Friday, May 22, 2015

Inner Thigh Gap Clarity

"Inner Thigh Gap Clarity": postmodern prog-rock band name or title of a real, creepily sunny workout hosted by a 14-year-old? Oh, you thought thigh gaps were just lulz whipped up in 2k14 by overstimulated Reddit bois with misplaced ambitions? You are mistaken. Thigh gaps are a movement—by girls, for girls—ensuring that every little lady grows up in tacit, unrelenting fear of her own body! Just ask our fresh-faced presenter, here to inspire us toward Inner Thigh Gap Clarity, because everyone knows that 10 minutes of squats and lunges can defy age, postadolescent metabolism, and the endless variety of human musculoskeletal composition!

Here's one brave Thigh Gap Warrior Princess feeling the thigh gap love:
Maddison Rose Okay so I might get hate but I really want a thigh gap. I am 13 years old and I'm very insecure about my thighs, my stomach and arms are not bad but I'm still working on them. I know I'm not "fat" I would just like to know if this really works! Thanks!

Or this lassie all hopped up on diuretics/snake oil/speed? oh god i hope not speed GIRL POWER:
Miss Montgomery I'm eating less, doing other exercises and taking diet pills AND doing this so hopefully i become a size 0 and have a thigh gap. Thank you for the easy to follow video!

Inner Thigh Gap Clarity, brought to you by these assholes: "Life. Wisdom."

This comment is a true tHIn$PirAtIO—actually, I can't snark anymore. It's too sad:
M Rachel I'm 98 lbs right now and my goal is to be anywhere between 88-91 pounds. If I eat healthy and do this work out once a day (first half morning second half at night) do 200 sit ups a day and, walk a mile or two, and either do an hour and a half of jujitsu or fourty five minutes on the bike or playing just sweat will I reach my goal? It it realistic/healthy? And will exersizing so much make me look bulky and bigger and skinnier and delicate?

I kind of love the presenter girl, because she's competent but casual, unconcerned, ironically, with flawlessness in her presentation. The exercises are fine: they're squats and lunges, and nothing can take that away from them. But nothing can guarantee a thigh gap. Which is why I'm giving three cheers for Caprilover73, who is probably exactly what her user name sounds like—a righteous pseudo-New Agey 40-something, and who is going into battle against thigh gap quackery. 
Don't obsess over a thigh gap because the most of the fittest people in the world dint have them. Olympians who train every day have amazing bodies, but no thigh gap. No one looks at them and in shorts you'll still have toned and nice legs, but healthy ones too

You go with your comment-thread activism, Caprilover73. As for Psychetruth, fooey to you and your clickbait ridiculousness. Good riddance, I say!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

"Aerobics Girl in a Pilates World": An Invalid's Ballad

It took orthopedic surgery on both my feet, but I'm finally learning to like Pilates. Note the "like" there. We will not be naming each other godparent to our firstborns, but we're at least on Christmas-party-invite-list terms. 

Because I've been unable to work out aerobically during recovery, Pilates has been just about the only "serious" exercise I can do. And since I've avoided it for most of my adult life, because BORING BORING BORINNNNGNGG, it felt like an enriching pursuit -- facing fears and climbing every mountain and such. 

I found the above video, free in full on YouTube, tried it out, declared it worthy, and have been doing it every few days at the park or in my back yard. Why the outdoors? Because if Miss Sports Bra in the video gets Malibu to distract her from the deliberateness, the care-ful el-o-cu-tion, the HOLY MOTHER OF MANWICH THIS BURNS real talk of Pilates, then I need some pretty clouds and a nice spring breeze. 

There is no panache to be found here, but to be perfectly honest, the model/presenter's body makes up for it. She is a beast -- a silent, smiling (a little too much), perfect ponytail-having beast. It's a shame about her tits hanging out so egregiously, but whatever. 

This is a true beginner's video, in that it's approachable but not a cakewalk. And it's a decent length. Despite its "total body" label, the workout is focused mostly in the abs, butt, and legs, though a lot of the moves are on all fours and shift weight into the arms. As a true Pilates beginner, I set a goal to be able to finish the entire workout, all the reps and all the exercises, by the end of my convalescence. My powers are increasing, especially in my biggest avoidance spot, the outer thigh. There's still one exercise I "can't even," but the others have gotten easier surprisingly quickly. Yearnin' learnin'!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Reaching Out for a Better Day with "Sit and Be Fit"

Hark! The online comments sing. Glory to the eternal flame of sass, the everlasting calves, the comfort and joy of the mobility impaired—the only woman about whom the internet has nothing and will never have anything bad to say.

