Exercise Videos: The Good, the Bad, and the OMG Part One

First off, confession time.  I have not been good Alice this past week in regards to nutrition.  There were milkshakes, bruthahs and sistahs, and fast food, and sometimes veggies were nowhere to be seen!  There are many excuses, some of them pretty good, but mostly I just have to start over again and move forward.  I have, at least, still been exercising.  So we’ll talk about that.

Okay, if you remember last time I talked about the gym and how there were other people and it kind of sucked.  But there are alternatives!  You can, with today’s fabulous technology, exercise at home all by yourself with the exception of any annoying family members that might pass by and laugh at you.  There are ways to avoid this.  For instance, working the abdominals tends to release unwanted gas.  Good way to clear a room.

I'm working my abs.  Clear the room.

I’m working my abs. Go away.

One way to exercise at home is to use exercise videos.  There are eleventy billion of these things on the market, though, so how do you know which one is the right one to use?  That’s fairly easy.  You use the one that least makes you want to vomit.  This means going through trial and error at times.  Also, you can read the reviews on Amazon until your eyes start to cross because 80 people think that “Get Great Abs with Jesus” is as great as the Second Coming, while 80 others just don’t believe in it at all.  So what to do?

I have the solution.  Or a solution.  I have tested some of these videos out, and right now I’ll tell you my favorite one.  It’s rather old, as I originally got it back in the 1990s, which is when, sob, some of my readers may have been born.  This should not be humanly possible.  Anyway, this “oldie but goodie” is a video by former bodybuilding champion – back in the dark ages I can only assume – and certified fitness trainer Tony Little.

This weirdo.  Don't worry, you don't have to get on thing.

This weirdo. Don’t worry, you don’t have to get on the thing.

Now you might be thinking – a body builder?  Yuck!  But he’s got a back story – about his back.  See he hurt it in a near fatal auto accident, and was in chronic pain.  So he left bodybuilding (this was probably not the worst thing ever, considering) and got depressed and ate a lot of twinkies and gained a lot of weight.

But rather than drown in a Hostess coma, he decided to turn his life around and design a non-impact exercise format (I’m liking the idea of not impacting things) that he could do even with an injured back.  He has several videos, but my favorites are his Fat Free series which contains two videos – one for upper body, and the other for lower body.  No part of the body is safe.

As seen on TV!  Models included only as props!

As seen on TV! Models included only as props!

I have the VHS versions, but you can get them on DVD still.  But you lose something in the DVDs, namely getting to watch him move around at super fast speed.  Anyway, there are several things I like about his videos.  (1) He’s a man, not a teeny-tiny bouncy cheerleader that you just know is going to talk smack about you with her other teeny-tiny bouncy cheerleader friends as soon as you’re done. (2) He teaches you all the exercises at once before he starts on the routine, so you can learn them, but not have to go through the training every time you do them later.  (3) He’s a goof and yammers through his videos about believing in yourself, but actually seems sincere about it.  (4) There are three exercise levels, so you can start slow and work your way up.

The best part, truly, is when he’s demonstrating the exercises.  He has a model friend (I bet she’s a bouncy cheerleader) come in to help him.  First he does the exercise himself, and then he has her demonstrate it.  Sometimes she goofs it up, so he fixes it for her by manipulating her arms and legs like she’s a puppet.  I love this so much that sometimes I rewind and watch it all over again.  You know, to, um, get the technique down.  He advises you not to use weights immediately (I think this is an excellent idea as I could easily kill myself with one) and to make small movements, not fling yourself around where you can break your neck.  I love it when he tells the model to stop doing that, she’s going to pull something.

Watch me bend her legs over her head!

Watch me bend her legs over her head!

In other words, I trust the guy, because I know he’s been through some crap before.  He’s more concerned with you doing it safely, than he is in you keeping up with fast dance moves and observing how hot he is.  And trust is fairly important, especially when you’re dealing with someone on a T.V. screen.  He doesn’t hide much, and he’s fairly self-deprecating.  If it’s hard for him, he admits it.  At one point during one of his videos he nearly trips on his carpet and keeps filming, laughing goofily at himself the whole time.  It’s hard not to like this goofball, even if he does make you do lunges that screw up your quads so that you’re walking like an old lady for two days.

The only problem I have is that they’re fairly long – roughly 35 minutes each if you’re just doing beginner level.  So fitting them in can be a bit of a challenge.  But I usually feel better after I’ve done them, and I know they work because back in the nineties – sigh – I used them for a while and I was actually in shape.  So I’d recommend this one.

There are other videos, as well as video games that can help you get in shape.  Wii pioneered the dance games.  They can be pretty fun even if you look like an idiot.  I’ll continue to review different videos and games and give you the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I’m willing to do almost anything, and especially willing to skewer any exercise guru who really sucks. So if you have anything you want me to try, let me know in the comments below.

