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The Firm's Zip Trainer offers a versatile strength and cardio workout

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Back in the day, The Firm was the source for at-home workouts. The Firm, which started as a popular fitness studio in South Carolina, released a large series of groundbreaking VHS tapes that mixed cardio with weights – something that had really never been done before – and people paid a premium to buy the workouts.

The company has evolved over the years, especially after it became part of Gaiam, and now offers a variety of workouts that feature custom equipment. The Firm's latest workout is the Zip Trainer system, and we got our hands on the system to check it out.

The centerpiece of the Zip Trainer system is the Zip Trainer itself. It’s a big 5-pound ball, about the size of a large medicine ball, which we’ve all seen before, but this ball has a zipper running around it. There’s an indentation inside each half of the ball where you can insert a 3-pound smaller ball, making the Zip Trainer either 5 pounds or 8 pounds.

That equatorial zipper allows the Zip trainer to open to two attached half domes, which can be used as a double Bosu ball of sorts.

The versatility is definitely there – you have a medicine ball in three weights, two smaller hand-weight globes and a step trainer.

There’s a lot included as far as workouts go. The Cycle 1 DVD includes a jump start, cardio, sculpt and an AMRAP (as many reps as possible) workout. The Cycle 2 DVD has more advanced cardio, sculpt and AMRAP workouts. There’s also a Barefoot Abs DVD.

In addition, there’s a fitness guide that goes over all the workouts and has a rotation calendar, a nutrition guide that features a 60-day meal calendar and lots of recipes and a weeklong sample of the Firm’s multivitamins.

We found the set to be extremely versatile, offering strength and cardio workouts plus balance training, and like usual, impeccable cueing from The Firm’s instructors.

Right now, the only place available to buy the Zip Trainer is on Amazon. We’re not sure what is going on with the Firm Direct site because it doesn’t appear to be taking orders. The set retails for $130 but Amazon has discounted it to $83.68.

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