Sunday, January 24, 2010

Twist & Shout: The First in a Series of Workout Video Reviews

As you now know, I'm about a month into my homemade workout regime. I've lost 7 pounds of the 71 I aim to shed and I thought I'd document that here. Since I'm not rolling in money and can't afford a gym/YMCA membership, I've got to get creative. So, I'm scrounging our vast video archives and the library for some home instruction that costs me nothing. I also plan on raiding the workout video libraries of all my friends too, so be ye warned.

I also have a short attention span and I need variety to keep me interested, which is why I've always failed at running. If I were to start running, I'd really need to be chased. And who can afford that? So, I'm going to try it all. Aerobics, Pilates, Yoga, Power Yoga, Stretching, Toning, Tai name it, I'll give it at least a whirl.

Then I'm going to share with you what I learn and give you a brief overview of each unique workout video I try. I will rate each video on a few of different areas on a scale of 1-10:

  • No Pain No Gain: My assessment of how much you're going to feel this in the morning

  • I've Got Rhythm: How I rate the musicality of the workout. Did they splurge on good tunes or is it cheese-o-synth?

  • The Wa Factor: Do I feel good afterwards or do I feel like crying over a bag of Funyons.
I'll also give it a final rating of either: Borrow It, Buy It, or Leave it on the Shelf.

One thing I have discovered is that most workout videos have many of the same basic moves and they seem to have their roots in yoga. Yoga, as Sarah from Yoga for Dummies tells us, is thousands of years old. So I'm making a logical leap here that stuff coming after yoga is basically yoga rip-offs. But as Doc says, if you're going to steal, steal from the best. Therefore, it really doesn't matter much which videos you do. They are all mined from the same vein. The difference is in the trimmings.

And the longest running gag in work-out videos? "Don't forget to breathe!" Ho, ho...

This first post will be a doozey since I've done about six different ones in the past three weeks. However, I'm sticking to the ones I personally own. Next time, I'll start in on the library ones. After that, it will be one at a time. So hang in there and remember to breath. Let's get started!

Paula Abdul's Get Up and Dance

I bought this video after Riley was born and I was well into to the first season of American Idol. It's a good, if long, dance inspired aerobics workout. Let's face it, it's from 1995 and it shows. It's set in a factory from the future stage and it's full of people who Paula claims are just regular people, including guys from a local softball team. She takes you through choreography pieces that include such moves as "Brain Twister," "George Jetson," and "The Hoe-Down." Then she has you put them all together into one final long dance. Unfortunately, it's all set to her music.

There's a bonus dance routine that the softball team puts together, unbeknownst to Ms. Abdul, that is set to YMCA. Then you're down on the floor for ab crunches. It ends with a yoga like cool down and an inspirational speach from herself.

Rating: Borrow It


You're going to feel this in the morning and if you've never danced before, you'll be lost after the first couple of dance moves. The ab workout is in my top 3.

IGR: 2

Bless her pointy little head...she's very sweet and fun. But her music kind of blows. Fortunately, your heart will probably be pounding loud enough to drown out the music.

Wa: 5

This is fun, and the inspirational speech is ok. It feels good to conquer the choreography, but where the hell am I going to use the George Jetson? Nowhere unless I tour with Paula.

Richard Simmons' Groovin' in the House

We open up and it's a surprise birthday party for Richard. all the ladies are in these calico, empire waist frocks that end just above the knee. They are also wearing leggings and sneakers. They guys are dressed kind of Casual Friday/Hawaiian shirt day. There's a great diversity in the size of the participants. Everyone moves from the living room to the kitchen to the den (for karaoke) and then ends up in the garden.

Rating: Borrow It


This video will get you up and moving. It's fun without being challenging.

IGR: 8

Richard laid out the cash for some decent music. We've got Turn the Beat Around, Jive Talkin', Philadelphia Freedom, The Beat Goes On (complete with an opening shot of a picture of Sony Bono...this must have been filmed after he died), Cotton Eyed Joe, Hot Hot Hot, and Happy Together. I will admit that none of these songs are on my iPod, but they are known tunes and I half enjoy some of them.

Wa: 8

Say what you will about Richard Simmons, but I love him. I love that he gushes to you about how you're changing your life and how proud he is of you. Plus he's sometimes such a queen (ok most of the time) and I'm just charmed by him. His inspirational speech at the end really does make me feel good about myself. An added bonus: He shows members of the cast by name and lists how much weight they have lost. It really is inspiring. Besides, I grew up working out to his show on TV...anyone remember that?

Billy Blanks' Advanced Tae Bo Workout

Ok, so I bought the set in 1999 when the videos came out. I caught the infomercial and bought the hype. I got the tapes and tried the basic/instructional one. It didn't play. So there those tapes sat, year after year, unplayed until a couple of weeks ago. To think, I've lugged these tapes through four moves and never watched them! Amazing. But I spent so much goddamn money for them I couldn't part with them.

This video is set in a gym. It's decorated in the primary colors that are splashed all over the tapes. The audience is made up of some pros, some amatures and a couple of 70 year old women. And it is HARD. The first time I did it, I didn't know what I was getting myself into. It was a Sunday morning and I was sick of doing the Paula Abdul video. But shortly after I started the punching stuff...I was hooked. I was feeling particularly pent up with stress and I went over the wall and believed in what I was doing. It felt really good to punch.

Also, the floor work is intense. I've done this video about 4 times and I get to a certain point when I just kneel and pant. This is when Riley tries to talk me into a break and Lucy brings me water. The first time I did this and Riley said, "Mom, I think you should take a break," I said: "Baby, no pain no gain." And I believed it and it felt good.

Rating: Borrow It

NPNG: 10

I'm still working up to the leg lift/butt exercises but I know I'm getting somewhere with this tape. It's too intense for a week night work out, so I save it for the weekends.

IGR: 4

There's plenty of cheese-o-synth to go around on this video, though he did splurge for Peaches and Herb's Shake Your Groove Thing, which is a personal favorite of mine.

Wa: 7

Billy is a great teacher. He's very supportive, if somewhat goofy. I like his approach and man is he ripped! One complaint I do have concerns the lax video editing and wardrobe issues. How do I put this...There are some interesting camera angles that capture some distinct sweat issues. For example during the floor exercises, we get a shot of the crotches of some of the ladies who didn't have the sense to wear black work out clothes. Let's just say they have some very unfortunate and revealing sweat stains blossoming in their nether regions. It was a moment when one misses the standards and practices people.

Coming up:

  • Kung Fu Kick Boxing Workout
  • Marilou Henner's Dance Workout
  • Brazilian Dance
  • Hula
  • Tai Chi Anywhere with Dr. Lam
  • New York City Ballet Workout
  • MTV's Power Yoga


  1. This post is more work than I have done in 5 years, holy crap girl!

  2. I'm good at doing the Ho-down, but I think it's a different dance entirely.

    I'll be waiting for the review of Julianne Hough's ballroom workout.

  3. Hey...nice post. I can do the Ickey Woods shuffle and burn some calories...check out my new blog site too.

  4. Go, Flan, go! I'm pretty good about going to the gym (I really need the pool), but I don't stick with my PT exercises like I should. EG has a really hard time fitting in any sort of workout. So he made me a deal that he'll do one workout every time I do my balance exercises.

    Congrats on the 7 lbs. Hope you're feeling better; that's the thing that keeps me working out.

  5. Dr. Monkey: Woot! Best comment ever!!!

    Red: Thank you

    Jeff: I'lll check it out when I catch my breath

    GKL: I'll have to wait for the library to get it...maybe I can do an interlibrary loan...

    SK: Oh pish're the hardest working guy in blogdom!

  6. I'm gonna try that Chi Tea workout video next, and thanks for doin' all th' footwork (literally!) for th' rest o' us!!