52 responses

  1. I like the old school Firm work-outs. The total body ones from the 1990s. It seems like the 90s were the best decade for workout videos.

    1. I remember the Firm! I think. I’ll have to go look it up.

  2. One word…Facercise….Strangest thing I’ve ever seen…

    1. I just looked it up on Amazon . . . OMG that is a blog post in itself! I’m not pissed, I’m exercising!

  3. Beer always worked for me. 12 ounce curls (or 40 oz curls for the Hobos) work wonders for one’s biceps & forearms. However, you must remember to change drinking hands regularly or one of your arms will look like Popeye’s and the other one like Pee Wee Herman’s. It was a tough exercise program, but somebody had to pioneer it. But then again, I am one of the few…the proud…the Fearless Leader. BTW, I don’t drink anymore and both my arms look like Pee Wee Herman’s.

    1. Hmm, did your arms look like Popeye’s before or after you started drinking your weights?

  4. I still love my old ‘Jane Fonda’s New Workout’ and my ‘Buns of Steel’ videos were great. You can even get the Jane Fonda one in its entirety on YouTube now…yes, I just looked. So, if you can either ignore the song they keep singing in the video, or do as I did, and sing along (damn song is running through my head now) you should get a decent workout.

    1. Buns of Steel! Hahaha! Talk about nostalgia. Jane in all her spandex glory!

  5. Not to condone bulimia or anything, BUT you could just use a video that makes you vomit.

    1. The two times I last a lot of weight at once were when I had morning sickness and was puking my guts out. Effective, but not highly recommended.

  6. Have you ever tried Richard Simmons’ classic Sweating to the Oldies? I mean, I haven’t, and I can’t imagine it’s a good workout, except maybe the resulting hysterical laughter might really work the abs.

    1. “Come on, ladiezzzzz!” I could only hope he’d wear his pearls with his baggy shorts.

    2. I was going to talk about Richard Simmons! I used to do those tapes with my mom when I was around 6 or 7.
      I’ll say, it is a good workout! He’s so spunky!

  7. You already know I love my workout DVDs. I do one every morning. Helps keep me motivated. Haven’t heard of this guy’s, but those leotards on the cover are fine indeed. 😉

    1. They are awesome, aren’t they? Which workout DVDs do you use? I have been setting my alarm early to get up and do mine – and then going back to sleep.

      1. Oh, I have so many. I listed some of my favorite instructors in this post: http://carrierubin.com/2012/09/06/collage-video-for-an-introverted-exerciser/

  8. If you’re interested in trying something else, I have yoga DVDs I do that I love more than life itself. They are called Wai Lana Yoga, after the sweet, gentle, quiet, but flexible and strong as hell lady who does them. She actually has an early morning show on PBS here, so you might want to check your listings and you could try it for free.

    But, in any case, she does all of her stuff outside, usually in front of the ocean. She has this melodic, soothing voice. She tells you not just how the asanas (poses) are good for your muscles, but also your organs, circulations, whole body. She is insanely bendy and strong, but she always tells you how to modify poses and really stresses that you don’t push to hard and generally goes out of her was to make you not feel badly that you don’t have the magical body that she does. And if you do it regularly, your body really does get more magical.

    The very best part is that it doesn’t just stretch you, it really does help you build and tone muscle, lose fat, release tension (I am typically high as a kite after doing one of her workouts), and augment anything else you might be doing. I discovered her when I was 16, and I have been doing it on and off ever since.

    Oh, and while I have VHS tapes as well, the DVDs are cool because you can customize your workout and set up the asanas in the order you like, or exclude any you absolutely cannot do (like me and a headstand — just ain’t happening).

    And no, I am not getting paid to write this.

    So have a look at your PBS channels, and if you can’t find anything there the site is Wai Lana Yoga.

    Aren’t you glad you asked?

    1. I bought this yoga video set from Danskin. I use the mat sometimes. I should try the yoga – if I could just quit vibrating long enough to pay attention to what she’s saying. What was that? Focus? What?

    1. Hahahahahahahaaaaa! I luv that woman!

    2. I was gonna get a cold pop and oh Jesus! hahahahahaha.

  9. That first picture of him alone makes me want to watch this guy! I’m not really a workout video person, but I do love the ones from the 80s. And left, and right, and NEON SPANDEX! They make me laugh so hard I just know my abs are being worked out 😀

    1. Did you have the Exercise Barbie from the 80s? The one that looked like Olivia Newton John in that idiot video “Let’s Get Physical”? She had a spandex leotard and a headband, I remember. I made her do the splits a lot. She might have lost a leg or two.

