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We Tried It: 'The WAVE' Home Workout System

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Almost every woman has heard of The FIRM, a brand of at-home workout equipment and videos that has sold over 10 million workout videos. I remember watching the infomercials for their version of the step (and its accompanying workout videos) as a teenager; today, the FIRM continues to come up with new workout DVDs and products that are available online and in stores.

More recently, I started seeing ads for The FIRM's newest product, The WAVE. Its unique design, with two usable sides—one for stepping and one for rocking and balance training—looked fun and interesting, so I was very excited to test it out when they sent the whole package directly to SparkPeople.

The WAVE comes with a lot of stuff: the WAVE itself (that's the rounded 'step'), 4 DVDs to use with your WAVE, a small mat for your WAVE (to prevent your WAVE from sliding around on the floor), a poster of exercises you can do on the WAVE (complete with photos and instructions), and more. I tried all 4 DVDs to test out the WAVE, and I enlisted the help of two of my friends, both of whom enjoy step aerobics and own a standard aerobics step at home. I thought they'd have unique perspectives for how the WAVE compares with a regular step. Want to hear what we thought about it?

To see the WAVE in action, check out this short video. (If you have trouble viewing the video, click here to see it on

The WAVE Itself
Basically, the WAVE is a small, two-sided step with a rounded edge that can be placed up (for a stable, but unique stepping surface) or down (for an unstable surface that requires more balance). In this sense, the WAVE is very similar to a BOSU ball, which can be used in those same ways. However, I liked that the WAVE was smaller, lightweight, and very easy to move around and store. It's much smaller and less cumbersome than a traditional aerobics step with risers, too. And unlike a BOSU, it's not bulky OR quite as hard to balance on. According to the makers of the WAVE, "When using the WAVE as a rocker, your core muscles—your abs, lower back and hips—are constantly engaged. And the included DVD's help you get amazing results through your mid-section while sculpting your upper and lower body."

It's true that standing or working out on an unstable surface uses more muscle fibers than standing on a flat surface. To stay balanced, you'll use more muscles in your legs and abs the whole time you're on the rocking surface. However, compared to other balance training devices like balance boards, balance discs or the BOSU, the WAVE is not as challenging, in my opinion. I don't consider that to be a con, though—quite the opposite! I think it's a great way for people to incorporate a safer form of balance training into their workouts. "It did seem to me that, over time, doing exercises with the wave would improve your core better than using a traditional step," said one of our step-loving testers. She went on to say that, "The wave and mat seemed sturdy and good quality. I liked that is was small-ish and easy to store."

The WAVE comes with 4 DVDs. I tried all of them. Here's a short recap of each one.
  • "Ride the WAVE" (10 minutes): This is an introduction to the WAVE—not a real workout. It gives safety cues, helps you practice and learn the moves that you'll encounter in the workouts, and teaches you how to use the WAVE for best results and minimized risk. I thought it was very thorough.

  • The two main workout DVDs, "Speed Slimming SCULPT" (30 minutes) and "Rock it OFF" (40 minutes) were very similar. Both combined "step" aerobics (on both sides of the WAVE) with full-body strengthening exercises using dumbbells, which means you get cardio and strength training done in a single workout. Each workout had its own unique combinations and exercises. Both were enjoyable and got our heart rates up! "I really liked the mix of cardio and strength," said one tester. "I felt it was a good use of my time." The other tester tried Rock it OFF and thought it was, "the perfect length for a home video workout. It was intense and got my heart rate up!"

  • "Express ABS" (10 minutes): This short workout shows a variety of abs and core moves you can do on the WAVE, but I wasn't a big fan of it. I was very uncomfortable lying and leaning on the hard surface of the WAVE. One tester agreed, saying, "I felt that some of the core exercises using the wave were awkward. The WAVE is not comfortable to lean against like a stability ball." However, not all were bad, and the discomfort of these exercises could be remedied if you had a nice, cushy mat to place on the floor around or on the WAVE (depending on the exercise).

Overall, I think the WAVE has a lot of potential. If you enjoy step aerobics or choreography-based routines, you'll like these workouts for sure. They're fun, different and packed with variety. I wasn't bored AT ALL when I tried each DVD. A word of caution: The beat in these workouts is pretty fast and the choreography, although well explained, moves quickly. Exercisers who are less coordinated or have troubling picking up the steps in routines would struggle with this, but with practice, it would get easier. "Mentally I felt challenged to keep up with the workout's choreography. I've been doing step-aerobics for years, and I had to really focus to learn the moves," a tester said. She continued, "A novice might have more of a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, you'll be glad the video jumps right in, and doesn't spend more time on teaching the basics."

You'll need your own dumbbells, and I'd recommend both a medium and a heavier set. The instructors did a good job letting you know how heavy of a weight to pick up for each exercise (they called them light, medium or heavy), but even if you don't have a variety of weights, you can still follow along and modify as needed. The first time I tried the workouts, I used 10 pounds, which was way too heavy to keep up with the pace of the exercises. The second time, I used 6-pound weights, and it wasn't challenging enough. For me, 8 pounds might have been perfect. With my heavy weights, I was very sore the next day—in a good way! One of our testers had a similar experience. ”I was sore in my legs, arms and sides, which indicates that I worked my muscles differently than usual," she said.

"I liked the frequent reminders to roll your shoulders back," a tester said. I have to agree! I thought the instruction and cuing was very good in all of the workouts. They provided good instructions on form as well as safety and posture cues. Each workout had one participant showing modified moves for beginners, too. Our second tester was on the same page. "I liked the instructor's energy and style. She was professional and energetic, yet not obnoxious like some fitness instructors can be."

Should You Buy It?
The whole WAVE package—the WAVE, 4 DVDs and more—will run you about $90 (plus shipping). You can buy it (or learn more) at That's pricey for at-home equipment, but I have to say that I think it's a good value and an effective workout system. Aerobics steps alone often cost about the same amount, and then you still need to buy workout DVDs for them (or design your own workouts). I feel that the WAVE is very versatile. You'll learn many ideas from the workouts that you can use on your own. Plus, virtually ANY step aerobics workout or exercise could be done on the WAVE, as could many BOSU exercises for that matter. I think the WAVE itself is well built, easy to use and worth the dough if you've got money to spend.


Fortunately for you, we are GIVING AWAY the WAVE—the entire set, worth $90—to one lucky dailySpark reader! All you have to do is comment below, answering the question, "What is your favorite way to work out at home?" One winner will be selected at random. As always, the dailySpark rules apply. The contest will end next Friday. June 12, at 6 a.m. EST. (Please just leave one comment!)


Photos courtesy of TheFIRM and

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I love gardening and my yoga workouts with Ana Brett or Baron Baptiste. I am a freelancer that works from home on a computer. I drink a lot of water so I have to get up frequently, then make sure to NOT sit for as long as possible. On days that I know I will be 'chained to the desk', I take a 30 min. walk up the steepest hills in my neighborhood before I sit down for the day. If I don't do the walk prior to sitting down to work, the day can be done and I'd be too tired to exercise. Report
Wow this may be the answer to addressing my balance problem I woke with a year ago march! And to exercising my core, in spite of chronic back pain requiring spinal injections! thanks for the article/review! much appreciated. Report
I have several of the Firms videos and this looks like it would be a workout that I would enjoy. Report
My favorite workouts at home are randomly turning on the cable tv FIT channel and doing whatever hour workout program is on. I also sporadically use DVDs and Wii Fit. The Wave sound like fun, I'd like to try it. Report
I usually workout with DVD's and my treadmill. I used to do step workouts constantly, it will be a refreshing change to use this WAVE. :) Report
I love Winsor Pilates and Eliptical and just tried Yoga. This looks fantastic! Report
I haven't found a workout that I LOVE to do yet, but I still walk and I do workout videos at home. :) Report
Looks Fun! :) Report
I WALK, walk, and WaLk. Treadmill, road, hike. I also do wii boxing sometimes. Report
I do the other FIRM workouts at home Report
sounds interesting. would like to try it! Report
Sounds like a good thing to have around! Report
The wave looks like even I could do it!! Right now my favorite is walking with Leslie Sansone . Report
My favorite way to workout is with videos.
At home, I strength train using 3 or 5 pound dumbbells, a stability ball, and an exercise band. For cardio, I have a treadmill. I'd love to add some variety in there! Report
My favorite way to work out at home is to go for a run/walk and then lift weights for 30 min. Report
My favorite way to exercise is aerobics. Whether it is a class or an exercise dvd, I think it is a really fun way to burn those calories! I always feel good when I finish an aerobic exercise! Report
I like to use my Wii Fit with MY PERSONAL TRAINER. Or I might pop in a simple walking video. I really don't like to use more intense videos since I'm a klutz! Report
My favorite way to work out is to always change it up to keep me motivated at all times. There are days I would pop in my ZUMBA videos and get a good workout, other days I jump on the elliptical for an hour while watching my favorite shows and my favorite thing to do is to run around the house and play with my beautiful 2 year old daughter, she really loves to chase me and I let her chase me until I am out of breath and lying on the ground and I love it. :) Report
My fav. way to workout at home? I would have to say on my Treadmill.. I use it 6 x a week 3 day for jogging... something I was never able to do before and power walk 3 days. I'd love to have things to tone up in my workout room, something I can use to tone up with out having to develop too much pain due to my Arthritis. I've lost lots of wt. and really need to tone up. It's been hard due to pain from the Arthritis. The wave looks like something I could use to tone up my abs and legs.. I'd really love to try it.. I soooo need to tone up. Report
I mainly use a treadmill for my workouts. Report
I work out at home by walking with my HUSKIES!! I have two great work-out buddies, Rocky Raccoon and Blu the Serious Dude. We walk between 20 and 60 minutes daily then I stretch while they lay by me and I pet them/play with them. I also do some weight training and kickboxing when time allows, mostly on the weekends. Report
One of my favorite way to workout at home is using DVDs Taebo or Turbo Jam and my all time favorite is running around/playing with my 2 1/2 yo daughter. Report
Looks like fun!! LOL! Report
When I'm at home I like to do workout videos and use my weights! Report
The Wave looks like a very intense cardio workout and more affordable than the Wii, which I've been putting of due to the price. Report
Love to do fitness videos, especially Yoga with cardio! It has really helped strenghten my core muscles and the relaxation section of the dvd is great. I live in the country, so I also love riding my bike - it's so easy to get in 20 miles just soaking up the scenery and fresh air! Report
I like to workout on either my treadmill or mix in aerobics tapes. Report
While at home, I make sure to get in my 10 minutes of stretching, I also enjoy doing power yoga and some Jillian Michaels DVDs. :) Report
I use "My Fitness Coach" for Wii. Thanks for the chance to add a new element to my workout! Report
When the weather permits i like taking the pooch for a walk or mow the lawn and if its rainy then i like to hop on the recumbent bike. Thanks for letting us know how the wave works! Report
My favorite is with DVD's for my spin bike and following SparkPeople's workout program on my home gym. Report
I workout by walking with a friend. i would love some home equipment to work with in between walks. I have a goal to lose 40 pounds and this would be a great way to keep moving while indoors.
My favorite at home exercise right now has to be my running stroller. I have two daughters, 6 and 2. I take them both on walks, having them both sit in the stroller or having my older daughter walk with me. Sometimes I take them out individually. My younger daughter loves it when I do my interval runs and she giggles, it gives me incentive to do more intervals. Hearing her laugh reminds me why I am working so hard. And when I take my older daughter, she reads to me. She just graduated kindergarten and she is a great reader. So she will pack two or three of her little books in the stroller and as I walk, she tells me a story.
Working out with my daughters around seems to make the time go by quicker and makes it more enjoyable for myself. Report
My favorite way to work out at home is with free weights and a step... P90X is great too! Report
"What is your favorite way to work out at home?"