Today we're spending time with Mary Ann Wilson, RN, of the long-running program "Sit and Be Fit." Like all titans of public television—Bob Ross, Julia Child, Kermit the Frog—this lady was niche-branding herself long before the first Angelfire fanfic site ever plastered ungainly type across an animated wallpaper. With kind twinkling eyes, rosy cheeks (blush game on fleek, always), and the legs of an MGM hoofer, Mary Ann Wilson embodies the indomitable spirit of the body electric. Be you wheelchair-bound, waylaid by injury, or merely very lazy, "Sit and Be Fit" is here to inspire your slowly calcifying form toward kinesis.

And decent kinesis it is! I've given Ms. Wilson her due before, here, but, like most of the able-bodied population, my only experience with "Sit and Be Fit" consisted of watching with a dopey grin for a few minutes while channel surfing, perhaps trying a few moves if feeling puckish, because WhaT a gAS! 

This time, I came to "Sit and Be Fit" hashtag-authentically, with two bum feet and three weeks in post-surgical boots, which are like little boats that buoy your standing weight up into your hips instead of through your feet. Or something. The first week, my walking pace was that of my grandma's at 91, and my condition generated lots of enjoyable sympathy and Vicodin and people fetching me things. Fresh off the painkikis, walking felt like moving around a slack bag of bones formed from petrified Olive Garden breadsticks. 

Now, I've got a nifty peg-leg swag walk and I go down stairs backwards because it's faster. I can take the boots off as long as I'm not standing, which puts me so patently in the show's target demographic that I'd be a lax ambassador of sass indeed if I didn't seize upon SABF's fresh relevance to my current life experiences.

If I wanted to be truly auth, I could catch the show on my local PBS station any weekday at 7 or 8:30 a.m. Ms. Lady has her shit together on the informational front: even the most tech-befuddled senior would be able to look up local showtimes on her website. Her press kit? A marvel of old-school PR–new media synergy, occupying 12 neatly laid-out, web-friendly pdf pages. Here are some fun facts about the program:

  • The show operates as a nonprofit and has been on the air for nearly 30 years, since 1987.
  • It tapes in Spokane, WA. 
  • Mississippi and Alabama do not air "Sit and Be Fit" at all. Of course.
  • Mary Ann's daughter, Gretchen, often joins her to demonstrate modifications. Kewt!
  • When she was a young RN, Mary Ann specialized in post-polio rehabilitation. 
  • Aerobics got her through her husband's death. MY HEART.

As I am incapable of rising early to catch the broadcast, I turned to the few episodes available in full on YouTube. My selection, "Engaging the Pelvic Floor," had my number: I love workin' on my taint!

Also known as pee-pee muscles, or what you're working when you do kegels, 
or, as illustrated by this NSFW pic, what makes your dick curve upward when erect

Mary Ann starts by introducing her helpers for the session, which is nice of her. 

Then we get into some knee lifts and leg extensions . . . 

. . . and finish the warm-up with a gentle foot massage, which was perfect for my tore-up frankenweenies. Somehow, Mary Ann knew it was time for me to start cajoling them back into fine action. 

We proceed to the pelvic floor in the best way possible, by feeling up our butts. "Locating the sits bones," she says, sure, but as we rock from cheek to cheek, riding along on the beautiful heiney sea, we are reminded of the miracle of human evolution, a multimillion-year process that yielded dumpling-shaped flesh cushions attached to our posteriors. What a wonderful world!

This booty action warms up the undercarriage and prepares us for the pelvic floor exercises, which Mary Ann explains in a top-drawer use of kinetic imagery: as you contract, visualize the sits bones getting closer together. That's what actually happens in there, on a very tiny scale, and it's something I hadn't really been able to understand, despite reading approximately 24 pages of a conditioning guide called Pelvic Power years ago. Mary Ann's explanation gave me a bit of a eureka moment, one made all the sweeter by occurring in communion with my bum.

