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The Belt’s Working Just Because You’re Wearing It: Cheesy Workout Videos

December 11, 2010

I have a confession: I love workout videos. I’m not interested in their weight loss properties or their individual health ideologies. Oh no I’m fascinated by their requisite dubious health claims, Casio drenched soundtracks and stilted, cheesy banter between the participants. I also enjoy learning new steps to do while I wait for things to nuke in the microwave. The best ones seem to be made in the mid to late 80s back when the production values were dismal and exercisers wore wearing belts, bling bling and suspenders with their shiny outfits. I have always wanted to get a group of my friends together and make a workout video. We’d totally rock coordinating outfits and perform our routines to songs like “Breezin”, “Keep Your Eye on Me”, and the themes songs of “LA Law”, “The Price is Right” musical cues, “Magnum P.I.” (complete with eyebrow wag), “The 25K Pyramid” (modified electric slide) and, of course, “Simon & Simon”. I have some really sweet grapevine/jazz hands combos cooked up for that one! It would be totally new hotness to wear cute outfits while barking orders at folks and lying about how much workout is left! “You’re doing great! Cool down’s coming soon!” When in reality there’s at least twenty minutes before cool down in the form of The Art of Noise’s “Moments in Love”. And I’ve always wanted to use “Situation” and be able to cheer, “C’mon, move out people! Buttocks drawn in; Jazz hands to the sky! To the left!” Mostly I just want to yell danceable commands and have an eager audience follow them. Don’t forget to breathe!

Leslie Sansone – Walk Away The Pounds For Abs 2 Mile I freaking love a workout video that comes with accessories and WATP has a belt. La Mommie turned me on to these videos and I became addicted to them. I love marching in place and kickbacks (bend the knees!) Leslie’s actually pretty fun and she doesn’t give you tons of diet chow chow. In fact she just wants to make folks excited about movement. My favorite exerciser is Randy – the lone male – who is a scene stealer throughout this particular series of videos. Randy doesn’t wear the belt, but he’s still getting a great workout!

Sweatin’ to the Oldies 2 Yeah, yeah I know! Don’t start. I cannot hear “Jailhouse Rock” or “Hot Town Summer in City” without busting out movies cribbed from this here video. I also can’t help but announce whatever move I’m doing – “Monkey!” “Grapevine!” “Shimmy!” – whenever I hear one of the video’s song.

Jazzercise I totally remember this routine! It was pretty bold of Judy to attempt to compete with the soundalike vocalist. Why do I still know all the steps to this freaking routine? Are your arches lifted? Don’t forget to breathe! Oh my Xena, the production values are so craptacular. I want this exact set for my workout video. I might have to the crib “Arthur’s Theme” warm up.

Jane Fonda Workout for Beginners Ha. For Beginners, indeed. I love how the video starts with obvious classically trained dancers doing their stylized stretches before the title card informs us the whole damn thing is for beginners. Yeah, I’d like to meet the beginner who could do all that is asked of them in the first five minute; and that’s just the warm up! And all that freaking bobbing and bouncing. I’m pretty sure none of that was good for our joints and knees. That said, I know every single line, musical cue and move from this iconic workout tape! Bounce. Bounce. Bounce. Little bounces!!! Between the bounces, the little pulses, pr0nny music and Jane’s seductive instruction this whole thing seems a bit too Skinemax after dark!

One of my favorite moments from The Golden Girls:

22 Comments leave one →
  1. December 12, 2010 1:29 am

    Seriously…. I am totally lost in this territory. However, there was one shocking attempt by a shocking proponent you have already cited in this report. 1981 or so was the year… disco was still happ’nin, and after Olivia Newton-John’s paean to workouts and hard bodies with “Physical,” there was this really, truly, unexpected, and judging by the record sales unwanted attempt to both be training coach and vocalist… 3:37 is track 2, 7:05 is track 3…

    Unfortunately the song they released as a single (!!!!!) -the title track- isn’t included here (and apparently nowhere on the internets). It was un-for-get-ta-ble.

  2. December 12, 2010 10:23 am

    I love the subgenre of celebrity workout/health videos! specifically Angela Lansbury’s and Sandy Duncan’s.

  3. December 12, 2010 10:24 am

  4. December 12, 2010 10:25 am

  5. December 12, 2010 10:40 am

    I am both baffled and grateful. Baffled that celebrities kept being talked into doing these unintentionally hilarious videos, yet immensely grateful they do!

  6. eieioj permalink
    December 12, 2010 1:21 pm

    Oh my god, my mom and I used to do Sweatin’ To The Oldies 2! Everytime I hear “Windy” I start doing the big arm swoops!