With dvd's/videos because of the variety that they provide.

There are so many great trainers that you can have access right in your own home, on your own time, that you are able to make the MOST of you workouts because of it. I like that you can add weights, or bands or balls and get terrific a terrific workout.

I also feel that if your lacking the motivation, but can make it to the "ON" button the person hosting the workout will get you the rest of the way motivated. Once you press play and start your workout, you find that you really enjoyed it even if you really were not in the mood. Not like having to drive to the gym, just walk into your room with your tv or computer and your ready to move it to loose it with a GREAT workout! Report
I like doing yard work and gardening at home for exercise. Mowing the lawn helps out my husband and keeping flowers beautifies my home. The vegetable garden always needs weeding so that is a constant source of exercise, but I think the best reason I love to garden is that I am outdoors and getting fresh air and sunshine... good old vitamin D. It is satisfying to pick dinner just before it's cooked and I like knowing there are no pesticides or chemicals in my food.
I just have to remember to stretch BEFORE I begin my outdoor adventures or I will certainly feel it the next day.
The WAVE looks like a great workout that requires co-ordination and concentration all the while giving a healthful cardio and strength training time. Report
i like jumping on the trampoline with my kids Report
I really enjoy sparkspeople bootcamp videos they have helped me a lot,
I do walk a lot also Report
This product looks great and worth a try. I always love adding new things to my workout to make it more fun. Report
I love to do step aerobics at home. I also love to hop on my exercise bike while I watch tv. This wave sounds really neat and I'd love to try it! I'm getting bored with my step DVD. Report
My favorite way to work out at home I would have to say either working out to dvd's and or getting on my elliptical and watching tv or movies while working out. I however like to spice it up and try new things and the Wave looks like it would be a great addition to my work out. Report
When working out at home I like to follow a Leslie Sansone walking dvd or use the elliptical that I have in my home. Report
I have a fitness channel that I try to catch but it's difficult to get an adequate show at the time I'm available. I'm also saving for a wii. Report
Favorite 'at home' exercise would have to be watching TV on my exercise ball. I jump during the TV show that I am watching and then do crunches or back extensions during commercials. It sounds (and is) fun, but it is a great workout! It is also a lot harder than it sounds - my husband will attest to that! Report
I like to do intervals on my treadmill or elliptical. I do have a BOSU ball but if I don't use it several times a week it gets harder. Report
I like the 10 minute videos, walking my dog and wii fit. Report
"What is your favorite way to work out at home?"

Due to the available amenities of my apartment complex, I am able to swim every day. That WAS my favorite work out, but I have been getting into tennis lately. Even with daily stretches, I am more aware of muscles than I was before! Not to mention my energy level going up. That's always a plus. =) Good luck everyone! Report
I really like to take walks or do other FIRM DVDs. They are always a great workout! Report
I like to use the Wii Fit and especially the Jillian Michael's game. :) Report
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