After the ass play comes the first aerobic section, where we walk our feet out and in—a seated box step. After three weeks cut off from aerobics, I was there for it. I also wished my socks were as slouchy-cute as hers.

Let's take a moment to appreciate Ms. Wilson's face-giving skills: smiley but not plastic, sweet as a snickerdoodle and calmly perky. Her Clara Bow eyebrows, always expressing some gentle affection, are practically support staff. 

Then she does this cute knee raise, which is harder than it looks. Can she help it if it happens to make her shapely legs look even shapelier? No, she cannot.

During the finger-articulation exercises, I gave thanks for my non-arthritic hands, despite a long-running finger-popping compulsion. (Apparently, science says my mom is wrong—knuckle popping does not promote arthritis later in life—but I still don't 100% believe it.)

She also has you work your finger and hand muscles by pretending your rolled-up towel is a ball of dough that you are kneading, which is an analogy I can get excited about.

It continues like this, alternating between the lightest of aerobic movements—there's a salsa portion, of course—and targeted conditioning and flexibility exercises.

After some standing or seated stretches, Ms. Wilson makes time for a meditative moment, wherein we cross our elbows and sway our arms like we're hugging the whole world. It feels incredibly comforting.

Then, in the style of the great "Rhythmics," we're treated to some serene nature footage while Mary Ann takes us home: "While you're flying along, think about all the people in your life who bless your life, and send blessings to them. You're going to such beautiful places on this trip. Keep reaching out with us for a better day." 

I shall, Ms. Wilson. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

"Rhythmics" goes to Club Med


Alright, now that there's been some passably substantial posts around here, I can get back to what really matters: celebrating old Russian TV workouts! 

Yes, we are returning to "Rhythmics," light of my life and holy beacon of sass. 

Today, we're going to beach! 

The setting is a coastal Club Med-type spot, and we open in a discotheque with a DJ who is single-handedly keeping the international "Kung Fu Fighting" wave of the mid-'70s alive.

Watching him kick off the proceedings with great pomp up in his booth with his totally-ignored, probably-doing-all-the-work sidekick gets me every time.

Our presenter for this edition is saddled with an unfortunate hairdo and a scrolldown-fug romper, but what she lacks in sartorial grace she more than makes up for with attitude.

Watch her stop in the name of love with this hip-shaking warm-up move:

I hadn't done this one in a while -- I blame you, unflattering romper bottom -- but I pulled it up this morning, feeling very creaky from what turns out to have been a cold. By the time I got to this Marcia Brady move, though, I was all in:

After the disco warm-up it's time for some light jogging around the resort. The outfit situation improves immediately, and DJ Ninja gets to sing his big aerobic anthem. 

I love this part so. much. There are jump cuts to gnarly water sports, underwater chaise lounging, triumphant DJ fist pumping, and so much more.

They're playing chess (srsly).

Best possible non-emergency use of an exterior staircase

Even this total rando eating lunch gets a few seconds of screen time!

Then we settle in by the sea for some more dynamic stretching and beach-blanket ab work. It's good stuff! Just DON'T push yourself beyond your flexibility; these ladies are on another plane of mobility. If I'm shaky on a combination, I slow it down to a more reasonable pace.

 Yeah at this point I'm basically perving on these gals but I CAN'T STOP.

The floor exercises are very Malibu Barbie, like so . . . 

. . . but they're actually quality ab work! Plus, you get to revert to your nine-old-self pretending to be a mermaid splashing on a rock with waves crashing around you. 

Check out the girl on the sailboat, like la la laaaaa, kickin' it on this dude's boat...

 Once mermaid time is over, we get our lovely moments of zen, down by the seaside.

 Just some light synchro swimming

They really enjoy their back bends in this one. Prepare to feel very not-bendy.

And I'm out! "Rhythmics," you never disappoint.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Break Free, Bipasha!

VIDEO: "Break Free 30 Minute Dance Workout," free in full on YouTube
STYLE: Dance aerobics
INTENSITY: Light to moderate
STRUCTURE: Warm-up (10 mins.), dance aerobics (10 mins.), 1-minute water break, "Bollywood routine" (6 mins.), cooldown (3 mins.)
GIST: Good for beginners; repetitive but pretty fun; passable EDM-inspired muzak; minimal dialogue; over-the-top PDA between Bollywood-star presenter and camera; worth a try -- it's free!

Gaze, my friends, into the eyes of a STAHHH. This is Bollywood celeb Bipasha Basu, and she is too beautiful for her own good. Not, like, in life -- being really really ridiculously good-looking is generally an advantage in the whole "become a super-famous actress" game -- but, specifically, in this video.

Oh, here I am, just a negative Nancy with no thigh gap, starting things off on a complain-y note instead of expressing gratitude for the existence of a full-length, professionally made, perfectly fine dance-aerobics video available free and easy on the internet.

Do you hear me, world? I give thanks for your blessings of free sass!

Yes, there is some sass here, but it is buried under the most perfectly shellacked, frighteningly well-comported visage I have ever seen slumming it up in a workout video. I mean, this lady is many things -- international model, movie star, perfect human specimen, a "real pro" -- but a fitness presenter she ain't (quite).

Why? Because she is a freaking goddess, that's why. Goddesses don't smile too big or sweat hard or say dorky things or care a lot, in the grand tradition of fitness presenters. This is what goddesses do:

"Look. At. This. Shit."
  • gaze deeply with imperturbable serenity
  • show off manicures while assuming goddess pose
  • have hair blown flatteringly by industrial fans summoning the zephyrs of Aura
  • read minds via gazing deeply with imperturbable serenity
  • engage in ocular coitus with camera lenses, never breaking their connection to the boundless horizon of their own beauty
  • suck in cheeks and purse lips at regular intervals to form lit fuse of sultry explosion

Bipasha belongs on movie screens and in Bulgari ads, and she doesn't recalibrate that persona for a gig like this. For some viewers, she doesn't need to -- it's like working out with one of those "Stars -- They're Just Like Us!" features, or with a cross between Beyonce and Galadriel, which, now that I'm typing it out, sounds pretty fucking awesome. 

Speaking in a style typically employed to trumpet big tech rollouts -- that steady, vaguely condescending tone of "NBD, but I'm about to blow your benighted little mind, so you might want to pay attention" -- she does a tidy little intro and tells the viewer, "Get ready to experience what it's like to Break Free."

So we get into it, the breaking free. And yeah! Sure! The music is pretty solid, a more-generic version of generic global EDM. In the warm-up, I enjoyed these single shoulder rolls:

and this Bollywood-style arm/shoulder serve n' pump:

I also like the text preview of what's coming next, so that if you want to use your own music, you still get cuing. Well done, producers!

Good isolation work in the hips . . . 

. . . and in the chest, especially with this fun lunging move.

Now we're in the main cardio/dance section, and there is a LOT of shoulder shimmying . . . 

. . . and body rolling . . . 

Look at that hair perfection. Bow down to it.

. . . and last but not least, pumping. So much pumping! Like pump up the volume push it real good pump it up p-u-m-p-i-n-g. 

Pumpin' it

Reading minds again, between pumps

Oh snap, DOUBLE-ARM CHEST PUMPS. Y'all ready for this?

Then there is a charming 1-minute water break where they count down the time, stress the importance of hydration (truth!), and make a big show of everyone (except Bipasha) dabbing sweat.

The video closes out with a short but fast-paced "Bollywood routine," which incorporates moves from the rest of the video with even more pumping and shimmying. It's crazy and fun. I also love that it starts with a dramatic ramping-up crescendo while Bipasha and her girls stand in place and do chest circles, as though they're witches stirring an atmospheric brew with their boobs and preparing to unleash untold wonders across the universe.

The cooldown is short and sweet, then the Beeps reminds us to "break free on a regular basis," which is sound advice.

On a side note, I wish sincerely that she would break free of her white short-shorts. They are tragic. They are wholly beneath her, and the prefab fringe on them makes me want to cry.

Bipasha, thank you for gracing us with your drop-dead gorgeous, possibly telepathic presence. You are a queen among peasants. Next time, though, I would love to see more of your inner sass. The kind that doesn't give a fuck about contouring or eyebrows that inspire poems or a Mona Lisa smile. Maybe it breaks the movie-star rules, but in the workout-video game, you have to descend occasionally from the firmament and shimmy across some terra firma. 

Or not! Your eyes have entranced me once again, so keep on doing "you," girl.