  10. If it’s on VHS, couldn’t you just do say 10 minutes, stop it, and then pick up where you left off and do another 15 minutes, and then stop it and pick up where you left off for the last 10 minutes throughout the day? Although I guess that depends on your daily schedule. It’s probably safer for your sanity to get up earlier and do the workout before anyone else is up, to avoid being laughed at by The Things.

    As for the comment about vomiting, isn’t that why you read the 50 Shades stuff for us? 😉

    1. I thought about that, except you’re supposed to do a warm up and cool down. Hmm. Maybe I should spring for the DVDs. Except the DVD set is 30, whereas the VHS was 5 bucks. I’ve been trying to get up early, but my body has been saying “No.”

      You might be on to something. The “50 Shades Diet Plan”.

      1. I was only joking with the 50 shades diet plan.

        Although you could stretch it – you can only eat what Ana eats. Or, if you’re reading the books, you can only eat when they’re not having sex. You are not allowed to eat when they are doing something that will lead to sex, emailing or texting about sex, talking about sex, arguing about sex, utilising sex toys, cleaning or arguing about cleaning the same, etc…

        Should we market this idea now?

        1. Sadly, I bet someone already has. But here’s some ideas! Fitness Program: Have your boyfriend hang you from the ceiling. Do thirty reps with the vaginal ball. Nutrition: Eat nothing until your boyfriend tells you, and then eat everything he says, even if he tells you to eat the plate.

          1. Well, providing the plate is paper, that’s extra fibre, which is always going to help! Or maybe not, given that I would imagine the 50 Shades diet will also include the use of, er, toys.

  11. They sound like slapstick.

    1. Slapstick exercise, the Three Stooges Way!

  12. I went to the Gym for 3 years – I turned into a junkie going about 5-6 times a week. I didn’t build much muscle but my body toned. Now I don’t do the Gym, now I have a weight machine and a treadmill collecting dust saying for gawds sake stop blogging and use me… Umm the fat free covers the one in blue is that male or female?

    1. It’s a guy, though he does have an impressive rack and beau-ti-ful hair, yes?

  13. Alice, you’re a star! I CANNOT wait to hear what you have to say about some other exercise videos. Pls do a review on Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30 or Extreme Shred (or something like that) and Debbie Sieber’s Slim in 6 (I have those and she’s annoying as *@!#). Or that Turbo Fire chick! (she’s a bouncy cheerleader).

    1. Oh, now I must rent those things. Ripped, shred, and turbo fired – those sound very uncomfy, don’t they?

      1. Lol,they do indeed. For some twisted reason they make me think that could be named after the enemas from hell O_o

  14. […] Exercise Videos: The Good, the Bad, and the OMG Part One […]

  15. Good Alice is boring anyway!
    I much prefer Bad Alice…

    1. When she was good, she was very, very good; but when she was bad, she was horrid.

  16. My best friend got the Insanity program and I was stupid enough to try it out with her one day and within ten-fifteen minutes I was pretty sure I was about to die! It’s nothing but jumping into the air and crap like that…it was awful. I’ve never been that physically sick after a workout and I didn’t get anywhere near finishing the darn thing! And I was dizzy for two days afterward! So all in all, I don’t recommend the Insanity program, especially if you want a low impact routine! 😀

    1. The Insanity program? I can’t imagine how anything could go wrong with that. I have to see if I can find that one. I am learning so much from you guyz.

      1. I thought it sounded a bit ominous but my bestie wanted a workout partner so I volunteered, lol. I didn’t make it past day one though. Heck, I didn’t even finish day one! 😀

  17. Would you try or have you ever tried any form of Martial Arts?

    1. Maybe. I’d probably hurt myself. But I’ve heard they are great work outs.

      1. There are! The stretch exercises are already worth it. Although maybe it’s not for everyone so I am not sure how you see yourself doing that. They may hurt a bit because as they say, no pain, no gain. Now I’ll just have to let that stick to my brain, too…LOL!!!!

  18. Now I want a milkshake. But I also want to do Tony Little workout videos, so I forgive you. 😉

    Also, I know this makes me a nerd, but I love the gazelle! Just had to get rid of mine, because it is missing parts after too many moves.

    1. I never tried it. It looks scary! Did it work?

      1. It did work! It’s really just a lightweight elliptical that you can use in the comfort of your living room, while you’re watching TV. Except that you can lean forward & back, which is super fun, & good for you @ the same time. I am mourning the passing of mine, because I don’t currently have the money for a replacement.

  19. My goodness, you still have VHS videos? I used the have the Jane Fonda ones and used to them twice or three times a week in my late teens. Ah, the 80’s!

    1. I have some. We have a DVD / VCR combo – not sure how long we’ve had it. I lost the originals, so I bought new VHS because they were 25 bucks cheaper. The VCR part gives out, though, and I might be forced back to DVDs.

      1. Ah bummer. I wonder what people did before VCR…

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