Friday, May 25, 2012

Jillian is not here to make friends.

VIDEO: "Jillian Michaels: 30 Day Shred," (Lionsgate, 2008)
STYLE: Circuit training
INTENSITY: 3 workouts, 3 levels: mild, moderate and difficult
STRUCTURE: Each workout has a warm-up; three 7-minute circuits that alternate toning exercises with 2-minute bursts of cardio; and cool-down.
GIST: Good for folks who need a regimen to hitch their wagon to, but pretty weak as a stand-alone workout. Jillian is great technically, but she's no-nonsense almost to a fault. She doesn't sync the moves with the music at all, which is annoying.

Jillian Michaels has built an empire as the current face of at-home fitness. Richard Simmons may have put obese people in his videos, but Jillian, with her guru status on "The Biggest Loser" and no-nonsense gym teacher swagger, is Richard Simmons for the obesity age. They both have high media saturation and a distinct motivational style, but whereas Simmons was warm and cuddly, Jillian is...not. She believes in you and wants you to be healthy, but she does not want to hear about your bullshit and she certainly doesn't want to hug you. (I haven't watched "The Biggest Loser," so maybe she hugs people on that show but I'm pretty sure she doesn't enjoy it. Lady does not seem like a hugger.)

Simmons was all about just getting people moving. Like, "Sugar pie, so you're 400 lbs -- I was too! Let's just put on some old gold and get goin'. You can wear what you already have on." Well, it's been 20 years since Simmons' heyday and the obesity rate has only grown. A lot. In 1990, no state had an obesity rate over 20%. The most recent info from the CDC puts the current national rate at 35.7%.

Jillian's whole style -- straightforward, no-frills and challenging -- is all about saying, THIS IS SERIOUS. GET OFF YOUR DUFF AND WORK. OUT. Yet she's nice! She's approachable...just as long as you're not approaching her with an excuse. Jillian combines tough love with a game plan, which is what so many folks desperately need when starting a fitness regimen.

Friday, May 11, 2012

"My idea of an ideal outdoor activity is lying down under a shade tree with a good book and a cool libation."

I'm dying. I can't stop dying.

Dixie Carter, aka Julia Sugarbaker from "Designing Women," aka arbiter of genteel fabulousness to an entire generation of Southern gays and their mothers, does not have a workout video. No. She has an unworkout video: "Dixie Carter's Unworkout." And whatever you're thinking upon reading that, double it.

To borrow from my roommate, whose concise reaction was: SQUEAL!

Here is a workout for women who still use the phrase, "Ladies don't sweat -- they glisten." Here is a workout for people who would be all too happy to exercise if it weren't for all that bothersome -- to quote Dixie herself -- "runnin',  hoppin', steppin', joggin,' jumpin' up n' down in one place." That is NOT the Sugarbaker way, hell to the no. Instead, she's going to sit in a Laura Ashley armchair on a set that looks straight out of a spread from Southern Living 1991, she's gonna wear her Eileen Fisher top and silk pajama pants, she's going to pour herself a cup of tea, and she's going to talk about how good she looks. And she's going to do it like it makes PERFECT SENSE. 

"You see, these days more and more people keep asking me how I have managed to maintain myself. So it turns out I'm holding up pretty well over the long haul." Advance warning, Dixie-in-heaven: Regardless of how I look in my late 40s, I will be stealing that. It's like she hired the ghost of Tennessee Williams to write her copy for the intro. She even quotes Mark Twain!

Anyway, the routine seems to be a lot of breathing exercises and yoga poses, including this gem, which got bandied about on the Ellen show recently. 

I love this, I love her, and if you don't, Dixie's just like:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Workout videos still around, New York Times reports

The Style section of the country's newspaper of record has bestowed its trend-spotting wand on what this here blog is all about: at-home fitness videos. But! They're not talking about ye olde workout videos from the likes of Jack LaLanne, no no. They're talking about new offerings such as the "Lord of the Abs" series pictured above, bowel-dropper P90X and an old favorite here at World of Sass, Hemalayaa's Bollywood series. Some interesting tidbits from the piece:
During the recession, the fitness DVD industry has thrived as consumers opted for $15 videos instead of gym memberships, according to the research firm IbisWorld, which says that fitness DVD production revenue jumped 12.6 percent in 2012, to $264.5 million.
The article also touches on the increasing trend of celebrity-driven videos, ranging from Kelly Rowland's ab workout to Tracy Anderon's ever-expanding empire. Also, there's the still-emerging trend of on-demand fitness videos online:
Industry executives are also beginning to offer live-streaming and on-demand subscription services. Bill Sondheim, president of Gaiam, one of the largest domestic producers and distributors of fitness DVDs, which is based in Louisville, Colo., last year introduced GaiamTV, costing $9.95 a month for unlimited access to more than 500 fitness videos.
The most popular genre, according to the article? Yoga. Funny, because that's the one genre of personal fitness I think can't effectively be substituted with a video -- except, like, running. Duh.

To read the full article, click here.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

They don't even CARE about my SPECIAL DAY

Way to bungle a perfectly good gimmick, Women's Health. I came across "Women's Health: The Wedding Workout" while making the rounds on YouTube, and wow -- mega disappointment. Why? It's just a regular dang workout! And a boring-looking one, at that!

The main wedding-y feature is a customizable menu that changes up the workout based on your style of wedding dress -- like if you're going strapless, you can choose to work your arms and shoulders more, so you can look like this buff bride:

There are a couple references to one's "big day" and exercises that are good "if you're going to be wearing heels," but other than that this video TOTALLY squanders what could have been a landmark offering within the bridal-industrial complex. I'm talkin' bout:

Working your arms and back for that perfectly arched bouquet toss. And, for your bridesmaids, whom you can force to work out however you want because YOU'RE the BRIDE...

Grappling practice for getting that bouquet! It'll be a good show for the crowd, and besides, they don't want to be single the rest of their lives, do they? DO THEY??? It's not that big a deal -- just that their worth as women depends on it, is all. Remind them of that -- they'll thank you later. 

And what about the workoutfits in that video? Not bridal at all. This lady here's on the right track. How else are you going to test the full range of motion and sweat-absorbing capacity of your wedding dress than by takin 'er for a spin? Personally, I think the costume department at Women's Health should have looked to good old White Christmas for inspiration: