Monday, October 31, 2011


There's enough hate in the world already, amiright? 

There are plenty of things to legitimately hate: Bigotry. Brutality. Religious extremism. Non-Knocked Up romantic comedies starring Katherine Heigl. These are real problems making the world a worse place.

Cardioke, laughable though it may be, is not one of those things. The Internet has a healthy enough crop of petty grievances and unchecked vitriol without me taking pot shots at a bunch of people singing Pussycat Dolls out loud while doing high-impact aerobics. 

Cardioke (cardio + karaoke, get it??) is the runty brainchild of Billy Blanks Jr., son and heir to Billy Blanks of Tae Bo renown. This is as pure a distillation of the American Dream as the "Jump to Conclusions" mat or the George Foreman Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine, and I'm not about to start casting stones. 

I was prepared to do so when I came across this clip. It's got so much going for it in the Internet-mockery department. But here's how I got on Cardioke's side:

0.24 seconds in -- We meet Desiree and Jackie, founding members of Cardioke and sassy middle-aged gals wearing bedazzled shirts from Stein Mart. Do your thing, ladies.

Desiree's had arthroscopic knee surgery. How bout that!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Fit-Fart: It's the Great Pumpkin Workout, Charlie Brown

Exercise and Halloween aren't really compatible, are they? The candy, the costuming, the (copious) drinking, the music festival-going, the scary movie-watching, the gourd-carving... There's not much to go on, is there? WRONG, apparently.

Turns out there's a micro-trend of working out with pumpkins, either as a way to get hits to your personal training website or to fill time on morning news shows. Or just because you love Halloween THAT MUCH. See what those people up there are doing? They're on a morning show, passing a pumpkin back and forth to demonstrate "The Halloween Workout." Looks like it works their oblique muscles. Bully for them.

Here's one from some guy called The Fit Bastard. It also puts a couple hay bales to work.

There are a bunch more of these, but I'm not gonna post any of them because they're all kinda boring and similar. Pumpkins as dumbbells, ho ho what a gas! Don't know about you, but these don't really get me excited for Halloween OR a workout. Halloween is one thing, exercise is another and never the twain shall meet. Unless:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Oh Davina, whisk me away to Clatterford!

Isn't she the cutest?

VIDEO: "Davina Super Body Workout," (2 Entertain, 2008) **Only available in the UK and coded "Region 2," so it won't work on most U.S. devices. (Hello, bittorrent.)**
STYLE: Kickboxy aerobics, weights exercises, toning
INTENSITY: Moderate to kinda intense
STRUCTURE: Two 40-minute workouts, both with their own warm-up and cool-down: Super Fit is straight-up aerobics/kickboxing, while Super Sculpt consists of weights exercises interspersed with short bursts of calisthenics; four separate 10-minute toning sections (legs, butt, abs, upper body).
GIST: Funny, thorough and customizable, with good real music and the always-entertaining Davina. Like working out with your cool fit aunt in a sleek studio in the English countryside.

With all the workout video cruising I've been doing for this enterprise here, I haven't been able to keep any single one in rotation for very long. And with all the gorgeous fall weather, I've been jogging every chance I get. My old standbys are feeling neglected. They'll get over it.

I have kept one video, though, a fairly recent acquisition, in regular play: Davina. 

Who is Davina? She is your cool, fit but not fitness-obsessed, delightfully quirky aunt. She makes me laugh. And she's here to mug her way through your workout.

Davina is the ultimate everywoman workout video hostess. That whole "hostess" concept is kinda strange in the U.S., because we typically only have one person leading the video: the instructor. In the U.K., there's this trend of having a host, usually a famous/semi-famous/barely-famous person, AND an instructor to lead the workout. The host is Famous But Just Like You, and y'all are both going along for the ride following the instructor's orders. (See my post on the mega-titted Katie Price for a memorable addition to this genre.)

Reasons I heart this video:
  • It's a real workout, meeting pretty much all my benchmarks: It's long enough, challenging enough and entertaining enough to give me a good sweat sesh. The 40-minute aerobics section weirdly doubles up the same 20-minute routine with the exact same music, prompting you to wonder if there's a glitch in your ISO file legally-sourced DVD. But no, you're not buggin. It's just the same routine, starting over from the beginning. But whatever. That said, the kickboxing moves have some great, killer variations. They got my heart rate up right quick and kept it in a good place. 
  • Davina's the star here, but the instructors are too cute. One is a gentle giant of an ex-Marine; he leads the Super Sculpt section. The other is a straight-up middle-aged lady who looks straight out of Clatterford. (Do you not know about "Clatterford"? Or "Jam and Jerusalem" if you're in England? Get it on Netflix, stat. It's like warm plum crumble and Devon pudding eaten on a brisk ramble through the English countryside. And hilarious.)

Monday, October 24, 2011

How to sleuth your way to Hunkercize in 10 questions

I found this...artifact. Oh my. (NSFW.) So many questions. 

1. Is this real? The screen says "Cooldown" and the vodka-soaked lady narrator's voice says it is indeed the "beginner's cooldown." And then, not even 10 seconds in, they toot their asses in the air and start spreading it. Hanh? 