  7. December 12, 2010 2:04 pm

    @eieioj – Ha. Me too. “C’mon flllllyyyyy!” LOL

  8. December 12, 2010 3:02 pm

    I did dance aerobics for 3-4 years with my mom while I was in high school — it wasn’t trademarked jazzercise, it was a small local woman who just organized half a dozen teachers in churches and rec centers all over the Atlanta area. I learned how to rumba, chacha, electric slide, grapevine, arabesque. I’ve been to shy to make an effort to go to the cardio dance classes at the Y, but someday! Someday!

  9. Lani permalink
    December 12, 2010 8:13 pm

    @eieioj–My mom and I used to do Sweatin’ to the Oldies as well! Ah, memories.

  10. hsofia permalink
    December 12, 2010 10:50 pm

    Our household had a lot of these. Because of rules around modest attire in public, working out at home was me and my Mom’s primary source of exercise. My dad is a bit of a fitness fanatic and still watches work-out videos. We had several Jane Fonda videos, and a Jayne Kennedy workout, too, among many others.

  11. Claire permalink
    December 13, 2010 5:06 am

    Aerobics Oz Style screened twice daily on NZ for he entirety of my childhood. They had some great decor. Pastel yellow, potted ferns and Classical statuary feature large in my memory.

    The presenters were impossibly glamorous and Australian (same
    thing at the time) and I was totally fascinated by Wendi and her unmoving Tina Sparkle fringe.

  12. evmaroon permalink
    December 13, 2010 2:36 pm

    Oh, penpusher, my mother bought that album! And she’d chase me through the downstairs of our house, telling me to work out with her! Such trauma. When I see these videos I think of melba toast and forced attendance at Weight Watchers meetings.

  13. Citizen Taqueau permalink
    December 13, 2010 3:23 pm

    OMG, I love workout videos. When I was 10 I had this ritual. I used to get up at 5 AM on Saturday mornings (!), make coffee (!!) and do the 20-minute Workout in the dining room along with the TV. Then I would eat a knockoff store-brand Yoplait. Key Lime. And watch cartoons with my geriatric cat while feeding him ice cream.

    I also have this weak spot for Total Gym type infomercials. They are like self-discipline porn. Like, oh, if I only had that, I would work out every day. Yup. Sure you would, Taqueau.

    In short, if you are having trouble getting SO CALLED “friends” to get it together and make a cheezy workout video with you, my chubby, pale [totally non-creepy!] behind will so be there, if you PROMISE we can incorporate “Price is Right” and “Magnum” theme music. Also we must create a move called “the new hotness” — or several, for that matter. 😀

  14. December 13, 2010 3:35 pm

    In short, if you are having trouble getting SO CALLED “friends” to get it together and make a cheezy workout video with you, my chubby, pale [totally non-creepy!] behind will so be there, if you PROMISE we can incorporate “Price is Right” and “Magnum” theme music. Also we must create a move called “the new hotness” — or several, for that matter. 😀

    Oh this is so much win! I only want the chubby and the enthusiastic.

  15. Citizen Taqueau permalink
    December 13, 2010 3:46 pm

    SM — We should totally do this thing. Are you still in New England? I’m in DC over Christmas. But my BFF just moved to Portland, Maine, so I may be further north at some point.

  16. December 13, 2010 7:23 pm

    I used to wake up early to watch the “20 Minute Workout” on TV:

    I never actually went so far as to use it to exercise, however.

  17. December 13, 2010 8:29 pm

    @Redlami – hahah. This is kind of pr0nny.

  18. eieioj permalink
    December 14, 2010 10:38 am

    @Citizen Taqueau: I totally have the same thing about Total Gym type infomercials. Then I usually change the channel and get sucked into the Butterball Turkey Deep Fryer infomercials and sit there thinking “If I had both of those products, I could eat all the fried food I want and never gain a pound…. I could eat fried oreos whilst working my glutes….yes!”

  19. Citizen Taqueau permalink
    December 14, 2010 11:04 am

    Redlami, oh no!!! :-0

    eieioj, I have never seen the fryer infomercials. I always seem to turn to the NADS waxing demos instead. I don’t think I could wax my legs whilst working my glutes.

  20. eieioj permalink
    December 14, 2010 11:15 am

    I don’t think I could wax my legs with a product called “NADS.”

  21. December 14, 2010 2:37 pm

    It’s sorta like that dietary supplement that was called Ayds.

  22. December 14, 2010 3:06 pm

    Yeah. That was an unfortunate branding choice.

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