The Firm: Cardio Core Fusion

Cardio Core Fusion is part of The Firm‘s pink series–workouts that came after their Body Sculpting systems. It is led by Rebekah Sturkie, another one of my favorite Firm instructors. It came with two 2 pound weighted balls with straps called “cardio sculpting balls.” I remember really enjoying this workout but I found the balls too light so I purchased two 4 pound balls that I would substitute for many of of the moves. Since I purchased this when it came out many years ago I don’t know how it comes packaged now but mine is in a thin plastic CD case. Just looking at it on Amazon, it appears you can only get it used (since the Firm is no longer in the business of creating DVDs) and I have no idea if those used copies include the scuplting balls.

Returning to this workout many years later I still really enjoyed it. When I did it a long time ago, the 2 pounds balls and the additional 4 pound balls I purchased worked very well. But I also didn’t own all of the equipment I do now. So in returning to this workout, I used the 2 pound balls that came with it, the 4 pound balls, a 5 pound ball and several kettlebells–8 and 12 pounds. When I am in a better place, fitness-wise, I could probably use a heavier kettlebell for some of the exercises. But for where I am now, the above equipment gave me a great workout. And it was fun!

There is only one review on Amazon for this product and it is negative. The reviewer hated it and felt the moves were too complex and difficult to follow. I personally do not enjoy complex choreography and I did not find this complex. It is fast paced but that is because this was not designed to be a strength workout–this is a cardio core workout and therefore you need to keep a brisk pace in order for your heart rate to remain elevated. I was even swapping out balls and I had no problem keeping up. So who knows? It obviously isn’t for everyone but I think it is a great and fun workout.

The CD cover (and DVD menu) make it look like there are 3 workouts but there is only one workout. There is the full workout (Cardio Core Fusion) plus two 30 minute premixes. Cardio ABsession and Burn, Shape and Tone (see break down of premixes below).

Cardio Core Fusion is 55 minutes long; 30 second intro, 5:30 minute warm up (there are push ups in warm up) and 4 minute stretch. The only equipment you need for this workout are the weighted balls that came with the DVD. As noted above, I used several balls of different weights and kettlebells. I noted below what I used for each exercise. The workout starts holding one ball in both hands and the other on the floor in front of you. I used the 4 pound balls for the warm up. There is a beginner modifier.

Circuit 1: Cardio (I used 4 pound balls for this circuit)

  1. Still holding one ball, legs wide and other ball on floor in front of you, start squatting; tap ball in hands to ball on ground
  2. Side lunge, picking up ball on ground and putting it back on floor
  3. Alternating knee raises; changes to hopping side to side
  4. Repeat #1
  5. Repeat #2 on other side of body
  6. Repeat #3
  7. Grapevine while scooping ball overhead; add a standing ab crunch at the end of each grapevine (bringing knee in and pulling ball to knee)
  8. Step tap forward and march backward; add arm movements w/ ball; march changes to hopping backward
  9. Combine 8 & 9
  10. Hop w/ knee raises, bringing ball to knee; changes to double knee hop/raises; changes to a pattern–single, single, double

Circuit 2: Sculpting (I used 4 pound balls and an 8 pound kettlebell for this circuit)

  1. Hold both balls by the strap in the right hand; pulsing squat w/ snatch and clean; add left side leg lift; changes to 3 leg lift + 3 one arm overhead presses (8# KB)
  2. Plie squats, holding a ball in each hand; add bicep curls first to the front then to the side; the curls change to bicep circles
  3. Hold plie squat isometrically with arms/balls held out straight to side, do bicep curls, keeping arms straight out to sides; add alternating heel lifts
  4. Repeat #1 on other side of body
  5. Holding a ball in each hand, pivot to right so you are in a shallow lunge and hinged at waist, row one arm/ball down and extend arm straight to ceiling
  6. Circle arms overhead then do wide overhead press and circle arms back down to sides
  7. Repeat #5 on other side of body
  8. Continue repeating 5-7

Circuit 3: Core (I used the 2 and the 4 pound balls for this circuit)

  1. Holding one ball in both hands, lunge forward, shift torso forward then back then return to start, alternate legs; add pushing ball forward when shifting forward and pulling back when shifting back; add lifting back leg when shifting forward; add holding one one leg (balance move) with leg lifted behind you then bring knee in out beside you (hydrant move) and bring ball to knee 2x; changes to bringing ball to knee 6x (4# balls)
  2. Holding a ball in each hand, tap one foot behind you and reach arms/balls overhead in a V, bring knee into chest while pulling elbows down toward knee; changes to a balance move; add a pulse while balancing (leg extended behind you and arms reached up in a V) (2# balls)
  3. Bent arm lateral raises; add alternating knee lifts, bringing balls to either side of knees; changes to tapping balls underneath knee (2# balls)
  4. Repeat #2 on other side of body
  5. Repeat #1

Circuit 4: Cardio (I used 4 pound balls for this circuit)

  1. Holding one ball in both hands with other ball on floor in front of you, pivot and plie to side/back, alternate sides; add passing ball under leg as you plie; between each plie, pass ball around/behind body when standing; add a hop after passing ball around body
  2. Walk out into plank with hands on balls and walk feet back in and stand; changes to jumping feet out into plank and jumping feet back in; add a hop when standing
  3. Tap balls with toes; change to hopping ball taps; changes to hop tapping both feet to one ball and traveling around ball as you hop tap
  4. Squat thrusts (final move in #2)
  5. Repeat #1
  6. Repeat #2
  7. Repeat #3 & 4
  8. Step touch; changes to step knees; hop w/ knee pull side to side bringing ball from hip to hip as you hop; add hopping on one foot after the knee pull hop