2. Is this a parody video? The flesh-toned mankini bottoms, the yoga/autofellatio thrusting -- this has to be fake, and also holy crap wow that's some butt right there. Sure is. Sheeeeet. 

3. Wait, is this like a male stripper workout video? That would make sense. Googling as such doesn't turn up anything similar, and the YouTube user who uploaded the video (the spectacularly named STORYOFSHIRTLESS) doesn't have anything else like it. Though he does, in his library of bodybuilding videos, deliver an entire Ibiza knockoff's worth of haircutted juiceheads. 

4. Why are they working out with dry ice around? Don't they know it's dangerous to touch? All those legs flying around, someone going to get hurt.

5. I got distracted looking at posteriors. Forgot my question.

6. I like this song. Can I Shazam it?

7. Thrusting's over. They're doing pretty real stretches now. I think this is actually really real. I'm holding out for stripper workout. What was the name of that big male stripper franchise? Duh duh duh, this is so obvious why can't I remember?

8. Chippendales! Of course. Is there a Chippendales workout?

9. Why yes there is. Can't tell if it's the same thing as this video, though. I don't know. What's that? There's a related video that has something to do with Playgirl and something called Hunkercize? This...could be major. 


Oh my word. This is big. HUNKERCIZE EXISTS, Y'ALL. And it was so worth the Interweb rabbit hole. And has the freaking "Careless Whisper" sax thing and jock-strap peeping and all sorts of horndog meat market stuff. Ok, so it's only a "workout video" in quotation marks and more for working out the forearm, but it's still real, baby. Hunkercize is real. YOU'RE WELCOME. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Khordadian, un-snarkable King of Iranian Dance

I have a new favorite person, and it's this man: Khordadian.

Mohammad Khordadian is a hero. Of freedom of expression, of workout videos. An Iranian-born dancer, choreographer and teacher, his story is a real-life, Persian, non-overrated "Footloose," with himself as Kevin Bacon and the Islamic Republic of Iran as all the repressed bumpkins.

In fact, Khordadian's story is so much better than either the new or old "Footloose" in every conceivable way, (music, costumes, accents, villany, sexual orientation), that I think the comparison is unfair, albeit convenient, so I'm gonna drop it right now. This is a man who can wear outfits like that one up there, make videos like the ones below, and remain absolutely un-snarkable.

Khordadian didn't only dare to dance; he dared to make Persian dance workout videos. He was a taxi driver in Tehran before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. After that, he fled the country and became the first Iranian to form a Persian dance company outside Iran. He settled in Los Angeles, formed a dance studio and made the world's first Persian dance-instruction videos in Farsi. These videos are awesomely fun, even for an English speaker. The music is bitchin, the steps are easy to follow and Khordadian is eminently watchable. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

100% Pure Aerobics Love

I love aerobics. I won't lie. I will jumping-jack and knee-raise and grapevine the everloving jujubes out of some high-energy aerobics. But I realize now that, maybe I don't really love aerobics. I don't think I love them as much as these people up in that video. BECAUSE THEY ARE OVER THE MOON BOUNCING ACROSS THE GALAXY BANANAS FOR IT. 

They are like me-on-Mardi-Gras-morning-in-a-bouncy-cloud-of-love GAGA for that ish, all in their fresh white kicks and patriotic leotards, testing the evergreen composure of Alan Thicke. You can tell it puts them, for a few precious, effervescent minutes, on a higher plane of existence. And I'm left feeling...semi-awed? Entranced? Bemused, definitely. Competitive aerobics! Who knew?!

I'm ambivalent. Conflicted. Because I love aerobics, but I don't think I want to be them. Do what they do. I prefer to think of aerobics as calorie-burning, structured, dance-like conditioning to help fight the bloaty effects of weekend-long drinking and complicated, boring food issues. But I never even considered aerobics as a competitive end unto itself.

It's like synchronized swimming out of water, no?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The curious, shiny case of Deanne Berry

VIDEO: "Clubland Work It Out," (2008, Universal Pictures UK)
STYLE: Dance aerobics, dance, kickboxing and toning
INTENSITY: Moderate to difficult
STRUCTURE: 10-minute warm-up; 15 minutes of aerobics; 15-minute dance routine; 15 minutes of kickboxing; 15 minutes of floor exercises; 12-minute cool-down. About 80 minutes total.
GIST: I LOVE THIS WORKOUT. That's it. But it's not available for purchase in the U.S. Wah wah.*

See this creature? Is she the second coming of Xanadu-vintage Olivia Newton-John? A Barbie brought to life?

This, friends, is Deanne Berry, the queen of Clubland. She's a supernova of the sassosphere who burned bright for several thrilling years in the mid- to late-aughts and, after some TV spots and an ill-fated attempt at a recording career, all but disappeared. Where she now roams nobody knows. Intrigue!

Today we're going to be talking about "Clubland Work It Out," which is, in my opinion, Deanne's most solid effort. Like all the Clubland videos, it's not available for purchase in the U.S. *If you buy it off, it won't work on most American DVD players or computers, because it's coded with a different "region." There are ways around this, but they're long and maddening. I don't think I can legally tell you to download it from a file sharing site, but if you don't know how to download it from a file sharing site, you can find most of the workout in the links I provide below.

Ready? Ok!

Like Aphrodite rising from the foam of severed testes cast into the sea, she burst onto the scene a fully-formed workout goddess -- or at least she played one convincingly in the shamelessly lubed-up video for Eric Prydz's "Call On Me."

The video was a crazy gigantic hit across the pond -- one interviewer in a TV spot says she "captured the imagination of the country" -- and even though Berry was just a dancer, not an aerobics instructor, the UK music label Ministry of Sound invited her to host the next in their series of "Pump It Up!" workout videos. THIS IS WHAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF, FOLKS.

So she rustled up some fitness certifications and did just that, bringing her Aussie looks (slammin tanned bod, toothy smile) and dancer's nuance (so much sassy hair-flipping!) to the workout video world. After another title with "Ministry of Sound," she jumped ship and moved over to Clubland, yet another UK house music label with a stake in the fitness video market. (WHY DON'T WE DO THIS IN AMERICA???)

That brings us to "Clubland Work It Out," a dizzyingly ludicrous display of quality dance aerobics, music video fantasizing and a whole lotta ass-cheek. Exhibit A (har har):

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fitness class reviews on + second line magic

That's my head. I can explain. 

Jam-packed fall weekends, y'all. That's what's up.

Mine started strong, with the posting of my first exercise class review for The Hairpin, a wonderful website geared toward ladies and people who like ladyish things. Flock to it. A while back, I did a series of fitness class reviews -- groaningly named (by me) Molly's Fitness Follies; got to have my head photoshopped in many embarrassing ways, the pic above being just one example -- for the New Orleans daily newspaper. Getting to take up that odd-duck beat once again, especially within the freer mores of the Internet, was quite a gas. Looking forward to doing more of them!

Lots of dancing this weekend, which is just as it should be. Happiness (and my all-time favorite not-really-a-workout workout): a big bumping second line, made all the more beautiful coming as it did through my neighborhood right after the Saints' win against the Panthers. Plus, the weather was sunny and bright enough to get me in that sun-blinded trance-dance state. Heavennnn.

Other weekend highlights:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The granny-hug delight of "Sit and Be Fit"

How much do you love this lady? God bless her!

Mary Ann Wilson's the name, and exercise for old or mobility-impaired folks is her game. She's led the delightfully low-budget "Sit and Be Fit" for over 20 years, which is produced by a nonprofit organization of the same name and has won a bunch of health/wellness/old people awards.

First off, HOW BOUT THEM GAMS! Lady's got one of the best sets of legs in the sassosphere, and she knows how to show them off. Colorful scrunched socks + short high-waist shorts + loose sweatshirt or baseball shirt or tucked-in tee (+ some hosiery, methinks) = OFF-THE-CHARTS SASS. Take notes, boys and girls.

Hands up if you've done this by yourself after finding it on public television. Own it.

This show makes me wish my beautiful grandma were still around, because I would have loved to have done this with her -- most likely with a peach cobbler or some snickerdoodles in the oven. Which, come to think of it, is what watching "Sit and Be Fit" feels like: grandma hugs and baked goods.

Back to Auntie Wilson.

Even though it's ostensibly for the elderly, you could learn a thing or two from "Sit and Be Fit." No joke. For example:

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ballet porn? Not exactly.

VIDEO: "New York City Ballet Workout Vol. 2"
STYLE: Ballet-inspired stretches, resistance exercises and standing barre exercises, plus a bit of aerobics
INTENSITY: Light to moderate
STRUCTURE: Three short warm-up segments; 25 minutes of resistance exercises; just under 20 minutes of barre exercises; short cool-down; tacked-on aerobic section at the end.
GIST: A lovely workout, though uneven in pacing and structure. Gorgeous classical music is the biggest star here. The dancers are beautiful but blank; the production values are top-notch, with moody lighting and a sleek look. The exercises are geared toward strength training and some ballet basics, but for aspiring dancers, it can't replace a real class. 

Balletophiles are kind of creepy, and I say that as one of them.

We love ballet for the art itself, yes, but dance is the one art that uses the human body as its sole tool, and that leads to a definite creep factor in the envy, fascination, awe and delight that ballet fans take in examining dancers' bodies. If you're just as happy watching dancers at their daily barre work as in a performance, (or needed some private time after watching Baryshnikov in "The Turning Point"), you know what I mean. 

The "New York City Ballet Workout" series (there's just two of them) is a feast for ballet creepers in its wonderfully lit, sleekly produced style -- all those bods! -- but you don't need to be a huge ballet fan to enjoy it as a workout. In fact, too much ballet envy could hinder your "NYCB Workout" experience, because this is a basic, ballet-inspired workout first and an Angelina Ballerina escapade second. You have to actually, you know, work. Not just practice your port de bras and do some wobbly pirouettes in the mirror. (Not that I ever do that, of course.)