you check the reviews on Collage and Video Fitness, others say it's their favorite). The music volume was inconsistent and for some reason and I just seemed to watch the clock more. I did really like the move you can see in the video clip on Collage where you weave the medicine ball behind your knees. I'll have to figure out which pre-mix that is in and add that to another workout or use it for a time-crunched day.

I loved Back Up and Defining Shape. Back Up targets the back and core and uses both heavier and lighter weights, with some really fun cardio segments in between. There are short 20 minute pre-mixes on each dvd and I love doing the sports cardio premix (called Big Short Sweat) before yoga or Pilates (which I did this morning, in fact). Defining Shape is probably my favorite of all the Longevity workouts. It's a total body workout and I just realized that it's the only one of the 3 weight workouts that doesn't use the medicine ball. I do like the med ball, but maybe I particularly love functional fitness weight work with dumbbells. Hadn't thought of it before. Here's a peek at Defining Shape if you'd like to see it.

Some people think Tracie's later workouts aren't challenging enough, but the workouts are deceptively tough. If you listen to her instruction and really engage the core and use as heavy of weights (or medicine ball) as you can, you will definitely challenge yourself and see improvements.

Tracie teaches a variety of functional fitness classes at her Blue Fish Fitness Club in Charleston, South Carolina. I'd love to take classes from her and get a personal training session from her someday. She says her core membership is on the 35-55 year range, so that gives me another 10 years to find my way there. :) I'm sure I'll never be out of her range. After all, we're about the same age.

Here's what Tracie wrecently wrote in response to a woman on her forum about functional fitness:

When true "functional training" hit the scene, we (my trainers at the gym & cohorts in video scripting) were fascinated! We went to multiple workshops to learn everything we could!

One of our biggest educators at the time was NASM (National Academy
of Sports Medicine). This certification teaches trainers to work with their clients "from the ground up". Meaning...fix some of the issues people have with posture & inflexibility first, then strength the core, then strengthen the outward muscular system in movement patterns that we use in everyday life movements.

The exercises & combinations we used in TLT were very unique to the market. Personally, I noticed incredible results in my core strength & postures. For years I've had neck pain related to weaknesses in my upper body muscles (neglected for years) & no matter how much weight I lost my "belly" would always push out. The ability to strengthen my transverse abdominal muscles & actually hold my belly in without trying was truly a gift. Especially after 2 babies!

Tracie Long Training workouts were designed to deliver the same type of results to our home market. Because I had worked with The Firm for 15 years I knew each workout inside and out. I knew the "core" muscles had never been addressed. I figured if this was a "hole" in my workouts it probably was for the home market as well. Hence, Tracie Long Training.


  1. Hi Renee! I just did TLP Functional Strength recently myself (I had DS&P for awhile, but the dread factor got to be too high). I don't have any of Tracie's new ones, but it was interesting to read that Defining Shape is your favorite--that is the one that appealed to me the most. :)

  2. Love your pic, Beth :) == It's funny because I just did Defining Shape again a few days ago and it was like all new material for me. I was surprised that I remembered so little of it since I'm sure I've done it 6 or 7 times. But it's just been a few months (or more) and I still really love it. Balancing moves amidst weights, some med ball cardio in between. I am finding that I prefer running on the treadmill for the warm-ups though. Her warm-ups are varied and useful for the muscles, but I like to get my HR up from the start if I can.

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