Circuit 5: Sculpting (I used 2 pound balls, one 5 pound ball, and 8 and 12 pound kettlebells for this circuit)

  1. Holding one ball in both hands, shallow walking lunges, 2 forward and 2 back; add passing ball under front leg as you lunge; add a knee lift after each lunge (8# KB)
  2. Holding both balls by straps w/ one hand, hinge forward and do back rows; add raising and lowering opposite leg behind you as you row; add tapping the insole of the working leg when you lower the row and leg lift (12# KB)
  3. Holding the strap of a ball in each hand, hinged forward and standing on one leg with other leg extended behind you, do wide circles with the balls (2# balls)
  4. Repeat #1 w/ other lead leg
  5. Repeat #2 on other side of body
  6. Repeat #3 balancing on other leg
  7. Holding one ball in one hand, pull elbow back then pass ball to other hand in front of you and pull elbow/ball back on other side; changes to doing the pull backs on one side only; add reverse lunges; add knee raise at top of lunge; repeat on other side of body; return to doing the alternating pull backs (no lunges); add a toss between each pull back when passing to other hand (5# ball)
  8. Squeeze ball isometrically between both hands in front of chest; add squats; squats change to pulses (5# ball)

Circuit 6: Core (I used 2 and 4 pound balls and one 5 pound ball for this circuit)

  1. Holding on ball in both hands, reverse lunge and twist/ball torso to side when lunging; extend arms/ball straight in front of you, still twisting torso/ball to side when lunging; angle ball downward toward ankle when twisting; changes to 3 twists while in lunge (4 pound balls)
  2. Hold a ball in each hand and do a knee pull while bicep curling arms/ball (doing a standing crunch); knee pulls become 3 pulses (4 pound balls)
  3. Reach and wrap: still holding a ball in each hand, reach arms overhead while twisting torso/arms/balls to side (keeping hips facing forward) and when you return to center bring balls to opposite hip; changes to wrapping balls around hips (twisting arms/balls hip to hip, keeping hips facing forward) (2 pound balls)
  4. Repeat #2 on other side of body
  5. Repeat #3
  6. Repeat #1 on other side of body

Circuit 7: Cardio (I used 2 and 4 pound balls for this circuit)

  1. Hold one ball in both hands, other ball on floor in front of you, alternating side lunges; add bringing ball down towards calf when lunging and circle overhead between lunges; add a side leg lift after each lunge (4# balls)
  2. Pick up other ball and hold one in each hand, do a stationary lunge side to side while punching balls out in front of you; changes to punching balls down; changes to placing balls on floor by feet then picking up as you lunge (2# balls)
  3. Leave one ball on ground and do wide squats; add sweeping ball between legs and overhead; changes to pulse squats (4# balls)
  4. Do V steps around ball on floor; changes to angle knees to each side of ball; changes to 3 knee repeaters; repeat all of #4 but add pushing ball out in front of you with each step; change knee repeaters to ski runs (4# balls)
  5. Repeat #3
  6. Repeat the final combo of #4

Circuit 8: Sculpting (I used 2 and 4 pound balls and 8# kettlebell for this circuit)

  1. Hold a ball in each hand by the straps and do upright rows; add squat; add wide overhead press when standing; add touching balls to floor when squatting (2# balls)
  2. In on hand hold one ball by strap and hold the other ball in same hand, do single arm bicep curl; add pulsing curtsy lunge; add knee lift at top of lunge (8# KB)
  3. Hold both balls in one hand by straps, hinge forward and do a single arm tricep kickback; add pushing opposite leg back with reach kickback; change both arm and leg to a diagonal push back (2# balls)
  4. Repeat #1
  5. repeat #2 and #3 on other side of body
  6. Push ups on knees with hands on balls; add one arm straight side raise at top of each push up, alternate arms (4# balls)

Circuit 9: Core (I used 2 pound balls and 5 pound ball for this circuit)

  1. Holding a ball in each hand by the strap, reach ball overhead to opposite side, then pivot lunge to other side, lowering other ball toward ground (2# balls)
  2. Get on all 4s, a ball still in each hand and extend one leg and opposite hand (bird dog) and hold isometrically; bring knee and elbow in under body and press back out (2# balls)
  3. Tricep push ups on knees with both hands on ball
  4. C-sit holding one ball in both hands and other ball on floor in small of back, lower and lift torso; add a knee lift every time you lift the torso; add passing ball under knees; plant feet and reach ball overhead each time you lift torso; raising one leg and tapping ball to toe, alternate legs; plant feet and twist ball side to side tapping elbow to floor; still in C-sit, raise and lower torso slowly to count of 3 (I placed the 5# ball in the small of back and held the 2# ball)
  5. Lay on belly, arms and legs extended straight, holding one ball in both hands, roll hands back on ball, raising and lowering head/chest (2# ball)
  6. Repeat #2 on other side of body
  7. Repeat #1 on other side of body


Cardio ABsession (30 minutes): Warm up, Core Circuit 3, Cardio Circuit 4, Core Circuit 6, Core Circuit 8, stretch

Burn, Shape and Tone (30 minutes): Warm up, Sculpt Circuit 2, Cardio Circuit 1, Sculpting Circuit 5, Sculpting Circuit 8, stretch

3 thoughts on “The Firm: Cardio Core Fusion

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