Firm Selling Non-Firm Products. What The What?

OK, I’ll be honest. I’m not sure I know why this irks me? But why is firmdirect.com selling non-Firm products? I get that Firm is owned by Gaiam, and this product is a Gaiam product, but it blurs the focus of their mission. Maybe it’s just me and my business degree. But it’s better to be focused and know your goal than to lose that focus and try to be everything to everyone. Especially when you’re compromising the image of what I used to consider to be the best workout videos around. Well, they’d compete with Cathe. But I’ve always said someone would graduate from The Firm to Cathe, so not direct competition. In fact, a board I used to frequent (until it folded because The Firm wasn’t as hot anymore) had a Cathe section and encouraged someone who was bored or not challenged by Firm videos to try a Cathe video to get over weight loss or exercise plateaus.

If you’ve never heard of Cathe and are disappointed with The Firm, check out her site. She. Is. AWESOME! My personal favorite of her videos is IMAX2. Well, and I own a Kick Punch and Crunch video I love. OK, almost everything she makes is awesome. It’s a little more pricey, but she chapters her workouts and they are consistently high quality. And her personality and cueing alone are enough to motivate you through a workout. I burn more calories doing one of her workouts than almost any other exercise I do. And she’s in fantastic shape. OK, really. This wasn’t intended to be a promote Cathe entry. Clearly I’ve lost focus here.

The train’s back on track.

For some reason I still get Firm emails. I don’t mind getting them, but it annoys me most of the “read more” content is linked to their paid by month subscription site, which I don’t own a subscription to. But I keep getting these emails, keep reading what I can, and keep getting annoyed when I can’t finish the article and delete the email. I know. Definition of madness. Today I noticed they were promoting Step360 and was shocked they’d come out with a new program so quickly after Firm Express. I wanted to see what Step360 was. And when I clicked on the link it took me to firmdirect.com, but the product listed did not look like a Firm product. I googled Step360 and was taken to the official site where the Firm wasn’t mentioned at all. So I kept scrolling trying to find the tie-in. And it’s a Gaiam product.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have no issue with Gaiam. I’ve read some really great articles from them, including one that convinced me to buy my first foam roller (which I’ve never regretted and my niece and nephews fight over like it’s the coolest “toy” ever). They’re a good resource for fitness and diet, but why are they blurring the lines between other products and The Firm? I know you try to hit all avenues when you advertise a product, but this is clear competition and could easily be tied to The Firm. Either this product’s really great (promising a smaller jeans size by the weekend makes me very skeptical that it’s a gimmick – not that exercise doesn’t work, it does, but that’s a pretty outlandish claim) or The Firm’s in need of a leadership revamp. My guess is the latter.  

I wasn’t a fan of Firm Express, but do think it would work for beginners. The weights portions weren’t intense enough for me to see results. And neither the weights nor the cardio (even the bursts) were enough to get my heart rate up and maintain it. I’m used to doing the “older” Firms where that happens, so my body didn’t change at all with these workouts, even doing them six days a week (twice as often as you’re supposed to) for an entire month. I know I could have done more than one workout a day, and have time to workout for forty minutes. My  issue is once I’ve done a cooldown or warmup (or taken the time to switch DVDs and fast forward through), I’ve lost the steam I had built up. I feel like the Firm Express videos, for me, were halfway doing both weights and cardio, but not going all out on either. For cardio, I need to get my heart rate up and really keep it there (like with a step aerobics video, running, etc.). And for weights, I need to REALLY fatigue the muscles, spending time doing deep and usually slower reps. The reps in Firm Express were hard to do safely with the heavy weights I need to do those moves. Bottom line: trying to mix the two, especially in 20 minutes, wasn’t right for me.

Again, probably not bad for EVERYONE. But definitely not what my body needs.

I feel like I’m pussy footing around this for some reason. I think because The Firm has done such great things for me (with their older workouts) that I don’t want to insult them. But if I’m speaking candidly, I’ll say I think their quality of workout has gone downhill, trying to cater to beginners or gimmicks (20 minutes three times a week, slim in 30, etc.). Look, a healthy lifestyle isn’t twenty minutes three times a week for thirty days. It’s for LIFE. And if you start with 3 times a week, fine. With the old Firms, most beginners couldn’t even finish a video. Some people would do part of a workout for a month or more! Part of the challenge was getting through it. The old board I mentioned we’d have people all the time talking about doing five more minutes or proclaiming they’d finished the entire video for the first time. Then they’d work on adding in more weights to build more strength, etc. I was a beginner when I bought The Firm. I was overweight, but still active. So I was not someone who wasn’t able to do anything. But man, those videos were HARD! I’m proof a beginner could do the workouts, even if it was only the first 15 minutes then the cooldown. And there were plenty of success stories of people much heavier than me or who had been sedentary longer than I had been (for me, I’d really only been sedentary for a few years since I was active in high school and until I got a desk job in college).

So, if the sedentary for years market is the market they want to reach, that’s fantastic. It’s a big market, and there’s lots of need there. But make that your focus and state these workouts are FOR beginners. If you want to have different segments of your business, great. Make some workouts for intermediate/advanced users, too. Rather than making a 12 disc beginner set. Make a 4 disk beginner, 4 disk intermediate, 4 disk advanced. And sell them separately! (Or give a buyer the option to group for a small discount.) I think that would be a much better way to approach. I know their instructors are capable of doing harder workouts. And I expect they’re probably doing those harder workouts in the studio with their Firm Believers. Or at the very least on their own time. Give us some REAL Firm strength videos again. I want my legs to feel like jello when I’m done. I want to be sore for two or three days! If you want to add in cardio, fine. Do it with no weights or do the light weight/four limb stuff you used to do. I really do miss the Firm. And I think knowing what they were makes it harder to accept what they’ve become. I know the potential is there. I say this because I love you.

And even if you don’t focus your business plan, at the very least stop blurring your product line with other gimmicks.

There. Done. Sorry, I had to get that off my chest.

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